Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Jan 30, 2020

Every other Thursday, Washington Post Weekend reporter Fritz Hahn discusses all aspects of going out: happy hours, date ideas, weekend getaways, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. Before we get started ...

Tim Carman runs down the 10 best pizzas in the D.C. area for this week's cover story, which has been in no way controversial, especially in this office. 

The Weekend/GOG team spent a few weeks exploring meditation, silent retreats, tarot readings and other ways to welcome 2020 with some much-needed self-discovery.

Here are 14 things to do this weekend, including Super Bowl and Puppy Bowl picks, art openings, brewery events, concerts ... you name it.

Oh, and I like bringing carryout into bars. Thankfully, these spots are cool with it.

It occurs to me that happy hour would be a great way to hack some of the most expensive restaurants in the area (other than catching restaurant week). Can you list some of the best value opportunities for trying out high-end menus on the cheap? I'm in Arlington so NoVa and DC would be my priorities.

Funnily enough, I wrote a story on this subject in the summer of 2018. Fiola's lunch menu - three courses for $26 - is one of the best deals around for this sort of thing. (If you wait until dinner, it shoots up to $45.) 

Anju's happy hour is a steal for a 3-star restaurant that just topped Washingtonian's list - $7 for a portion of ramen,  $6 for that tornado potato, and $4 for a bowl of house-infused makkoli? Yes, please. (It's in our roundup of the area's best happy hours for a reason.)

I'd probably also add the happy hour at Kaliwa, too, for the pork dumplings and lumpiang, among other specials between $5 and $7, since happy hours aren't that easy to come by at the Wharf, anyway. 

Fritz, Tom stiffed me so I'll try this on you (it maybe more your question anyway) A quick question about a good place to eat and try and learn more about wine. Typically, if I ask about a good wine place, I think Maxwell Park gets named, but I was hoping for a place with A LOT of selection (that pours small amounts would be even better). Then we could have a few, compare, consider, whatever. Don’t need a sommelier, but folks that have a considered perspective would be even better. thanks

The reason Maxwell Park is so highly recommended (by me, others, whatever) that it's run by three sommeliers and will serve by the half-glass as well as the half-bottle, which is not super-common. When I go there, I tend to put together little mini-flights to compare and contrast different grapes and styles, and get feedback from whoever is behind the bar. 

In terms of other places, I'd try Cork on 14th street, which has 50 wines by the glass, plus flights, and servers are usually good about pouring tastes or half pours. (If you're lucky, co-founder Khalid Pitts will be available to chat wine.) Flight,  which has themed flights that let you taste three different malbec from three different continents, for example, or three Eastern European grapes; Primrose for French wines; or Dio on H Street NE, which specializes in natural wines, and has a thing called Juicebox Jukebox on Thursdays, where customers can ask for any of the 100+ bottles on the list to be opened and poured by the glass.

I'm thinking about attending the Washington Auto Show today or tomorrow. Can you recommend a good bar/restaurant nearby for a pre-show lunch?

The Convention Center is only a couple of blocks from El Sol, one of the area's best taquerias; DBGB Kitchen and Bar, where you can get a delicious 3-course meal for $26; Mandu for Korean dumplings and stir-fries; or Espita for high-end Mexican. 

I feel like all my go to happy hour spots around Chinatown have disappeared! Any good spots to get a drink or two before seeing a film at Regal? Ideally a spot that doesn't have a happy hour that ends at 6pm.

I know - my favorite happy hour that's still standing is Oyamel, which, ugh, ends at 6. 

Free State, which specializes in beers and spirits from the Mid-Atlantic, and Jackpot, which offers 24 generally solid craft beer taps, both offer $2 off all drafts from 4 to 7, and, in the case of Free State, $2 off local spirits and wine. City Tap House has $5 beers, a $7 beer-and-shot combo and $6 wine, which has been a good choice with groups. 

I go to Taco Bamba for the tacos and nachos more than the drinks, but they have $4 beers and $6 margaritas and sangria from 4 to 7 on weeknights. It can get reeeeealllllly crowded though. 

I'm just finishing my first one up and it's been really great. I've come to realize that I can enjoy eating out every bit as much with a mocktail that I can with a cocktail and would like to continue to do so in the future. So who really does mocktails justice (DC and NoVA)? I remember you mentioned a restuarant that made a great alcohol-free gin and tonic but I can't recall who it was.

The best non-alcoholic drinks I've had in the last month have come from Dos Mamis, the Next Whiskey Bar at the Watergate, Hazel and Hank's Oyster Bar. The latter two went particularly well with food, as do the non-alcoholic shrubs at the Dabney Cellar, which are tangy enough to match the oysters and cured meats.  

A number of bars are making "gin and tonics" with Seedlip, an English non-alcoholic distilled spirit that's relatively close to gin. I wrote about a few in my larger Dry January cover story

Hi Fritz and thanks for doing this chat! I am wondering what are my options for a 2 hour hike and a good brewery/bar nearby (15-20 min away)? Thanks!

This is going to depend on your idea of a good hike, to be honest, and I wish I was more of an expert. 

Two ideas from me: The Monocacy Battlefield near Frederick, which isn't far from Flying Dog's tasting room; and, a little further out, I'd highly recommend a journey through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge just south of Cambridge, Md., and then a visit to RAR Brewing, which just opened its new restaurant.

In Virginia, I have friends who enjoy walking the relatively flat W&OD trail, which goes past the Lake Anne Brew House in Reston and Caboose Brewing in Vienna, depending on where you start. 

Any new local breweries, particularly in Maryland, that have caught your attention lately?

Outside of the Silver Spring breweries (Silver Branch for classic European styles, such as English mild and Czech pilsner, Astro Lab for hazy IPAs), I've enjoyed a few different beers from True Respite in Derwood (a really solid brown, very drinkable hazy IPAs) and just about everything from Elder Pine in Gaithersburg, including a spiced rye porter and Norwegian farmhouse ale. 

Where do you recommend for a bar that shows sports regularly, but also has good food, beer, and wine options. My friend and I have been going to City Tap House but are looking for different options in downtown DC.

So a sports bar that's not really a sports bar?

The Post Sports department loves sitting at the bar at Maddy's, where there are a number of flatscreens behind the wide bar.

Lost and Found only has a couple of TVs, but they always have local sports (Caps, Terps, Wizards) on, and you can order pizzas from All Purpose next door while drinking good beer, wine and cocktails. 

The new Admiral near Dupont Circle has more TVs than Madhatter or Big Hunt, and the menu is good for burgers, wings, crab dip, etc. You could also go north of the Circle to Northside, which has a similar vibe, but isn't as expansive. 

Hello! We are going to be in Fairfax, VA and noticed there were a few breweries out there. Any can't miss or must skips? Also, is there anything indoor fun activities for two adults to do in Fairfax that's not a movie? Thanks!

I haven't been to Chubby Squirrel or Ornery, which are in downtown Fairfax, and am putting those on my list. I can very much recommend the High Side, though -- a craft beer bar that mixes the local (Ocelot, Crooked Run) with American craft breweries worth your attention (Off Color, American Solera). 

For what to do - I'd probably jump in the car and drive northwest. It's less than 10 miles to the Air and Space Museum's giant Udvar-Hazy center, the awesome glow-in-the-dark Monster Mini Golf in Chantilly, and even more breweries, such as Mustang Sally. 

Teacher work day tomorrow. Anything happening around the mall that would interest an elementary school age kid? Any really early Friday happy hours Around the mall that would be kid friendly? Thanks!

This is the time of year when it's possible to walk up and get right into the National Museum of African American History without timed entry passes. (Read more about that.) If your kid hasn't been, this is a great opportunity. 

Something completely different: Have you done the Hall of Fossils at Natural History? That would be high on my list. 

And for happy hours: The relatively new Astro Beer Hall, which replaced Mackey's Public House, is next to Astro Doughnuts. You grab a beer or glass of wine, the kid gets a sweet sugary treat. 

Churchkey?

True! I've watched my share of sports there, for sure. Seats with great views of the TVs are limited, though, if that's a consideration. 

Okay, that's going to do it for this week. See you in two weeks, when we'll be talking about ... Valentine's Day. Maybe. 

In This Chat
Fritz Hahn
Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes.
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