A wide array of nightlife choices avail themselves to week’s end visitors to U Street, but Dickson Wine Bar on 9th and U Streets, N.W. has no problem packing all three of its levels on a Friday night.

The atmosphere is dim but inviting, not too clubby. The candle-lit tables are the perfect offset to the empty wine bottles affixed to the walls and add a warm depth to the decor. Not to mention, only a handful of bars lining the popular U Street corridor provide drinks and eats at an affordable price.

“We’re different—more of a sophisticated date spot,” said Ed Howard, Dickson’s general manager. “U Street is becoming crazy like Adams Morgan and Dupont. We have a more intimate, casual setting. You don’t come to here to pick up people, you come here with people.”

Although perfect for a date night, there is ample space to accommodate large parties as well. And according to Howard, the diverse menu is what reels them in.
“We serve a mix of American food with Vietnamese influence,” said Howard. “The Bánh Mi, our traditional Vietnamese sandwich with pickled carrots, cilantro and chicken paté, was put on the menu and became so popular that some of our other items are inspired by the Vietnamese culture.”

Dickson opened its doors two and a half years ago as a wine bar. Over time, the demand for food and hard liquor progressed and the Vietnamese fusion trickled down into the cocktails. Ca Phe Da, a traditional Vietnamese iced coffee with vanilla milk and almond whip, has become one of the top three most requested drinks. Rounding out the list of popular drinks are the Lion’s Mane, complete with tequila, orange liqueur and jalapeño syrup and the Potomac Tea Martini made with vodka, ginger and wildflower honey.

“I really have a passion for what I do. My goal has always been to provide one-of-a-kind cocktails that you can’t get anywhere else,” Howard said.

One of the keys to success is fresh ingredients, he said. “Everything we have is organic. We have handcrafted syrups and fresh juices. I like to mix things up every once in a while too,” he said. “Like, I don’t do plain sugar rims—I do a wildflower honey rim around the glass to add an unexpected bit of flavor to your drink.”

Howard, who recently celebrated his one year anniversary with Dickson, has noticed a considerable change in the bar and its patrons over the last year and doesn’t see any of the other bars on U Street as competition for business.

“We have actually become busier since the bar next door opened,” said Howard. “They are more of an English pub so the vibe is different. We have a more extensive wine list than ever before and we are constantly changing our wine selections.”

Amanda Mortenson, a visitor from Chicago, praised the atmosphere at Dickson. “This place is cozy and cute…,” she said. “I’ll definitely come back here. It reminds me of the bars back home.”

Dickson is located at 9th and U Streets N.W.
Happy Hour is 5-7p.m. daily and all night every Monday
B&V (Bourbon and Vodka) Sundays with drink specials from 5 p.m.-2 a.m.


Christopher Wall

Special to the AFRO