As Halloween approaches, establishments are starting to set up their spooky season decorations with the wish to wow their customers.
With its elaborate decor and distinct ambiance, Urban Roast is an establishment to keep your eyes on this fall season. The family-owned restaurant in the heart of downtown D.C. is committed to bringing the Halloween season to the District with autumnal decor and sinister props covering every inch of its interior design.
Urban Roast was founded in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide the city with a complete seasonal experience aimed to keep patrons coming back for all their other holiday-themed adornments. The restaurant in Penn Quarter delivers an immersive experience tailored to each holiday season, this Halloween being the most transcendent to date.
As I entered the establishment, I immediately took note of the red neon lights that ominously read “She Used to Be the Sweetest Girl Ever” surrounded by skeleton thrones, tombstones and a witch around the corner. Statues of jesters, clowns and goblins enhanced every crevice of the restaurant, and spiderwebs and skeletons coated the walls of the dimly lit dining room.
In the dining room, mirrors adorned the walls to reflect smiles, frowns and everything in between for that essential Halloween-themed selfie. A long and narrow hallway with green leaves on one side and white rose petals on the other led to a section of the dining room featuring tables suited for two complemented with low, neon pink lighting and white roses.
Given the restaurant’s multitude of sections, guests can experience a different atmosphere in each area of the restaurant, from a first date to a large dinner party to a lively bar scene.
Through all the splendor that Urban Roast has to offer, the bar might be the most visually appealing. Globe pendant lights and black umbrellas hang from the ceiling while pumpkins and leaves lay along the countertop, complemented by purple lights glowing over the guests’ specialty craft cocktails. Autumn foliage lines the walls and cobwebs and crows hang from the ceiling, making the environment truly feel like Halloween night.
Beyond the elaborate decorations, Urban Roast adds a spooky spin to its dishes, cocktails and other beverages like coffee to coordinate with the upcoming holiday. The extensive menu consists of about 30 options from charcuterie spreads, main entrees, small plates, sandwiches, salads, cocktails and coffee. The seasonal cocktails take the cake with enticing options like the Fall Margarita Flight with pear, apple and cranberry flavored margaritas served in small round glasses on a standing flight carrier.
I ordered three tapas-style dishes, beginning with the Skirt Steak Tacos topped with pico de gallo, cheese and tomatillo sauce. The tacos were delectable, and each flavor made its presence known thanks to the equally proportioned ingredients, which made for non-messy bites.
I continued with the Sesame Ahi Tuna, a stack of small-cut pieces of tuna that were drizzled with teriyaki sauce for a hint of salt and wasabi sauce for spice and sprinkled with sesame seeds around the plate. Though the fish was overly chewy and hardly flavorful, the dish undoubtedly won for presentation with its red, black and orange colors evoking the feeling of Halloween.
Finally, I had the Shrimp Ceviche served in an orange bowl and marinated with onions, cilantro and lemon juice. Plantain chips were served on the side to dip into the ceviche mixture. The salty, crunchy chips paired seamlessly with the citrusy, chewy shrimp. For dessert, I tried the delectable Red Velvet Cake with cream on top, gelato on the side and chocolate sprinkled overtop. The rich and dense cake exquisitely complemented the lighter cream frosting and gelato.
The Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Mocha, the menu’s newest coffee option, exceeded my expectations. Served in a pumpkin mug, the coffee is poured over a Hershey’s bar and topped with whipped cream and cocoa powder.
Urban Roast’s creativity and ambience sets its apart from any other D.C. restaurant of its kind. The eatery’s decorations seem to blend in a way that highlights each element individually while simultaneously creating one overarching vibe. Make no mistake – this is no Michelin-star dining experience. But if you are in search of a spot to grab a bite and an elaborate seasonal drink in an ambient setting this Halloween, head to Urban Roast for an experience like no other.