Last week, I would have described the mood at Shaw’s Tavern, the many-windowed would-be hot spot recently opened at 520 Florida Ave. NW, as “subdued.” Unfortunately, “funereal” would have been more accurate: The bar, which has been thus far unable to obtain a liquor license, closed Saturday until such time as the city allows it to serve alcohol.
The place got busted for serving liquor sans permits at some private opening parties, putting its future in limbo. What should have been a bright, cozy space in a neighborhood that sorely needs a few more of those instead spent its short life filled with sad conversations about what the bar would be like when it finally existed. (Answer: a small but well-chosen selection of local craft brews and high-end liquors.)
Shaw’s Tavern had sensational nouveau American food, communal tables and congenial wait staff. It was everything a neighborhood bar should be — so why did it feel like there was no point to being there? Did everyone look this sad during Prohibition? If we wore pinstripes and fringed dresses to dinner, would it be more fun? (Yes. Obviously.)
Hopefully, Shaw’s will reopen soon, bright and bustling and bursting with autumn ales. In the meantime, here are a couple other spots with big windows and a friendly vibe:
Estadio, 1520 14th St. NW; 202-319-1404, Estadio-dc.com. (Dupont Circle)
Tabaq Bistro, 1336 U St. NW; 202-265-0965, Tabaqdc.com. (U St.-Cardozo)