The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series.
The fourth coffee shop on the list, Tryst, holds a special place in my heart. When I did a “study abroad” semester in DC in undergrad, one of my classmates discovered Tryst. How, I can’t remember. All I know is that we visited this coffee shop at least a handful of times to write, drink coffee, and people watch. My god, was this a fun place to people watch as a 20-21 year older. Since most of us in my journalism program were from small, religious based schools, we found the people that visited Tryst, especially at night, SO entertaining. Now, 7 years later (wow, time flies), I’ve come to understand that most of what we were seeing was normal DC Adams Morgan nightlife (aka, lots of drinking and loud noises). However, I’ll never forgot the time Ashley (my program and real life best friend) and I got stuck in a giggling fit after watching a very drunk couple sloppily make out at the bar, go outside to smoke and continue to make out, before returning back inside to, you guessed it, make out some more. At the time, we thought this was hilarious and also appalling.
BUT this story does ring true with this description of Tryst I found on another “coffee shops in DC” list: “They’re as welcoming to the dude that drops 50 bucks on cocktails and dinner as they are to a single cup-buying law student who plans to camp out for as long as it took to film The Firm.” So true, as my program friends and I would visit at night to work on our homework, all the whiles real adults drank and fraternized. At night, it’s an interesting mix of characters and activities.
This time around, my mom and I visited Tryst on a humid June morning, when it’s definitely still packed, but with a different crowd. Most people were on their computers and the place had a steady stream of customers come to get drinks to go.
What I ordered: I ordered a latte and the savory ham & cheddar waffle. OH MY GOD that waffle was freakin’ amazing. The waffle itself was spiced with basil, chives, scallions, thyme, rosemary, and mint. Um, what!?!?!? I did not previously know such a delicious creation could exist. The description alone was enough to entice me, but the dish itself put me over the moon. The waffle alone was delicious and would have made a fine breakfast (the spices added a wonderful flavor and were not overwhelmed by the waffle batter itself, if that makes sense), but the addition of the ham/cheddar/arugula really pumped up the flavor. It was so good that I felt eating the fruit was cheating the dish.
My mom ordered an Irish coffee and the ham & cheddar croissant. The waitress misheard her and brought a large coffee, which my mom happily drank even though it was sans whiskey. The croissant sandwich was delicious as well, but not as good as the one we love at Politics & Prose. She said an egg would have made the croissant sandwich better, but that it was also fine without it.
Latte Grade: Their coffee is great, which was evidenced in both the latte and the actual coffee. It has real coffee flavor, and you can tell it’s brewed by people who know what they’re doing. The latte itself was delicious. Not only was it pretty on top, but the strong coffee flavor shined through, making for a great mix of coffee and milk. The latte stayed warm for about half of the drinking time, which is passable in my book. Overall grade: A
What I’ll get next time: There are so many options, it’s hard to choose! I’m definitely interested in trying a sweet waffle next time (maybe with nutella?). I also think I’d try the banana, strawberry, and pineapple smoothie, as this is the smoothie I’m constantly making myself. Might be kind of nice to see how the flavor holds up when it’s made by someone else!
Best time of day to go: From past experience, I know this place can stay full any time of the day, but especially at night, when it doubles as a coffee shop and a restaurant/drinking place. My mom and I got there around 8:30 AM on a Thursday and found plenty of open tables and seating. They have a good mix of 2-4 person tables, as well as communal tables and couches. I’d say the morning is a safe bet for this place, especially if you’re not in the mood to fight for seating.
The ambience: Tryst is a balanced hodge-podge of mismatched tables, colorful artwork, furniture, books, and wall art. The lighting is low, so everything kind of blends it together instead of overwhelming the senses. It has the feel of an eclectic place that is also organized and functional, which I love. Even though the place was full of people, the volume (in the AM, at least) was manageable and enjoyable. Plus, it’s a bonus that you can visit this place anytime of the day for coffee, drinks, food, you name it.
Good for: Most everyone there the morning my mom and I visited was working on their computer. However, there have been other times I’ve gone when there’s more people there chatting and catching up with a friend (read about a past experience here). The good thing is if you go in the mornings, when the place isn’t packed yet, you can spread out and talk without worrying that you’re bothering anyone there trying to get some work done. Again, since they have a really good mix of tables, this is the perfect place to individually get some work done, or to meet up with a friend over a cup of coffee.
Will you need a jacket? I was fine in a 3/4 sleeves shirt and shorts.
Other things to know: They sell their own coffee and packaged tea, which is awesome.
What I did: My mom and I were together, so we chatted over breakfast. I told her some stories of visiting the place in 2008 when I lived in DC as a student and she nicely obliged and listened. : )