The Wonderland Ballroom (more commonly just called Wonderland) was the first bar to open in the Columbia Heights neighborhood before it became the hip bar and restaurant destination it is today. When it opened, it was simply a relaxed, no-frills neighborhood bar. Since then it’s gotten a lot more popular, but it’s still one of my favorite spots.
There’s all kinds of quirky stuff inside, including a collection of signs from now-closed DC businesses – the owner often buys them as soon as places close, making it a sort of museum of what used to be around town. The Kung Food Chinese restaurant sign is my fave.
That quirkiness continues to the customers: I’ve been there when participants from a nearby air guitar contest stopped by and rocked out standing on the bar, and once a guy walked in wearing an inflatable penis costume. The funniest part is that no one seemed fazed by it, as if something like that happens all the time.
It’s still neighborhood-y and relaxed during the week, but on weekends the place is packed – perfect if you just want to get sweaty and dance upstairs, or mingle downstairs. But if a chill vibe is your interest, go on Monday-Thursday. There’s a popular patio too with big picnic tables for when it’s warmer out. They sometimes bring out heaters as well.
Mondays are trivia nights (get there early) and Tuesdays are $1 taco days, both of which are fun. Brunch is pretty solid, too. A fun spot.