Dabney Cellar

Image: Glassware in use.

Last Visit: January 2020

Down some tricky stairs to the basement of a townhouse building on Ninth Street, you enter a retreat of casual refinement.  Despite being a basement, the room is open and more cave-like than you would expect.  Thirty or so seats are spread between the bar and about eight tables.  This appendix to The Dabney is one of several notable wine bars dotting the city.

There are 25-30 wines by the glass available and additional bottle options.  There is a mix of old and new world choices, with multiple options that pair well with the oysters served raw.  The depth of the list benefits from the (physical and corporate) connection to the larger restaurant upstairs. There are other beverage choices as well to round out the options if you don’t want wine.

The food choices are snack-like, but a clear step above mere bar food.  Hams from Virginia or Kentucky, East Coast oysters, and rotating list of cheeses are listed on large chalkboards behind the bar.  There is also a list of small plates like ricotta, vegetable plates, and crostini.  Consistent with traditional bar food, however, the plates are not light on salt, so keep your water glass handy.

The engaging service from upstairs transfers to the basement, and so does the price point.  But if you can snag a seat, it can put you in a good mood, which may be worth a few extra dollars.

Other Guidance:  The vibe is casual.  The wine, oysters, and ham are gluten free.

Rating: Worth Taking the Walk
Cuisine: Wine/Beer/Other (Wine Bar)
Neighborhood: Mt. Vernon/Convention Center
Address: 1222 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Website: https://thedabney.com/
Reservations: Walk-in (Open Wednesday – Saturday)

Other Critics/Voices:

Washington Post: Fritz Hahn’s DC wine bar overview (including Dabney Cellar, Primrose, Maxwell Park, Dio, Little Pearl):

Washingtonian: Preview

DonRockwell.com: No separate thread for the Cellar – Dabney Link