Art and Cheap Drinks at Vermillion

Dusty Chenault
Woven light fixtures hang above the bar in the small lounge space.
The Place: Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave., 709-9797, CAPITOL HILL

The Hours: Daily, 4-7 p.m.

The Deal: While the food choices are a bit skimpy, it's understandable figuring the lounge also doubles as an art gallery and doesn't have much space for a full kitchen. Cheese and meat plates are the popular choice, followed by mac 'n' cheese and chorizo chili--both a buck off (regularly $7.50 each) during happy hour. Select any Washington wine or well cocktail for only $3, or get $1 off specialty drinks--not a bad price to pay if you plan to splurge on some artwork.

The Digs: An artist hot spot where swanky collectors chat about abstract favorites during the Blitz Capitol Hill Arts Walk, or after the gallery's newest exhibit opening. Exposed brick, light fixtures that resemble woven baskets, and an antique writing desk give off a vintage vibe perfect for hipsters in the small dining area. The gallery (the hallway and front room) typically houses selections of modern work from artists like Jesse Higman and, most recently, Ryan Molenkamp.

The Verdict: A perfect place for munching on small bites and sipping cheap higher-end wine while chatting about art. Also, the gallery makes an ideal escape from the cramped dining quarters on a weekend night. The order-at-the-counter policy makes it a bit chaotic for newbies expecting a full-service experience, since the line can be painfully long at times; however, people-watching the 'hood's eclectic mix of drinkers makes time fly.

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