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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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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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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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