Uptown Tap House

Happy New Year!  Good news, I have not failed at my resolution yet.

Last Friday night I ventured to Uptown Tap House in Cleveland Park with a few friends.  How do I know it was a good night?

1)    I woke up with an empty jar of peanut butter in my bed (DON’T JUDGE, there was only a little left and it saved me from being hung over)

2)    I got to dance my ass off

3)    Cheap drinks

I swear my friends said I could post this photo

I swear my friends said I could post this photo

Formerly Four Fields, Uptown has transformed from a large Irish pup into an American Tavern with a lot of potential.  True story:  Four Fields was the first bar I ever went to in DC (not that I drank back then).  At that time, the food was pretty bad and there was a complete lack of ambiance for such a large space.

This was my first experience of Uptown.  That being said, what I saw of this establishment, I liked and would definitely come back again.  The whole reason for attendance was that a friend of mine won a free happy hour from 10pm-1am.   What does that mean?  She received free drinks during that time slot and everyone that name-dropped her got $3 drinks (rail drinks and select beers).  For prime time drinking, this was too good of an offer to turn down.

Arriving around 10:30pm, I found my friends at a large table just to the left of the bar. For those that do remember Four Fields, Uptown has preserved the spacious interior.  Tables are plentiful and it looks like they could accommodate quite sizable groups.  Truth be told, youngsters, the crowd here did appear to be slightly older and by that I mean, you’re not going to find the dumb boys and girls you do at a place like Mad Hatter.  Trust me, this is a good thing, ha.  Also given the size of the place and the fact that it was a mellow night (remember this was in the midst of the holidays), there really wasn’t much mingling among the crowd. After socializing amongst friends and getting a couple rounds in, typical IntoxiKatie had to take it to the dance floor.  They have plenty of space to dance to their DJ spinning typical top 40s.  Nothing overly impressive, but sometimes you just need a neighborhood bar with reasonable drink prices and the opportunity to dance like no one is watching…even if they are.

I will say I was quite impressed that the bar manager made the rounds to the different parties making sure they were enjoying themselves.  Unlike other bar management, he seemed to actually give a damn and wasn’t putting on a show.  As I have become more and more jaded in my “old” age, ha, I appreciate people who stop trying to bullshit me…Of course the shots he offered me and my dancing crew didn’t hurt either.  While I did not sample any food, taking a look at the menu online, I certainly would not be opposed to trying it at another date.  It really is hard to complain about a place that offered up such affordable “happy hour” prices, while offering dancing and still space to chat with friends.  The versatility of Uptown is not always something that is easy to find in DC and should be appreciated.

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2012 in review

Alright, you all should know by now as much as I love drinking and exploring, I also love stats and crunching numbers. That being said, when I got this email tonight that WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog, I got super excited.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

For all the stats dorks out there like me: Click here to see the complete report.

Touchdown – Tuesday Night Trivia

Yeah yeah….I know what you’re thinking.

*WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN INTOXIKATIE?! I am completely lost trying to distinguish which bars are worthwhile from those that are complete shit.*

Never fear!  I’m back and roaring….ready for a new year of bar reviews.  In all seriousness, my B for the absence.  Hope this post finds you all well and enjoying some good ole holiday shenanigans.  With all the time off from writing, I have gained some new perspectives and added more stories to my personal collection of ‘How Katie can make a fool of herself.’ All for the entertainment of my readers, of course!

In recent news, I finally decided to get a Twitter account.  @intoxikatie

I encourage you all to follow me if you are craving more than just what I post on here.

For my epic return to the bar blogisphere, I have decided to review Touchdown on U Street.  While Touchdown is a divey sports bar tucked away on U Street, there is a certain charm about this place.

I will admit that I did not actively seek out Touchdown.  It’s the type of bar that I’ve walked past probably about 100 times on my way to other places, but never ventured in….not until election night.  Like many people in the DC, I was excited to watch the election poll returns.  The original plan was to go to Policy.  Upon arrival, we discovered it was too crowded and with three hungry girls, we needed some place for some grub.  Stopped at the corner of 14th and U, a random guy started talking to us and suggested we head to Touchdown for trivia.  My smart ass response – Who wants to do trivia when there are election returns to watch?  We proceeded to my typical spot for good food on U Street, Desperadoes.  Unfortunately though, this too was packed.  Turning to my two girlfriends, we decided to give Touchdown a shot. Located conveniently between 13th and 14th street on U Street and in a cluster of bars, we headed up the flight of stairs to see a fairly vacant bar.  Taking three seats at the bar, we ordered up some drinks and food (Screwdriver – $6, Chicken Quesadilla – $10, Jalapeño Poppers – $9).  The drinks and jalapeño poppers were solid…quesadillas….eh, haha.

Election night proved to be successful.  In no particular order of importance: my trivia team didn’t completely suck for once; I won a dance-off; and Obama won…clearly me winning the dance off was the most important of the three.  Upon finding out that Obama won, we stormed the streets and marched to the White House to celebrate properly!

The next week, trying to recreate some of the awesomeness of election night, I invited some friends out again for trivia.  This time, I got a chance to sample Touchdown’s cider collection of Strongbow and Angry Orchard (about $6 each).  This fall I made it my mission to become a cider snob.  Since I am still not really a large beer fan, cider became a suitable alternative at establishments that do not serve liquor.  Because my sarcasm in this paragraph might not carry, I completely understand and acknowledge that I like cider because it tastes like alcoholic apple juice J

Full disclosure – I have only attended Touchdown on Tuesday evenings for trivia.  It’s a small, quaint bar with a handful of tables.  The food is mediocre.  My trivia teammates RAVE about the goat cheese quesadillas, but other than that I wouldn’t really come here specifically for the food.  The bar staff is friendly and accommodating.  With fairly priced drinks outside of happy hour, Touchdown is really just the type of establishment where you can go to relax and be yourself.  This is not something that can be easily said about every bar in DC and anyone who has been here longer than a month can attest to that.  Because of the size, I wouldn’t recommend Touchdown for very large groups, but it is definitely the type of place that you can go with a good group of friends.  Being a sports bar, I am uncertain of its team loyalties, but it seems like the type of place that would turn on whatever game you request.  The clientele is down-to-earth also, which can be essential for creating the right bar atmosphere.

Having gone to more than a handful of trivia nights now, they kind of feel like the college experiences I never had.  With opportunities to win free shots, beer-offs, and flip cup to play afterward, my Tuesday evenings have become a welcome distraction and relief from busy workweeks.  Now this is not to say that you have to get rip-roaring drunk to enjoy yourself, quite the contrary…but being sober probably wouldn’t have led me to a Tuesday night visit to Camelot (yes, I’ve been here more frequently than most of my guy friends, ha!) or as much dancing (actually…I dance that much completely sober).  Think you can keep up with my friends and me?  Come out to Tuesday Trivia at Touchdown and I’ll be the girl proudly making a fool of myself, haha. #NoShame #TuesdayIsTheNewFriday

As we get closer to 2013, my list of resolutions continues to grow and includes: posting more consistently (once every two weeks) and getting into Harold Black (the new LEGITIMATE speakeasy in Capitol Hill…to improve my street cred).  Mark your calendar, my next deadline is January 6th, 2013!

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H Street Shenanigans – Atlas Arcade, Church & State, etc…

Compute Writer’s_Block=0.

If (Busy_Schedule=1) & (Work_Stress=1) & (Family_Craziness=1) & (Sleep=0) & (Traveling=1) Writer’s_Block=1.

Execute.

Uh oh!  My inner nerd is showing 😛  Anyway, apologies for being MIA for so long.  Hope you all enjoyed the end of summer and that my absence of postings didn’t leave you stranded for good advice/recommendations haha.  The following post is about H Street.  It encompasses two great trips there – the second official H Street bar crawl AND my birthday scavenger hunt.  For those of you that read the previous H Street bar crawl posting – I adapted the birthday scavenger hunt list, maybe if you’re lucky I’ll post that in its entirety.

Side comment – Fairly recently I had a friend post a link to the blog on the DC Subreddit.  Welcome to the new readers (if you exist, ha)!  While it probably would have been more appropriate to post a response to comments on there, I’d rather not have to create a throwaway account or worse, use my real one to respond #lazy.  #1: My use of the word gentrification was mocking.  I am quite aware that gentrification is not used in/applicable to DC exclusively.  I just find it hilarious that through my time in other cities I’ve never heard it referenced so much as I have here.  It’s like the word people say aloud to make themselves feel intelligent and informed on local issues.  #2 I’m a woman so yes, I took slight offense to the comments suggesting I watch my calorie intake.  Not that I have to defend myself, but I am quite active and a health-conscious individual.  One of the whole reasons I didn’t drink for so long was because of it.  It’s not that I have stopped exercising or given up on being healthy just because I drink, if anything it might be the complete opposite. Annyyyyywayyyyyy….on to the posting 🙂

 

As the summer was wrapping up, I finally had my second H Street bar crawl – disappointing I know for someone who set a summer goal of exploring H Street.  Despite the early rain showers, this particular Saturday weather was no deterrent from going out and having a good time.  Hopping out of the cab close to 10:30pm, we started the evening at the recently opened Atlas Arcade.  This establishment, from the exterior at least, looks just like a small mall arcade.  Upon entering, you are greeted by a fooseball table and about half a dozen arcade games lined down the wall on the right.  On the left side you will find the *cash only* bar and it the very back – a pool table. For all those coming to play the games, they do have a change machine so don’t worry about lugging around your prized collection of state quarters.  While I would never claim to be a gamer, I do host a fine appreciation for games.  After a childhood of watching my brothers play video games and them rarely letting me play, I’ve become quite accustom to the ‘watching’ role.  Some of the games my friends investigated included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), Donkey Kong, and a driving game of some sort.  I will say I was kind of disappointed that Atlas Arcade didn’t host my favorite classic – Pac Man.  At the bar, for those lucky enough to have one of the six or so stools, you can play Super Mario Brothers.

In terms of the actual bar, there is nothing to really rave about here.  I was quite surprised when I initially asked for a screwdriver and was told I couldn’t have it because they didn’t have any OJ. What bar doesn’t have OJ?!  To my relief, the bartender paused then for a minute and found some.  You too can have all this uncertainty for $6.  A little later a friend tried to get a whiskey sour to only be told that they didn’t have any whiskey downstairs and that she would have to go upstairs to Church & State.  Don’t get me wrong, the people here at this small bar were great.  It was a friendly atmosphere for people just looking to play games with a small group of friends.  Because Atlas Arcade is pretty small, I wouldn’t recommend going here with a large group of people.  And by the bar experience we had, it’s probably best you drink elsewhere first or after.  Silver lining – it is a good bar to go to relax and let off some steam with some games.

Our next stop didn’t even require walking outside.  We ventured upstairs to Church & State.  Fun fact – you can take drinks from downstairs up there (and I assume vice versa).  Church & State is a cocktail bar (you should all know how much I love these!) themed around the seven deadly sins.  Each sin has a represented specialty drink, as you can see in the featured picture.  Yes, it’s one of those menus where you probably will not recognize most of the ingredients in the drinks unless you are a liquor snob.  Still nursing my screwdriver from downstairs I sampled my friends’ drinks.  At $12 a pop, these drinks are quite strong.  One friend was not quite able to handle all that her bourbon drink had to offer and opted to pass this along.  Word to the wise when ordering from Church & State and cocktail bars alike, make sure you really enjoy the main alcohol in the drink.  If there’s something in the drink that you recognize you definitely do not like – don’t get it.  Talk to the bartender, they generally know what they are doing.

Church & State at the time was partially taken over for a birthday party.  Aside from the scattered birthday balloons, the interior of the bar looked like you were inside a dimly lit church (and no, not in a scary way).  From the window style, to the pews used as seating, to the confessional room used as a more private gathering space, my Catholic roots were reawakened, ha, just kidding. This is definitely a bar I’d like to come back to so I can try my own seven deadly sin of choosing.

That night like most nights on H Street, we ventured next to H Street Country Club to indulge my love of Giant Jenga and my nickname as “The Ringer.” I am quite the fierce competitor.  Nothing new to report on the country club -drunk people, mini golf, Norman the bulldog, etc.

The Birthday Edition:

Well it wasn’t a super eventful birthday.  Starting off at Sticky Rice for some late night food, our lineup followed with Little Miss Whiskey’s and my first trip to Rock and Roll Hotel.  While the food at Sticky Rice was quite delicious, we sat upstairs where my inebriated friends were not quite appreciated by the other customers, ha.  While we made some decent attempts at Little Miss Whiskey’s to cross off things on the scavenger hunt, we gave up on it fairly quickly.   Venturing then to Rock and Roll Hotel, I was excited to do some dancing.  The DJ was decent.  Avoiding typical top 40 music, the dancefloor was crowded, but not overly packed.  The upstairs bar, while I didn’t spend much time up there looked like it would be an interesting place to hang out with friends.  I definitely want to come back for the Drunken Spelling Bee and/or trivia night here.  Here’s too more adventures!

Enjoy readers!  Coming next: World of Beer and my new-found love of hard cider 🙂

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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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Take me out to the Ballgame….The Bullpen and California Tortilla

So…it’s been a while.  I won’t bore you all with excuses as to why the reviews have been sparse lately or why this review is a month overdue.  I will say there are good reasons for the delay, including a wonderful 4th of July celebration (yes, that’s right…I can throw a heck of a party too J ).  Anyway, hope you enjoy the humorous story below.

As I’ve already established, this blog may be more a collection of my foolish stories than bar reviews.  Hate as people may that I work in Northern Virginia, I am employed by a pretty cool company; proof being that we took a group trip to a Nationals game at the beginning of June.  The trip started a little rocky when our bus driver sideswiped a car.  Amazingly, he didn’t completely take off the car’s side mirror and with just a minor delay, we were on our way.  Arriving slightly after the opening pitch, the BFDs and most dudes headed straight for the beer – we also got $15 to spend at the park.  I decided to pace myself and waited until we got settled in our seats.  This may be shocking to some, but this was only the second baseball game I’ve attended.  The previous one hardly counts though because I was little and spent the whole time coloring…at least until I spilled my crayons into the beer soaked stands.  Beer and crayon smell do not mix, by the way.  Anyway, I digress.

Just because I hadn’t been to a baseball game in recent memory, does not mean that I was unprepared for the outrageous lines.  After a good 20 minutes in line, I finally got to order some fries and a coke…which I shortly turned into the vanilla variety, ha (#superclassy).  The fries were mediocre, but the dipping sauce offered was quite tasty ($10 total for small fries and large fountain drink).  After some social engagement with coworkers and consumption of food and drink, it was time for another drink.  This time, I was convinced to get something a little ‘harder’, ha – I was already feeling the vanilla coke!  I opted for my typical vodka tonic ($8 – $12 can get you a frozen margarita in a souvenir cup).  By the time I finished this drink, the stadium already had its ‘last call.’  Doomed to wait until after the game before drinking more, in the meantime I actually watched some of the baseball.  Sorry Nats fans, they were not victorious that day.  Following the game, we made our way across the street to The Bullpen. Funneling through the crowd and ID check, we entered a parking lot that was just as filled with people, but there was the addition of tents and lines for booze.  In an orderly fashion, we waited in said line for approximately 5-10 minutes to order from a set menu of drinks.  I opted for the $8 margarita, which was made and waiting for drinkage as soon as I paid.  My coworkers and I headed to the elevated deck area, but really The Bullpen was really just large amounts of people drinking overpriced drinks in a parking lot.  The advantage is for those looking to continue the fun after baseball games without having to go far.

Finishing up our drinks here, we had the good fortune of having a coworker recently move to the area.  He was quite hospitable, offering a couple of us some drinks and poolside relaxing before we headed to the bar in his building.  I should note that the reason I stuck around after the baseball game was because I had a volleyball match to play in near Capitol South.  Being logical, I thought I would be okay to have a couple drinks before playing.  My coworkers, being the gentlemen that they are, encouraged me…”Maybe you’ll be better playing if you’re drunk, Katie.”  Having never tried, it’s not that I saw this as a challenge, I just was not paying attention to my consumption.  One of those moments where you don’t realize how drunk you are until you stand up, ha.  I somehow made it to the volleyball game safely on foot.  While I do not quite remember the game (other than being in the sand an abnormal amount), my teammates have since reassured me I was quite encouraging and extremely positive.  At least I’m not an angry drunk 🙂  So we lost the game and went out the California Tortilla afterwards.  Oh the funny things I do when intoxicated :-).  While I would love to give a review of California Tortilla, I don’t think I’ve experienced enough of it to give it a complete review.  From the couple times I’ve been there, the margaritas have been tasty and my friends have enjoyed the food.  Our service has also been dynamic.  Anyway, I digress from the continuing hilarity of this night.  When drinking, as many of you know, I can get quite social.  I also have a fairly fearless attitude.  After receiving a challenge to talk to another social sports team, within seconds I left my bar stool to chat with the team…Tequila Mockingbird.  The team name was fairly clever and we had seen this team there a previous week.  After drunkenly imposing myself on this team, my friend came over to join me.  With some shameless flirting, two gentlemen bought us some drinks.  They later got tag names of Old German Guy and Crater Face.  Yes, after drinking a lot I can be quite flirty too…big shocker, haha.  I will say a lot of the details of this night are fuzzy…I vaguely remember turning around in my spandex (read: I shouldn’t be allowed to go out to bars in my volleyball attire).  Just like many Friday or Saturday nights seem to end in dudes being creepy and crossing a line of acceptable behavior, Crater Face found it appropriate to grab my waste and spin me around – not cool.  With that move, we left promptly.  I later found out that Old German Guy got handsy with my friend.  Dear Gentlemen, where are you? Haha.  Icing on the cake…Crater Face found my email and creepily emailed me asking me out., oy.

Tl;dr:  Nats games are surprisingly fun.  I do not play volleyball better drunk.  California Tortilla is pretty cool…even if they have creepy dudes there on occasion.

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Little Miss Whiskey’s, Red Palace, H Street Country Club – H Street Bar Crawl 1

So as I may or may not have discussed in writing, exploring H Street is one of my goals for the summer.  Why H Street?  Yes, people seem to get a little nervous when the street address stops ending in NW.  Yes, it’s one of those “gentrifying” neighborhoods (ashamed of myself for using this DC-centric word).  Yes, it may be a “hipster” hangout.  Despite these attributes, I remain intrigued with H Street – what makes this neighborhood tick and exactly what it is that draws me so strongly to explore here.

Starting the night at a friends’ apartment near Union Station, we made the REASONABLE walk (I’m tired of people complaining that it’s a long walk) over the main stretch of bars on H Street.  Our first stop was Little Miss Whiskey’s.  Not knowing what it looked like, we walked completely by this place initially.  From the outside, as you can see from the picture above, this place looks fairly sketchy.  The bouncer gave all of our IDs a discerning inspection and my initial thought was, ‘What did we get ourselves into here?’  Proceeding up the short staircase to the ground floor, once we entered that thought didn’t waiver just yet.  As one person put it, “It’s quite ornate.”  It may not be the most welcoming entry bar, but we toured around a bit and found some amazing features.  Walking through this floor, Little Miss Whiskey’s offers a back patio space.  This space is dark, only aglow with light overflowing from inside and some garden lights.  There was a staircase outside, but unfortunately this led to a dead end.  The top level was blocked off – it appeared as if there was some sort of structural damage up there.  Venturing back inside, we made our way up to the second floor where we quickly realized THIS is the reason people rave about this place.  On the second floor there was an awesome DJ (honestly one of the most coherent general bar sets I’ve heard in a while), a modest dance floor (with a mini stage for people to dance on), and of course another bar.  Despite being fairly early, just after 10pm, there was already a decent crowd here mingling and dancing.  To be clear though, it was not stuffy or overcrowded.  The drinks here were cheap – $5 vodka tonic than came equipped with a glow-in-the-dark straw!  Really, the only drawback that I could think of here was that it’s a cash-only bar.  They do have an ATM, but still, I was lucky that a friend had a few dollars to lend me in this credit card/debit card dominated city. Another important aspect of Little Miss Whiskeys – the clientele.  The people here definitely added more energy.  We ran into a birthday scavenger hunt and a few bachelorette parties.  I felt very privileged to assist in the scavenger hunt – because really when do I not feel comfortable making a silly fool of myself? Overall, my Little Miss Whiskey’s experience was extremely positive and I will definitely be coming back with cash in hand.

The next stop on the mini bar crawl was Red Palace.  This place is quirky.  I honestly can’t think of any other way to describe the decorations.  The entering point/bar to Red Palace is quite ordinary- small, cozy, dim, but as you make your way through this establishment, you find its more unique qualities.  There is a back patio, which is quite lit and we found tables of people eating food (which, by the way, smelled delicious).  Then there is another long bar with more lighting and interesting decorations – definitely conversation pieces.  Prices here are also pretty cheap – $5 vodka tonic and $7 for Jack Daniels.  We didn’t stay here very long.  It was fairly crowded and had limited seating for our group of six.  Please do take note of the picture though and the great happy hour prices!  Also important to note, that Red Palace from my understanding used to be called the Palace of Wonders, which would explain the decorations.  Now, they offer concerts and burlesque shows in their upstairs space for a cover fee – something that’s on my to-do list.

Our next and final stop of the evening was H Street Country Club.  Within 5 minutes of entering, we were at the bar to do tequila shots. Sign of a great night?  I think so.  If you’re not familiar with this place, it is a great activity spot.  If you can’t find something to entertain you here, you are a severely dull person.  The upstairs indoor mini golf course is what most people know H Street Country Club for – $7 per person.  The course itself is quite entertaining and something that every young DC resident should check out at least once.  Also on this level, there is a bar so patrons do not have to worry about running dry while playing their game.  Downstairs offers skeeball, shuffleboard, and GIANT jenga.  Prior to last week, I had never played giant jenga, but I am now convinced that it could be a second calling for me, ha.  Teaming up with a friend, we took on our first match and were victorious with minimal effort.  Our next match proved to be an epic battle of sorts.  It was quite fun, but at my level of sobriety (or lack there of) my competitive streak was flaming, definitely said ‘Come at me, bro’ a few too many times, ended up losing the match for my team, and had to buy two drinks for the douchey FBI guys we were playing ($5 vodka drinks – the shot earlier was $6).  H Street Country Club can be quite the outing and is great if you want to come with a decent size group or to meet people.  Overall it was a great (albeit quite drunken) night on H Street.  People seemed a bit friendlier/easier to engage with (on average), prices were cheaper, and the various offerings can match whatever you are looking for in a bar/night out.

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The Melting Pot

It’s a twister, a twister!!  A little tornado warning certainly didn’t stop last Friday’s happy hour.  We were going to venture outside of the Ballston bubble (to Clarendon – not far I know, ha), but given the weather we decided instead to just make a quick run across the street to The Melting Pot.  Arriving right around 5pm, it was empty in the first bar (didn’t venture around the restaurant too much, but the hostess mentioned a second bar).  We grabbed the largest table and started to weigh our options for drinks and food.  Being very adult, one of my coworkers ordered a bottle of white wine for the table (that amazingly filled 6 glasses).  It was tasty and priced at $28.  Don’t worry; there were cheaper wine prices.

The next challenge- picking fondue.  Opting for the cheddar cheese and jalapeño selections, our group was very pleased.  With no real rail drink happy hour special, I opted to splurge on a martini for my last drink…but not just any martini, a s’mores martini!  I don’t normally go for these specialty drinks, but this was a wise selection.  Certainly didn’t need any chocolate fondue with a drink like this.  The oreo-covered marshmallows were a perfect topping.  As our happy hour group grew to a total of 9 people, we decided to get two more selections of fondue – the spinach-artichoke mixture and the season special.  During happy hour, the fondue is half-priced.  Now normally all of this still would have been fairly expensive, but luckily one friend had a Groupon that she was generous enough to share :-).  It also probably didn’t hurt that we were fairly engaging with our waitress.  All together we each tossed in about $10.

Does Melting Pot have a great bar scene for mixing with strangers? No, haha.  It was a great place to come with a group of friends though.  While I assume the normal demeanor is fairly reserved, our group was a little on the rambunctious side and lived up the establishment.  I wouldn’t come here all the time for happy hour due to the prices, but I will definitely be back to indulge in some comfort food and quality drink :-).

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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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