Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Feb 15, 2018

Every other Thursday, Washington Post Weekend and Food reporter Fritz Hahn discusses happy hours, new cocktail destinations, local beers, date ideas and the late-night scene. Of course, he's also happy to talk about staples of the old Got Plans chats, such as weekend getaways, brunch spots, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. Hope you're looking forward to a long weekend. Before we begin:

16 things to do over Presidents' Day weekend

My tribute to Hank Dietle's Tavern, the legendary Rockville dive bar that burned down in the early hours of yesterday morning.

A preview of the "Black Panther"-themed pop-up bar coming to D.C. this weekend.

Okay, let's go.

Fritz, what's the word on the Quarry House reopening? With Hank Dietle's gone, it's even more important.

Somehow, I knew this was coming.

I've talked to owner Jackie Greenbaum a couple times in recent weeks, and she's really hopeful that the Quarry House will be reopened by the end of the month, and more importantly, that they will "do it right." While they're upgrading and changing a few things, I trust that they'll honor the spirit of the old days, right down to the jukebox. 

Grandkids are arriving for the weekend. We plan to take them to the Chinese New Year’s parade at 2:00 on Saturday and would like suggestions for fun eating spots to try. Our grandkids are 6 and 8. Anything to eperience in Chinatown or the wharf area that would be appropriate for kids? Years ago there was a restaurant in Chinatown there was a restaurant with a big cooking area in the center of the room and diners picked their meat and veggies which were cooked while you watched. Any such places still around?

Hi there. First things first: The parade in Chinatown is Sunday, not Saturday. 

Not aware of any similar Chinese restaurants like that in Chinatown right now. The biggest crowd-pleaser for families is probably Wok and Roll at 6th and H, though the food is pretty standard. You could try Chinatown Express around the corner and watch their master noodle maker pull dough into noodles in the front window. The dumplings are also excellent, and a favorite of mine. 

The choice depends on how adventurous the kids are. I see families with kids at Bantam King, the brightly-colored ramen and fried chicken restaurant. Same goes for Nando's, the spicy chicken chain that's still only available in the D.C. and Chicago areas. (Their kid-friendly sides and ability to customize flavors is a plus.) 

If they're picky, you might try Hill Country BBQ, where the kids go through a line of tempting meats, sausages and sides, and order what they want, cafeteria style. Again, very kid-friendly. 

Excited to try Primrose (have a reservation at 9 Fri). Rarely get up to that area, what are some other spots to stop by before or after to make a mini crawl?

12th Street is really turning into a nice little stretch of drinking and dining. A block west, you have Right Proper Brewing Company's brewery and taproom, where you can try some ultra-fresh (and ultra-delicious) beer. Make this an early stop, though, because they close at 9. 

A block north of Primrose is Brookland's Finest, a really nice neighborhood restaurant and bar with solid beers and some interesting cocktails. It's from the owners of Union Trust, Solly's and the Pug. 

A few blocks up from that, I always love stopping into Smith Public Trust, which has great local beers, fun cocktails, and supports local arts and artists with DJ nights and events. Even if there's no formal entertainment, it's a cool place to hang out for a while. 

Hi Fritz, My husband and I always used to go to RFD for the first Friday of the NCAA tournament. It had the perfect amount of TVs, a laid back crowd, and great beer selection. Any recommendations for a good place to start a new tradition? We would prefer a metro accessible location, bonus points if we can avoid too many drunk leprechauns. Thanks!

First day is the 15th this year, so you might be fine -- with St. Patrick's Day falling on a Saturday, maybe the Leprechauns will wait until the weekend to party? Hopefully?

Anyway. Not as cozy as RFD but fulfilling the TV/beer requirement in the same neighborhood is Penn Social, which has multiple 10-foot screens so you can see all the games at once, and a beer lineup that's been trending better - right now, they have interesting brews from Dogfish, Atlas, Burley Oak, DC Brau and Singlecut on tap. The downside is that it can feel a little TOO big at times.

During football season, I used to make a habit of hanging out in the basement of Meridian Pint, which has a dozen TVs and one of the best craft beer programs in the city, plus happy hour deals. Solid crowd, no drunken leprechauns. 

Hello, I'd like to watch ice skating and other Olympic sports with friends. We're in Silver Spring and prefer to stay near there, but are willing to travel to DC. Any recommendations would be welcome. For example, Nellie's?

I haven't heard of anything in Silver Spring, but Nellie's is definitely showing ice skating. Caveat: they're still hosting drag shows and other events, so check their schedule. 

Meanwhile, Ventnor Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan is vowing to "become DC's official Figure Skating Sports Bar over the next few weeks," with themed food and drink menus. 

Is Dudley's in Shirlington ever going to open? They have had signs up for at least 2 years.

I think everyone in Shirlington is asking that question. They've had a lot of building and construction issues, especially pertaining the rooftop deck, and a lot of proposed opening dates come and go. (The original projected date was hopefully the summer of 2016.)

I'll make some calls and hopefully have an answer for you next time. 

Hi Fritz, Attending a conference at AU tomorrow--any suggestions on post-conference happy hour spots nearby?

The Tenley Bar and Grill (formerly Public Bar, etc.) a few blocks north of the Metro has a college sports bar vibe, but it's got wallet-friendly specials to match, like $3 domestic beers and $5 mixed drinks from 3:30 to 7 p.m. My impression has always been that the crowd gets younger as the hour gets later.

I think Burger Tap and Shake on Wisconsin is a little better, if shorter and not as cheap - $5 pints of craft beer and mixed drinks from 3 to 6 p.m. 

Ready for the Belgian madness this weekend in Baltimore? Not as bad as Pliny the Younger madness, but still folks line up for it.

True. It's always been one of my favorite weekends at Max's. This year's Belgian Beer Fest, which runs Friday through Monday, features a whopping 200 Belgian and Belgian-style beers on tap, and 250 more in bottles. (Monday has an extra-special focus on sours.) It's a must for Belgian beer fans, especially because the MARC from Union Station to Penn Station costs $8, which is cheaper than your average cross-town Uber/Lyft ride.

I would suggest Chef Geoff's as well. And speaking of the neighborhood, the Spring Valley Pizzeria Paradiso can't come soon enough. Upper NW is a rotating beer desert.

Ah, yes. Chef Geoff's. I used to love the half-price burgers and $10 SuperMugs of beer during happy hour at the now-closed downtown location. Add this to your list, AU Conference-Goer. Runs from 3-7 p.m.

I know this is a little outside your expertise, but my family is coming to visit in 2 weeks and the reservation for the large house they rented (for 11 people) was just cancelled by airbnb. There doesn't look like there are many options this close on any of the other sites. As an alternative I'm looking for hotels with suites in either Arlington (near Clarendon), Alexandria (near Old Town), or downtown DC. Do you know of any hotels that have large suites, with at least 2-3 bedrooms? All the suites I'm finding have 1 bedroom with a living room area.

I just consulted with travel writer Andrea Sachs, and her recommendation is to try near Crystal City and National Airport - you're still on Metro and a short ride into DC (shorter on Yellow than Blue), but hotels there are more geared toward groups. Try the Crystal Gateway Marriott, which has two bedroom/three-bed "junior suites," and the Embassy Suites by Hilton. 

Please don't forget to post the code. You always wait til it's after 2:00 and it makes us wonder if you forgot or not ...

It's because I love you all and I'm still answering questions!

I’m heading up to Philadelphia this weekend for the first time in years. Any suggestions for good bars and pubs downtown, or neighborhoods to check out?

I get up to Philadelphia once a year and I always have a good time.

My last excuse for a trip was writing about Bob and Barbara's for our State of the American Dive Bar series, and I highly recommend visiting for live music and the $3 Special - a can of PBR and a shot of Jim Beam.

For cocktails, try the Ranstead Room a (sigh) speakeasy behind El Rey from restaurant mastermind Stephen Starr, or the Franklin Bar, which is still making great drinks. Hop Sing is hard to get into, but worth it. 

Beer-wise, I don't know where to begin. It's one of America's best beer cities, period. Monk's Cafe, Kraftwork, Martha, Tria Taproom, Johnny Brenda's ... I could go on and on. 

my lunch hour is over. Much appreciate your attentiveness to answering our questions.

Thanks for reading. My "hour" is up as well.


Post Points number is HH4611. I'll see you in two weeks. 

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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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