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You Can Now Drink in a D.C. Metro Car, ‘Doors Opening’ Next Week

Go off the rails with cocktails inside Northeast’s incoming Railcar Bar

Sip a minty FLOTUS cocktail in Railcar Bar.
Chelsey Christensen
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Metrobar, D.C.’s transit-themed outdoor destination for local brews and spirits since summer 2021, has finally finished track work on its on-site subway. The refurbished 5000-series Metro railcar will start accepting booze-buying passengers on Wednesday, July 12.

Saddle up to a rehabbed Metro seat at Railcar Bar.
Chelsey Christensen

Appropriately parked near Metro’s Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood station, the new Railcar Bar begins operating at 4 p.m. every Wednesday to Sunday (640 Rhode Island Avenue NE). Its Metrobar predecessor will continue to open at noon on Saturdays and Sundays (and 4 p.m. during the week).

Railcar Bar’s diner-styled atmosphere is lined with sleek, hexagonal-tiled flooring (no dingy carpets in this car), framed with 26 salvaged Metro seats that received a needed makeover. Rounded walnut tables offer a mix of two- and four-top seating arrangements for up to 38 guests inside. Flip-up windows open up to a platform for adjacent alfresco drinkers.

Railcar Bar opens up to a covered platform reminiscent of an outdoor Metro stop.
Maya Fiellin
Metrobar shows love for lots of local spirits.
Maya Fiellin

Coming soon: on-brand glassware and a railcar-specific cocktail list to be announced closer to opening time, partner John Groth tells Eater. For now, guests can order off Metrobar’s color-coded menu, which includes drinks like a Ward 5 whiskey sour, Blue Line Chill Rickey, and spicy Last Stop margarita. The bar program is fueled by locally made spirits like rums from Cotton & Reed and Old Line, Republic Restoratives’ Civic vodka and Assembly gin, fiery Chacho, District Made whiskeys, and more. The DMV-wide beer list includes pours from Liquid Intrusion, Hellbender, Heurich Brewing, and Denizens.

The unusual project comes from partners with backgrounds in construction and rec leagues for karaoke and bocce, who gutted and retrofitted the car for proper public consumption indoors. Two years in, their Metrocar drinking stop has become a D.C. cultural hub and home to all sorts of airy art installations. The surrounding Bryant Street NE development near the Metropolitan Branch Trail recently welcomed a sprawling new food hall and cocktail bar and sports complex Kraken Kourts & Skates.

A dozen stools framing the bar are expected to arrive at a later date.
Noe Todorovich
Reupholstered Metro seats have a familiar blue-toned look.
Chelsey Christensen

DMV commuters are used to packing into a Metro car during rush hour, so it should come as no surprise the narrow train can fit up to 100 passengers during standing-room events.

A concrete bar top pays homage to the Brutalist architecture movement of the 1970s, when Metro was constructed. Modern-day elements like a fresh audio-visual system, indoor-outdoor DJ booth, and upgraded lighting join early-aughts art accents from Metro’s 5000-series era.

The original idea was born over drinks in 2019, says Groth, with a rough sketch on a bar napkin posing the question, “What if you could repurpose a Metro railcar and turn it into a bar?” The pandemic created anticipated scheduling delays.

The team effort behind the venue also includes designer Leslie Lofgren of The Forum, fabricator Wits End, contractor Loray Group, architect Steve Sorrell, EventsDC, Metro parent Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and Bryant Street.

The bar facade features an inset metal “Metro map” design.
Chelsey Christensen
A colorful collection of canned beers at Metrobar.
Maya Fiellin