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Cleveland Park Bar & Grill

Submitted by on January 26, 2010 – 8:04 AMOne Comment
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3421 Connecticut Ave.
Washington, DC

Hours of Operation:
Mon. – Thu.       5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Fri.                        4 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Sat.                        11:30 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Sun.                       11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Best time to visit: For dinner; Happy Hour.

The Cleveland Park Bar & Grill is an appealing little establishment which should consider a name change.  The ‘location’ + ‘bar and grill’ format is too generic for such an interesting place.  While twenty or so TVs serve your sports-viewing needs, the mirrors and artwork on the painted red-orange walls suggest a stylish trattoria.  On the website, the term ‘Sports Bistro’ is used, and, if this is not the perfect label, it is at least more suitable.

The corridor-style urban construction in this case feels uncluttered.  Rather, one feels a depth and spaciousness stretching back from the entryway, inviting one out of the lights and traffic on busy Connecticut Avenue.  Well-illuminated (but not overlit) with subtle track-lighting, this openness allows space for larger groups, whether out after work or there to watch football or basketball, yet also permits quiet intimacy for those enjoying the varied fare of the dinner menu.

From inexpensive but well-made pizzas to fancier salads and other pub offerings – both standard and unusual – there is more selection than one might expect from the typical B & G.  This is not a greasy steak-and-burger joint.

The beer selection is first-rate, with a number of unexpected bottled brews (from Bass to Old Rasputin) supplementing a more-than-adequate tap list.  The broad range of draughts includes Guinness and Smithwick’s, Stella Artois, Leinenkugel, Sam Adams, and Magic Hat #3.  There is also an Amber brewed for the bar which is worth a taste, if just for the novelty; as Happy Hour only offers Yuengling, Miller Lite, and the ‘CP Amber’ on discount for $3, there is no reason not to hoist a pint.

The Cleveland Park Bar and Grill has only been in operation since 2005, but the space has undergone various rebirths and renovations over the years.  Perhaps once upon a time a rustic watering hole on the site deserved simple local-tavern name the bar currently carries.  Today the quaint moniker serves only to lower expectations – such that an otherwise ‘merely’ decent establishment becomes exceptional.

Pros: Comfortable atmosphere; Good selection of beer and food; Decent prices.

Cons: Generic name.

Rating: 3.5/5