By Juliet Farmer
The Golden Bear is one of those magical midtown destinations that has a little something for everyone (over 21)—tasty food, inventive cocktails, craft beer, a covered patio with heaters in the winter, and events such as DJs, trivia and more.
The Golden Bear’s limited, seasonal menu includes fare for carnivores and herbivores, with hot and cold items totaling about a baker’s dozen. On a recent trip, my husband and I tried the jalapeno poppers ($6), four average-size jalapenos, each smeared with roasted garlic cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. While I firmly believe that everything is better with bacon, these poppers included, I did think they were a bit pricey. We also shared a cup of the soup of the day ($3.50), a cream of mushroom with a kick of something spicy.
For the main event, we shared a Bahn Mi ($11) and a Veggie Burrito ($5.50). Per the menu, only 20 Bahn Mi’s are made per day, so we considered ourselves part of the lucky few. The lemongrass marinated chicken breast, jalapeno, pickled carrot, Chinese long beans, daikon radish, cilantro, basil, and lemongrass aioli, served on a Bella Bru baguette, tasted like a pho sandwich (hint: that’s a good thing, in case you’ve never had pho!). My favorite item, the Veggie Burrito, included habanero roasted sweet potatoes (something I never before considered burrito filling, but definitely will now), roasted pasillas, black beans, cilantro and jack cheese. It was tasty, filling, and very reasonably priced. The Golden Bear’s menu also includes pizzas, a pasta of the day, salads, a Rueben, and a grilled cheese sandwich. The menu offers a disclaimer that because the kitchen is small, food may take a while. I suggest a cocktail while you wait.
(Insider tip: While The Golden Bear does not have any desserts on the menu, we think that’s probably because they are located right next door to Rick’s Dessert Diner.)
Wine is available by the glass, and there are always a handful of beers on draft, such as Guiness Irish Stout, Stone Brewing Co. IPA, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (*seasonal), Big Sky Brewing’s Moose Drool Brown Ale, Blue Moon White Ale, and more. Bottled options include Miller, Budweiser and Bud Light, Coors Light, Corona, and Woodchuck Pear Cider. The mixed drinks are the real stars at The Golden Bear. I recommend the Green Tea Gilmet made with Beefeater gin, green tea simple syrup, lime juice and cucumber. It’s crisp, light, refreshing and slightly tart. The Golden Bear offers other specialty cocktails made with gin, rum, and whiskey, as well as a mixed drink of the day with some sort of seasonal reference (for example, apple in the fall).
The Golden Bear is a not-so-dive-y dive bar, in that the tables, chairs and décor are all modern, with clean lines and light colors. There’s limited bar seating, four high tables that can be moved to make room for the DJ and dancing, and a few tables and chairs out on the covered patio. The all-season covered patio boasts two large heaters when it’s cold outside.
DJ Shaun Slaughter makes regular appearances at The Golden Bear to mix disco, funk, soul, soft rock, and 90s music, and CrookOne sometimes stops by to mix funk and electro. On Wednesdays Nights at 8 p.m., Random Knowledge Trivia makes a weekly appearance for team trivia. When it’s slow, sit at the bar and chances are you’ll have front row seats for a game of dice.
Insider tip: The Golden Bear offers occasional industry night drink specials–check their Facebook page for details.
The Golden Bear is a great bar where you can grab a bite, sip something unique, hang out, play some games, or listen to music and get your groove on.
The Golden Bear
2326 K Street
Hours: Mon – Fri 3 p.m.– 2 a.m., Sat – Sun 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. (Kitchen: Mon – Fri 11:30 a.m.– 1 a.m., Sat – Sun 10 a.m.– 1 a.m.)