Smith Public Trust Opens in Brookland


Brookland is becoming a pretty hip destination to drink these days. Following the recent opening of Brookland's Finest and soon to be joined by a new bar from the owners of Meridian Pint comes a low-key restaurant and bar called Smith Public Trust from Smith Commons founder Miles Gray.

IMG_5444The space, which previously belonged to a number of Catholic University bars including Johnny K's and Kitty O'Shea's, was pretty much gutted. In the process, the team found a number of old relics—Black Label beer, cleaning fluid, a shoe that's basically petrified—which are now in display in a safe that was also left behind (see right).

The new spot has a stage (complete with piano) for free live music performances and a 40-foot bar made out of an old shipping container. Street artist Gaia, who did the mural on the side of Smith Commons, has also contributed some metaphorical art to the space: His wall-spanning painting depicts mountain and desert scenes with a chess board and the Capitol building overlaid on top. "It's about discovery, frontiers, and kind of how empires are built," claims Gray. Another wall displays the faces of people including Benjamin Franklin, martyred leader of the Roman Theban Legion Saint Maurice, and musician Sun Ra, who was "one of the first people to bring the Afro-Egyptian futuristic thing to the popular culture," Gray says. The theme of these seemingly random caricatures? "It's about cultural expansion," Gray says.

A back room that can be used for private events has another four-seat bar, where guest bartenders may occasionally set up shop. There's also some bleacher seating that overlooks a projector screen where Smith Public Trust has been showing World Cup games. A small back patio filled with picnic tables provides another nook to kick back some brews.

Chef Mercedes Delgado, previously a sous chef of The Partisan, is behind the still-expanding "no-fuss" menu. The eclectic offerings range from Austin-style pork tacos to ginger miso ramen to red velvet Belgian waffles with fried chicken. Dishes cost anywhere from $5 to $12. There are also currently nine beers on tap—from Boulevard's Tank 7 to Atlas Brew Works' Rowdy—plus a few bottles and a limited selection of wines at $8 a glass. For cocktails, try the refreshing $10 Malaysian Kei Smith with tequila, muddled watermelon, ginger, basil, and soda.

Take a look at the full menu and photos of the space and the food below. 

A stage at the front of the restaurant will host free performances:


The bar is made out of old shipping containers:


The outdoor patio:


Stadium seating in the back area has a view of a projector screen where Smith Public Trust has been showing World Cup games:


Ginger miso ramen with pork, shitake mushrooms, leeks, carrots, egg, and nori:


Duck breast spring rolls:


Edamame hummus and grilled pita:


Austin, Texas street tacos with slow braised achiote pork:


Malaysian Kei Smith with tequila watermelon, ginger, basil, and soda (left) and Tarboro Viking with Bulleit Bourbon, ginger syrup, ginger beer, and lime (right):


Chef Mercedes Delgado, formerly of The Partisan:


The menu:

Smith Public Trust menu

Smith Public Trust, 3514 12th St. NE; (202) 733-5834;

Photos by Jessica Sidman