As a reader of every legitimate news source about DC local news (real estate development, crime, and of course, bars/restaurants), Barred in DC has observed great reporting by legitimate journalists and full-time(ish) bloggers alike. Folks have found their own voices as well as collectively comprehensively covering the scene. That being said, /rant begins/ could y’all include cross streets once in a while? It’s not needed when the cross street is obvious (for example, an address on a letter street like 2100 P St. NW), but not many people know off the top of their heads where, say 2204 14th St. NW is (more on this later).
In fact, a whopping 77% of those polled on Twitter said they wouldn’t know the address without Googling. More information might be necessary for addresses avenues named after states (See Lucky Bar at 1221 Connecticut Ave. NW, which is near 18th and M/N Streets) or those outside the numbered/lettered streets. The writer would have to add a few more words, but doing so provides a wealth of information that allows the reader to know exactly where the author is talking about.
A recent example shows how widespread this shortcoming is. There was wall-to-wall coverage (kudos to their PR rep) for the new Sakerum Latin-Asian fusion bar featuring the sushi cocktail. Among others, The Washington Post, the Washingtonian, Washington City Paper, and Zagat all covered the opening with gusto. At best, the outlets mentioned the old Mova, the “hill” on 14th, or being near 14th and U. Not even the press release (yes PR should do that too) mentioned that Sakerum is at 14th and W, which one could only figure out if they’re one out of four people in DC who can ID non-obvious addresses. Of course, Google or Apple Maps isn’t far away for most, but why make the reader add the extra step? Barred in DC has tried to include cross streets from the very beginning, but then again, I’m a fake journalist.
[UPDATED 11/20/16 with another trip]
Asheville, the western North Carolina city nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, lives up to the hype, Barred in DC can safely say after visiting it twice in 2016. The artsy, off-beat community of 80,000 is known for its incredible beer scene, excellent food, and surrounding beauty. Get your own cheap flight (or go on a road trip), find lodging in its walkable and charming downtown, and go. If you have more time, take a $8 Uber to the funky, untouristy West Asheville and check out some cool eateries and bars on West Haywood. Below are suggested activities to do and places to eat/drink. If you’re at a loss for your next step, just chat with any of the friendly locals.
Sure it’s cheesy, but the 90 minute Amazing Pubcycle tour was worth the $24 to get bearings downtown. Here’s how it works-about 10 people sit and cycle on bike seats around a U shaped contraption while the tour guide/DJ (get on Tyler’s tour) drives the pubcycle (which has a motor to assist) and generally hypes up the pubcyclers as well as passing pedestrians. Drinking BYOB cans of beer or Solo cups of wine is encouraged, and stops at a brewery and a brewpub are good places to fill up. A shorter, cheaper 40 minute ride (no stops) is available, and tours happen all afternoon and evening long.
If you love beer, Asheville is awesome. 40+ breweries are in the area, including a ridiculous amount downtown. For your first trip, I would suggest keeping it simple and just brewery hop on the South Slope a few blocks south of downtown; stopping by the ridiculous Sierra Nevada brewery campus a couple miles from the airport is also well worth it (bocce, mini-farm, firepits, amphitheater, huge restaurant/brewhouse). Every restaurant or bar will also have multiple local breweries on tap, often for less than $5/beer.
Green Man – original brewery side-by-side to much larger space. Small bar downstairs in newer space and go upstairs to bar and great patio. Loved the Holly King, an American Strong Ale style.
Asheville bars don’t generally get rowdy and are on the whole chill, even late. Folks day-drinking at breweries might have something to do with it. Still, there are a number of worthwhile spots. The locals seem to gravitate to somewhat more hipstery spots in West Asheville
Asheville Yacht Club – wild, grungy pirate-themed tiki bar. Get the Painkiller drink. Requires club membership (pay at door; can be just a $1)
Foggy Mountain Brew Pub – easygoing brewpub with nice patio on sort of back streets right downtown. Great live music many nights.
Desoto Lounge – another West Asheville west divey spot. Foosball, ping pong in back
Skybar– unique bar nearly encompassing three floors of glorified fire escape balconies, stairs, and landings. No actual bar, roving servers take orders. Live music from one of the landings. May encounter wait to take tiny elevator to top floor
Aside from eating and drinking, Asheville is known for the beautiful surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. If you have a car, get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and go up to Craggy Gardens (quick hike up mountain for amazing vistas) or Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do, and there’s some charming places to purchase art, clothing, and other cool stuff. The sprawling Biltmore mansion and grounds are a few miles away, though the price is steep ($60).
Shop – Just wander from artisan to clothing shop to boutique, but some suggestions we visited are below:
Grove Arcade – historic commercial building with small shops on edge of downtown
Driving takes about 7.5 hours from DC. We flew direct on something called Allegiant; the $75 we paid for a roundtrip flight from BWI was about right considering carry-on bags were extra and on one occasion we were delayed 22 hours due to mechanical issues. Otherwise, a connecting flight through Charlotte or Atlanta on an airline you have heard of can run $250-400.
Where to Stay
The new (opened in March 2016) comfortable Hyatt Place Asheville/Downtown is only a 10 minute walk to the very center of downtown and features free parking. Look for periodic deals or use 12,000 Hyatt points a night (easy to transfer if you have a Chase Sapphire card, which you should).