Fight Club, from the Capitol Hill cast behind old school favorite Beuchert’s Saloon and its whimsical new tasting room Newland, opens Tuesday, May 10 in the former home of Hank’s on the Hill (633 Pennsylvania Avenue SE).
“Between all three locations, I like to think we’re helping put Capitol Hill on the map in D.C. as a culinary destination,” co-owner Andrew Markert tells Eater.
Fight Club’s new 60-seat address with a small patio gets going with weekday lunch service to start (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for dine-in, carryout and delivery. Extended daily hours, alcohol like its beloved boozy punches on draft, and full menu will go live in a few weeks. To warm up diners to the main opening event, printed images of Fight Club’s iconic movie characters — a shirtless Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, perhaps — will be wrapped inside a lucky few orders, redeemable for golden ticket-type prizes like naming rights to a future sandwich.
Co-owners Markert, Bart Hutchins, and Mackenzie Conway debuted the playful sandwich-slinging venture in Beuchert’s Saloon in 2020 while the bar went on a pandemic pause. Fight Club 2.0 sits five doors down from its 14-month residency and already has a built-in neighborhood fan base for its now-cult classic takes on traditional sandwiches.
“Fight Club isn’t your standard Italian, Reuben, BLT place,” says Markert who tag teams with Hutchins on a menu all about wild flavor combos that work.
Best sellers returning to the ring include the “F.C. Chicken Doink” — its ode to a McGriddle, built with crispy buttermilk-brined chicken thighs, maple cake, and Crystal hot sauce; and the namesake Fight Club, a spin on the classic club assembled with roasted club steak, bacon, roasted tomato, shredded lettuce, and brown butter mayo on white country bread.
An everyday egg salad sandwich gets a Maryland twist with blue crab, crab fat dressing, spicy pickle relish, and shrettuce. The “HEIR To The BLT,” named one of the best sandwiches in the D.C. area, turns up the summertime classic with heirloom tomatoes, house made black pepper bacon, pistachio butter, brown butter mayo and shrettuce on sourdough.
New releases include a “Salami and Slaw” (fried genoa salami, Napa cabbage slaw, hot mustard and potato sticks between garlic bread). Meat-free fans can find a “G.T. Cauliflower” with tso sauce, broccoli and carrot slaw, chili relish and rice puffs on a banh mi loaf and the “Faux”-lafel wrap filled with cashew and tofu “falafel” on naan bread.
The aesthetic is going for an “outdoor punch garden with more edginess,” says Markert, complete with street art murals, tiki lanterns, and DJ booth to work weekend brunch. And to give the people what they want, Fight Club polled social media followers about which arcade game to put inside: Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter (the latter won by one vote).
“It was one of the most engaged posts ever,” says Conway, adding each play is 50 cents.
Other lovingly random touches include a pop art portrait of Danny Devito and its familiar set of gnomes flipping the proverbial bird. The PG-13 figurines cheered up takeout regulars behind its window during the pandemic and now live on behind the new bar.
Memorable meals also play a part in the menu. A solid dinner at Chicago’s Lone Star with friends sparked the idea for Fight Club’s Walking Taco, featuring seasoned beef taco meat, queso fresco, pickled chilies and crema smothered over corn chips. Half-smoke “pups” pay homage to the D.C. classic, built with cornbread-battered sausage, Zatarain’s mustard and scallions.
Fight Club’s birthplace of Beuchert’s Saloon contributes some hits of its own, like “Potatoes Fried the French Way” with sauce ravigote and “D’evil Eggs” with pickles, crispy onions and carrot slaw. Dessert calls for ice cream sandwiches stuffed with seasonal flavors, and salted caramel banana pudding can be dipped in homemade chips for a sweet-and-salty treat.
The grand opening, slated for late May or early June, will add weekend and extended weekday hours, new sandwich drops, boozy punches on draft and other cocktail creations, and a lively brunch.
An incoming large plate menu category will bring Nashville hot lamb shank to the table, joined by slaw, spicy pickles, and Hawaiian rolls for DIY sandwiches, as well as a fried half chicken and caviar served with cornbread, honey butter, and coleslaw.