I wandered past this indie-looking restaurant in Adams Morgan when I was waiting for my sewing class. It’s pretty big, made of brick, and has a bar too, which is where customers usually eat as well as drink. There’s tie-dye everywhere, a circus scene painted on the wall with a guy riding an elephant and whipping a lion, and something equally transgressive (I forget what exactly) hanging from the ceiling.
The mix of people sitting at the bar was surprising. It was 2:30 pm, but there were more buttoned-up people and football fans than there were free spirits. The whole place smells good: like cheese and tomato sauce. They offer craft beer on tap. I pored over the menu: it features lots of gluten-free and vegetarian options, salads and hoagies along with more traditional bar fare like cheesy bread. Of course, the main attraction is the pizza. Mellow Mushroom puts interesting things on its pizza, like tzatziki sauce, bacon, tofu, barbecue sauce, and has a cool-looking Thai pizza. The pizzas have names like Kosmic Karma and Philosopher’s Pie, in case you’d missed the point.
Funny thing is, it’s a chain. I didn’t think its personality would be conducive to franchising, which goes to show that I have a lot to learn about money. The website says that each location is independently-owned and operated. Mellow Mushroom started in 1974 near Georgia Tech.
I ordered the $3 cheesy bread for happy hour. It was a literal rendition: mozzarella on white bread cooked with rosemary and other spices on top. I got a salad with a small portobello mushroom stuffed with artichoke hearts, red peppers, feta, mozzarella, and caramelized onions over mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. The second time I went there I ordered the gluten-free Kosmic Karma. It has spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella, feta, tomato sauce, and pesto. The food is wholesome: well-cooked and natural, but it isn’t anything spectacular.
I haven’t been there at night, but I’m sure it’s a friendly scene. I had a two-hour conversation with the bartender and a guy from New York when I was there for lunch. Synopsis: as a bar, you’ll make friends there. As a restaurant, it’s not art, but you believe in it.
My Rating: 7
Recommended Dish: Pizza
Atmosphere: Hippie, but comfortable for everyone.
Price Range: $12-25