Photos by Nicholas Karlin, Words by Brandon Wetherbee
If Calico opened in the summer it might have been D.C.’s most popular summer bar. It opened in October. It’s still one of D.C.’s best new bars.
The Blagden Alley establishment has two gimmicks: alcoholic juice boxes and draft cocktails. The juice boxes barely taste like alcohol. The Red Brick Road does not taste like alcohol. At all. Dangerous and great for summer. When it’s warm out these things will sell like candy. We’re assuming candy sales are good.
The draft cocktails are better but not nearly as kitschy as drinking from a juice box. So if you care about substance more than style, order the draft cocktail. But you’ll probably be drawn in because of the juice box.
The gimmicks are nice and will work, but what makes it a desirable location is its actual location. Located in Bladgen Alley, it’s relatively hidden, around the corner from La Colombe and Tiger Fork. It’s a welcome addition to an already bustling food and drink scene.
Calico’s food is Eastern Seaboard classics. Chef Nathan Beauchamp isn’t reinventing anything but putting a small twist on comfort food. The Eggplant Parmesan is great for the fall weather. The Blagden Hoagie gives Sundevich a run for their money. If you’re going to order one thing, the Philly style Tomato Pie is the best. Like we said, most everything is meant to be shared. This is a place meant for couples and groups. There’s no need to order more than one thing at a time. The Tomato Pie is probably all a group of four needs.
The space is bright and airy. The back bar and patio space is good for groups and all weather. There are heaters for November nights that aren’t in the 60s. But since the world is melting, you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoor spaces of Calico year round.
When we update our Date Guide we will be adding Calico. It’s the kind of place that’s ideal for Tinder dates (order the juice boxes and Eggplant Parmesan sticks) and comfortable couples (draft cocktails and Tomato Pie because you’re going to get tomato all over your face and that’s something only long term couples appreciate on their partners). If you’re interested in romance, try Columbia Room around the corner. If you’re interested in a casual drink with a potential romantic partner, you’re not going to find a better Instagram background than Calico. Their pink tables, outdoor space, vintage lamps and art collage walls look fantastic. Even the indoor bar stools are worth some admiration. This is a good looking spot in an alley.
Calico is new. Very new. Some of the paint is still wet. But it doesn’t feel new. It feels like it belongs in its alley. That’s a high compliment. We go to a lot of new places. In D.C. there are new bars and restaurants every week. Most don’t come off as comfortable. Calico is extremely comfortable. We will be headed back with people we like.
Calico, 50 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001, is open Monday from 3 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday from noon to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 1 a.m. The backyard is open until 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Since it’s in Blagden Alley, Google Maps isn’t entirely accurate. One of us was directed to the correct location, one of us was directed to La Colombe. It’s around the corner from La Colombe.