When’s the Last Time You Were in Takoma Park?

In 20+ years of living in the Washington, DC area, I’ve been to Takoma Park three times. Once for an engagement party which ended with people piling into a hot tub outside and me making a discrete but speedy exit. The second, for a baby shower. Then this past weekend to meet up with friends who had recently moved back to DC and now found themselves in … Takoma Park!

What a weird little neighborhood. It’s kinda hippie and crunchy, like a Brooklyn wanna be. It’s also on the Red Line (although I wasn’t sure exactly where the Metro station was), and it has a great Farmer’s Market. OTOH, the town apparently objected to a Starbucks locating downtown. Sure, it’s not the best coffee in the world, but it’s a sign of a certain level of civilization. Or, in the case of Takoma Park, corporate greed.

We went to dinner at Republic, which our friend described as “the only place to go in our new neighborhood.” It’s a good-sized restaurant. That doesn’t take reservations – that wouldn’t be egalitarian or Takoma Park-like. But it’s also an early crowd, so getting there around 8:20 or so meant only a very short wait. As in, we barely had cocktails in hand and our table was already ready.

The decor in the restaurant spoke to the strange juxtapositions of Takoma Park, I thought. The interior was bordello-lite, with dark red velvet furniture and accents, patterned wall paper, and a cool bar. Something you might see in Penn Quarter or 14th Street. Then you go into the ladies room, where there’s a changing table. Not something I’ve seen at a restaurant other than, probably Starbucks.

I thought my rum-based negroni-like drink was pretty good, although I actually enjoyed my craft beer more and would stick to beer next time. And peeking around the restaurant, the outdoor area looked like it would be great when the weather was nicer. Although I could also see that as a rugrat draw during the day. Hence the changing table?

Halibut collar and mussel stew

Halibut collar and mussel stew

The food didn’t disappoint. Knowing the reputation of the other restaurants in the family – Black Salt and Pearl Dive, in particular – I went with seafood, in this case, a yummy halibut collar in a stew of chunky bacon that evoked Portland to me, mussels and other goodies.

Why not just make it halibut steak then, asked our dinner companion?

Because then it wouldn’t be Takoma Park.

But I jest. Had an enjoyable dinner, and would definitely go there again. As long as I don’t get shamed or shunned for my leather jacket.

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