The dining room includes artwork of famous pioneers like Meek Mill and Sun Ra.

In opening Smith Public Trust in Brookland last month, owner Miles Gray wanted to cater to the rapidly developing neighborhood while paying homage to the area’s long-time residents. “I want this place to be a cultural Venn diagram,” Gray says. “People from all parts can come here to share their experiences over a beer or food.”

Keeping with the theme of growth and expansion, the walls are lined with artwork depicting famous pathfinders such as Benjamin Franklin and the Nina ship of Christopher Columbus fame, as well as influential musicians like Meek Mill and Sun Ra.

And in a nook toward the back of the restaurant, Gray displays relics discovered within the walls during the building’s renovation: old beer cans, a single shoe and a vintage safe. “It was full of empty bank bags,” Gray says.


Gray, who also owns Smith Commons on H Street, tapped Mercedes Delgado, formerly of The Partisan, to lead the kitchen. The menu is a culinary melting pot with dishes like ginger miso ramen ($11), duck breast spring rolls ($9) and tacos made with pork that’s been braised for eight hours, based off a family recipe ($9). “I wanted dishes that were approachable to everyone,” Delgado says.

As Smith Public Trust’s head mixologist, Jonathan Peterson (who’s also put in time at Smith Commons) churns out pleasantly simple cocktails like the O’Fashioned Audubon Ballroom (rye, rum and orange bitters) and the Tarboro Viking (bourbon, ginger syrup, ginger beer and lime, both $10).

In addition to the dining room, there’s an outdoor patio in the backyard as well as a cramped viewing station where a row of bleachers sits across from a big-screen TV and a second bar. It’s been particularly popular during the World Cup.

Speaking of, Gray says Smith Public Trust won’t have its grand opening until the sporting event comes to a close so the restaurant can get acclimated to the neighborhood. Though if you show up before then, you’re more likely to be met with a smile than be turned away.

Smith Public Trust, 3514 12 St. NE; 202-733-5834, (Brookland)


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