A bar called Dive will open soon in the basement of Dupont Circle’s Darlington House restaurant. It will embrace its name with Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys, open mic nights, and rock ‘n’ roll themed food and drinks. A grand opening ceremony is intentionally timed to coincide with an epic party night: New Year’s Eve.
Partner Russell Hirshon is putting the final touches on the bottom level at 1610 20th Street NW, drawing from his deep roots in D.C.’s club scene to lend credibility to the new music venue and restaurant.
Some entrees and appetizers served upstairs will make their way to Dive with reimagined names such “New York Steak of Mind,” bacon-topped “Fleetwood Mac and Cheese,” and “Madison Square Garden” flatbread pizza. “Opening Act” appetizers will include “Great Balls of Fire” wings. Some of the items from upstairs will be priced lower at Dive.
Other items are odes to stars who got their start inside the space during its longtime run as a music venue called The Childe Harold. A “Back Up Band” section of the menu features a Bonnie Raitt salmon burger and a Bruce Springsteen burger. The New Jersey rocker’s three-figure contract to play there in 1973 is being framed as wall art.
Original exposed brick walls will also house a lineup of guitars available for everyone to take down and play. Upon arrival, customers are handed branded guitar picks and a ukulele to create mini bands at their tables.
Hirshon hopes open mic nights, scheduled to start January 11, can inspire new musicians.
“What if someone was motivated to become a guitar player just being here,” says Hirshon, who worked at Cities Restaurant and Lounge back in the day and now works for a creative agency.
Here’s a first look at the opening menu:
Cocktails ($12) also carry musical themes, with a vodka elixir dubbed “Strawberry Fields Forever” and a “Bob Marley mojito.”
To embrace its rock ‘n’ roll vibe even more, there’s bottle service featuring $225 bottles of Patron tequila or Tito’s vodka served tableside with six-packs of Coke and Red Bull. For $1,450, Hirshon is willing to part with the white Gretsch guitar that hangs in front of an original print of Elvis:
Darlington House owners Fabio and Patricia Beggiato are partners on the project. Patricia Beggiato is lending a hand with the design by making opaque 1970s-chic curtains to shield a corner bottle service area. The team updated the space by replacing its aging tile flooring with wood.
Hirshon says it’s an “anomaly” that a dive bar can also serve legit food like house-made pastas.
“Fabio goes to the market three times a week to get meats and vegetables. They’re meticulous about quality and taste,” he says.