Monthly Archives: May 2012

El Ranchero

Before you all lose faith in my drinking abilities, I assure you I’ve just been lazy about writing reviews (yes, I have 2-3 other reviews currently in my back pocket for a rainy day).  This week, I ventured to El Ranchero with coworkers.  We attended for a Thursday happy hour, which was a nice change of pace from the extended Friday Happy Hour.  Arriving a little after 5:30pm, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and sat outside. They have a small part of the sidewalk in front of the restaurant dedicated for about six tables.  After we were quickly set up outside, our quirky waiter introduced us to the wonderful deals the establishment offered and took our order.  The deals we most certainly took advantage were $4 margaritas and $1 tacos.  These margaritas were quite tasty and our table got the full array (regular, strawberry and peach).  Personally, I spent the night sipping down peach margaritas, but sampled the others and can assure you of the overall quality.

After getting our initial round of drinks, our taco medley started to arrive.  These may not be gourmet tacos, but for $1 apiece, it’s really hard to complain.  The beef tacos were definitely better than the chicken or bean tacos…or maybe that was just the anticipation because we had a slightly longer wait for them.  To our misfortune, the beautiful weather faded, the clouds rolled in and so did the rain.  We were forced to continue inside.  The interior of the restaurant/bar was quaint.  El Ranchero has a distinct bar area and table area.  What started as us (a slightly loud/rambunctious group) entering a relatively quiet dining area, with time and more patrons, the area transformed to something more homogenous with our group’s attitude – drink and eat cheap tacos.  Now for the nitty-gritty, while I did enjoy this happy hour, the service was not the best.  El Ranchero let some things slip through the cracks – simple things like frequency of the waiter checking on potential refills, forgetting to bring us napkins, the assumption with the rain we would be leaving rather than moving inside, and then being slow with bringing the check.  Don’t get me wrong; I did like the laid-back atmosphere here.  However, if you or your friends are in a hurry (are impatient at all), you might want to reserve El Ranchero for another night.  Given El Ranchero’s proximity to my work, the nice outdoor seating and delicious (yet reasonably priced) margaritas, I would most certainly come back.

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Cinco de Mayo!! – Policy & Lost Society

Hola! Hope everyone had a great Cinco de Mayo.  After last weekend, I made sure to do everything possible to prevent that tequila hangover today.  I’m going to accredit Ben’s Chili Bowl cheese fries and then my drunken cooking (fried egg sandwich) – even if it meant that I woke up this morning in a slight panic that I forgot to turn off the stove…don’t worry, roommates, all is fine :-).

Yesterday’s ventures took me to an Arlington party, followed by a DC party that then headed to U Street.  I know all you haters out there would question my attendance at the Arlington party, but with offerings of beer pong, corn hole, a rooftop of awesomeness, food, and a piñata, how could this be turned down??  After a few hours of embarrassing myself at these bar games and trash talk with volleyball teammates, it was time for the piñata.  Yes, I may have had quite the pitiful/bashful swing, haha, but just keep in mind this childhood game is quite different when tipsy.  Following the piñata, we promptly negotiated candy trades, gobbled it down like 3rd graders, and made it on our way to party #2.

While we were slightly late to party #2, the host was very gracious in welcoming us.  Without a drink in hand, my friends were quick to resolve this with a strawberry margarita…as I reminded them that this week was my turn to be the responsible friend ;-).  After some catching up with friends and playing with fake mustaches, we made our way to U Street.  It was quite the busy night on U Street, much unlike the week before.  Our initial stop at Policy was vetoed due to crowding, so we walked up the street with the intention of going to Lost Society.  However, I believe some gentlemen were wearing shorts and/or flip flops that were turned down by the bouncers.  Next I mentioned to friends wanting to try Patty Boom Boom – the reggae bar next door.  Unfortunately by the time I was done quickly freshening up in the bathroom, my friends were already coming down the stairs from the dance floor and ready to leave.  I will legitimately attend here sometime soon, I promise.  At this time, everyone was tired of ping-ponging and it was settled to just go back to Policy.

With more of my senses upon me this weekend, I feel comfortable reviewing this establishment.  While there are two floors, the first floor was dominated mostly by those waiting in the ridiculous line to get upstairs to the dance floor.  This floor offers a bar and several tables /booths so with a line of people running through it, it felt quite constricted.  After waiting in line for a significant period of time (it had to be at least 30 minutes), using some flirtatious methods finally got a friend and me upstairs. *Yes! Of course, my name is Shelly and I’m in your party! Just lead me up the stairs, haha. * Upon reaching upstairs, I reminded my friend of my wing girl status and my willingness to make a fool of myself/approach anyone without fear, haha.  Making our way across the floor, we stumbled upon a nice group of Minnesotans.  Anyone who offers up a free tequila shot to me is not too shabby in my book 🙂 even if the salt was missing.  After some mingling, we sought out to find our friends.  They were not so lucky with getting upstairs (read: they gave up on waiting and headed to Lost Society/elsewhere). Conclusions: It is quite crowded and if you do not time it right, the wait to get upstairs can be annoying.  I wouldn’t recommend bringing a large group here unless you are early to arrive or get bottle service/a table.  The cranberry vodka I bought for my friend was moderately priced at $7 – definitely could have been worse.  Overall, I would give Policy a good rating for dancing and meeting people (even if that’s only because it’s so crowded that you are forced to be friendly).

Our next stop brought us to Lost Society to catch up with friends.  Apparently the no shorts/flip flops rule is ignored if you’re a female – typical double standard :-).  This time we ventured up to the top floor.  I really don’t have much to add to that review.  The upstairs was at least twice as loud; there was no dancing, just more mingling of people in groups.  There were also tables upstairs that appeared to be reserved by people if you’re looking to have a seat instead of just stand around.  It is largely just a crowd of people talking though.  Quite the different atmosphere from the other floor, the top floor may be able to hold larger groups, but the other floor holds all the ambience.

To end the glorious night, we ventured to Ben’s Chili Bowl and gave in to a final indulgence.  All in all, it was a great night.  I may be getting too much of a U Street reputation though – time to switch up neighborhoods.

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Drink-aversary! – The Gibson, Desperados, Lost Society, El Centro, Policy

Thank you to all who came out for my Drinkaversary!  A little rain didn’t stop us from parading around U Street…some in more coherent states than others.  While the timing was not what I had anticipated, I still managed to make the rounds to 5 different bars – The Gibson, Desperados, Lost Society, El Centro, and Policy.  Starting at approximately 7:30pm, The Gibson was quite welcoming.  Yes, I’ve previously reviewed The Gibson and opinions have not changed of the awesomeness that this establishment has to offer.  I met a former coworker and classmate here and do believe that their introduction to the place was quite positive.  Sitting at the bar, the bartender was quite engaging and willing to show off his mastery by offering to make off-the-menu cocktails.  For the first drink I stuck to the menu and ordered a drink something along the lines of ‘Women, Wine and Hookah.’  The second drink though, I decided to challenge the bartender.  With a simple statement of “I like vodka,” he quickly got to work and offered up a tasty citrusy drink.  I was quite pleased.  Prior to the third drink after specifying my tree nut allergy, I was met with the question, “Would you mind champagne?”  “Of course not.,” being my response and my treat was quickly placed before me.  Having no reservation proved to be no problem.  This is probably due to the early arrival.  By the time we exited at about 9:30pm, the downstairs bar was filled and people were waiting to enter.  I may have entered dry, but certainly left The Gibson filled with three tasty drinks.

Next stop – Desperados.  I was long overdue for some food at this point.  Intoxikatied has been training for a half marathon and decided to go for an 11-miler just prior to going out for the night…probably not the wisest decision.  I’ve been to Desperados about 4 times prior to Saturday – mostly in small groups of people, but last Tuesday I even decided to fly solo for happy hour prior to a concert.  This really is a great place.  It’s relaxed, has reasonable prices, and an engaging staff.  The happy hour prices are particularly impressive for the quality ($4 rails and $5.50 BBQ or buffalo chicken quesadillas).  One time, I came here with a group of friends and we ordered (almost) all the happy hour special appetizers – split between 4.5 people plus drinks, it was the perfect amount ($20).  They have a small outdoor seating area right in front of the bar too, if that’s your preference.  Desperados may not be as flashy (yuppie or hipster) as other bars on U Street, but it is certainly not lacking in quality. It’s a no BS bar and sometimes, you just need that available in your back pocket.

After finishing our round of drinks and food at Desperados, we made our way to Lost Society.  Conveniently located across the street from Desperados and in the central intersection of 14th and U Street, Lost Society offers great views overtop this juncture.  You enter Lost Society on the ground floor and then proceeding up the stairs you find two additional floors with different atmospheres.  For the purpose of Saturday night, my group of friends kept to the initial floor, but I did wander upstairs to explore a bit…typical Intoxikatie ;-).  The top floor offers a DJ and another bar.  While it was raining that night and the area was covered, I believe this opens up to be rooftop space on nice nights.  The floor that we spent the majority of time did have a lot to offer: a fairly large rectangular bar, large TVs for sports viewing, purple velvet couches, and some normal tables for dining.  Be prepared though, these couches and tables are not first come-first served.  The staff will promptly ask you for your reservation if you attempt otherwise.  So what, we tried to steal a table?  My friends and I were in a good state by this point, so it seemed like harmless fun.  Don’t worry, the stick wasn’t too far up the waitress’s butt that she asked us to leave.  Now this bar was quite crowded, so after I bought a round of drinks (2 miller lites – $6 each, 1 bourbon and coke – $9, and a screwdriver – $8), we tried to settle into a different nook as we waited for a few more friends to join us. 

Naturally, we made our way over to the two purple velvet couches.  Yes, the small tables in front of said couches were marked with a reserved sign…but as they say ‘the early bird catches the worm.’  Don’t worry, we were eventually kicked off them…and moved onto our next bar.  Overall, Lost Society seemed like a pretty cool bar to mingle with people.  It would have been better with a small group and a reservation.  I definitely would not mind coming back for a girls’ night on the rooftop or to start an outing.

The next stop was El Centro, down a few blocks on 14th Street.  El Centro has a few offerings.  Not only is it a restaurant, there’s a downstairs dancing/DJ area and a rooftop bar.  Unfortunately, I can only speak to the rooftop – which remains open during the winter with some fairly strong heat lamps.  I have been here a handful of times and will say it offers some great margaritas and mojitos…as any reputable Mexican restaurant should.  If you time it right, they do offer $5 classic margaritas and mojitos (probably certain happy hours, but the last time I cashed in on this offer was on New Years).  As you can see from the pictures, there were a fair number of people present when we arrived between 11 and 11:30pm.  This place can definitely hold a fair amount of people, so it’s good for groups.  This isn’t the type of place I would go if I were looking to mingle with new people though.  After ‘sipping’ down my mojito and posing for a few pictures with friends, we decided it was time for our final stop.

Venturing out into the rain, we ran across the street to Policy. Yes, it really was a quick jaunt across the street because upon arrival I realized that we left about half of our group at El Centro.  Don’t worry, they are a smart bunch and caught up :-). This was my first time attending Policy.  As a group, we decided that our night was distinctly lacking some good ole fashioned dancing…and by this I obviously mean club music and dancing in a crowded room of strangers, haha.  As negative as that comment sounds, I actually really enjoyed our time there.  It did have multiple floors, but we only investigated the dancing area.  The DJ was okay, not the best, but workable and there was quite the crowd there at about 12am so I will not complain about there being a lack of interest.  Overall, I will hold off from making any major evaluations of Policy though at this point.  It looks like it may be on the itinerary again this weekend and hopefully I can give it a more justified review.  By this time of the night, the alcohol had caught up with me and I unfortunately lost my trusty 4 year-old pink umbrella somewhere on the dance floor (as only the classiest girls do).

Leaving the bar at about 1:30am, this night quickly turned into an embarrassment and I would like to send another apology someone’s way for dealing with that (if you even read this, haha).  Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll add that to my humorous collection of self-deprecating stories that I tell in a few months.  Overall, I’d like to send a big thank you to all my friends who made it out last Saturday despite the rain.  It has been quite the year – many stories have come of it and I’m sure many more will too.  *Corny moment of the blog post warning* Those of you who choose to be part of all these stories are what really make them memorable experiences…and of course my sometimes mischievous antics :-).  Here’s to another year of stories.

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