spinach and artichoke dip
fries with mayonnaise aioli
For a good co-worker buddy's farewell celebration, we decided to head to Cantina Pub for happy hour. Cantina pub is located in downstairs of the Darlington House, a relatively new restaurant drop dead in the hustle and bustle of Dupont Circle. Cantina blends into the block as a renovated townhouse with a very warming decor inside and out. As you head downstairs into the Pub, you feel as though you have momentarily stepped outside of the typical overly modern and chic dupont area. Cantina has the very warm and welcoming pub feel with its long bar, wooden tables and chairs and also some full flat screen TVs. I won't review Darlington House in this review because similar to Churchkey/Birch & Barley, the two spaces have uniquely different feels.
Although I loved the inside of Cantina Pub and would definitely go back for happy hour, we opted to sit outside as it was the perfect spring evening. They have a really nice covered seating, and because we got there relatively early (around 5:30), we had our choice of seating. We had originally planned to head back inside when our party got larger, but the seating was accomodating enough, and it was too nice outside not take advantage of it.
For their happy hour, they offer a wide variety of drafts for $3, $4, and $5. They also have a house red and white for $5. A few of us started with the house white, which was a Pinot Grigio which was nice. Nothing special but good enough for what it was. I also tried the Leinenkugel’s Sunset, which apparently is the Wisconsin version of a Blue Moon. It tasted pretty much identical to a Blue Moon/Shock Top so that was a nice beer of choice for a 70 degree evening. Unfortunately, despite the venue, I don't believe that Cantina has great happy hour specials because most other bar/pubs in the area have better deals. Furthermore, there were no food specials! SHOCKER! they lost lots of points on that alone. To truly get the Pub feel that Cantina is trying to achieve, it is imperative that they offer half off/or some sort of food deal for happy hour. People will be more tempted to stay longer and enjoy happy hour if this were an option. Nevertheless, we were hungry so we ordered some food anyways, but I think we would have been more liberal with our ordering, if the deals were better.
We started with the Spinach/Artichoke dip which was tasty but nothing special. It came across a little to creamy, so it felt a little too skimpy on the artichokes. I then ordered the house fries which were seasoned well and served with a mayonnaise aioli sauce which appears to be the major sauce of the hour in the foodie world. Overall, I was pleased with my choice. For more substantial food, some friends ordered the wings, the chicken quesadillas and I ordered the vegetable skizzo (the pub's take on a pizza). Everyone was pleased with the food but it was definitely "Pub" food, so it was nothing to call home about. I had changed my mind at the last minute and ordered the veggie skizzo but I had originally wanted to order the Figo Skizzo, and I semi regretted that decision. Although the skizzo was nice, it was nothing special and I think I would've been happier with the fig, pears, arugula, gorgonzola and truffle oil skizzo. Nevertheless, there was a nice assortment of grilled veggies on the skizzo but they definitely need to put cheese on it. Definitely.
Overall, I was overall pleased with my trip to Cantina. I like the atmosphere of the venue, but I definitely think it's more of a place to just drink and not really look to eat. You should probably head upstairs to Darlington House for that. However, I was happy to see a variety of vegetarian items on the pub menu because many times you don't see that. I also appreciated that they offer a variety of different types of food on their menu, so you don't have to go elsewhere looking for food, but they definitely need to cut the prices during happy hour. Cantina is ideal for small and large groups but I would probably opt for Darlington House for a date as its definitely a little more private.