Category Archives: Eastern Market

A Mini Capitol Hill Bar Crawl: Hawk ‘n’ Dove, Capitol Lounge, and Phase 1

Did this three-day weekend sneak up on anyone else?  By the time Friday rolled around for me, it was an instant relief when my boss came around reminding us of the holiday on Monday. Between the State of the Union/Mardi Gras celebrations on Tuesday, battling off a cold all week, and some work frustrations, I was ready to drink on Friday.  The original idea was to do a bar crawl around Capitol Hill, because why not?  Probably one of my most under reviewed neighborhoods, Cap Hill deserves some more lovin’.

Intending to start the night off early, volleyball ran a little long and the metro decided to hate me.  Don’t you just love getting offloaded ONE STOP away?!  Can’t say I ever got off at Federal Center SW before and despite my impeccable directional abilities (I’m modest about everything else, I swear haha), it took a little bit to walk to Cap South.  Arriving 90 minutes late for meeting my buddies, I finally reached the first destination…Hawk ‘n’ Dove!  Unfortunately, I do not have the personal experience of this bar prior to the renovations.  True story:  I was in the neighborhood the night of its closing, but my dumb friends thought the Pour House was a better idea?!  Yea, I don’t hang out with them anymore haha.

Closing my umbrella just under the awning, I was greeted by a jovial group.  Encountering friendly strangers before even entering the establishment…definitely a vote in this bar’s favor. Being in such a rush to find my friends, I almost overlooked the initial aesthetic appeal Hawk ‘n’ Dove provides.  It definitely does not have the ‘dive’ feel that friends had mentioned prior to the renovations.  On the far left and up a few steps is long bar that can probably seat about 30 or more.  This was where I found my friends and where I immediately ordered a screwdriver to try to catch up with them ($7).  While it seemed fairly quiet on Friday, this establishment has a large capacity.  There is also an upstairs with a smaller, cozier bar and probably close to a dozen tables.  Downstairs there are also quite a few tables for those just looking to dine in or gather with a smaller group of friends.  Overall, Hawk ‘n’ Dove left an impression of an upscale pub…think Brixton, but less uptight, no fireplace.  It was great for our group of six to chill at the downstairs bar.  While the other clientele seemed a little older (read late 20s/early 30s), they weren’t afraid to engage with our group.  I would not necessarily say that the bar is designed for a lot of mingling outside of your own group though.  This was definitely a good place to start off the night and I look forward to returning.

Continuing on this abridged Capitol Hill bar crawl, our next stop was Capitol Lounge for some games.  Yes, yes, I’ve already reviewed Capitol Lounge.  It was surprisingly/disturbingly quiet for a Friday night.  Seriously, DC, you disappoint me so much sometimes when you let a little ‘weather’ interfere with going out for some fun.  There was an advantage to the quiet night though…no wait for shuffleboard, pool, or drinks.  After downing some shots of ‘Wet Pussy’ (DON’T JUDGE, they were delicious at $5.50 a pop), the games got started.  For someone who used to live in Cleveland Park and frequent Atomic Billiards every week for shuffleboard and pool, by gamesmanship has significantly decreased.  Still fun, but I’m willing to acknowledge, I kind of suck now, haha.  Upon finishing our games, it was time to make a decision on the next stop.  Naturally, I was not going to stop the night at just being able to review one new place.  Knowing my audience, I appealed to my three guy buddies by casually mentioning the lesbian bar around the corner, haha.  My apologies, men, sometimes you are just too easy.

Confession time: I’ve never been to a gay/lesbian bar before.  This may be shocking for someone who went to a women’s college, but I am the self-proclaimed straightest girl around. *Shout out to Bryn Mawr and hope other alums celebrated Friday in such a joyous manner 😉 *    Given this, it seemed only fitting that we go to the oldest operating lesbian bar in the country, Phase 1.  After paying the $5 cover, we entered the small establishment.  There was a small bar and off to the side a few tables, followed by a modest dance floor a few more seats and a pool table.  To respect the privacy of those in attendance, I didn’t want to take any photos inside the bar.  Despite arriving late in the night, the dance floor was relatively quiet and most women opted to gather around the pool table or just chat up front.  And yes, for those guys scheming to come in here to just watch the female clientele, you will probably stick out like a sore thumb.  Bringing my three buddies in there instantly doubled the number of males.  Hell, I joked with my friends that even I stood out in the crowd as obviously not a lesbian.  The clientele wasn’t exactly wearing a short skirt and tights like me, haha.  Even though we didn’t completely blend into Phase 1, it was still a great time.  The music was a good mix of Top 40 and classic pop hits – favorite moment was everyone singing along to Fresh Prince of Bel Air and getting tripped up when it wasn’t the TV version.  The dance floor did get more ‘hoppin’ after I shamelessly danced with the burlesque dancer already up there, haha.  I quite enjoyed the opportunity to dance without the presence of creepy guys stalking around and not having to fend off unwanted advances.  If I were interested in women, I could see this being a regular place for me.  Dancing the night away, I made a couple lady friends.  Sorry to dash everyone’s hopes, I was about as ‘successful’ as my male friends, haha.  Although one buddy had one lady all over him and we teased him mercilessly about it, I had more dancing partners, so I’m declaring myself the winner (by default)!  I wouldn’t suggest bringing a large group here just because of the mere restriction of size.  Overall, Phase 1 was definitely enjoyable and I could see myself coming back with a small group of friends.

I still have a laundry list of bars to visit in Capitol Hill, but this was a step in the right direction.  Until next time, kiddies…promise I’ll try to stay out of trouble 😉

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Capitol Lounge

Yes....they were courageous enough to give me permission to post this pic

You know those bars that you just keep going to, but can’t exactly explain why?  Capitol Lounge is one of them.  Located just between Capitol South and Eastern Market metro stations, it was the sponsor bar for one of my volleyball leagues this summer (because I’m all about over-committing and one league just wasn’t enough to fill my vball fix).  In all honesty, it probably would have taken me a while to discover this bar otherwise.  Capitol Lounge doesn’t make a big splash in the larger pond of DC bars, but not for lack of quality.  Maybe it’s my lack of bar experience/visitation in the Capitol Hill area or the people I associate with, but I rarely hear anyone mentioning the bars in that part of town.  It’s a real shame because I love the neighborhood bar feeling there.  Anyway, on to my review of the understated Capitol Lounge.  Having attended about half a dozen times now, I think I have a fair evaluation of this establishment…at least on Thursday evenings.

Capitol Lounge offers some prime sidewalk seating for perfect Hill people watching, two bars inside on the first floor, a bar downstairs, and a back outside patio.  The only place inside that I have avoided is the bar as you enter – it’s a long dark bar, little space, and seemingly full of dudes that just stare us down as we enter, ha. Towards the back of this space, there are a few prime tables.  The other bar on that floor is a bit more open and has a larger seating area – this is a better section to sit if you came with a couple friends and aren’t necessarily looking to mingle with others.  If you are coming here with a handful of people though, I’d recommend either sitting on the back patio or going downstairs.  I’ve been partial to the patio because we can avoid the potentially obnoxious Hill staffers (let’s be real honest here, there’s a Hill staffer stereotype for a reason – also, given that it was the summer, we were trying to avoid the interns), it tends to be quieter, and just overall has a chill atmosphere.  The basement has also been a decent place to hang out if only because it offers a shuffleboard and pool table in what would otherwise be a dark creepy basement, ha.

The service here has been really spotty.  While the servers tend to be really nice and personable, service in the right bar area and the back patio has been fairly poor – taking way too long to get our orders in, letting our drinks go dry, and getting food orders incorrect.  The table area in the left bar is actually where we’ve received the best service – no order errors and relatively little wait time.

In terms of prices, our social sport discount got some pretty decent ones for the area – $6 for my vodka tonic, $9 chicken tender plates, $4 select beers.  I’m uncertain as to what happy hour prices are in comparison with these.  Also to note, they have $2 sliders on Thursday nights before 8pm.  Overall, I’d recommend Capitol Lounge if you’re in the area and looking for a place to relax with a group of friends.  They have a jukebox and if you’re as adventurous as us, you can start a dance party in the middle of the bar.  If you’d prefer to hang back, you can also do this.  This may just be my personality showing through or the fact that we came here for several weeks in volleyball spandex, but this is my ‘I don’t give an f— bar’ ha.  It’s probably better to just order from the bar if you’re just getting drinks and you’ve been forewarned about the different service areas – choose wisely.

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Neighborhood Hopping – Mad Rose Tavern, The Ugly Mug, Midtown, and Cafe Citron

Oh what a Friday!  What I thought would be a relatively relaxing evening, turned out to be packed full of events.  A last minute decision to go to happy hour on Friday, found me at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon.  While I’m not a huge Clarendon fan, I was still surprised that I had never been there just because of its proximity to everything else.  Arriving a little after 5pm, we found a few coworkers already there enjoying some beverages inside on the ‘hip’ couch area.  After ordering a $4 screwdriver, I knew I should set a limit for my consumption knowing I’d be going elsewhere later.  While we quickly ordered and promptly served, our waitress spilled part of a beer on a friend.  Yes, yes, this happens, but in my cranky old age of 23, I was taken aback that the waitress was more concerned with wiping up the table and the lack of offering of paper towels for my beer soaked friend, ha.  Aside from our slightly spacey waitress, I did enjoy Mad Rose for happy hour.  The drinks were cheap and provided a good space for meeting with a larger group of people.  Despite the humidity, we ended up moving to the outside seating area.  I did enjoy the outside couches that provided a cozier environment than most outdoor seating areas (I think any girl in a skirt or guy in shorts can identify the pain of the ever popular wire chair).  Overall, I would come back for Mad Rose for happy hour with a group of people.  I won’t comment on what the night scene is like, but I wouldn’t want to come here with just one or two other people.

Leaving Mad Rose around 7pm, I had just enough time to go home, cook dinner, and freshen up before heading out to my late evening plans – hanging out with my volleyball teammates.  One girl just happens to work at The Ugly Mug in Eastern Market and had always suggested we all come visit her on Friday night.  The only other time I had ventured to this establishment was for a brunch/lunch with my roomies.  While the food was still good, it certainly did not have the same atmosphere as a Friday night.  Starting off with a screwdriver, I was initially surprised when my teammate brought me such a large glass – don’t worry, it was a good surprise.  Proceeding to with my normal vodka tonics, I was far from disappointed with the quality.  These three large drinks set me back $20.  Important to note: My teammate provided some awesome service (never letting anyone get parched).  After a few drinks and banter, bear fights were the next obvious step.  The back story is our indoor team name was Bear Fight.  Now, I only have partaken in a bear fight once before (on a lovely business trip to St. Louis…at City Museum).  That experience was so good that ever since I’ve been raving about the drink.  Now being the girl racing two guys, I won’t say I lost…but I definitely did not win, ha.  More importantly, the bear fight was just as good, if not better, than I remember.

So what does The Ugly Mug have to offer?  Large drinks and good service.  It has the feeling of a neighborhood bar, but did have an oddly inserted DJ there on Friday.  People weren’t really dancing, but it does add to the fun/lighthearted atmosphere.  This is definitely a chill place and great for meeting a small group of people.  I wouldn’t suggest this establishment for too large of a group just because of the numbered seating inside.  Also to note for the outside bar dwellers, they do have a sidewalk patio that I’m sure is great for people watching/mocking.

Being quite toasty at this point, the guys decided it was time to move on from the Ugly Mug.  Proceeding to Dupont Circle, our next stop was Midtown.  Oh Midtown…I’ve had many a memory at Midtown (or blurs, haha)…typically involving dancing.  My first time there I may have ended up in many cell phone picture collections, but I will most likely deny any such events if you ask me about it in person, ha.  Midtown, for those of you unfamiliar, offers several floors, many bars, overpriced drinks, a relaxed lounge (for those that aren’t dressed appropriately), creepy dudes, and a more exclusive lounge area.  It really is great for women that enjoy dancing because there is typically enough space, but beware the sausage fest.  Moving on from Midtown, we walked a block or so to Café Citron for some real dancing.  I will point this out now, if I haven’t already.  I am by no means a dancer.  Do I like to dance? Heck yes!   Even before drinking, I’d be the girl wanting to get on the dance floor and make a fool of myself.  The making a fool of myself still continues, don’t worry, haha.  Hopefully my evening dance partner wasn’t too embarrassed by my subpar dance moves.  Sometimes I like to think my enthusiasm is all that really matters #thingsyourmomtellsyou.  While I won’t give Café Citron a full review due to a lack of experience here, I did have a positive first impression and hope to venture back with more dance enthusiasts.  Overall, Friday was a pleasantly eventful evening.   Special thanks to my teammates for a good night, even if it was rough waking up early Saturday morning.

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