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A ‘70s-Styled Bar Brings a Bottomless Narragansett Brunch to Brookland

The Runaway opens with jet-black burger buns, goat cheese poppers, and $8 shot combos

Interior at a bar
The Runaway debuted inside the former Steel Plate space this month.
Christine Lilyea/Runaway
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The crew behind punky Petworth staple Slash Run just opened a bigger sibling in Brookland that’s all about towering burgers, unicorn ciders, and rock ‘n’ roll sets.

The weeks-old Runaway (3523 12th Street NE) carves out room for a dedicated live music venue, a vinyl-driven DJ booth, dining room, and back patio dressed with string lights, plus a green room and a bigger soundstage than that at Slash Run. Its first show on Thursday, March 31, is sold out.

The Northeast menu is full of familiar headliners (Creekstone Farms beef patties, a bottomless Narragansett brunch, local spirits, and vegan wings), plus experimental releases like a cherry compote-topped Cherry Bomb burger with brie.

The Runaway pays homage to its rocker roots, named after the female band that catapulted Joan Jett into ‘70s stardom. Jett naturally has her own burger, featuring spinach and artichoke dip between a black brioche bun from local baker Pop’s Buns.

“Our deal was, if you can make me a black bun I’ll work with you,” jokes owner Christine Lilyea. “They came up with a squid ink bun and got creative and topped edible gold on it.”

The shimmering black carbs also make an appearance on Runaway’s eponymous bacon burger.

A breakfast platter
Two eggs any style, maple sage sausage or bacon and home fries.
Christine Lilyea/Runaway
A towering burger
A “Pinch Of Rock & A Dose of Roll” burger features both chicken fried bacon and baked bacon.
The Runaway/Facebook

On weekends, buy a single patty burger or brunch item like jalapeno pepper jack pancakes (normally $14 each) to unlock a two-hour stream of mimosas, micheladas, bloody marys, or Narragansett for $33. Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and hours kick off at 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Booze flows until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.

New England’s everyday lager fits nicely into its dive-y vibe, but a constantly-rotating list of eight drafts also includes “stuff you won’t find anywhere else in D.C.,” she says. That includes ciders from San Diego’s Newtopia Cyder and New England’s Artifact Project. Brews from Maryland’s Mustang Sally and Maine Beer Company also go on and off the taps. For $8, pair a shot of Kopper Kettle bourbon from Virginia’s Belmont Farms with a glass of Narragansett.

Top-selling Brookland debuts so far, she says, include goat cheese poppers with ancho honey (Slash Run does jalapeno poppers) and double-patty “Pinch of Rock & a Dose of Roll” burger, built with bacon two ways from Maryland’s MeatCrafters, sweet pickles, cheddar, gruyere, and jalapeno coleslaw. Vegetarians can sub in Impossible patties or go with a beer-battered eggplant burger with Thai basil curry aioli, grilled red peppers, and burrata cheese.

Lilyea’s friends who own Etsy stores helped put together Runaway’s retro look, which includes vintage glassware and plates, vinyl chairs, and a rare find under the DJ booth: a furniture-style TV with a working built-in stereo and record player.

“Eventually we’ll get the TV working to put on movies,” she says.

The 280-person hangout can fit about half that count in its live music venue.

“[Shows are] heavy into the ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll, early punk scene when metal became metal,” she says.

The facade at Runaway.
Christine Lilyea/Runaway
A dining room
The multi-level space includes a main dining room.
Christine Lilyea/Runaway