I‘m not what most people call “religious”, but I certainly have no qualms about believing in St. Arnold, the Catholic saint of hop-pickers and Belgian brews. Though there’s been some buzz lately about St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar opening a second location in Cleveland Park, you can find me sinning on occasion at their Dupont Circle spot and stuffing my face full of mussels, fries, and beer.
The best time to come to this underground hideaway on Jefferson Place is for a hearty lunch, or for their sweet $9.99 mussels happy hour special paired with an impressive selection of Belgian beers on draft. Even then, this charmingly small bar is always crowded from one exposed brick wall to the other. Don’t even waste your time trying to read the long list of mussels on the menu. Just order the house mussels and prepare to have your world rocked. You’re welcome.
These juicy, tender mussels are cooked with a house-made beer sauce, caramelized shallots, garlic, and thyme in duck fat. This divine sauce is a perfectly textural base for the shellfish and boasts such an incredible flavor. While dipping your fries and bread into the holy duck-fat water make for a nice treat, I take it a judgment-worthy step further and scoop it into my mouth with a half-shell. I would even bathe in it.
While mussels are what they do best, try not to overlook the rest of the menu items as there are some winners. The poached pear salad with walnuts and blue cheese over arugula is a simple yet delicious combination of sweet, salty, and bitter and a great way to start your meal. If you’re not full by dessert, try one of the Belgian Liege waffles, which are appropriately crisp on the outside and satisfyingly doughy on the inside.
No matter which St. Arnold’s location you go to, be sure to embrace your gluttonous side and indulge in all the Belgian goodness they have to offer. And seriously, get the duck fat mussels.
Photo via Spotluck
St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar
1827 Jefferson Place NW
Washington, DC 20036
St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar
3433 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Lisha grew up in her potty-mouthed grandma’s soulful kitchen, asked for a bread-maker on her 11th birthday, loves whiskey and once ate a whole spit-roasted guinea pig in Ecuador. Lisha has been a GMF contributor since 2011, and now lives in Oakland, CA, where the intersection of food, identity, and community has sparked her interest in sustainable and equitable dining. When she’s not working as a finance professional and dance instructor, Lisha is side-hustling as a biscuit entrepreneur.