The words “beer garden” and “kids” don’t usually go together, but at Blue Ridge Restaurant, there’s room time for both.
After revamping the patio space — removing a pond and adding 30 feet — owner Eli Hengst was inspired to take full advantage of the area.
“We figured we have all this space that’s so unique in this city in the sense that it’s removed from the street,” says Hengst, who also owns Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar and Mendocino Grille & Wine Bar. “A lot of patio space and cafe seating in D.C. is on the street or near traffic, and there’s a lot of noise. The restaurant is in two rowhouses that have been put together. So this is really like a private backyard. It’s a little oasis from the city.”
The beer garden has a special menu of 75 American beers, many from the mid-Atlantic region, such as Hop Hog IPA, Helles Lager and Sunshine Pils. “You’re going to see a lot of heavier orientation toward regional hefeweizens, lighter beers like pilsners, things that are definitely great for the warm weather,” Hengst says.
Garden munchies include homemade bratwurst with pickled sweet pepper slaw, fried oyster po’boys and crispy Alabama catfish sandwiches. It’s open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 to about 12:30 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 to about 2 a.m.
On Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. sippy cups threaten to outnumber beer steins during stroller happy hour. “It’s a nice way to get out without having to worry about a baby sitter and have a glass of wine or beer and not worry about bothering other guests,” Hengst says.
Specials include $1 Rappahannock River oysters, $3 draft beers and $5 wines. Kids can knock back homemade lemonade accompanied by chicken fingers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
“It’s not stuff that came out of the freezer and is presented as kids’ menu food. It’s our same ingredients; we just make it a little more kid-friendly,” Hengst says.
» Blue Ridge Restaurant, 2340 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-333-4004.
Written by Express contributor Stephanie Kanowitz
Photos by Kris Conner