One of my favorite but unfrequented neighborhoods in all of D.C. is Adam’s Morgan. I don’t know if anyone else does, but I call it AdMo, in my mind, all the time. I think its two strongest points are great night life and great restaurants. It’s home to two of my D.C. favorites: Brass Monkey and Sakuramen.
As I tooled around town earlier today, looking for a nice outdoor space to get some work done (#TeleTuesday), I stumbled upon Pleasant Pops. Located in AdMo, Pleasant Pops is a very interesting little space. Primarily, I was struck by their fun name. I mean, come on: a restaurant that is established, apparently, on ice pops? HECK. YES. It’s not quite summer yet, but still…who doesn’t love a good ice pop?
You can learn more about their story here – and it’s a very interesting one! I’m so happy I stumbled upon this little place, supporting some (seemingly) awesome guys, who are passionate about what they do. All around winning situation, in my book! My main takeaway from that nugget? Carrot celery beet pops were NOT a winner…
Anyways, upon my arrival, I got lucky and scored a parking spot right in front of the restaurant, and decided to roll on in and check it out. You’re first greeted by a very expansive spread of seemingly very healthy foods. Terms like “raw,” “vegan,” and “gluten free” are everywhere. And we all know that, no, I don’t prescribe to any of these diets – but it’s a very welcome sign for those that do, I’m sure.
Above the cold foods, they have signs for both Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market and Freshfarm Markets – so a lot of the food appears to be from them. They have garlic hummus and some fresh milk, amongst many MANY other things. I was mostly interested in their fresh breads that are baked daily – they had a few different kinds that looked like ciabatta, multi-grain, and baguettes that were all reasonably priced at about 4 – 6 dollars per loaf or so. Many of these locally sourced items are also used in the food they prepare and cater.
They had some trendy homemade drinks available (like a basil lemonade) that I normally would have loved to try but I just was more focused on substance food than filling myself up with a potentially sugary drink in the mid-afternoon. Instead, for lunch, I ordered the Mushroom Reuben sandwich from their lunch and dinner menu. It consists of roasted mushrooms, Swiss, house thousand island slaw, and is served on toasted “lyon” (I don’t know what that means?) rye bread.
The star of this sandwich is definitely two-pointed for me (I guess that makes it a diamond?). Both the mushrooms that are seasoned and marinated wonderfully, and the slaw that has just the right amount of kick to it. The bread, while I don’t usually like rye bread all that much, has just the right amount of kick to it, too. Slap that swiss on top and baby, do we have a sandwich! As a meat lover, I didn’t even miss the meat! Some other options they had for lunch/dinner were a red pepper hummus sandwich and a strawberry mint salad – I’d try one of those next time, probably the salad.
For dessert, I just had to order one of their pops (I’m that guy that thinks you’re weird if you go to IHOP and don’t get pancakes…or may be just a bit confused if you go to Outback and don’t get a steak, etc. etc. You get the point here). I went with the “Chongos” pop – mostly because I really enjoy the band Kongos, and I imagined the names sound kinda similar. The chongos pop is the flavor of Mexican sweet cream and cinnamon. And I was taking a big risk…because I don’t even like cinnamon that much! Especially not artificial cinnamon. But it was one of the more unique flavors I found on their menu (with other options including cookies & cream, strawberries & cream, strawberry ginger lemonade, cucumber chili, and New Orleans ice coffee, plus about half a dozen more!).
The pop itself? FANTASTIC. Icy. Creamy. Savory. Cool. Sweet, but not too sweet. And mannnn, that fresh cinnamon on top? yes. Yes. YES. Fantastic choice – the Mexican sweet cream has just a bit of bite to it, and the cinnamon dresses the pop in a way that not only compliments the bite – it kind of downplays it! Where my taste buds expected the cinnamon to be even more spicy, the sweetness was the real champion of this dairy-based pop. I can’t wait to try other iterations of their famous recipes, especially the blueberry pancake and the Carolina sweet tea. :)
Pleasant Pops is also a true coffee shop though, with a very coffee shop feel. One of the first things you encounter is their wi-fi, which a sign at the front of the restaurant immediately lets you know that it does stretch, strongly, to their outdoor patio. That’s rare in D.C.
The nice lady making the caffeinated drinks has a great voice that travels, so even if you’re in the back corner of the shop, you won’t miss your order. They had a ton of options, including a cortado, on the menu which I have found rarely around here. A cortado is basically espresso with a small amount of milk that has been heated up. I learned in Spanish back in high school that “cortar” means to cut, and I’m pretty sure any conjugation including the “ado” piece means past tense…don’t hurt me if I’m wrong please. :) So…take that half-hearted interpretation for what it’s worth.
As you know, this blog is part disability advocacy and I always like to talk a little bit about the (wheelchair) accessibility of various restaurants, too. I didn’t notice any large parking lots near Pleasant Pops but, as I mentioned, I was able to score a parallel/street-parking spot right in front of the restaurant. There is a very low curb to get onto the sidewalk from the street parking immediately in front of the establishment, but of course – there is also a curb cut that you can hustle down to at the intersection. It’s not a very busy intersection at all, and Pleasant Pops is right on the corner – win win win in that case.
The tables outside are not the most accommodating because of the way the legs are structured. It would make it difficult to get any chair to roll underneath the tables, HOWEVER the benches that are situated next to those tables are very light and very easily movable. The seating options indoors are just fine.
I decided to sit inside, even though it was so nice out, to really get a feel for the place as I write this blog! Luckily, my arrival timed well with one woman who was getting ready to leave – so that I could have an average height table, instead of having to use one of the bar stools that there are many more of in the restaurant.
One thing that I have found myself focusing on lately, though, is the disposition of the seemingly regular customers. I imagine this formula where if there is great customer service and happy customers who don’t mind spending hours in their coffee shop, they have something good going on. I would never blame rude customers on a restaurant, but I’d hope to be able to “blame” happy customers on them and their service! But that is definitely true of Pleasant Pops. There was even another woman adjacent to me that offered her table to me in the event the first one wasn’t accessible enough. Nothing like people going out of their way to be a little helpful. A+ in the Customer Service department.
Restaurant Report Card
Customer Service: A+ | The cashiers/employees were fantastic as were the customers.
Food: A | With a great amount of options, you could grab lunch and do some of your grocery shopping here in a snap, even if you have dietary restrictions (gluten free, vegan) as many people do nowadays.
Ambiance: B+ | It could have been a bit quieter (music) and cooler (bit more A/C) but the authenticity and cleanliness were strong points, too.
Wheelchair Accessibility: B | With a spacious and relatively open seating area, clean unisex restroom, easily findable location, and spot near a less-than-super-busy intersection, accessibility is only okay. There is a more-than-half number of high tables and the payment system’s height could not be adjusted.
Location: B | This rating shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but I give a B just because AdMo isn’t the most accessible neighborhood in D.C. BUT there is a Pops 2 coming to downtown D.C. this spring – so that should boost this right up to an A.