Bar Pilar has been my beloved neighborhood bar for years (even before it was one of my very first We Love Drinks). I wouldn’t have survived Snowpocalypse without it, that’s for sure, trudging the few blocks through the snow to beat cabin fever. Countless evenings hanging out for impromptu gab sessions, long brunch afternoons that turn into dinner, I could almost call it my third space if it weren’t for the other countless times I’ve walked in and walked right out again. Sweatily packed to over-capacity on peak nights, Pilar’s popularity has grown past its 49 seats. Recently I’ve even sworn off evenings there because of some rude pushing incidents. That’s the price you pay when your neighborhood bar becomes a hot spot.
Pilar isn’t just a bar, however, it’s a small-plates mecca (one of the first to have adopted that now ubiquitous model) under talented chef Justin Bittner. I’m addicted to the food there, from the meaty grilled octopus to the salty anchovies on toast which always remind me of Sicily – they even have fried pig ears! So even though the subject of restaurant expansion sometimes rightly gives pause (as Ashley notes earlier) the news that Pilar is expanding to include an upstairs dining room was met with optimism by me.
Let’s look at some renderings (keep an open mind though, computer models are notoriously cold looking).
Logan Circle-based architectural firm StudioSmith is helming the expansion, which will add stairs at the front of the house (lovers of Raven Arts, currently occupying the second floor, need not worry – artist Regina Miele will be part of a gallery opening on 14th Street later this spring). The addition will be warmed up by a wall of Cuban tiles and vintage doors, in keeping with Pilar’s rustic look downstairs.
Though the current 4-burner kitchen will be expanded to keep up with the increase in diners, the menu will stay the same. Chef Bittner says “The new kitchen will allow our team to expand upon current creativity and serve several more diners during dinner.” That makes this neighborhood resident ridiculously happy. Look for the expansion to be completed this spring.