The Metropolist

Remembering D.C.'s Zebra Room

By The Metropolist
Friday, October 23, 2009

We've reached the letter Z in our alphabetical march down memory lane to revisit places that have disappeared from the Washington area landscape.

If there is such a thing as a family dive, the Zebra Room [in Northwest Washington] was it. It was both a somewhat seedy bar and the neighborhood pizza hangout, attracting softball teams, parents with hungry kids and the occasional celebrity.

In the 1980s, it was a regular Friday afternoon haunt of a group of us who worked at nearby schools. The beer was cheap, and the atmosphere both lively and soothing. When the weather was good, we escaped the smoky interior to the pleasant outside terrace on Macomb Street. Hal, the owner, was friendly and presided over a staff notable for exuberant personalities.

Although there was a full menu, the centerpiece was the pizza. To show the patrons the various sizes, several pizzas were laminated and hung on the wall. We enjoyed watching the toppings on the huge Zebra Room Special slowly creep downward under the plastic. Some brave souls would venture to the restrooms, returning with tales of horror. Several establishments, including one that bore the Zebra name, have occupied the same spot since the Zeep closed, but they could not recreate the same convivial atmosphere of this Washington original.

-- Stuart Work, Columbia

When I was a child in the early 1970s, my father would take my brothers and me out to explore D.C. If we were good, he'd take us to Zebra Pizza for lunch. One of its specialties was a very large pizza. The tray would take up an entire table. And, as the tray was very hot, they would not serve it to the outside tables, lest it melt them. They had a running promotion: If four or fewer people could finish the entire pizza, it was free. I do not recall ever hearing of anyone actually finishing the entire pizza, but I have fond memories of us trying.

-- Stephen Chiusano, Columbia

A neighborhood pizza restaurant and bar that served everyone from the Redskins to John Anderson, Supreme Court justices and Speaker of the House Carl Albert.

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