1212 18th St. NW
HOURS: Tues.-Thurs. 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri. 5:30 p.m.-3 a.m.,
Sat. 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m., Sun. 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
The 18th Street Lounge, or ESL, gets points for creativity. Despite a setting in a Victorian mansion marred with rusting fire escapes set above a mattress store, ESL oozes exclusivity, with no sign outside, a strict dress code, and lines down the block of youngsters willing to pay a cover charge for a place to sit.
Inside, the decor is Victorian, with rich fabrics, fussy couches, chandeliers, and fireplaces, setting a tone like partying in the home of a rich old friend or your great-grandma’s house, depending on your perspective.
DJs spin an eclectic mix of house, reggae, soul, or blues in this two-story space, and live jazz often plays on the upper level on weekends. An outdoor patio has more modern furnishings and sometimes hosts guest DJs.
Guys: The usual offenders like ball caps, sneakers, and light jeans will get you turned away at the door, but quite often khakis will too.