History Meets Food and Fun at Whitlow’s

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General Manager Mike Egan oversees the historic Whitlow’s, now in Shaw. Photo: Courtesy of Whitlow’s DC

Three paintings at Whitlow’s, at 901 U St. NW, tell the historic bar/restaurant’s story, from DC to Virginia and back again.

The first painting depicts the initial location, which opened in Penn Quarter in 1946. After closing in 1989 to accommodate a redevelopment, the restaurant never reopened downtown. In 1995, as the second painting shows, owners Greg and Susie Cahill, along with their son Jon Williams, reopened Whitlow’s across the Potomac in Clarendon. It quickly became a popular neighborhood hangout.

After closing again in 2021, the family set out to find Whitlow’s a new home back in the District, reopening on Ninth Street NW in Shaw in 2022, as shown in the third painting. Wanting to expand but stay in the neighborhood, they found their current home a few doors down (formerly The Brixton), reopening in July 2023.

The larger space has allowed the restaurant’s team to recreate every era of the Whitlow’s legacy on three floors, each with its own bar, offering a unique experience every night of the week. The new location, says general manager Mike Egan, “just felt like home.” The Shaw community “is fantastic,” Egan adds. “It has a very similar vibe to what we had cultivated in Arlington.”

The neon sign from the Arlington location now glows on Ninth Street, once again welcoming patrons. The first floor features a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant that pays tribute to the District’s rich history, complete with booths from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, antique light fixtures and neon signs. The second-floor transforms into a space for dancing and live music, as well as private events. The top floor, better known as the Beach Bar, offers great views and a relaxed atmosphere for happy-hour specials and more.

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The comfort food menu ranges from pub snacks (pastrami chili, corndog bites, jalapeno poppers, smoked wings, cheese fries) to sandwiches (Cuban, shrimp po-boy, pulled pork, falafel, grilled cheese), burgers, salads and entrees. The bar offers wine and cocktails, including cocktails and beer on tap, and canned beer.

Something is happening every night: happy hours, live music, comedy, trivia, bingo, drink specials, burger night, brunch. Regardless of the day, time or theme, Egan says “everybody’s having a good time” at Whitlow’s.

Whitlow’s is open Monday through Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 1noon to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, noon to 12 a.m. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. All guests must be 21 years of age or older to enter after 9 p.m. daily. Visit www.whitlows.com to learn more.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com