Image: House specialty.
Last Updated: January 2023
St. Arnold’s is a great, low-key bar south of Dupont that also happens to serve up some pretty good mussels and frites to go with the Belgian beer on tap. After a frighteningly long hiatus, they came back to life largely unchanged (though the chances of a second miracle happening to bring back the Cleveland Park location are beyond remote now). You still descend a few steps down to the bar off the quiet side street tucked in behind Shake Shack. There are a few tables and a couple of TVs, likely playing sports.
The mussels arrive in a big kettle too hot to touch, still simmering. The fries are seasoned and a bit meatier than you might expect from a Belgian spot, but still tasty with ketchup or aioli for dipping. The house version, which remains our default, is shallots in a beer broth. Other hearty food is available like a burger, steak, and pasta. The apps are more traditional bar food – onion rings, fried “buffalo” cauliflower. Despite listing salads on the menu, it is not a recommended place to go if you are sticking to your diet, unless that diet includes fries.
There are about a dozen beers on tap, almost all Belgian. A few more in bottles, including some mass-produced options. Service matches the casual bar feel more than a proper sit-down restaurant, but more of the friendly Coach kind than the abrasive Carla kind. It is the kind of place more likely to be in Lonely Planet than Michelin, and that’s what makes it special.
There were a handful of places we were rooting for to make it to the other side after Covid hit. St. Arnold’s was on that list, and maybe the most precarious of those that managed to make it back. We are glad it did.
Other Guidance: The setting is casual. The food not particularly friendly to dietary restrictions. There are several steps down from the street to enter.
Washington Post: Coverage from the 2010 opening seems to be lost online. Fritz Hahn in 2012 flagging the opening of the Cleveland Park location, with props to the original spot: “While it offers a better-than-average draft lineup and huge, delicious bowls of classic moules-frites, part of its allure has been its out-of-the-way location.” An ode to the Cleveland Park spot’s community feel.
Washingtonian: No coverage?
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