Everyone has their own neighborhood watering hole. A place where you can take a quick stroll with a friend or roommate to have a drink or a bite to eat after work or during a lazy weekend afternoon. Some are luckier than others when it comes to their choices for a neighborhood bar. I consider myself lucky enough to live a couple blocks away from one of the newest and most popular bars on U St.
American Ice Company opened its doors a little over a year ago and has quickly become one of the more popular bars on the block. American Ice Company is brought to you by the owners of Marvin and The Gibson. The attempt her is to try to blend the chic, relaxed environment of their two successful ventures and add a bit more of an edge to give it a more dive feel.
The bar was erected in a former car repair shop and hidden on the mostly residential V St. Its obscure location adds to the allure and experience of visiting. Every time I introduce a friend to the bar I am always met with the question “Where the hell are you taking me?” which never ceases to amuse me.
The decor consists of exposed brick which gives it a bit of an urban rustic feel. The outdoor patio which is heated during the winter is definitely better during the spring and summer months. As you enter the bar your nasal cavity will absorb the distinct scent of barbecue emanating from the open kitchen. Your ears may hear the sound of a cleaver pounding meat and see the sweat of a chef hard at work preparing endless platters of food that are doled out each day.
The restaurant has a mix of table and bar seating which appeal to different groups depending on both the size of your party and whether you are there to eat or not. The chalkboard display lists a diverse set of beers that come either in cans (Metal) or on tap (Jar). The list contains a good mix of beers that will appeal to hipsters and aristocratic beer lovers. The beers are served in mason gars which seem to be in vogue but suit this bar especially well.
Of the many times I have been here I can say that I enjoy the experience regardless of the time or day. I have introduced a countless number of people here to share a couple beers or eat some food. Its proximity to my home makes it either the first or last bar I visit when I go out. Finding an open table can be extremely difficult since it is a first come first serve policy so be weary of that and plan to come early if you want to sit down and enjoy some food with a group of friends.
If you choose that path I highly suggest placing an order of swachos. This dish puts a southern approach to a traditional Latin snack. The basic formula to understanding the name of this dish is swine + nachos = swachos. The platter consists of nacho chips smothered with queso and pork to produce a delectably devious mound of deliciousness.
It is by far my favorite dish on the menu and a must order for a group of two or more. I love to pair it with a Dos X tall boy to keep with the roots of the dish and because it is the best Mexican beer! Of the other dishes to share I would suggest the pickle sampler which contains an assortment of flavored pickles which is sure to entice any pickle lover.
For the individual options you have your choice of pork, turkey or brisket that come in a sandwich or platter. The former comes simply with slaw while the latter adds brown beans. You can also order the late nighter which is available only after a certain hour. You will have to ask the bartender what is in it because I only sampled it once and by that I mean my friend and I spit it after a loooong night out so my attention level was at an all time minimum.
Of the individual dishes I have sampled both the pork sandwich and sampler. The pork is full of flavor, the beans share the same characteristic, and the coleslaw is on par. I myself am not the best judge of barbecue seeing as though DC does not have a bevy of options with this cuisine.
Regardless I have heard from Southerners that it is respectable but does not compare with what you can get in the South. I would take the assessment as a favorable endorsement because I do not expect those results to be replicated just like I don’t expect to find the best clam chowder in Alabama.
All in all American Ice Company is a destination that you must visit. Whether it’s for a Sunday fun day, an all night beer marathon, or to grab a bite of some solid BBQ this bar is a must try. The atmosphere is unique, the décor suits it perfectly, and the experience is one to live for. This place has blown up (cue the hipster spew) since its opening so there are lines many times, especially when it is nice outside which has become annoying as of late. The prices are reasonable for DC and the service is on par. If you have a chance I would advise you to take the sketchy walk, you are sure to come out with a positive experience.