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The Centerpiece of Light Horse’s Revamp Is a Glossy Rustic Bar

The Old Town sports bar unveils its new first-floor dining area on Monday, October 15

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Light Horse tacks on a new addition on Monday, October 15.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Old Town’s 10-year-old Light Horse restaurant, known for late-night drinks and skee ball on the second floor, just got a little more refined downstairs by tacking on an upscale dining area inspired by a rustic barn setting.

The 1,600-square-foot space (715 King Street) can seat 34, with an additional 22 seats at the bar. Chef Chafik Hocine, who arrived this summer after stints cooking at Grady’s on 14th Street NW and Bar Elena on H Street NE, is now overseeing the kitchen that is scheduled to start welcoming customers Monday, October 15.

Daily dinner service runs 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with weekday lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and weekend brunch joining the mix next month. A late-night menu runs 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. with hearty fare like a loaded baked potato and a glow-in-the dark “Black Betty” cocktail (available after midnight) that’s so potent it comes with a two-drink-per-person limit. Light Horse is currently open daily 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. across both levels.

The centerpiece of the new dining room is a 38-foot bar, which sports a fractal wood burning technique known as the Lichtenberg figure, or the art of burning tree-like figures into wood using high voltage electricity. One cocktail available behind the elaborate bar is the “Pixie Rainbow Fancy Bubbles” — a shimmery concoction integrating edible glitter alongside a house-made flavored sugar cube, bubbly and Green Hat gin.

One dish that fits the rugged motif is the grilled quail special rubbed with Texas-style spices and served with spiced cauliflower purée and microgreens. Another is the cast iron-seared duck breast with confit fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard, and wild berry sauce. Here’s a look at the opening dinner menu, with dishes priced $5 to $27:

The renovated lower level adds to the historic venue named after Maj. Gen. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III, a famed horseman and war hero from the American Revolution who went on to become the ninth governor of Virginia. Lee, who was also the father of Civil War Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, once lived a few blocks from where the restaurant stands in Alexandria.

Status: Dinner service is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. 715 King Street, Alexandria, Va.; website.

Veteran bartender Christopher Hyman splits cocktails ($9 to $15) into “Fun” and “Fancy” menu categories.
Old barn wood was converted into table tops, and original brick walls got a white paint job for Light Horse’s new extension.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Light Horse debuts dinner service at its new downstairs space on Monday, October 15.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Lots of reclaimed wood accents line the new downstairs space at Light Horse.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
A 10-oz. New York Strip served with housemade french fries at Light Horse.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Mussels at Light Horse.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC