Just in time for Oktoberfest, Shaw has a new German-inspired beer garden. Dacha, which opened last night at the corner of Seventh and Q streets NW, is about as basic as it gets: Picnic tables, lots of standing room and a dozen beers on draft, primarily German and Belgian but with a few Americans tossed in.
This former used car lot is an attractive space with gravel underfoot and flowers lining the fence; it'll get even better looking in a few weeks when a mural of Elizabeth Taylor fills the side of the building overlooking the bar. There are currently four picnic tables for seating, with more on the way, but even then, most of the room will be devoted to standing.
Beers flow from taps on the side of a truck, but the selection is very good, including five different brews from Bavaria's Weihenstephan, including Oktoberfest and the very refreshing pilsner. (As of last night, Dacha is apparently the only place in D.C. with the pils on draft.) Beers come in the classic half-liter glasses or, if you're really thirsty, a one-liter boot. I got the pilsner in a boot last night, and it was quite a conversation starter. Just remember to watch out for the air bubbles that come out of the toe when you drink down to the bottom. Half-liters are $7, boots are $14.
Another cool beer touch: Fruh, a crisp kolsch from Cologne, can be ordered by the tray. For $30, you get 11 traditional 0.2 liter (6.7 ounce) glasses on a special metal tray that are perfect for sharing with a group.
There's no kitchen on site, so Dacha will rely on food trucks during Oktoberfest parties. That will change in a few months: While Dacha is closed for a Garden District-style winter break, the owners will construct a small kitchen and permanent bar.
Because it's an outdoor bar in a neighborhood, last call will be at 10:30 during the week and 11:30 on the weekends. Doors open at 4 p.m. during the week and at noon on Saturday and Sunday. Also, because it's outdoors, there's no indoor plumbing: Four portable toilets are the only restroom facilities. That's a small price to pay for a refreshing German beer in the open air.