In an acclaimed series of crime novels, George Pelecanos — the D.C.-born author who’s also written for HBO’s “The Wire” — sends ex-cop-turned-private investigator Derek Strange on assignment throughout the District. With his fictional office in Petworth, Strange served as the inspiration for Petworth Citizen (829 Upshur St. NW), a new literary-themed restaurant from Paul Ruppert, co-owner of Room 11 and The Passenger.
“I wanted to open a bar that Derek Strange would hang out at,” Ruppert says. “The interior is very noir and a little mysterious.” With a leave-one-take-one library equipped for readings and book clubs and a kitchen helmed by Makoto Hamamura of City Zen, Petworth Citizen is fostering a well-read and well-fed D.C. Its opening also inspired us to fantasize about the places other notable literary figures would have frequented had they lived in the area. Our educated guesses follow.
2 Birds 1 Stone, 1800 14th St. NW; 2birds1stonedc.com. (U Street)
“The Catcher in the Rye” — the English 101 standard about an angsty teen expelled from prep school — brought Salinger great success and adoration, much to his dismay: The author ordered the removal of his picture from the book jacket and requested that fan mail be burned. Such hostility pairs well with a stiff drink, which the new speakeasy beneath Doi Moi would serve Salinger in anonymity. “There are tons of nooks and crannies he could disappear into,” says bar director Adam Bernbach. “Plus, none of the staff are products of prep schools, to my knowledge.”
Mockingbird Hill, 1843 Seventh St. NW; 202-316-9396, drinkmoresherry.com. (Shaw)
“Papa” was never one to turn down a drink. “He was a bon vivant and gravitated toward the finer things,” says Philip Greene, a local Hemingway historian and author of “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion.” “He was a foodie before people called them foodies.” A man with such elevated tastes would appreciate Mockingbird Hill, a new addition to Shaw from mixologist Derek Brown that serves ham and sherry exclusively. “Sherry is unlike any other alcohol,” Brown says of the dry fortified wine originating in Spain. “It’s connected to passionate characters.”
Beuchert’s Saloon, 623 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-733-1384, beuchertssaloon.com. (Eastern Market)
With the release of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” which shed a sympathetic light on field hands during the Great Depression, Steinbeck solidified himself as a friend of the farmer. With a majority of its produce plucked directly from its own 156-acre, family-operated farm in Poolesville, Md., Beuchert’s Saloon seems a natural choice.
Scratch D.C., 202-549-1421, scratchdc.com.
Though she penned nearly 18,000 poems, the 19th-century wordsmith was notoriously reticent. Painfully withdrawn and reclusive, Dickinson spent most of her time alone. But a girl’s gotta eat. Because it’s unlikely she’d ever venture outside for a meal, we imagine Dickinson would be a fan of Scratch D.C., a dinner delivery program that drops prepared ingredients at your door. Directions are easy and containers are clearly marked. “It’s designed to be foolproof,” founder Ryan Hansan says. “But if she ever needed to talk to us, she could call us on her phone that didn’t exist.”
Thomas Foolery, 2029 P St. NW; 202-822-6200, thomasfoolerydc.com. (Dupont Circle)
You won’t find green eggs and ham on the menu at this zany Dupont Circle bar from Mr. Yogato owner Steve Davis. But you will find Ring Pops candy, the game Plinko and a limbo bar, making the joint a playground for kids-at-heart like Theodor Seuss Geisel. “We have things that appeal to adults, like boozy milkshakes and Cards Against Humanity,” Davis says. “At the same time, we serve grilled cheese in a very unstructured environment.” Davis says he’d seat Dr. Seuss in “The Throne,” where you’re required to wear a crown and make silly demands using a walkie-talkie.