Once you have done your sightseeing for the day, one of the truly fun things to do in Washington is see the political satire troupe, The Capitol Steps. Here in Washington we are surrounded by politics every day of the year, so you might think it would be the last thing most people want to be exposed to. This group, which was formed by some former Capitol Hill staffers, is great because it pokes fun at both parties and they don't hold back. It's fun, funny and a great way to spend a couple of hours. This will definitely help you to take the whole political scene here a little less seriously.
Some examples of their skits
Love Potion 9-9-9 (Herman Cain)
3 little wives of Newt (Newt Gingrich)
Working 9 to 10 (Ronald Reagan)
You can see them every Friday and Saturday night at the Reagan Building at 730pm.
Dress Code: casualRelated to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Park Hyatt Lounge and Bar: Good Drinks and Atmosphere
My wife and I were staying at the Park Hyatt so it was only natural that we try out their bar. We had dinner reservations in Georgetown and were looking for a nice place to relax and enjoy some drinks. The Georgetown Bars were a bit on the rowdy side earlier as it was St. Patrick's Day weekend and we wanted a more calm atmosphere.
The bar was just the right atmosphere; calm, relaxing and upscale without being pretentious. There were several seating areas throughout; the main bar, some wooden bench tables, small atbles by the windows and glass enclosed boothes. We chose to sit at one of the wooden bench tables close to the bar. Our waiter came by with food and drink menus and brought us water. We weren't here to eat but they had an amazing selection of offerings. After perusing the drink menu we were almost decided. My wife wanted something warming as it was very chilly outside and she had yet to warm up. The Spiced Hot Chocolate caught her eye so that was her choice of beverage. I was still a bit undecided so I asked the waiter what we would suggest in the crisp and light beer department. He suggested a beer from Spain (name escapes me); which I decided to try.
As we waited for our drinks we were brought a tray of salted pistacio nuts; I love them. Our drinks arrived shortly thereafter. I was very happy with my beer; it was just what I wanted. Liz enjoyed her Hot Chocolate(it had their signature hot chocolate, frangelico and Spiced Rum) but said it was way too strong to finish. I very much enjoyed this place especially the service which was top notch. I would come here even if I wasn't a hotel guest.Related to:
- Road Trip
Gordon Biersch - National Airport
Gordon Biersch has a popular location in Reagan National Airport near gates 39 and 40. The place gets packed in the evenings, especially when the Caps are losing in the postseason and airplanes are delayed. A big 24 ounce beer costs about $8, but it is a big, tasty beer.
They specialize in German beers, so hefeweizen, bock, and pilsners were on tap.
Gordon Biersch is a chain that started in California in 1988 but has spread to about 30 restaurants in various states around the country. They also own two of the Rock Bottom Brewery locations along with Big River Brewery, Seven Bridges Brewery, and a few other restaurant brands.
Pour House Pub -- Pennsylvania Ave SE/Capitol Hill
The Pour House is a combination of three distinct bars in a single building. The upstairs is called the Top of the Hill, and it is a pretty swanky joint with martinis, couches, leather chairs, comfortable wood walls, a small bar, and a pool table. The basement is more of a dive bar/pub called the Sheisse Haus, which is a creative and descriptive German phrase for a dive bar. The main level is called the Pour House and it has a 10-stool bar, maybe 10 tables, and lots of plasma TVs. This bar gets a huge Steelers crowd.
I had dinner here during the Steelers-Redskins Monday Night game, and the place was packed. When I was on the main level, I could hardly find a place to stand, finally I moved upstairs where there was much more room, but still no seats. After I finally scouted out and patiently waited some 30 minutes for a seat at the bar, some girl stole them out from under my nose... lucky I;m a nice guy. Finally I found a table and grabbed a menu. The selections were pretty basic: appetizers like wings, quesadillas, chile, and nachos; normally $6.50 to $8, they were only $5 each for Monday Night Football. There are fewer entrees than appetizers, and they are all standard bar food such as chicken sandwiches, burgers, and cheese steak. I had a burger that started at $8 plus $0.50 for each additional topping... I added cheese, onions, and mushrooms. The burger was very tasty with a great charred flavor. The fries were also very good. Beers here are about $4.75 each for drafts.
They also have a decent happy hour Monday through Thursday 4pm to 7pm and Friday 4pm to 9pm when Miller Lite bottles are $3 each, rail drinks are $4, and Yuengling drafts are $3.
Biddy Mulligan's is situated right in Dupont Circle inside the Jurys Washington Hotel. The whole Pub was made & imported from Ireland. It is a popular spot with locals as well as tourists. The have a very friendly barterder although he does seem so happy on the picture.
Shilla Bakery and Cafe: Jazz for music lovers
This is a new live music venue close to College Park. Unlike dark, gloomy and smokey jazz venues, Shilla Bakery and Cafe has a warm, cozy, clean feel to it. The music - usually high energy jazz or blues bands - never fails to move the audience. But you don't have to be a jazz aficionado to enjoy it - you just have to love good music.
Dress Code: CasualRelated to:
Screen on the Green: Watch classic movies on the Mall
It’s nice to find something free in Washington. Five Monday nights during the summer you can sit on the green at the National Mall and gaze at a gigantic movie screen playing a “Classic”. On out night we were there for a showing of 2001. I suggest you get there early for the best spots, maybe 5pm. Stake out your territory. bring a blanket, bug spray, some lounge chairs and a some food and drinks. Alcohol has been allowed in the past, but who knows about the future. Movies play except under extreme weather (whatever that mean in a Washington summer). There aren't makeup dates for cancelled flicks. For updates, call 877-262-5866. Currently HBO is the sponsor so the sound and picture are first class. Check out http://www.washingtonpost.com/screenonthegreen for this years movies.
The Big Hunt - Dupont Circle
The Big Hunt is one of Dupont Circle's most popular dive bars. They offer a simple menu of burgers, chicken sandwiches, and pizzas along with a small selection of Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. All meals are well under $10, except their big 16 inch pizzas which are $15.
The Big Hunt is full of big tattoos and big "ass" beers. Yes, they sell beer called the Big Ass Wheat, the Bad Ass Amber Bock, and Light Ass Brew... supposedly they are just Michelob, Amber Bock, and some other name brand just sold under an alias. The place is a dump, and the bathrooms strait out of Afghanistan or some similar combat zone. Luckily they have an open air patio on the second floor where you can blow the stink off.
I was hoping to find food when I visited, but the only seat in the whole place that I could find was squeezed into the corner of one of the two first floor bars, just not enough room for a quick comfortable meal. Probably healthier for me anyway; the place is pretty filthy.
Old Glory Bar-B-Que - M St, Georgetown
Old Glory Bar-B-Que (or just barbecue for those of you who can figure out the syllabic breaks in the word all by yourselves) is around the middle of M Street in Georgetown. We stopped in one night just to grab a few drinks and watch the Red Sox - Rays game on TV. We sat at one of the high-top tables next to the bar, and after about 10 minutes a waitress still had not shown up. Finally my friend elbowed into the bar and got a few draft beers... at a very expensive $6 or $6.50 each. Ouch.
Though we didn't eat, the food is just a expensive as the beer. Sandwiches all start around $10, beef or pork ribs for $20, and pulled chicken $14.
Rocket Bar - Gallery Place / Chinatown
The Rocket Bar is a seemingly intentional dive bar, yet it is surprisingly trendy and popular. Located next to the Verizon Center Rocket Bar doesn't have to be a dive, it just seems to be its niche that it claims and wants to protect. With the shoulder to shoulder crowds, expensive beer ($5.50 for a Yuengling draft!), and low-rent downstairs location, they could probably afford to line the floors with gold. Besides crowds and cost, other very non-divey features include flat-screen high-def TVs, trendy microbrews, and even a number of touchy-feely gay clientele.
I stopped in for a beer, but stayed for three because there was a great college football game on one of the $1000+ TVs. After a Shiner Hefeweizen, I switched to a more basic Yuengling.
It's an OK bar, but not really a dive. No food, only drinks. And fancy TVs.
Bring A Tripod Cafe: the best things in life are free
While there are countless places to grab a drink in DC, if you only have one night in this town, you should spend it enjoying the National Monuments. They are very well lit and it makes for a great chance at grabbing great pictures. This can be handy if you have poor weather and your day time shots are not up to par. Even though that was not the case for us, we still did one nighttime shoot and as you can see, it's well worth the effort. Bring a tripod for best results.
Dress Code: Dress warmly if it's outside the summer months as it can get chilly once the sun goes down.Related to:
- Budget Travel
The Brickskeller: disappointment at The Brick
The Brickskeller is a US beer legend. Perhaps the first DC specialty beer bar, it is home to many renowned beery events and none other than the late great beer guru Michael Jackson hosted many of his within its confines. I have had this place on my radar for longer than I can remember and when I was planning a trip to DC, it was high on my places to visit. I wish I could say it was worth the wait. Some places outlive their usefulness and The Brick seems now to be living entirely off its reputation.
I was quite taken aback when I entered the dingy basement bar but I have had great beers in far less inviting places in my day so did not let it interfere with my impression until I read their quite paltry draft beer list. It was in no way as interesting as Pizzeria Birria's. We nearly got up and left but I figured we came all this way so we may as well have a beer. Doreen got Unibroue's Ephemere, an apple flavored Belgian style wit beer that we both love. It was $7.95 for a goblet which is not cheap but this is DC and it is a beer we had not seen on tap since being in the Quebec brewery some years ago. With many of the draft beers imports, I opted for a barley wine from Lagunitas Brewery which was a dark amber with huge hop presence to ward off easily the massive malt palate. This was in a 12 oz tumbler glass for $7.50 but at least it was a strong beer made for sipping.
We did not get any food as we had just eaten dinner but the menu was typical pub fare. It is highly unlikely I'll ever be back to sample it as there are too many other great places in the DC area still forging their reputations.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Road Trip
Tunnicliff's Tavern - Eastern Market, Capitol Hill
From the outside Tunnicliff's looks like a cheap nomad's tent along much nicer 7th Street at Eastern Market. Inside the bar is much nicer, but still not my kind of place at all.
Who uses a laptop at the bar of a pub? Go sit at a table to use your computer.
Who sits at the bar and talks on the phone? The nomad's tent outside is heated and is a great place for smokers and cell talkers to congregate.
My favorite part of the evening was being hit on by a gay guy who called me a liar when I told him I was straight. Then kept bugging me and telling me didn't believe me for the next five minutes. First of all, screw you. My sexual preference is none of your business; and your preference is none of my business. Secondly, screw you for calling me a liar to my face. If I had been more sober I probably would have been offended enough to kick the guy's butt. Lucky for both of us, I was drunk enough to laugh it off and get pissed off later.
If you like a neighborhood pub where you relax and enjoy a pint, this is not the place. If you like to be annoyed and offended, this is the best spot in town. I was glad to move to Alexandria, Virginia a week later.
Molly Malone's (nee Finn MacCool’s)-Barrack's Row
What used to be Finn McCool's Irish Pub is now Molly Malone's. The pub was completely remodeled, so the review below may now longer hold merit. I will try to check out the new pub before I leave the DC area in a month or two!!!
We just decided to have a quick beer at Finn MacCools after dinner at the nearby Banana Cafe. We wandered through the smoky outside patio into the door around 10pm, and the place was pretty quiet. We ordered three beers that were about $6.25 each for cheapo draft like Yuengling.... ridiculously expensive! We had basically decided the place was nice, but dead when the Jaegermeister girls came in... who would guess they would come right up to my friendly and talkative friend, Matt, and start asking trivia and handing our free stuff (but no free drinks). Well, after 10 minutes they left and one of the guy from down the bar who had just gotten trashed on Jaegermeister decided to take their place and talk our ear off about political subjects that may have been better discussed at PA militia meetings. We quickly finished our beers and snuck out while he wasn't looking.
If you are hungry they have pretty standard appetizers, a variety of sandwiches and burgers, as well as Fish & Chips, Shepherds Pie, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Crab Cakes.
Finn MacCool's seems to be a chain, albeit a rather small chain in just a few big cities; or else it is a rather common Irish name. Word is that the guy who just opened fancy Lola's Barracks Bar and Grill next door has also purchased Finn's. He will be closing the bar down for a few months to remodel, hopefully reopening in January 2009.
Saturdays at the Meeting Place: Midnight D.C.
Saturdays @ 9 pm until 2:45 am * The Meeting Place * 1707 L Street, NW, Washington, D.C. * $5 Cash cover at the door * 18+, 21+ to drink *
Mardi Gras! - DJs Phae, DuJour, and Gleek; Vending of Gothic goodies by Silver Phoenix. Much more of a sports bar / meeting hall ambiance, so lacked in comparison to its competitor down the street. The music was good and had a larger crowd though. Good dancing and flirtations. Much younger crowd as it was 18+. A different alternative to Spellbound. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Gay and Lesbian
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