The WiFi Crawl

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One of the hardest parts about being a writer, at least for me, is the pitch. It’s not always easy come up with an interesting, timely, entertaining and food-related story. But other times, I simply think up what I would want to know, and research that. Thus, one of my journeys became know as the WiFi Crawl.

I do love writing, but that can mean hours and hours typing on my laptop, laying on my couch, isolated from other humans (disregard 80P in this scenario). And as the days become warmer, and with no balcony to enjoy the sun, I created a mission to find outdoor, free wireless connection at a dining establishment.

Sure, there are coffeehouses, but I wanted to discover a place that served drinks other than those with caffeine and with food other than those that rhyme with moan.

After some initial research, my old housemate, Julie, and I sought out two places on a late Saturday afternoon. With my laptop over my shoulder, we first went to Nellie’s, a gay sports bar. Nellie’s sends out weekly emails (and of course I’m on their list, like every other restaurant in the freaking city) and they have been advertising their free wireless. I called to confirm that this service was also available outside on their roof deck. I mean, how amazing would it be to drink some beer, get a tan, all while accomplishing some work. Well, we getup stairs, the sun is blazing (mocking my anti-glare sheen) and the only chairs available are backless bar stools that were too low for the ledge. One would have to balance their laptop on their lap, and that just wouldn’t be comfortable after 10 minutes. I didn’t even bother asking for the password to try to check their connection.

Next up: Vinoteca Wine Bar and Bistro just two blocks away. Now this would be the money shot. Sitting in their front patio, sipping wine, snacking on cheese, typing away. Of course, the server didn’t know the wireless password (and yes, I emailed first to make sure there was wifi for patrons.) After a few different password tries, we finally found one that worked, but then the connection was messed up. I tried about 15 times before I gave up. The server really couldn’t be bothered with helping us set it up, so we finished our glass of wine and cheese board and left disappointed, but with a mission.

We walked down U Street (for those not familiar, it is lined with bars and restaurants) and at EVERY SINGLE restaurant or bar, we sheepishly asked “Do you have wireless?” It was horribly embarrassing. I mean, here we are, entering into a Saturday night and I’m lugging my laptop bag across the city asking over and over the geekiest question of all time. And you know what, no place effing has it! We were shocked. I mean, this would be a gold mine of business. There are so many people (re: bloggers!) in this city who would love an outdoor area to eat and type. Ugh!

I came home upset, but knew I had to keep searching, as my story was due on that Monday. I scanned the Internet and realized that my old ‘hood had plenty to offer. Eastern Market’s Tunnicliff’s came through. Check out my Express story to find out their food offerings.

And just in case my editor is reading this, you can follow my dedication for this story on the map above.

Get Out: Tunnicliff’s Tavern Typing [Express]

Nellie's Sports Bar on Urbanspoon

Tunnicliff's Tavern on Urbanspoon

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  • gansie June 2, 2008  


    once i embedded the map, i wasn’t able to go in and proof read/edit, so i do apologize for any errors. i will know next time to finalize text before google mapping anything.

    also, i did leave one place out of my map: old city cafe on columbia. this was the place we tried on sunday, our last ditch effort. they have a fallefel bar and wireless. but the outside patio has terribly uncomfortable chairs and blares this distracting music, which does not make it convenient for concentrating on work.

  • JoeHoya June 2, 2008  

    Sidamo Coffee and Tea on H Street, NE, has an outdoor patio with three four-top tables and free wifi access. Their menu includes salads and panini, not just pastries.

    You can also take advantage of free wifi at OpenCity ( on Calvert Street in Woodley PArk, where they’ve got a full diner menu and a decent outdoor seating area.

  • BS June 2, 2008  

    why leave home when you can ask Joe Hoya?

  • Maidelitala June 2, 2008  

    A lot of the places turn off their wireless on Saturday…. There is always BB&P (yum) but obviously that doesn’t have a patio.
    and I guess it’s sorta a coffee place

  • gansie June 2, 2008  

    i was really aiming for an anti-coffee place and somewhere people wouldn’t think to go. tryst, opencity, mocha hut being obvious choices… (sorry JH!)

  • BS June 2, 2008  

    what’s up with the turning off their wireless thing on sundays, anyway? why is this necessary?

  • Maidelitala June 2, 2008  

    apparently they don’t like the idea of a bunch of geeks having their lap tops open during hot-sweaty-pick-up time. They get big enough crowds on weekends and they don’t want a bunch of people doing “work” to take up tables needed for the drinking/dining patrons

  • Britannia June 2, 2008  

    Didn’t the likes of Tryst turn off their wi-fi at certain peak periods, as they were suffering from the bloggers going and only sipping drip coffee (slowly), they were unable to turn around the table for more customers.

  • JoeHoya June 2, 2008  

    My bad – should have guessed you would have already considered Open City…it’s not exactly a secret.

    Score one more for Bourdain and all things related to him – apparently the DC location of Brasserie Les Halles offers free wifi!

  • BS June 2, 2008  

    Oh, so they’ll take our geeky bloggy money during the off-peak hours, but when the jocks crawl out of their caves, we get kicked to the curb, eh? Injustice!

  • Pinch o Minch June 2, 2008  

    Stef is that your hand in the shot?

  • gansie June 2, 2008  

    pinch, do you think i’d actually be photographed without nail polish! please!

  • Tim June 3, 2008  

    So, we’re considering money shots a good thing? Not my thing, but alright, good to know that about you.


  • emma d. June 16, 2008  

    i’m pretty sure looking glass lounge and domku both have wifi… you should hoof it to petworth.

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