Changes on Capitol Hill
Welcome to Capitol Hill, 110th Congress! Welcome to Capitol Hill, Hamilton's Bar and Grill!
Just in time for the opening session, the Hill has a new spot for after-work drinks. Hamilton's Bar and Grill replaced the Flying Scotsman late in 2006, announcing its arrival with a three-course dinner-and-champagne New Year's Eve party.
I've always liked this little doglegged stretch of Second Street, hidden in the shadow of the Department of Labor. While it's the home of the always popular My Brother's Place, it feels like a secret backstreet, not a thoroughfare just off Constitution Avenue and blocks from the Capitol.
Hamilton's hasn't changed much from its days as the Flying Scotsman: The 19th-century townhouse's two floors are each divided into a bar and a dining area, with a couple of small TVs. The decor is stripped down to the bare minimum: White walls, exposed brick at every opportunity, plenty of old-fashioned wooden benches and booths. A pair of dart lanes upstairs is about exciting as it gets. (Well, more so than the soundtrack of Sublime, Green Day and Sugar Ray.)
Thankfully, Hamilton's has some happy hour deals that might warrant investigation from nearby offices. Besides the $3 beer of the day, nightly specials include $8 pitchers of Yuengling (Thursday) and $7 pitchers of Budweiser or Miller Lite (Friday, Saturday and Monday), 25-cent wings (Monday), $2 rail drinks and Miller Lites from 5 to 8 (Tuesday) and half-price nachos (Friday).
When I stopped by last night, the light crowd consisted mostly of after-work groups huddled around pitchers or standing at the bar, chatting away. I ordered a Yuengling and the bartender reminded me that it was pitcher night. I declined, figuring that, you know, I may like a beer or two, but I didn't need a whole pitcher for my very own. Whoops. When I got the bill, I was charged $9 for two pints of Pottsville's finest. I could have had twice as much (even if I didn't finish it all) for a buck less. Another reminder that your bartender usually knows best.
I wish I could be as positive about the deep-fried wings, which were served with blue cheese sauce in two small plastic cups, each wearing a clear lid as if they were stolen from some lunchtime salad bar. The sauce was fairly tame, too. Nachos, piled high with guac, refried beans and sour cream, seem a much better bet for snacks.
Hamilton's isn't really worth going out of your way for, but if you're on the Union Station side of the Hill or near Judiciary Square Metro, this is the new happy hour spot to consider -- especially if you're trying to balance your budget this term.
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