So you have an hour to kill in Dupont on a weeknight. Will you choose to 1) look around the aisles of CVS for stuff you probably need. 2) try to get a drink at the Big Hunt/Lucky Bar/Cafe Citron/Public Bar/blech. 3) play chess in the Circle for money. None sound too appealing?
Dupont Circle has become a little stale. The new element seems lacking, especially after spending time in the fluxing H Street NE corridor. But there is always something to be discovered, so with that spirit, I bring you Urbana.
Urbana is the bar of the Hotel Palomar on P Street, on the Georgetown side of the Circle. From the outside looking down the half flight of stairs, the dark glass doors make the place look closed. Do not be deterred! Be brave and push that door open, past the businessmen staying a week at the hotel and the youngish professionals on their Macbook Pros. You are here for happy hour!
Happy Hour runs from 4-7 and by 6:00 the place is moderately full. Suits line the long wooden bar and sit at the low table along a plush banquette. Specials are red, white or sparkling house wines for $5, beer for $4. Next time I would like to spring for the $13 Sazerac cocktail: Woodford Reserve, absinthe, bitters and simple syrup. But that’s my I’m-irritated-with-what-people-call-house-wines-these-days voice talking. The price is right, even if the Pinot Grigio isn’t quite.
Urbana does offer a bartender who will learn your name. Who does that anymore? Starbucks doesn’t even do that. But Obie will take care of you. And if you don’t get quite what you ask for, he’ll find you something you’ll like even more. Be on your best behavior though; he’ll remember you.
Three and a half stars.