Over the past decade, Adams Morgan has emerged into a mini Bourbon Street and like Bourbon Street it has both extremely good and extremely bad traits. On the positive side of things, Adams Morgan is a hotbed of social activity, attracting a diverse group of partygoers from across the DC metropolitan area looking for no holds barred fun. On the negative side, it can be chaotic, filthy and downright violent at times. Its filthy vibrance has made it particularly attractive to the t-shirt wearing DC College crowd and subsequently a place that older people (like myself) tend to avoid.
Throughout the years there have been a handful of attempts to bring a more sophisticated nightlife to Adams Morgan that have met with varying results: Sake had a pretty decent run as did Chloe. District represents the latest attempt to bring a more sophisticated brand of nightlife into Adams Morgan and their soft launch was a good reason to visit somewhere in Adams Morgan besides The Diner or Napoleon for the first time in nearly a year.
Cost – $$
Service – A
First impressions are important and it was therefore a good move by the management at District to get Glenda Fu, Hospitality Liason for District and Saki at the front door for the soft launch. The security staff was present but not overbearing and the wait staff was efficient and professional. My overall impression of the service team was positive.
Décor – B+
District was “designed to provide an intimate feel with the benefits of a large venue.” The overall design and execution of the establishment create a sense your are in a high-end loft complete with hardwood flooring and unfinished, brick walls. That being said, I wouldn’t classify it as intimate. My sense is that intimacy in large structures is created through partition, subtle lighting and sound. District has a spatial openness, powerful lighting and dynamic sound, which result in more vibrance and less intimacy. To me, District is more ultra-lounge than laid-back lounge.
Feel – A-
I visited District with my “focus group,” and the reaction was unanimously positive. The venue was packed and the crowd was excellent. I admire the ownership group for putting up what must have been a significant investment in an establishment that bucks the trend in Adams Morgan. The true test will be whether they can sustain momentum through the first few years. The risk is not organizational; but environmental. Adams Morgan needs one or two more comparable establishments to emerge in the next couple years (plus several sustained months of no shootings or stabbings) to consistently appeal to patrons looking for a more upscale experience in the area. As far as rating the venue in isolation however, preliminary indications are extremely positive. Check the place out if you haven’t had a chance yet.
District is located at 2473 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan. For table reservations or guest list e-mail Glenda Fu at glenda.fu (at) gmail.com or Wayne Royce at (703) 371-5279.