Monthly Archives: January 2012

Party Hopping – Rosslyn – Buffalo Billiards – Local 16

Oh what a night…Saturday night was packed full of action.  And yes, I will use that as my excuse as to why it’s taken me this long to write about it.  For some reason, I was caught between three events, all of which I felt obligated to attend.  The first stop of the night was my company’s annual party.  Held at the lovely Palomar Hotel in Rosslyn, I rather enjoyed the relaxed mingling with my coworkers over some delicious food, drinks, and door prizes to start the evening.  Fortunate for me, I won probably the most appropriate door prize I could – cooking supplies (a panini maker, a large pot, and other cooking utensils).  Overjoyed about my winnings, I knew this would be a good night.  Also lucky for me, a very kind coworker offered to take the winnings home with her so I wouldn’t have to lug them out to the bars for the night.

9:45pm – Time to leave the company party.  The free food, liquor and goodies were great, but it was time to move on to birthday party #1 for one of my guy friends.  I left the hotel and apparently was feeling pretty good because I decided to run to the metro in my heels and dress (I’m super classy). Next stop – Dupont Circle and Buffalo Billiards.  Yes I have previous reviewed Buffalo Billiards, however that was a largely different experience.  Being primetime on a Saturday night, Buffalo Billiards managed to have a packed house.  I treated my friend to a birthday shot (liquid cocaine – $9 – cinnamon mint tasting) and then had one of my standard shots (Kamikaze – $8).  These drink prices were certainly more expensive than I previously experienced during happy hour.  Consider this an addendum to my first post about Buffalo Billiards.  After some light conversation with my buddies, I decided it was time to jump ship and move on to the next party (I was also the only girl with 7 guys and as much as I love my guy friends, I wanted to get my dance on).

11pm – Leaving Buffalo Billiards for U Street.  It was fairly mild on Saturday, but the temperatures definitely dropped in the evening time.  I was not confident enough in my light jacket to keep me warm so I grabbed a cab to meet up with birthday party #2 at Local 16.  This was my second time attending Local 16.  The first time I went, the line was relatively short and probably only waited a minute or so.  This time, I wasn’t so lucky (used it all up winning the door prize!).  I even found my friends who had already been waiting in line and it still took about 20 minutes to get into the place.  **Now before you judge me for “cutting in line,” I was traveling by myself and my presence in line hardly made a dent. Plus, I was pretty tipsy at this point and was very reassured to find some of my other guy friends in line then**

11:30 – Entering Local 16 I felt fairly proud that I could show my friends around the place.  They were all from Columbia, MD and DC explorations are not very frequent with them.  Despite it being only my second time there, I was fairly familiar with the layout.  One of my favorite things about Local 16 is the fact that it has so many layers to it.  It has two floors.  The first floor is more like a typical chill bar with tables and cozy areas to lounge with friends.  If you proceed up the narrow staircase that looks like it belongs in an old Victorian house, you will find a more intricate establishment than the bottom floor revealed.  Upstairs there is an outside smoking area and a well lit long bar for chatting and masses of people to fill.  There is also a dark dance floor for those with more active priorities and do not just want to stand around.  As we have established, my priorities favor bars with dancing.  On this particular night, I was disappointed to not get more dancing opportunities, but the music is of fairly high quality (a good mix of most genres).  Representative of the line outside, this place can get pretty packed and getting a drink at the upstairs bar can be a challenge (my vodka tonics run $7 a piece here).  Attending here for my friend’s birthday was a good idea.  I really enjoyed knowing the people around me instead of being in a sea of strangers given the capacity.  All in all, Local 16 is a great experience for those going with good friends that have the same agenda (dancing versus just chilling and talking).  I like the versatility and options of lounging areas and the ability to get lost in all the nooks and crannies.  Caveat- if you are looking for an exclusively chill place, I would not recommend coming here for that atmosphere.  As long as you have the energy for the crowds and patience for a potential line, Local 16 is worth the wait.  Amazingly, I survived the night of party and neighborhood hopping without any cuts or bruises.  Sunday revealed a pair of very sore feet and some amusing texts though.  Yes, there are juicier and more amusing details of this night, but I wouldn’t want to bore you all 😛

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901

Exterior of 901

I ventured to 901 on Friday evening in hopes of a relaxed night.  Catching the tale end of happy hour with a couple friends, we grabbed a drink (vodka tonic for me – $6, and the boys enjoyed a good sampling of beer) and two small plates (kobe beef sliders and duck rolls – $5 each).  Upon entering, it was fairly crowded and while the appearance is really contemporary and “cool” looking, it felt slightly disorganized.  If I were entering for the purpose of attending dinner, I would not have been able to find the hostess behind the mini sea of people.

Unable to find our friend that was already there with coworkers, we went to the bar to start with a drink. There were no shortcomings here.  After absent-mindedly realizing we were starving, we ordered the above-mentioned small plates.  Much to our dismay, it took an extended period of time to get our food (at least 20 minutes).  Initially thinking that it just took a while to prepare, this logic was quickly squashed by the fact that many other people were receiving their orders, some of which were placed after ours.  Once we got the dishes, they were delicious, but unfortunately the wait took away from that experience.

The staff was very friendly and had many staff working behind the bar.  Despite this, the service was still fairly slow.  In fairness, the friends that were eating/drinking in the restaurant part of 901 had no complaints and really enjoyed everything about this establishment.  Perhaps my friend and I just caught the wrong timing of everything, but the service was rather dissatisfactory for our purpose that night.  I would definitely consider coming back to 901 for a meal or drinks at a table because the décor was amazing and the quality of their product was very good.  I’d even consider going back at a later point during the night if looking for a hip lounge type bar.  However, coming here for a later happy hour was really not the experience I was hoping for that night.

Blurry Interior

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McCormick & Schmick’s

Yes, yes this is a chain…but that doesn’t take away from the quality drinking experiences I’ve had at the various McCormick and Schmick’s in the DC-metro area.  The locations that I will speak to and the frequency to which I’ve attended each include– Farragut Square (twice), Metro Center (once), and Crystal City (once).  McCormick & Schmick’s is a very reliable chain.  The food and drink quality amongst the different chains is high.  Do not write off this place just because you want a “unique” bar experience.  Each location does have a slightly different feel.  The two locations in DC in particular have more of a classical bar atmosphere.  The Crystal City location feels slightly more open and modern in the bar area.

The first location I attended was Farragut Square.  Both times was for happy hour in which they had AMAZING food deals.  The best deal is the $4 cheeseburger (with fries).  This is a regular size portion.  All you have to do is abide by the $3.50 minimum beverage purchase per person.  I’ve also tried the chicken wings ($5), which are tasty, but for the portion size I would say just go for the burger. As usual, I alternated between my regular screwdrivers and vodka tonics ($5 each for Smirnoff drinks).  While the drinks specials aren’t the best in town, when you can get quality food along with the pleasant bar atmosphere it is hard to pass up this place.  The clientele can be slightly on the older side, but you certainly won’t be scoffed at for going in there with a group of friends and being under 30.

Two of the three places I’ve encountered extremely engaging bartenders/servers.  In particular, at the Metro Center location, there was one bartender who my friend insisted on calling Bob.  Bob, as we will call him because I have since forgotten his real name, was honest, patient, and very good with drink recommendations as the best bartenders should be.  He made me a delicious cucumber gimlet ($11 – off happy hours price), which I have since incorporated into my regular drink orders and ordered again the other night at the Crystal City location.  The consistency amongst the different locations is certainly something you can trust.  In terms of rating the locations, Crystal City wins the prize for most convenient to my current location, but the Metro Center location has the best atmosphere.  While the bar itself is on the smaller side, it feels cozier and still inviting despite being right in the middle of DC.

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Cafe Saint-Ex

Entrance to Saint-Ex

So in starting this blog, it was my goal to give as much of an unbiased presentation of these establishments as possible.  Many people rave about Saint-Ex.  While I do wind up here a fair amount on weekend nights, I’m not quite sure why.  They apparently offer some fairly good food, but I have not sampled it so that isn’t the reason.  The drinks are definitely not the most affordable in the area ($6-7 for a rail drink and I swear there have been times when I was charged more), so that’s also not the reason I come here.  Hmm….there must be some reason I frequent here.  Dancing? Oh yes, let’s just reason with the dancing.

There are two floors to Saint-Ex – a crowded ground floor with full lighting that offers some tables during the non-crazy dancing hours as well as a bar with some places to sit and a basement level with smaller bar where the dancing goes down.  Downstairs also has tables during the non-dancing hours of the weekend with dim lighting.  When the dancing starts though, be prepared for the temperature and humidity of the basement to rise exponentially and the lighting to diminish even more.  I will say that I am a sucker for places that have dancing.  The DJs can be hit-or-miss at Saint-Ex.  One time I came and they were only spinning oldies, completely avoiding top 40, which definitely put some of my friends off.  Other times I’ve definitely raved about the balance of indie and popular music.  I’m not too picky about this though as long as I have people around me that can match my enthusiasm.  Coming to Saint-Ex for New Years was actually a good decision.  There was no cover, it was less crowded than other nights here, and the music was a good top 40 spin.  My life was also made very easy when every guy I met there was named Chris (3 total) and wanting to buy me a drink 🙂

The clientele at Saint-Ex is typically a mixed bag.  It targets more of the preppy DC population than a strong hipster crowd.  I will say I almost always leave this place with an amusing story from waiting in the bathroom line…One time I even let a few people go ahead of me just so I could keep counseling this guy on his relationship with his drug addict girlfriend that was cheating on him, oy, haha. When venturing to Saint-Ex for a weekend night there are a few things that you can count on – expensive drinks, basement dancing, entertaining bathroom lines, and crowds.  While I can’t quite pin down what makes Saint-Ex so popular, I’ll still continue to go.

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Spider Kelly’s

Every time I walk past Spider Kelly’s on a Friday or Saturday night, there is always a line.  Saturday night was no different, however, it was upon my friends to decide the evening’s locale and I was not going to turn down the excuse to check out this place.  Waiting in line wasn’t too terrible, especially considering unlike some other Clarendon establishments, there was NO cover.  I arrived slightly before my friends and was left to get a feel for the place alone (nice for a change). Walking around, I got a chance to evaluate the clientele and space.  Upon waiting to purchase my first drink, I was offered a shot of Absolut from another patron. *Maybe this place will be really good if this happens within 5 minutes of entering*

Spider Kelly's

Drinks weren’t the cheapest, but not the most expensive either – $6.50 for a vodka tonic and $7.50 for a Kamikaze shot.  I was doing well at sticking to my $20 limit for the night, until I offered shots, oy.

Spider Kelly’s didn’t have the same “Bro-tastic” people as other Clarendon bars, which was MUCH appreciated.  Don’t get me wrong, this is Clarendon and there were still bros in attendance along with the stereotypical Bro-girl, but they felt less overwhelming here.  Even the guy that offered me the shot was not forceful with conversation and very respectful. I joked with my friends about leaving comments out about the bathroom lines, but in case you were wondering, the women’s line actually moved quicker than the men’s line.  This was refreshing.  There were definitely more men in attendance Saturday night, but I’m not sure if that’s a regular occurrence or rather just an isolated example.

Upon first glance, you can tell Spider Kelly’s is not a dancing establishment, but instead a place you can go for some relaxed mingling and spending time with a group of friends.  It also has more than just a bar offering.  This establishment also has pool, shuffleboard, skeeball, and other bar games.  I didn’t get a chance to play so I can’t speak to the rates, but I imagine they would be no cheaper than other billiards places.  Overall, I loved the feel to Spider Kelly’s because it offered multiple lounge areas and bars inside (5, I believe).  It’s definitely a great place to go with a small or large group.  There isn’t always a place to sit (hence a lot of standing around), but there is plenty of space.  Next time you find yourself in Clarendon, not wanting to pay a cover and looking to just relax with some people, check out Spider Kelly’s.

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The Black Squirrel

This is in Adams Morgan??? When going to The Black Squirrel, do not expect the typical AdMo experience.  This place has a much more relaxed bar feeling and multiple levels all with seemingly great lighting.  Conveniently, it’s located next to Amsterdam Falafel and right on the main drag of 18th Street.  The first time I came here, I actually had not started drinking yet, but found the upstairs to be quite inviting and cozy for my small group of friends.  We settled into a corner window seat with drinks from the bar as ‘hip’ music played in the background, but not in glaring fashion.  We started the night here and later proceeded to get our dance on elsewhere.  I certainly enjoyed the mingling atmosphere that was encouraged here.  Later times coming to this establishment, we most frequently chose the upstairs, but have also ventured to the long downstairs bar.  There is a street level bar as well, but I haven’t experienced that one.  If you are in a larger group of friends and like cozy corners/window seats, I would most definitely recommend the upstairs.  Music isn’t so loud that you can’t talk, which is hard to find in this neighborhood on the main drag.

It is also possible to reserve that space for a party, which if I wanted a mellow birthday experience, would say it’d be a great idea.  Downstairs is better suited for small groups of people during the main weekend hours (after 11pm), unless you don’t mind standing around.  Bartenders are fairly friendly, but not always at the top of their game.  One time I ordered one of my regular drinks – a screwdriver – and was served OJ and rum, oy.  I may be a relatively novice drinker, but I know my vodka drinks.  I let it go and have not had any other issues with drink orders.  Prices are reasonable ranging from $6-7 for a simple cocktail.  As much as I enjoy a good cocktail, The Black Squirrel is more noted for its beer.  My gentleman friends certainly do enjoy the variety of beer and diverse selection on the different levels of the bar.  And don’t worry folks, to accompany the large beer selection, The Black Squirrel has a few TVs set to sports channels for the perfect hipster beer-sports combo without a sports bar atmosphere.

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Buffalo Billiards

Buffalo Billiards certainly uses the word buffalo correctly in that this place is a lot larger than the other billiards places in DC.  I’ve been here a handful of times and have never really been disappointed by it, but that’s probably due to my love of billiards and my inability to really hate anywhere offering a good game.  The actual aesthetic of this bar is different from many DC establishments.  It’s actually part of a chain (I’ve been to the one in Philly too and it was similar, except it felt slightly less commercial there).  Instead of the cozy feeling of other DC pool places, this does feel a lot less like a dive bar in a basement and not just due to the large size.  To enter the bar, like other DC billiards establishments, you must go down a set of stairs.  This leads you to a large basement billiards/sports bar with lots of open and dark space.  The large size does offer 18 pool tables, 7 dart boards, 9 shuffleboard tables, skeeball, private party rooms, a patio for outside seating.

Admittedly, it is expensive to play pool here ($16 an hour for 2 people during ‘prime time’), but that’s almost every place in DC (side note the cheapest place I’ve found to play pool is in Crystal City – Crystal City Sports Pub offers pool for $1 per game).  Buffalo Billiards charges by the number of people playing and time.  Food is decent (typical bar food) and I would definitely recommend the happy hour specials on food ($1 slider night after 7pm) as well as the rail drinks (only $3.50 during happy hour in Dupont?! Yes, it’s shocking).  Don’t worry there are three bars for you to get drinks from so you will not be left thirsty.

The first time I went here was on a date and we went with the sliders – a steal at $6 for 6.  Another time, I went with friends and ordered cheese fries ($10) that we weren’t able to finish due to the large portion – money well spent. Overall, I’d recommend Buffalo Billiards for smaller or larger groups of people and definitely for dates.

Summary Offerings:

–       18 Pool Tables

–       9 Shuffleboard Tables

–       Skeeball

–       Private Party Rooms

–       3 Bars

–       Patio

–       Good Happy Hour Deals

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Mighty Pint

The best description I’ve heard for Mighty Pint is Pennsylvania. You walk down a miniature flight of stairs to enter and once inside find a long bar on one side and handful of tables against the wall across from the bar.  There is more seating and another bar upstairs. I’ve been to Mighty Pint twice and was not disappointed either time.  The prices are fair…especially when you get lucky on Flip Night (Thursday Nights after 8pm flip a coin for a chance to a free drink – don’t be a jerk though and forget to tip if you win).  I ordered a buffalo chicken cheesesteak for $7.50 and my standard screwdriver for $5 (16oz version).  Food reflected the PA connections and was delicious (although I do recall being starved prior to arriving, other friends have confirmed the quality of food).  This place is fairly low-key and a reasonable place to relax for happy hour.  The later hours still provides a relatively more relaxed atmosphere in comparison with the surrounding bars (read Sign of The Whale).  Location is convenient if you are looking to bar hop to other similar establishments or even to the ever popular Camelot (just a couple doors down).

Mighty Pint can serve as a great starting or ending locale for the night.  The first time I attended was after an extended happy hour because some coworkers wanted to flip for drinks, which ended up fairly successful and left the bartenders not completely pleased with our group.  The second night I attended, me and my friends originated the night there for a birthday and bar hopped.  Starting at Mighty Pint for introductory food and drinks (shots, of course), proceeding to Camelot for a “show,” and then to Sign of the Whale to end the night….not without resistance of one friend to go back to Camelot though.  Oh boys will be boys.

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IntoxiKatie’s Beginning

Hello all,

I’d like to introduce you to the non-pretentious guide of DC-metro area bars.  The goal of this blog is provide an unbiased report of different bars/clubs/lounges (no one is asking me to review these places, I’ve chosen to go by my own free will and curiosity).  We all have our preferences when we go out, but here I will try to present various bars, listed by neighborhoods and by specific tags (like the feeling/mood, clientele, price, food availability, size, and other descriptors) that you can search when trying to decide where to go for the night.  Some places I’ve been to frequently, others only once, but I try to give all a fair evaluation based on my experience.  Some will be reviews from the past and some entries will be from last night.  Yes, there will be anecdotes.  Yes, I will attempt at inserting some humor.

Cheers!

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