1341 H St NE
(between N Linden Ct & N 14th St)
Washington, DC 20002
I’m always open for a recommendation of a bar to check out, so friend and photographer extraordinaire Tom Williams mentioned that I should check out a place called the Star and Shamrock in Northheast DC. Seemed like a fine enough name of a bar to me, until I looked them up on the Internet and found out that it’s a Jewish deli/Irish bar. How can I pass this place up!
First Impressions: This time around, my first impression started when I got into a cab and told the cabbie the address. His response was “why do you want to go to this part of town??” Ummmm…I always hate that question. For those that don’t know, this part of DC was severely damaged during the 1968 civil rights riots and did not start to recover until a few years ago. We get to the address and I see a sign that has a Star of David with a shamrock in the middle…this HAS to be the place! Looks brand new too.
The Bar: Looks for more Irish bar than it does Jewish deli. And as Irish bars go, this place had your usual wood and brick look to the bar area. They had roughly 40 beers on including He'brew Messiah Bold and Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale…at least they keep with the theme of the place.
The Crowd: Keep in mind, that this area is the new “in” spot for urban nerds. For the most part, everyone in the place looked like they were at a casting call for the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”, except for one douche who was sporting the 70’s retro look complete with mustache, tube socks with stripes and old-school ¾ length concert t-shirt. This most definitely is NOT my kind of crowd.
Service: No complaints here. Our quiet, yet heavily tatted-up, bartender was very efficient. She was never more than a few steps away to make sure that the overpriced beers kept on a comin’. There was a large bouncer dude sitting at the door, not sure why that was needed, but I’ll assume they have him there for a reason.
Prices: I asked my usual question, “Do you have any drink specials?” Answer…no. Which means I will have to pay $7.50 for ONE half and half. At this point, I put my $20 back into my pocket and reached for my credit card. This was not going to be cheap, or reasonable for that matter.
Food: How could I not eat? I mean, if I’m really going to put a Jewish deli/Irish bar to the test, I have to see how their pastrami on rye tastes. For about $8 you can get a sandwich, BUT, any side you want costs extra. UUUGGGGH, why do bars do that! My pastrami was good (very good actually), but in no way would be confused with a pastrami sandwich from Manhattan. The French fries smelled good, but for two bucks extra I didn’t order any, plus, that is exactly ¼ the money I will need for my next beer!
A/V: A few smallish TV’s are in the place, but not many. I would not recommend this as a place to watch a sporting event. There was some music on in the background and at one point I even heard Weird Al Yank Vic’s “Polkas on 45”. Not sure why that was noteworthy but I wrote it down anyway...I always did like that song.
Restrooms: One unisex restroom. That’s right, much like Ally McBeal, the men AND women go to the same small room when nature calls. It’s a single-seater, so it’s not like you have to share at the same time, but I just have to assume that can’t be all that appealing to any women who visit this place.
Bartender Chat: Nothing that stands out. Like I said earlier, she was a good (albeit quiet) bartender. I’m sure we made small talk, but nothing that even made it into my notes.
How Far Did My $20 Go: For twenty dollars, you can get exactly one beer and a sandwich (no sides). I’ve seen better prices in the airport! Keep in mind that there don’t seem to be any drink specials here, so be warned if you decide to visit and bring your credit card.
Final Impressions: I still think the concept for the place is great. And it is a very nice “deli” that seems to be run very well. Now, on the other hand, I have no idea why someone would go out of their way to stop here? If you find yourself in Northeast DC and are hungry for a pastrami and rye with a pint of Guinness, you won’t be disappointed. But I just don’t know how often someone just happens to be in that part of town with those two cravings at the same time? Who knows, maybe it happens all the time…but I highly doubt it. I can’t recommend hitting this dive, but it’s a fine enough place for what, and where it is, I suppose.
Apparently I did not get all my facts correct (what a shock!) Please read the following comments I received that says there are TWO restrooms and the occasional drink special.
"There are TWO restrooms. One on either side of the bar. Plus there are specials on every Jewish and Irish holiday (every 17th of the month is St. Patty's Day, for instance), and they do specials about once a week as well as live Irish music once or twice a week. Try to do more research next time. Also, prices are normal for DC. And where else can you get a reuben egg roll? Oy Vey!"