Young and Hungry

In Search of Mini-Marts with Decent Beer

BodegaBeer_optAs part of our effort to answer readers' beer questions this week, today's post is a response to "Coffebreath," who asked about neighborhood bodegas with surprisingly good beer selections. We certainly haven't spent time in a representative sample of the hundreds of convenience stores across the city, so the question is best turned over to you readers who have found great beer in the small markets in your own neighborhoods. So help us out in the comments, but in the meantime we are featuring two spots that have caught our beer-hunting eyes, Mr. T's Grocery in Adams Morgan and Timor Bodega in Bloomingdale.

The Lagerheads' nearest, and therefore most visited (that's how it works, right?) mini-mart is Mr. T's Grocery on Lanier Place near Adams Mill Road. Our sophisticated Calvert Street neighbors (translation: the ones who own entire rowhouses instead of rent basement apartments like us) rave about the shop's wine selection, but the beer shelves are also worth noticing. The deli-grocery does an especially nice job stocking regional beer, with two or three varieties of Flying Dog and Heavy Seas at any given time, as well as the occasional six-pack or two of Hook & Ladder or Dogfish Head. Other selection standouts include some of the more interesting offerings from Cisco, Harpoon, and Sierra Nevada and the usual suspects from Peak Organic, Sam Adams, and Magic Hat. They also have some nice large bottles conspicuously mixed in with Modelo Especial tallboys and bombers of Corona. The last time we were in, these included Duvel, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and Goose Island Sofie, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels. Six-packs at Mr. T's may be a dollar or two more than we'd prefer to pay, but we chalk it up to the cost of convenience.

Mr. T's does the trick (we pity the fool who thinks otherwise), but if we had our druthers we'd live close to Timor Bodega, the brightly painted blue shop at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 2nd Street, NW. This place always has three or four different styles from Bell's and Stone, and stocks West Coast favorites like Lagunitas Pilsner and Green Flash IPA. The organic market has a shockingly good collection of canned craft beer, with up to ten different brews from top canners like Oskar Blues, Anderson Valley, 21st Amendment, and Butternuts (most people go for the Porkslap Pale Ale). For a store that prides itself on local dairy and produce, we are surprised to see so few local and regional beers in their selection. Still, they have a solid beer program that goes beyond "surprising for a mini-mart."

But, alas, we really need to hear from you on this one. We suspect there are plenty of other bodegas that are big on beer out there, keeping up with the expanding palates of their clientele. So where are these gems? "Coffebreath" thanks you for sharing.

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  • Tim

    I know it's outside of the city, but Westover Market near East Falls Church has the best selection in the area!

  • yup yup

    Best DC Supermarket on U St has 750ml bottles: Unibroue, Ommegang, and more at a decent price. Nice people too.

  • JYW
  • bkellshc

    Freedom Market on New Hampshire and T NW boasts a small, but diverse beer selection and a surprisingly large wine selection. Expensive.

  • Nichole

    On the Hill, we have P&C Market on East Capitol at Lincoln Park. I've seen a rotating variety of Great Lakes, Brooklyn, Goose Island, Heavy Seas, a Belgian or two and some other interesting selections.

    Near the Hill in "near Southeast" is Cornercopia (2nd and K SE) - not my neck o' the Hill but when I'm down that way, I've seen choices ranging from Ommegang to DFH to more pedestrian choices of the Sam Adams/Miller Lite variety.

    Back closer to home (for me) Congress Market on East Capitol at 5th usually has a reliable selection of DFH, Anchor Steam and a few other better than decent options.

  • City Girl DC

    Capitol Supermarket on 11th St. NW between N and M Sts. has a great variety and good prices.

  • ShawGuy

    I live near Timor and agree that Kim's beer cooler is solid, he rotates some interesting selections throughout the year. I was also pleasantly surprised that a conversation about craft beer with the proprietor of the 'corner liquor store' near my house at corner of Fla & 4th (Best One Liquor) turned into him stocking a small selection of DFH, Heavy Seas, Unibroue, & Bear Republic. While a lot of the corner stores do heavily cater to the single-beer-in-a-bag customers, they are pretty open to carrying craft beers when engaged.

  • Katrina Taylor Hankins

    Local DC CHA Corporation Discriminates against DC Minority Customers

    Friday, August 13, 2010
    Mayor Adrian Fenty
    Washington, DC
    Subject Business Discrimination at the Lobby Mart Convenience Store, 3rd and E St., NW Washington, DC
    DC Business Application # 56248
    DC Business License # 60734
    DC Retail Business Class “ B “

    Dear Mayor Fenty and DC Government Officials:
    I have noticed a pattern of discriminatory practices atr the CHA Corporation’s, Lobby Mart Convenience Store, located at 3rd and E St., NW Washington, DC. On numerous occasions, the store has left customers (mostly black) on the street side waiting 15 – 20 minutes for entry and service. During this long wait time, other customers (mostly white) are entering the store from the commercial office door and making purchases. Those of us left outside are watching others receive entry and service while we have NO access.
    I have attempted to rationalize these actions not as racially based, but lack of management skills within a small “Mom and Pop” run business. But what I (and others) are experiencing is beyond small business problems. It is an outright neglect – denial of the same service to others, during posted business hours.
    If you can, please confer with the DC Office of Regulatory Affairs and DC Small Business Administration to follow up with the management of this business, named CHA Corporation.
    Thank you for your attention to this matter.
    Katrina M. Taylor Hankins
    Email: ( and )

  • Timmy

    Virginia Market (1776 U St NW) has turned itself from my favorite bodega with a great beer selection to a liquor store with a great beer selection. It is right across the street from the epic devinos - the selection is quite as vast, but it's impressive anyway, and the prices are a bit cheaper.

  • David

    Bethesda Chevy Chase Beer & Wine (4701 Miller Ave in Bethesda). Large selection, convenient hours (including Sundays).

  • Emily

    The simply named DC Supermarket on the southeast corner of 8th and F NE has an extensive stock of beer, including Sierra Nevada seasonals, Flying Dog, and a few other craft beers that slip my mind at the moment.

  • MCP

    +1 Samber Market on Mt P St has a great selection. This is our favorite hidden gem in our neighborhood for great beer.

  • Marlene

    Adam's Market on F Street NE at the corner of 7th. Small, but they have a wonderfully varied selection and are willing to take request. The family that owns the place is wonderful too. All pluses that make me want to spend my money on beer there.

    Emily - I agree that the selection at the market you named is good but I find the owners to be a bit less friendly.

  • AK

    You can get excellent beer at the Tenley Mini Market on Wisconsin & Nebraska near tenley circle. wide selection + 750 mL from dogfishhead.

  • PickfordPlace

    Agree with everything Marlene says. Adams Market is has a fantastic selection and the owners are super nice, to boot. DC Supermarket also has a good selection, but the place just has a really unfriendly vibe, maybe because:

    1. The only air conditioning in the place is behind the plexiglas-enclosed cashier's area. The rest of the market is a sweatbox.

    2. They proprietors openly smoke in their little walled kingdom (that can't be legal).

    3. A guy I know who works for a beer distributor and whose route includes DC Supermarket confirms that the owners are pretty much insane, and not the funny, quirky type of insane.

  • Silver Spring

    Again, outside the District but... Hands down, for anyone getting off the Metro at Silver Spring, Lenox Beer & Wine (which is across E-W Hwy from the Metro stop) has a really great selection. Magic Hat, Flying Dog, and that kind of stuff, not to mention beers I had never even heard of. They even had six packs of Ethiopian honey beer, which were of course packaged in re-used six packs, but tasty nonetheless. And, it's open seven days a week.

    For anyone headed to SS, it's the place to stop on your way home:,+MD&gl=us&ei=o5dlTOnGM8WlngfptZ3LDA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQ8gEwAA

  • Silver Spring

    Oh, and they were open during the entirety of 2010's monstrous snowstorms. That's dedication.

  • Kevin D.

    To offer another one in Silver Spring outside the District, Party Time Beer & Wine on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton just north of the Wheaton Metro stop has a surprisingly good selection of beers, it's in the second strip mall on the right heading north on Georgia from the intersection with University.

  • Kim

    Another vote for Adams Market. It's small, but they have a great selection. And, as Marlene noticed, they will place a special order for you if they don't regularly carry your beer. Plus, the owners are just so nice!