Maggie Rogers, The Fourth Estate

Epicure Café in Fairfax


Hidden in a nondescript strip mall in the Jermantown area of Fairfax, Epicure Café is a small restaurant and bar with a surprisingly vibrant nightlife. It’s got a classic dive-bar atmosphere, dimly lit and buzzing with energy, while still feeling homey and unintimidating.

While the food and drinks are good enough to warrant a visit all on their own, the entertainment is really where Epicure shines. The café is constantly buzzing with live music, offering an opportunity to dip your toe back into the concert-going experience after a few years without being able to go out at all.

Instead of big acts, their stage is a revolving door for the amateur poets, singers, DJs and more that make up the community. For just about every night of the week, Epicure has a themed open mic or similar community-driven event, so there’s always something new to see – or, if you’re into it, you can try your hand at the mic yourself.

According to their website, they’ve been holding their weekly open mic nights for over ten years.

They also have jazz nights, some featuring one local group and some designed as an open-mic style “jam session” where audience members are encouraged to join in. If music isn’t your style, they also have a poetry event that prompts the crowd to participate.

And while you listen in on one of those high-energy events, you can enjoy dinner, late-night snacks, or just drinks. Their menu features an array of different cuisines; the spotlight is on Mediterranean fare, with falafel and hummus in many of the dishes, but there are plenty of other options including pizza and American-style sandwiches.

The nice thing about the menu is how inclusive it is of dietary restrictions. Though they aren’t specifically advertised as a vegetarian restaurant, a huge portion of the menu is meatless or even vegan, and there are plenty of options for gluten-free patrons.

For a night out, they have a full menu of beer and wine, plus craft cocktails that are creative in both ingredients and name, like the “Angry Vegan” with bourbon and ginger beer. For underage visitors, they also offer a few mocktails, including a non-alcoholic version of a mojito.

Their website notes that they are, “rooted in a culture of inclusivity, respect and kindness that cultivates learning, invites vulnerability, and waters the seeds of artistic growth,” a philosophy that’s clear from the time you walk in to the time you leave. There’s no judgment here; it’s a space for lighthearted, creative fun and music lovers supporting music lovers.