The Bar Belle: The Reef

The Reef
2446 18th St. NW

It’s that time of the school year when the spring break tan has diminished and the D.C. weather is playing tease like a freshmen year hook-up with its on-again-and-off-again warm weather game. It’s tough being a Southern girl in the Mid-Atlantic. I went home last weekend to enjoy wine as I tanned by the pool, only to be confronted with freezing temperatures as soon as I returned, along with a depressing amount of work and having to don my ragged winter garb. Where to turn in such a crisis, to find a warm paradise in a city of concrete and Congress? I decided to check out The Reef in Adams Morgan.

As of late, I have been discovering what an untapped resource Adams Morgan is. My weekend exposure to the area in the past four years has been limited to very few bars, ones that I now realize are not hallmarks of the area. So, I did my research and found a plethora of new spots. I settled upon The Reef because, well, I heard it had impressive salt-water fish tanks (and who doesn’t dig fish) and a heated (being the key word) roof-top bar. After a few drinks with friends at a regular hangout (no aquatic life in sight), I headed down the strip to get an idea of what Ariel felt like after a few toddies with her Prince Charming.

We were greeted at the narrow entrance by an unusually hospitable bouncer who checked our IDs and directed us up the narrow (and perilous in heels or drunk goggles) stairwell that radiated odor pockets reminiscent of freshmen days cavorting at the now-extinct G Street frat houses. At the top of the last flight I swung open the metal door to be pleasantly surprised by the adobe walls and wood deck complete with its own bar, dining area and heat lamps.

We passed by the slightly crowded bar to find a table near one of the lamps, which unfortunately was not working to full capacity. I was again delighted to notice the drink menu offerings of well-selected wines by the glass around $8; draft imports around $5 a pint and the Chimay Triple for $7.50. Almost better than the drinks was the music, emanating the likes of Led Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughn at an audible level that was still conducive to conversation.

After almost two hours of en plein air dining and drinks, the late night chill overpowered the wavering heat lamps. So I descended to the second level. An unpretentious late 20’s crowd was gathered around the undulating bar counter, which lay beneath a watery portal affixed on the ceiling. The room was surrounded by several salt-water fish tanks, each providing enough entertainment to just get drunk and gaze upon the brilliantly colored creatures darting about the coral. I did this until it was time to return home tipsy to complete those last assignments required for graduation.

Bar Belle Rating 4/5

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