Duke’s Grocery, the British-style gastropub for fancy sandwiches and snack plates, unveils its fourth D.C. location — and biggest bar yet — in Navy Yard on Saturday, February 25 at 10 a.m.
Located a one-block walk from Nationals Park, Duke’s imports familiar favorites like its epic weekday happy hour (noon to 7 p.m.), when beers, wines, and cocktails cost $5-$9, bottomless brunch, beer-battered fish and chips, and of course, its essential burger that carries a registered trademark (1201 Half Street SE).
That double-patty “Proper Burger” (gooey gouda, dill pickles, charred onions, sweet chili sauce, arugula, garlic aioli, brioche bun) helped catapult restaurateur Daniel Kramer’s East London-style pub from the original location in Dupont to additional outposts in Woodley Park, Foggy Bottom, and now, Navy Yard. Kramer estimates Duke’s has sold some 1 million burgers, which includes wagyu, turkey, and Impossible varieties, over its 10-year lifespan so far.
Guests can also expect 10 beers on draft, stiff cocktails, and large wine list from lunch until late. A huge, roll-up garage door offers a breezy connection between the soon-to-open patio and soaring interior. A 40-seat bar stretching the length of one wall and high TV count (10 in all) caters to the neighborhood’s booming sports culture.
“People gravitate to Navy Yard not just to watch [games] live but also on TV,” says Kramer.
The biggest focal point of the bar isn’t its TVs, however; it’s the massive backsplash itself. A graffiti-style mural starts with soccer (er, football) players donning jerseys that spell out “Duke’s,” following by supersized odes to U.K. icons. Supermodel Kate Moss strikes a pose next to filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock puffing a cigar with a big black raven balanced on top. Korean-American artist KeyHan Lee also did the murals at Gogi Yogi, Kramer’s Korean barbecue spot in Shaw. A shiny copper bar top is a signature element at every Duke’s to date, and this one is no different.
“Copper ages and changes. It’s fun. We are kind of married to it at this point,” says Kramer.
To start, Duke’s opens with a pared-down preview menu full of classics and best-selling dishes. “Then as we grow into the space we’ll expand the menu and add the patio,” he says.
Along with its full burger lineup, opening handhelds include a tuna melt or salted brisket on sourdough, the “Cubano” torta Milanesa built with chicken schnitzel, and a fiery fried chicken sandwich. The opening menu also includes chickpea and green chili hummus, spicy-and-sticky pork wings, and quinoa salads. Hyattsville’s Lyon Bakery contributes the carbs, and local chain Compass Coffee (which has a store across the street) keeps customers caffeinated with freshly brewed cups. At brunch, consider adding a shot of Jameson—or make it a coffee martini.
The new location also shows love for both local and English breweries (London Pride, Strongbow) to go along with U.K.’s treasured gin Pimm’s Cup, a blackberry bourbon lemonade, and variations on classics like a citrus crush. Duke’s Navy Yard’s “Bevvies” menu introduces a “Mule Bar” that pairs ginger beer and lime with eight types of spirits.
This particular location is also toying around with a rotating “visitor’s dugout” menu to play up favorite foods from the city of a visiting sports team in D.C. (“To give the out-of-towners somewhere to feel at least a little comfortable before they get booed out of their seats,” says Kramer.)
Baseball fans will start flooding in and out of Nationals Park next month, and Duke’s Navy Yard opens the same day as DC United’s 2023 home opener at Audi Field. D.C.’s new XFL football team DC Defenders just kicked off their season at the Buzzard Point stadium, which is a 10-minute walk away. The plan is to also air Champions and Premier League soccer matches and host collegiate watch parties around big games and tournaments like March Madness.
Duke’s Navy Yard capitalizes on ample wall space above diners’ heads by showcasing just about every past and present British celebrity under the sun. Framed and displayed images pay homage to greats like Princess Diana, Sir Elton John, Freddie Mercury, James Bond, Banksy, Pink Floyd, The Who, and even fictional English soccer coach Ted Lasso.
The first Duke’s Grocery debuted in Dupont Circle in 2013, followed by a postage stamp-sized Duke’s Counter across from Smithsonian Zoo in 2016, and Duke’s Grocery Foggy Bottom in 2019. The Dupont original just temporarily closed undergo a needed makeover of its 140-year-old row home and will reopen with debut draft lines for Duke’s 10th anniversary this fall.
“[Duke’s Navy Yard] has the same menu items guests have come to know and love. The main changes here are the new neighborhood, massive garage door, big ass bar, and lots of TVs,” he says.
Its $26 bottomless brunch deal on mimosas, Bloody Marys, and beer (90-minute time limit), joins Duke’s staples like its “Proper” English breakfast, Benedicts, and bacon-and-egg “sarnies” on sourdough. The weekend meal starts right out of the gate on opening day.
“We’re running right into it, drinking water from a firehose,” says Kramer.
Hours are 10 a.m. to to 11 p.m. on Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sunday; and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday.
Kramer’s Duo Group hospitality portfolio also includes Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar on U Street NW, which reopens for the season next month.