Brass Monkey aka Spaghetti Garden aka Roxanne’s aka Peyote Cafe, the legendary Adams Morgan meat market, has been fined $30,000 and has had its liquor license suspended for 30 days for failing to keep books and records and qualify as a restaurant. The collection of connected bars in adjacent 18th Street rowhouses has been a rite of passage for many 22-24 year olds who have come to DC in the 15 years. The fine is the 2nd biggest Barred in DC can recall, and the longest liquor license suspension, which will be served beginning Sunday November 27th through right after Christmas, in recent memory. The fine/suspension cannot be a shock to many, as it’s unclear the last time the bars actually served food (Yelp reviews indicate perhaps in 2009 there was a menu).
Barred in DC has put in a request for more details on the fine and suspension and will update this post.
Arguably the best soccer bar in D.C. (though Fado may quibble), Lucky Bar has been treating futbol fans and 23 year olds to good times for nearly two decades. More divey than a true dive, this Joe Englert spot sports nearly 25 TVs on 3 levels in its location in the raucous triangle of 18th/M/Connecticut.
For soccer fans, the bar opens quite early, often on weekends before booze can even be served at 8am and similarly early on weekdays during the World Cup and other big competitions. Every conceivable game around the world is available here, and fans who want to catch the big matches have to show up early or strategically (i.e., right when previous games end) to even get a seat.
For everyone else, this spot is a less crowded (compared to neighbors Sign of the Whale & Madhatter) meat market for the younger set (especially popular on Thursdays). A green awning covering a handful outdoor seating fronts the bar. Behind, the first floor is the most divey of the levels; it is a narrow space mostly taken up by a long bar and some booths. Located at the rear, up a few steps, is the more expansive main bar area. Booths, couches, pool tables, lots of tvs, and a smaller bar in the far corner make up this larger space. A seemingly impromptu dance floor often (but not always) materializes late at night ; it should be noted that this is definitely a sticky-floor-kind-of-bar. If you’re hungry for some nuts after dancing, put in a few quarters in a vending machine at the back of this floor, and you’ll be rewarded.
Leading upstairs near the nut machine is perhaps the most harrowing/steep (at least if you’ve had a few too many Bud Lights) stairs in any DC bar; bargoers making it to the summit will be rewarded with a more private-feeling space and another bar, along with the only bathrooms in all of Lucky Bar. Just be careful walking back down to the 2nd floor.
Although the smell of the adjacent Julia’s Empanadas (Lucky Bar + couple Jamaican empanadas was definitely a common combo of mine in the mid-2000s) permeates the bar, good times can be had . Even if you’re not a soccer fan, the extended happy hour (3-8pm M-W with $2.50-$3.75/pint & $3.50 rail drinks) is cheap, and drafts (even the local craft beers like DC Brau, Chocolate City & Atlas) are $4 until 10p on Fridays. On Thursdays, the most popular night, happy hour runs all night-usually $3-4 pints & cocktails, $12 pitchers and food specials. Beer and rail drinks are always relatively cheap at all hours too.
From the Hilton Brothers, Local 16 sort of helped kickstart the transformation of the U Street Corridor to full-blown yuppie-dom when it opened in fall 2002 at 16th (hence the name, though it actually really borders New Hampshire Ave., not 16th Street) and U. Even a decade later, this dimly-lit (my photos are worse than the terrible quality they usually are) scarlet-hued spot still packs the crowds and you’ll often find a fast-moving line out front to get in on Saturday nights. The folks who frequent this spot skew a bit younger and certainly preppier than the other Hilton Brothers spots I’ve been to ((18th Street Lounge, Marvin, The Brixton).
Local 16, like 18th Street Lounge, has several rooms, spaces, and stairs and feels sort of like someone’s mansion. On the first floor-to the right of the entrance-are two rooms, the first of which contains a bar (beer selection is usually better here than the rest of the spot) and the other with ample loungey seating. These areas are usually the least crowded in the bar. Upstairs up a long double staircase is the rest of the bar. To the right upstairs is the dark, dance floor that gives Local 16 its meat market reputation. Usually you’ll find lots of folks dancing in here to the loud music. There’s a small bar in this space; you can choose from the standard boring Heineken/Amstel/Miller bottled fare but not much else.
To the left of the stairs is easily the best feature Local 16: the huge partially covered rooftop that overlooks U Street. Packed in nice weather, the roof is basically partitioned in two; the side closest to the bar is usually much more crowded. One nice touch is that there is bench seating along the fence on U Street which means you usually can grab a seat if you want (not that many folks do). Again, nothing special with drinks and beers (you’ll pay $7 for a beer and a rail drink here), but the roof is a nice place to catch up in a more relaxed and better lit atmosphere than the rest of the place. One large downside of the rooftop is that (likely owing to a settlement/voluntary agreement) it closes at 1 AM so you can stay out all night drinking al fresco. Aside from the roof, taking the back set of stairs that take you back to the 1st floor bar (Full House style) is always strangely cool.
7/27/13 Update: Local 16 has a great happy hour Monday-Friday. Not only are nearly all items $5 (including specialty cocktails and 8″ pizzas), it goes (from 5p) to 8p, which is a rarity in DC.
Although it definitely has a meat market loungey/sorta-clubby vibe and skews a bit younger than most spots on U Street, Local 16 is a fun place to stop by every once in a while that still feels grown-up compared to most bars in Dupont/Adams Morgan on a weekend night.
Possibly the most infamous bar in DC (surpassing even McFadden’s), Smith Point is the closest thing to a UVa frat party in DC. Opened way up Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown back in 2000, Smith Point had its heyday during the Bush years, but still serves as a fun, yet douchey late night spot in Georgetown (I’ve never been there before 1am, and I don’t think it opens before 10:30p). Technically, Smith Point is a club with members, so I’ve only been able to get in as a guest of a friend who was a member when he lived nearby (with a steep $10-20 cover due to the many guests he would bring in). Guests (maybe everyone) must enter on an unmarked gate (usually with a line, see picture below) on O Street, which leads into an long, narrowish patio area. Once you’ve gone through the patio area, you’ll enter onto the dark, sticky frat party dance floor, with the bar in the back.
The entertaining, drunk, and exceedingly preppy crowd drinks vodka tonics and Jack/cokes and bottles of Bud Light (don’t think there’s anything on raft); even the Bush twins and other famous Republicans were apparently frequent guests back in the 2000s, but no longer. My friend no longer lives in Georgetown so not sure if I’ll ever make it back here, but you can’t consider yourself a DC bar expert without spending 1:30-3am on a Saturday night (followed by the Five Guys catty corner across Wisconsin Ave.) at Smith Point.
Unlike most non-lounge/club bars in downtown DC (which really doesn’t exist as a neighborhood, but it’s roughly between 11th and 21st streets between E and L Streets for the purposes of Barredindc), BlackFinn draws a solid crowd for both weekday happy hour and on weekend nights. This faintly upscale standard spot, which has other locations in Bethesda and elsewhere around the country, opened in fall 2009.
Decent-sized patio (see pic above) fronts the traffic of I Street, though you can spot the greenery of Farragut Square catty-corner. Somewhat bizarre revolving doors allows you entry into the bar, which splits into three areas: one long bar on the right with high table tops and several booths (see below pic), a fairly small dining area on the left which is inevitably empty on weekends and late nights, and another bar in the back where tables are often pushed to the side for a dance floor on weekends (see pic further below). Lots of brown wood in this spot.
With a number of tvs, this is a decent spot to get away from the office to watch a mid-day soccer match or conference basketball game, though not the best place on weekends, (despite being my alma mater UVa’s DC watch location) especially late evenings when they switch to the DJ and clear out tables for dancing and meat marketing. The bargoers on weekends are decidedly different than the rest of the week, a surprisingly attractive rowdyish crowd (with your fair share of VA folks since it’s so close to the Orange/Blue Line) that makes the place feel like a less-crowded SOTW or Madhatter.
There’s nothing particularly unique (remember it’s part of a chain) about this bar itself, but I do give them points for having Dogfish Head and DC Brau on tap.
This hilarious dive on a random dead-endish block near the Capitol off Constitution Ave. (right behind the Department of Labor), MBP is legendary (“FAMOUS & DANGEROUS” according to its Twitter page) for its $15 all-you-can-drink Saturday nights (rails from 9p-midnight, and beers & wines from 9p-1a). This has been often the site of DC Sports Nexus’s birthday party (I stole these pics on this post from his 2011 birthday party Facebook album), even though we’ve been at least 5 years older than the normal clientele, which appears to be mostly Catholic U undergrads and other cheapskates. The first floor of this spot has a room with a bar and a decent amount of space; in the front there is an enclosed patio where folks often set up beer pong or flip-cup (there are a few tables out front if the weather is nice). I haven’t spent much time upstairs, but they’ve had a random Latino dance party when I’ve gone.
We’ve always gotten good service because, unlike most of the people who frequent this place, we actually tip for each drink we get. There are usually a few girls dancing on the bar (photo above) here as the night goes on. Opened back in 1980, MBP is worth going at least once with a big group on a Saturday if you want to get drunk for cheap in a real collegey dive bar in the middle of relatively nowhere in NW DC.