all photos: Shauna Alexander
It has been seemingly forever that we’ve been writing about food and music on BYT (I’d tell you the exact amount of years, but then I’d have to kill you) and while we are often enthusiastic about all sorts of things, it is rare that our jaded hearts so unabashedly love a place that we spend the next week texting people that we all have to go, and we all have to go now. But, that is the effect Republic had on us on a recent visit.
The Takoma Park establishment is that rare breed: a great restaurant, a great bar, and a great, low-key venue. BONUS: All shows at Republic are free and the night we stopped by, Love Inks were playing, and the show was such a delight that we’d have gladly paid to see them. But, lets start from the beginning.
Takoma is not hard to get to. You get on a train, you get off a train, and you’re there. So, no whining about where this is. Plus, it is worth it. The second you walk in, you feel at home. The lighting is flattering (important for those early-in-the-game date night decisions), the staff is seemingly the nicest in the area, and everyone in attendance is the kind of cool, unassuming customer you sort of wish you ran into in DC bars proper (no wonder Republic featured prominently on our 2014 LEAST DOUCHEY BARS IN DC LIST). The added bar bonus is that the happy hour is pretty great too (3-7pm Monday-Friday, with $3 half pints of their impressive beer list, great food and late night offerings too)
Now, what should you have? The cocktails are a delight (with a finely curated list of both classics and seasonal additions), but there’s something about Republic that says beer and whiskey (to us, at least). The beer list skews local and offers everything from DC area classics (Port City’s Optimal Wit) to fun, why-not-try-this choices (that we promise you won’t regret) like Jailbreak Brewing’s Welcome to Scoville jalapeno beer or The Brewer’s Art Sangreale Red Saison. Go ahead, be bold.
In terms of whiskey, we were informed that ALL the bands that come by are offered a whiskey tour by co-owner Danny Wells, and if you can swing that, we highly recommend you go that route.
Having said that, after all that you WILL be in need of some food. And you’re in luck because while Republic may keep things a little more casual than some other Black Restaurant Group establishments, there’s not a singe misstep on the menu.
Clearly, there’s oysters (including wood grilled ones which should be a big fall hit) and you should get them, but then really, you should go with a mix of smaller plates and late-night offerings: the burrata with farro, basil and lemon oil is perfect, as are the seasonal salads but on the vegetable side of things, go for the Wood Roasted Brocollini with Virginia Peanuts on top and don’t look back.
Then, there are the goddamn sandwiches. Our love affair with Republic went into overdrive once we tried the sandwiches. The duck confit cubano, the pulled pork extravaganza (maybe the best pork sandwich in town?), the burger – all were worth a second visit in and of themselves.
Around this time, music usually starts. The bands are just hanging out beforehand, eating their sandwiches, drinking their whiskey, being friendly with the friendly crowd, and then they get up and do their thing. It feels like the most natural of transitions in this environment and definitely keep an eye on their upcoming line-up.
As we were soaking up the sweet, sultry sounds of Love Inks, we were informed there was also a dessert menu. Now, this should not have come as a surprise necessarily but we were already so high on all the pulled meat and wonderful whiskey running through our bodies that we didn’t even know where to begin with processing that decision.
Which won’t happen again because the desserts, much like everything else at Republic, are a delight. Edging on the side of comfort (crumbles, carrot cakes, and pots of cream) they all (can and should) come with assorted house made ice-creams on the side, and are great to share with the rest of your old and new friend at Republic.
In short, yes, this IS our new favorite place.
HI5 everyone-and see you there.