When I heard Vinoteca’s back yard patio served up some decent sliders, I knew where I’d spend my next bar session. The recent drop in temperatures had me looking for any excuse to spend time outside.
Owner Paul Carlson’s outdoor space has garnered significant attention for its inclusion of an oyster-shell bocce court, which will soon be taken over by the D.C. Bocce League on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Personally, I’m not much of an athlete, so I spend my time saddled up to the outdoor bar, perusing a chalkboard menu that’s always in flux.
The sliders perched on diminutive buns from the Firehook Bakery are constants here, but the ingredients change regularly. If you’ve got the option, try the ground lamb version paired with a roasted red pepper relish spiked with feta. Mine arrived with a nicely charred crust and perfectly pink center. An herb-flecked ricotta crostini, and the popular bison sandwich also frequently grace the menu and warrant attention.
On the weekends the staff fires up a large commercial outdoor grill to execute most of the bar menu, creating an atmosphere that makes me wish this time of year would never end.
My only gripe with the place is the pricing, which skirts my boundaries for a regular after-work spot. A couple of snacks and three drinks ran me more than $50 after tax and tip, and I left sober, a little hungry, and wishing I’d come earlier. Drink and menu prices drop steeply -- sometimes up to $3 per item -- from 5 to 7 p.m. daily during happy hour. Those who don’t want their bank balance to fall with the mercury should take advantage.
Forget the Bocce. Go to Vinoteca’s Patio for the Sliders. was originally published by Washington City Paper on Sept. 10, 2010.