Affectionately referred to just as "Kramers," Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe feels like a national monument in DC. First opened in 1976, Afterwords Cafe was the first bookstore/cafe in the country to feature cappucino, espresso, a full bar, and food. Back in the day, I spent a lot of time at Kramers as it was one of the few places in the late 80's that was open 24 hours on the weekends. So, we'd find ourselves at the cafe at 3 a.m. enjoying a huge entree or salad and talking until the wee hours of the morning. My days of staying up late are over, but apparently the enjoyment of Kramers can continue.
Kramers is now hosting author talks and book signings and after attending one, I went to the bar for drinks and dinner. I ordered the Catcher in the Rye, which was absolutely fantastic. It was made with Rittenhouse Rye, orange turbinado syrup, and peychaud bitters. I might have had two, but I'm not telling.
I inquired if there was anything vegan and was told there was only one entree that was vegan as-is. I ordered it and patiently waited. After about 30 minutes, I inquired about the status and it was brought to the bar soon thereafter. I ordered the Cafe Whole Grain and Veggie Platter. It didn't sound exciting, but it actually was. When it arrived on the bar, Chris exclaimed, "it's a Thanksgiving feast!" And, right, he was. This huge platter was loaded with all kinds of good stuff. The mushroom crostini made with wild mushrooms was spectacular. In fact, everything was quite good. My favorite veggie -- broccoli rabe had been sauteed with sliced garlic and roasted red peppers. There was a black bean and corn salad, quinoa salad, grilled corn, and pan-roasted root veggie hash with sweet potatoes. It was all seasoned well and tasted delish!
For $17, Kramers isn't the cheapest place in the city, but I was quite happy with my meal and drinks. And who couldn't love the vibe. It's a hip bookstore that existed before Busboys and Poets and continues to survive in this cutthroat restaurant scene. Take a trip away from all of the new and go visit a DC staple.
Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe
1517 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036