Fact: East Coast cities are cramped for space.
D.C. has large format restaurants, but they aren’t the ones we long for during a “treat yo-self” weekend moment. It’s become natural to rule out restaurants that will evoke the response, “there? Oh no– it’ll be too crowded.” This is a phenomenon common amongst D.C.’s best brunch spots. The new Waterfront restaurants, however, are bringing a larger, more accessible presence to the D.C. food and drink industry.
Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw always had good German fare to be enjoyed with hefty Hefeweizens and dark stouts, but the famous Liz Taylor mural was just raised one Jackie Kennedy mural through the upgraded aesthetic and menu of Dacha Navy Yard.
Dacha Navy Yard made all of our futuristic “Austin Powers” dreams come true. The décor is meticulously curated to be comfortable, but artistically and culturally significant. Artistic amenities of this restaurant include a cabinet where regulars can store their own stein, unstained ’70s wood-paneled bathroom doors that automatically open and close, and a slingshot-looking magnum pourer, you know, for when that three-liter bottle of bubbly is calling your name. The aesthetics are carried through the entirety of Dacha’s indoor and outdoor square footage — and there’s a lot of it.
Dacha is big, it’s fresh, and it’s likely you’ll be able to get a seat without feeling like you’re eating in a totally deserted restaurant. All of this incredibly well thought out interior design begs the question, “but, how’s the food?” The food is just as groovy as the tables it’s served on. Here’s the deal.
We started with various flavors of mimosas, where the ratio was perfect and the sweetness was tamed. We ordered some of the restaurant staff’s favorite items to get started, which included the poutine, mac and cheese, and fried oysters. While all three of these are heavier, food coma-inducing items, your gluten-free, dairy-free friends will also fare just fine at Dacha with various lighter offerings. Poutine is something you’d be crazy not to like. This is definitely a drunk food worthy of an appearance on a beer garden’s menu. The fries were loaded with cheese curds, pulled pork, and topped with crunchy pork rinds.
The mac and cheese was a milky take on mac, rather than a stringy, stretchy cheese situation, which we like. The homemade skillet of coiled pasta was smoky from garlic bread crumbs and enjoyable as far as restaurant macs go. Fried oysters are a bar food we’d like to see more of. These were fantastic. Well portioned and atop a deviled egg sauce, this dish was just unique enough for it to not get lost amongst other commonly served fried appetizers. The oyster flesh was juicy and the thick fried outside was crispy and pepper-forward.
Our mains included the brunch breakfast, bagel and lox, and the fried chicken sandwich (a cameo menu item that we pray will make a more permanent appearance). The brunch breakfast came with an enjoyable pepper and potato hash, sausage patty, and eggs. All the flavors and seasonings were ideal for this type of option, but unfortunately, everything was slightly overcooked. We uncomfortably laughed off our anticlimactic severance of the egg yolks as they remained solid rather than runny. The bagel and lox were delightful. As a New Yorker, I’m not going to get into bagel and bread quality itself, since we’ll be here all day, but let’s just say as a total dish, the gravlax, pickled onions, microgreens, and chive spread were delicious, light and perfect for dining al fresco.
The fried chicken sandwich is probably the best thing they’re serving…. or will serve. Though not fully on the menu yet, the chicken sandwich is an item to beat. A perfectly plush, sesame seed bun cradled piping hot fried chicken so moist it didn’t need anything else. However, the sandwich was enhanced by a spicy-ish secret ranch, a thick sandwich pickle, and crunchy lettuce. If we need to petition to get this sandwich on the menu every day, we will.
After brunch, the patio beckoned our attention. It’s the perfect place to sit back, digest, and go for another Jackie-O approved round of beers.
The Bitches say: five Champagne flutes.
We’ll be back in the winter to see how the seasonal situation is, but during the warmer months, the menu, space, drinks, and overall hustle of the area is everything you could want out of your D.C. brunch
Dacha serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.