Hungry in DC: Alfie's, a Thai street food popup

A Thai Traveler’s bar. What the heck is that? Everyone knows Thailand is has been a popular traveler destination for many years now. I’ve never been, but apparently there are plenty of “expat bars” all over the country, owned by expats and locals alike, but with a diverse traveler customer base. That’s what Alfie’s is going after – a funky, fun bar where everyone and their stories are accepted, with some kickass food.

Chef Alex Mccoy, who comes from Duke’s Grocery, and is also chef at Crisp Kitchen and Bar, has been to Thailand over half a dozen times, as a traveler, and got his inspiration for Alfie’s from the kind of places he frequented when he was there. Plus, he was on an earlier season of the next Food Network Star. NBD.

Alfie’s is going to have a permanent location on Upshur St, but is currently popping up in Petworth at the old Mothership space. It’s been open for a couple of weeks now, and Kris and I quickly made our way there to try it out.

When we walked in, we were greeted by colorful string lights, a small number of tables, and a cozy but buzzing atmosphere. We snagged a couple of seats at the bar, which we love doing in these kinda places. They do take reservations for tables (YAY), but the bar has open seating. They did a great job with the kitschy decorations – there is quirky art and posters on the walls, which are bright blue!

Alfie's DC Thai streetfood pop up

First things first, drinks. There are cocktails with a Thai bent, a good beer selection with beers from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, etc and local beers. We knew we were going to go for some hot spicy food, so went ahead and got beers. The cocktails looked fantastic however, so definitely on my list for next time! The guys behind the bar and super friendly and chatty, btw – which is one of the best things about sitting at the bar.

On to the food. Alfie’s has a few dishes that are on the menu regularly, but also some things that change up daily. The night we went, they had a catfish salad, which is a typial Isaan dish with mint, chilis, lime and crunch from toasted rice. Served with raw cabbage, this was a SPICY, sour, crunchy, and a bit smoky – all the flavors you would expect in an Isaan dish. Super flavorful and each bite kept me wanting more. This dish is meant to be hot, and it is hot. I’m happy they have not toned down the heat or the flavors. A ball of sticky rice with the salad helped to calm our mouths down, since we could not stop eating this dish.

 catfish salad - so hot and so good! 

catfish salad - so hot and so good! 

We also tried the grilled pork neck which is marked as “Thai drinking food” on the menu. Count us in. The pork is marinated and grilled beautifully, and comes with a dipping sauce, cucumber, and cabbage. I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful this dish was!

 pork neck

pork neck

The khao soi coconut curry noodle soup with chicken was outstanding. The homemade noodles in the dish were chewy and the curry is rich and satisfying. Plus, it comes with a plate of condiments that you can use to customize it a bit – onions, a chili paste, tangy mustard greens, and wedges of lime. The dish didn’t need anything additional for me, but it’s there if you need/want it.

 Could not wait to dig in

Could not wait to dig in

The portion sizes were good, we even had leftovers to bring home for a snack. Dishes are in the $9-$18 range, with most items between $11-14. There were other items on the menu that I need to go back and try – the grilled chicken seemed to be a popular choice, and the Alfie’s burger (with beet and egg?!) is intriguing too. I’ll report back when I try that!

My suggestion is to make a reservation and head to Alfie’s now, the reservations are already filling up! Or head on over to one of the bar spots, grab a bowl of that Khao Soi and leave happy. 

This is the kind of place I know I will frequent. No question about it.

Check out hours and make reservations via the Alfie’s website HERE.




 Signature banana bread at The Mayflower hotel

Signature banana bread at The Mayflower hotel

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