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Posted at 1:21 PM ET, 01/ 5/2007

Changes on Capitol Hill

By Fritz Hahn

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.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | January 5, 2007; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Hi Fritz,

I couldn't have had a more opposite experience. When I used to go to the Flying Scottsman, it was dark, dingy, and outdated. The food was terrible, too. The plaid carpets, armor, and swords just weren't appealing...

I find Hamilton's decor to be warm and inviting. I love how the exposed brick and dark wood is contrasted by the light walls and cool lighting... Very DC and not pub-ish. I've had every entree on the menu and think each are higher quality than standard bar food, for sure. As for the wings... I can't deal with eye-watering-make-you-sweat sauce. So, I think Hamilton's hit my palate right on.

As a sports fan, I love how I can watch a different game with sound in every room... and can sit or stand anywhere on each floor and see a TV clearly.

I've been to Hamilton's for lunch, happy hour, and later in the night for "going out"... The music selection is different every time...

I think you should go again...

Posted by: Brooke | January 10, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe they don't have a big screen TV!

Posted by: sportsjunkie | January 11, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The coffee at this place is as black as my balls

Posted by: Kevin Boldger | January 12, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

If you are going to use my name learn how to spell it!

Posted by: black K | January 15, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

What's up smellas? I love to eat box and roll Buckhead style.

Posted by: KK | January 15, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen my mustang?

Posted by: KK Part 2 | January 15, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I like the fact that they always have snifters. There's nothing like letting your drink slosh around and over the lip of a snifter to let the ladies know that you're rolling Buckhead style.

Atlanta 1, Philly 0

Posted by: Mike K. | January 16, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I also like the homemade polish blackberry vodka. It gets me banged up so I don't realize that I can only get fat ugly box when I hook up. I love to eat box.

Posted by: Kuli | January 16, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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