Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Mar 28, 2019

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. Happy Opening Day, and happy spring. Hope you got outside for lunch, because the weather is gorgeous. 

A few things before we start: This chat is unlucky enough to coincide with the Nationals, but if you're going to a game this weekend, here's a guide to new restaurants and bars around the stadium, and here's a guide to what's new inside the park

If you don't want to deal with the crowds at the Tidal Basin next week, here's a guide to alternative places to see cherry blossoms in the DC area.

Going to the game on Saturday. Anything new and noteworthy, or should we stick to the D.C. Drafts stands?

A couple of things stand out to me after the media tour and a Q&A with some of the Nationals PR folks.

* Denizens will be at the District Drafts carts this season, the first time a Maryland brewery has joined the lineup. I believe they're starting with the Born Bohemian pilsner, which is an excellent choice.

* The Shocktop Bar on the third base side is now the Stella Artois bar, for purely marketing reasons. (The Shocktop bar was one of my favorite places to stand at Nats Park.) Both brands are owned by AB-InBev, of course. They're trying to make Stella a brand you enjoy at a ballgame instead of a "special occasion" beer.

* More local craft beers will be available in the stadium through roaming vendors: 3 Stars and DC Brau, among others, are now being sold in 16-ounce cans. 3 Stars' new Diamonds are Forever Hazy Pale looks pretty sweet

Are there any cocktails that you would never order at a bar and that make more sense to make at home?

Brunch drinks. Take screwdrivers: Two ounces of rail vodka and a glass of orange juice must have a cost of, what, 50 cents? Same with cheap cava in mimosas.

But brunch is more about who you're with than what you're eating and drinking, at least at most of the popular "bottomless" spots. 

but that means that they will still be very pretty and less crowded (at least with out of towners who tend to wait on the announcement) on Saturday and Sunday.

We can cross our fingers that locals get first dibs on enjoying the blossoms. I was down at the Tidal Basin earlier this week, and it was pretty dead for a weekday morning. Next weekend (the 5th and 6th) is going to be crazy. 

Do you have any suggestions for brunch after the 10 miler? Would like to be close-ish to the Washington Monument. Bonus if has unlimited mimosa/bloody Mary option and takes reservations.

From the end of the 10-miler, it's a quick shot down to the Wharf. Hank's Oyster Bar at the Wharf is a favorite -- omelets, the popcorn shrimp hash -- and plenty of availability, though I don't know if they do bottomless mimosas. Pearl Street Warehouse definitely does bottomless brunch, and their food tends towards classics like biscuits and gravy or scrambled eggs on toast. 

If you want to head north from the Mall, Old Ebbitt is the closest crowd-pleasing option. 

OK, return of baseball RIGHT NOW! With the incredible price increases on already too expensive ballpark food, I'm thinking about where I can get good food to take in, fairly close to the park. Any thoughts? I used to take in Vace sandwiches (that was the best!) but I don't work close to Vace any more, so can't stop there on the way. Mangialardo's is out of the way too. And Taylor is gone. So... where now? And now, off to the game, so I'll catch your answer in time for my next game!

Tim Carman did a piece about this for the All-Star Game section last summer -- he was loading up on rotisserie chicken sandwiches and probiotic drinks at Harris Teeter.

I'd suggest the new Whole Foods for deli sandwiches or the Philly Wing Fry Cheesesteak. I'm also thinking about whether I could get a couple of slices from Wiseguys and if they'd stay in good shape for an hour or two. 

Hi Fritz, My folks are visiting from NC this weekend and we're taking them out for an early dinner Friday at Rasika. I'm a UNC grad and we should finish up right before tip off. Any suggestions on somewhere walkable or a short metro ride away to catch the game where we'd have a reasonable chance of both sitting and being able to see the screen? They do have a passing interest in the tourney, but I'm the rabid fan of the group, so I feel a little like a bad daughter for not taking them somewhere fancy for cocktails after. I'd like to at least take them somewhere that isn't standing room only. Bonus if they have a full bar / decent wine options (my folks aren't big on beer). PS thank you so much for the recommendation for Morris Bar a few weeks back--I'd been meaning to check it out and it was perfect. Already been back with friends, too!

Okay, this is tough, because there are tournament games at Capital One Arena all weekend, and I'm expecting the bars to be quite packed. Also, most of the places I recommend for wine in that neighborhood don't have TVs. 

The first suggestion I'll make is the Partisan, which should be better known for its funky wine choices and well-made cocktails. They use a lot of amaro and house-made ingredients, so it's definitely worth popping in to see if you can get a seat in the main bar.

The Kimpton's Dirty Bar has TVs, though it's not really a sports bar -- just a warning. 

While I haven't been to Farmers and Distillers in a while, I remember them having a TV in the bar, which might work? 

In your article listing new restaurants around the Nat's Stadium, the owner of Punchbowl Social calls states it's location is in Clarendon? Was that a mistake or are they really trying to have a neighborhood creep that far for the Clarendon name when it's clearly in Ballston? Just curious

If it says Clarendon instead of Ballston, that's totally on me. I'll fix it. 

Hi Fritz! Looking for a HH spot tonight preferably somewhere in Penn Quarter/Capitol Hill/H Street area, and NOT near the ballpark. Any place new that you like? I'm still sad about Eatbar closing :( Also I saw your tweet about crabs from yesterday- who was trying to sell host an all you can eat crab feast now? what a scam! thanks for all you do!

Do you love cheese? Because it's Raclette Thursday at Stable. $8 for a bowl of speck, potatoes and pickles covered with gooey, freshly melted cheese, or $6 if you don't want meat. (Arrive before 7 for $5 draft beers and $6 wines, including a nice sparkling blanc des blancs.)

I haven't been anywhere new around Penn Quarter or the Hill that I've really liked lately, although District Soul Food on Barracks Row showed promise: $5 drafts and cocktails, including Long Island Iced Tea, to go with crab fries and southern-style chicken wings. 

What is your favorite brewery or distillery in the DC/VA/MD area? I am looking for a unique place to take some friends that frequent breweries; they are also from the DC area. It would be a plus if the brewery had a food truck or some nice place to eat nearby. My one thought was Dirt Farm but I would love to hear any suggestions. Thanks for doing this chat, it is very appreciated!

If you don't mind a drive, and you're thinking about Saturday, when it's supposed to be 75 and sunny, I'd point you to Waredaca and Brookville Beer Farm, which are north of Olney. Waredaca is on a horse farm and has lots of outdoor space with picnic tables. I like their saisons and wit/wheat beers. Brookville has a large outdoor space, and it's just down the road from Waredaca, so you can get even more sampling in.

I wrote about the combo for a Weekend story about road trips last year; if you only choose one, make it Waredaca - it's a much more pleasant place to drink than in an office park. (No offense to warehouse-like breweries in office parks.) And you HAVE to get a burger from the Sunshine General Store. Probably the best cheeseburger in Maryland.  

All this talk of crabs on Twitter has me wondering: Where is the best place to get a Maryland crab cake right now?

First, you can't legally catch crabs in Maryland until April 1. So anything claiming to be Maryland crab is a lie or using meat frozen since last year. (Virginia started its crab season last week, but reports from Chincoteague say that bad weather has meant tiny or no catches.)

That said, I like the griddled crabcakes at Hank's Oyster Bar, Crisfield in Silver Spring, Davis' Pub in Annapolis and the most untraditional crabcakes from Pappe on 14th Street, spiced with chilies instead of Old Bay. 

Is great, but cash only! The nearest ATM is something like 2 miles away. So get cash early.

This is very good advice. 

A friend and I are planning for a long weekend in June, but haven’t visited in several years and haven’t been keeping up with the goings-on. We’ll catch an O’s game, and have Woodberry Kitchen and Faidley Seafood on the list (because we’ve still yet to try either!). What else should we do/eat/drink? Into cocktails (LOVED The Owl Bar), beer (love Brewer’s Art), local culture/history/exploring (Hon Fest), music… Not so interested in art. I also somehow don’t have any friends who live in the city, so any idea what might be a good hotel or Airbnb?

There's so much potentially to do in Baltimore. Going from your list: I, too, adore the Owl Bar, more for its history than the Manhattans. I'd send you to the Bookmakers Cocktail Club in Federal Hill or Rye in Fells Point. Clavel, the Remington mezcalria from the owners of the speakeasy-like (and adorable) W.C. Harlan, is a must-do. Baltimore Whiskey Company is the best distillery in the city, though Sagamore has the fanciest tour.  

Beer: Visit Union's spacious new digs and try some of the best beers in the state. I'm also a fan of Diamondback, a cool craft brewery in Locust Point, which makes great hazy IPAs and clean German and Belgian styles.

Local culture: Go to the Visionary Art Museum, which is one of the things that will always be "Baltimore" to me. That, pierogies at Broadway Market, cheap beers in the Mount Royal Tavern, shopping in Hampden, late night bands at the Ottobar or Joe Squared ... 

If you had only one place to catch brunch in DC, where would you go and why?

Only one? Does dim sum at Hollywood East count?

If it has to be in D.C., and money was no object, it would be Del Mar. Great location, amazing chef, and all the Spanish meat and cheese ... (just look at the menu).

I think I have a reservation for April...

Three to four hours. It sounds like a lot, but if you're hiking around to see all the outdoor sculptures, in addition to the seven pavilions, the time really adds up. 

Brookville Beer farm also has great live music some days too. Plenty of place for kids to run around and food trucks visit each week. Post Points Code would wrap this chat up too!

This is true, though I do think Waredaca has a much more unique space for first-time visitors. I'd rather go there if there was a straight choice between the two. 

With that, I'm going to wrap up. See you back here in two weeks.


Post Points code is HH4936.

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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