Young and Hungry

Patty Melted Away: Toledo Lounge Abandons the Ubiquitous Burger

Toledo Lounge was once described as "a laid-back place to grab a burger and chill." At least you can still chill.

New management has done away with the burger as part of a sweeping menu overhaul at the longstanding Adams Morgan watering hole.

"Every place has a burger," says co-owner Amy Bowman, also the proprietor of neighboring gastropub The Black Squirrel. Bowman, alongside partners Tom Knott and Scott Auslander, purchased the 17-year-old business from prior owners Mary and Stephanie Abbajay this past February. Its familiar red neon sign relighted two weeks ago after some minor renovations and major rethinking of the venue's prior pub fare. "At the Black Squirrel, we've sort of carved out a niche as being a gourmet burger spot. [Chef] Gene [Sohn] makes a tremendous burger with all hand-ground ingredients and duck fat....I wanted to do something different here."

Having tried the Toledo burger in the past, Bowman suggests she lost little sleep over the decision to chuck it. "It's no Squirrel burger," she says.

Toledo no longer serves heaping plates of cheesy nachos, either, which had been another barroom staple.

The new menu, under the direction of chef Martin Rodas, leans more heavily on Spanish-style tapas. "Obviously, the original Toledo is in Spain," notes Bowman. The prior owners had named the place after the gritty industrial town in Northwest Ohio. "So we wanted to do a sort of hybrid. That's why we have a little Spanish tapas, a little American tapas, along with some larger plates."

Longtime patrons returning for the first time since the management shakeup may be surprised to find tuna tartare, brussels sprouts, and peppers stuffed with goat cheese in place of the typical bar food.

But at least one old standby remains. "We kept the grilled cheese," notes Bowman.

Of course the new kitchen boss couldn't help but tinker with that, too. The new version incorporates gruyère, cheddar and "a little bit of parmesan," she says, and comes served with a side of plantains.

Toledo Lounge, 2435 18th St. NW, (202) 986-5416

Photos by Chris Shott

  • Native American JD

    Because gruyere is obviously of spanish origin.

    If only I had the capital to own my own place.

  • Biggie

    Great just what the area needs another subpar Spanish tapas spot. Stop screw with a good thing

  • Ben

    Oh boy, another "tapas" restaurant. Just what the city needs.

    Funny that she says they did away with the burger because "every place has a burger," and then promptly turns the menu into the bastard child of every eatery that has opened up in the District over the past five years.

  • groovyrooster

    Oh yes, tell me where I can get amazing Ohio beer and then also good tasting tapas as well? And in Adams Morgan? Why is everyone such a hater? Go back to the burbs or your rock in NE if you are that bothered by good food and good beer.

  • J

    They did not need to mess with a good thing. jesus

  • Biggie

    The DMV has far too many burger joints, tapas, pizza and New Orlean themed establishments. The place was named Toledo Lounge after the city in Ohio not Spain give me a freak break what ever happened to places in DC where you could get a good stiff drink and look at some eye candy without all the pretentious bullshit. Tapas really really come the f- on

  • Andrew

    What everybody else said. Enough with the tapas.

  • duh

    Agreed with all of the above. The new menu is terrible, and the lack of real veg options is just tragic. Tapas are just don't work in that environment.

  • Umm

    It is exponentially better than it was; the atmosphere is the same, the juke box is free, the bathrooms won't give you feline aids. And the food? It is really good food. Chorizo-stuffed fried olives? Yes please. Fried risotto balls? I'll take 4 plates of those.

  • monkeyrotica

    "The DMV." Ha! You people slay me.

    They should just split the difference and offer tapas sliders.

  • MX

    Sweet! More tapas! I love small ass portions of food for too much money!

  • GoonieGooGoo

    Considering I have been going to TOLEDO LOUNGE since the day it 1st opened waaaay back in the 90s....

    I can say I have NEVER...EVER eaten a bite of food there.

  • Steven bay

    It's never going to be the old t-lounge again. They should have just came up with a new name. The place wasn't just renovated-it's under new ownership. Get over it. Even good things die. If you want a grilled cheese sandwich for 2.50 go to the grocery store and buy a frying pan.