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The Argonaut Tavern, 14th and H Street NE - Closed (For Now?)


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Joe Englert, the man behind such dive bars as The Big Hunt, Lucky Bar, Capitol Lounge, and Pour House, strikes again, this time expanding his empire to the H Street, NE Corridor. Viewed by some as the next gentification project around town, Englert is moving in fast and furious with at least 7 projects slated to open on H Street -- the Argonaut Tavern being the first.

What can I say, it's a typical Englert dive bar! This time he has struck with a 1800's sea wharf saloon meets pirate rum bootlegger theme. Lots of nautical stuff, pressed tin roof, uneven floor boards, mismatched tables and chairs, a pool table, and flat screen TVs showing sports the modern touch. The beer list was a little small, I had a rather tasty unknown IPA, but unlike many Englert spots the food was actually rather tasty in dive bar way. Despite it being New Year's Day, we went with the fried calamari which was tender, with lots of black pepper in the batter and the Italian sausage sandwich was actually pretty darn good. The winner being the sweet potato fries.

Joe's places are what they are, dive bars, but it's a winning formula for him, and I look forward to checking out his other joints on H street in the coming months.

Argonaut Tavern

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You know, I didn't get the full tap list. No Bass. They seemed to have the usual suspects Bud etc. when Pete said IPA, I stopped him there and ordered the IPA but never really did get what brand it was. I fear the beer list right now isn't as extensive as say the Cap Lounge or Big Hunt. But the place is new, the neighborhood isn't there yet, so maybe they will expand their offers as more people move in.

H Street right now is what 14th Street, NW was like 10 years ago, a bunch of beat on store fronts...cerrtainly no million dollar lofts and Whole Foods!

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You know, I didn't get the full tap list.  No Bass.  They seemed to have the usual suspects Bud etc.  when Pete said IPA, I stopped him there and ordered the IPA but never really did get what brand it was.  I fear the beer list right now isn't as extensive as say the Cap Lounge or Big Hunt.  But the place is new, the neighborhood isn't there yet, so maybe they will expand their offers as more people move in. 

H Street right now is what 14th Street, NW was like 10 years ago, a bunch of beat on store fronts...cerrtainly no million dollar lofts and Whole Foods!

But how's the rum? Did you notice a Dark and Stormy on the menu?

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I've been there a couple of times since they opened and it ain't too bad. Definitely an Englert-style dive bar for yuppies. But it is much more "neighborhood joint-ish" than some of the others. I've never seen it too crowded, but there's always a few folks there. On every visit there has been a large table of cops eating and watching whatever game was on.

Draft selection was pretty crummy - Bud and Bud Lite (might have been Miller), Heineken and some sort of Argonaut Amber with a funny name. That one hasn't been in stock on any of my three visits, so I can't comment on it and maybe there's something else (i was last there in early Dec).

I heard that some of the kitchen staff are veterans from whatever was previously in that location. Definitely a soul food feel to much of it. Lots of black pepper and salt in most everything. Burgers were passable and the nachos were good. Fries were good - especially with a very salty brown gravy. I personally think we need more laid-back neighborhood watering holes with decent grub and friendly staff.

Location is a bit out of the way for many, but that end of H St is changing very quickly. Already there is a new performance space, the H Street Playhouse, a dance studio, martini bar, and coffee shop. H St has gotten funding for a sidewalk and lighting redo a la Barracks Row and work is being done on creating a more parklike atmosphere at the corner where Argonaut sits (a star plaza, they call it). Real estate agents are all abuzz that a real estate developer recently purchased the Hechinger Mall across the street and there will be big changes there in the coming years.

Finally, I lived on 14th and N Sts NW in the late 90s and agree that H these days has a similar feel to 14th st then. Not quite dangerous, but not Chevy Chase either. On the verge of some big changes and hopefully more and better food options will be coming in the future.

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Draft selection was pretty crummy - Bud and Bud Lite (might have been Miller), Heineken and some sort of Argonaut Amber with a funny name. That one hasn't been in stock on any of my three visits, so I can't comment on it and maybe there's something else (i was last there in early Dec).
The beer with the funny name is "Booty Beer", their house pour. It was an IPA the times I have been in there (about 4-5 now), but may have changed to an amber. The kitchen staff comes almost completey from the restaurant that was in that space before the Argonaut, and they do send out pretty decent food - I enjoyed the grilled cheese with bacon and the gravy fries. It's a good bar with a very laid back, local crowd.
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I will agree that the food was a lot better than I expected, certainly better that it had to be at 8 bucks a platter. Sweet potato fries were a hit; I could have eaten two more heaps of these babies. I really liked the unpretentious vibe of the place - there is a lot to be said for honest dives that don't pretend to be fabulous.

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The Argonaut is now my stand-in neighborhood dive, and I pledge its undying support. I've been there at least once a week for the last two months, and it invariably provides undemanding comforts, good bar grub and just a place to go where there isn't that many. I think my neighbors and I began referring to it as "going down to the pub."

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They recently hired a new chef at the Argonaut and the quality of the food is much more consistent. The menu has been updated to add a few more offerings and they have some slammin' vegatarian food, especially a house made mushroom burger and a fuji and fontina sandwich.

I have also heard a rumor that they are opening for brunch soon, which will be a great Sunday morning stop for me once they open that patio.

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Roger Troutman and I are at the Argonaut from time to time and it is one of our favorites.

Someone asked above if they serve dark and stormys and I am here to tell you that they do and they are a treat for sure. They are strong as hell so beware. Or not.

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To contrast the exclusive nature of the PX in Alexandria, I present DR.com a fabulous alternative.... The Argonaut on H St. NE. The menu is what you would expect at a dive bar with a Southern twist. The fried catfish is served with greens and out of this world mac-n-cheese. The fries come in two varieties: Idaho and Sweet! The menu has something for everybody, from the carnivore to the herbivore.

Did I mention the drinks? I love rum but am not such a fan of sweet drinks (especially before dinner). To my great delight, the speciality drinks included a rum and ginger beer concotion that was delicious.

The crowd tonight was diverse, and the place packed! The service is difficult because they only have one server for the dining room. Each of the bars (up and down) has a dedicated server.

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To my great delight, the speciality drinks included a rum and ginger beer concotion that was delicious.

This is a Dark and Stormy, at least when prepared with the dark rum.

We had a delightful time there a few weeks ago at their first anniversary party. Free wings and hot dogs for all. The hot dogs were just ordinary hot dogs, but the wings were far above average. Nice and hot, and bright orange :)

What I enjoy best about the place is that the annoying Adams Morgan/Georgetown weekend crowd hasn't yet discovered it. It still feels like a friendly, cozy neighborhood place, even on a Saturday night.

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What I enjoy best about the place is that the annoying Adams Morgan/Georgetown weekend crowd hasn't yet discovered it. It still feels like a friendly, cozy neighborhood place, even on a Saturday night.
Indeed. I think that the Argonaut is just far enough off the beaten path to remain more of a neighborhood joint (we are up on 14th and Constitution), especially with the publicity surrounding places like the Rock and Roll Hotel, Palace of Wonders, etc...
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Indeed. I think that the Argonaut is just far enough off the beaten path to remain more of a neighborhood joint (we are up on 14th and Constitution), especially with the publicity surrounding places like the Rock and Roll Hotel, Palace of Wonders, etc...

I certainly hope so! I was there on Saturday night and ran into a whole bunch of different people that I know from around my neighborhood (10th & Maryland NE). I can't tell you how nice it was to be able to run out for a "short one" on a Saturday night and not have to fight a huge crowd and have the opportunity to catch up with some neighbors.

I've only been to the Argonaut 3 or 4 times, but it may become my new nieghborhood tavern. My only complaint was that cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon cost $3.50, scandalous IMHO.

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The Argonaut has fully reopened and it is a much more attractive place than it was before the fire. The menu is largely familiar with a few new additions, including steamed seafood baskets, but the decor upgrade is substantial and they now have a dozen craft beers on tap (including some pretty good stuff from scrimshaw, great lakes, bells, flying dog, etc).

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I hate to slag them since they're both the closest bar/restaurant to my house and a place where I've had a number of wonderful evenings, but I really feel that the Argonaut has slipped to the point where it isn't worth going anymore. The last few times I've been the service has been atrocious (having to wait 20 minutes for our waiter to acknowledge us after being seated, some food items arriving ten minutes after the rest of the table, etc), and the food has really fallen off. I was so encouraged both by the look of the place after the fire, and by the dramatically improved quality of the food, but I think they're actually putting out worse food now than before. Their beer selection remains solid, but if I want a pub dining experience we'll go the extra block to the Queen Vic. I hope this changes, because I do want them to succeed.

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I've had a love/hate relationship with the Argo. On the one hand--they have been great with kids. On the other hand, I have often overlooked their idiosyncrasies because they have been so great with kids. I've had food that I tried to return because it was burnt and served upside down in order to hide it. This was after the owner inspected it and said it was fine (they still asked me to eat it, and finally took it off the bill). Poached eggs at brunch on a benedict that were actually hard cooked. But there have been really nice servers and pretty good burgers and booty beer. I hope that the Argo returns. There are so few family friendly places in the area that any loss will hurt.

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On 7/27/2016 at 9:13 PM, pidgey said:

I've had a love/hate relationship with the Argo. On the one hand--they have been great with kids. On the other hand, I have often overlooked their idiosyncrasies because they have been so great with kids. I've had food that I tried to return because it was burnt and served upside down in order to hide it. This was after the owner inspected it and said it was fine (they still asked me to eat it, and finally took it off the bill). Poached eggs at brunch on a benedict that were actually hard cooked. But there have been really nice servers and pretty good burgers and booty beer. I hope that the Argo returns. There are so few family friendly places in the area that any loss will hurt.

This sums up my feelings on the Argonaut quite well. I don't go that often because there are so many misses on food, but I still really hope they stick around. 

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