Ever felt like you’re living in an Anthropologie catalog? No? Then you haven’t been to Big Bear Café. I felt woefully preppy and slightly awkward standing in line in an outfit that was clearly far too colorful for my surroundings.
Ordering my coffee and hoping that it was of enough hipster variety, I had flashbacks of being the only retard in a bright polka-dot dress at the ridiculously chic Proenza Schouler fashion show a few months ago. I just have a knack for fitting in, I do.
Next time, I’ll show up at Big Bear in something that has been crumpled on my floor for a day or two, and order some breakfast and tea, and then bury myself in my laptop or my newspaper or my stack of books, which is what most people seemed to be doing.
It’s a really lovely place, actually, I just wasn’t prepared for such a relaxing joint set to such a great soundtrack. Apparently my brunches have gotten far too fancypants. Shame on me.
The breakfast offerings (available until noon) are bagels with a variety of toppings, such as cream cheese, lox, apple butter, or eggs. The homemade granola, I’ve been told, is quite good. Lunch, noon to 4 p.m., there’s a handful of snack-able dishes to order, like hummus, spicy kale and garlicky cannellini; a few sandwiches on fresh French bread.
Or there’s the Big Bear Salad—made with chicken or portabella, roasted red peppers, mixed greens, and feta cheese. Happy hour serves up cheese boards and other small dishes, or entrees from the seasonal menu, plus beer, wine, and cocktails.
But it’s the coffee that’s clearly the draw here. You can get it French pressed in big size or bigger size. It’s all haru, from Ethiopia, or espresso, from La Forza. Machiato, Cortago, cappuccino, Vanilla Latte, fabu. And a selection of teas, as well.
Or, if you don’t want to stand in line to get coffee inside, you can hit up Lizette’s Coffee Cart out on the patio, serving up coffee, cookies, soda, and, when I was there, apple cider.
The line was out the door. It’s a real coffee house, and there really aren’t a whole lot of those overtaking the Starbucks on every corner in D.C. The part that makes me really fall for this place is its extracurricular activities, like poetry nights, live music, and improv. I so wish this was my neighborhood joint.
I also loved the smattering of art they had. From the funky wall art and the painted wine glass installations in the windows to the wooden sculptures hanging from the roof outside; it all created an unobtrusive but interesting vibe.
Also, when I was there, it was the final weekend of the tiny but wonderful Bloomingdale Farmers Market, which juts up to the café’s patio. It’ll open back up in June, and then you’ll be able to get some of the amazing cheese that scored while I was there, along with your Big Bear coffee.
The Bitches say: A. Super chill, great quality coffee and breakfast spot. Not the place for a massive group brunch, but stop by with a friend for a quick bite.
Big Bear Cafe
1700 1st Street NW
Washington, DC 20001