Better-Than-Average Sports Bars
With the Wizards atop the Southeastern conference and college basketball entering the all-important final stretch, sports bars will be packed the next few weeks. But what if you want something above and beyond the usual TV-packed pub?
A Got Plans? reader from Washington, D.C., wrote in with a very timely question: "Where can I go for a classy dinner and drinks but also be able to watch a sporting event on ESPN? I'm looking for a good meal with some nice wine and maybe wine/scotch/whatever afterwards, in a nice atmosphere, but also with a good crowd (but not overcrowded). In other words, where can do you recommend to catch a game but in a nicer atmosphere? (A couple steps up from chicken wings and Bud Light.)"
Having eaten more than my share of scrawny wings and so-so burgers over the years while watching sports, I know exactly what this reader means. But there better establishments out there where you can have some good food while catching a game on TV.
One spot you might not think of is Ceiba, Jeff Tunks's popular Latin-flavored downtown restaurant, but there is a TV at the bar where I've seen a few Nationals games in the past. The full menu is available and the counter's wide enough for plates of ceviche or a steaming volcanic rock bowl that holds the bubbling queso fundido cheese snack. Settle in with one of the bar's well-crafted cocktails, like the Hemmingway mojito, and enjoy.
I like the large selection of beers (30 drafts, 250-plus bottles) and the tasty pizzas and sandwiches at Rustico in Alexandria, but new chef Frank Morales has taken the food up a level since arriving from Zola. His selection of small plates is clever without being cutesy, the high-definition screens behind the bar are huge, and though brews are the focus, wine and martini fans will find little to complain about here.
The Adams Morgan branch of Bourbon is a favorite spot of mine because of its huge collection of Kentucky whiskeys, but don't overlook the thoughtful selection of American beers and wines by the glass (note the state-of-the-art draft system). The menu runs toward classics like crab cakes, ribs and a tasty grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup combo, and seats around the room offer views of well-positioned (if not enormous) flat-screens.
Town Hall in Glover Park has good American food, some better-than-average draft beers and an array of high-def flatscreen TVs over the bar and around the room.
While I like Matchbox, the Gallery Place pizzeria can be pretty hit-or-miss, simply because it's so popular. Right after work, the narrow bar gets so slammed that it's hard to move. But stop by on a slower night or on a weekend afternoon and you can grab a chair at the heavy wooden bar, sip one of the house-infused martinis or a good scotch, order a brick-oven pizza and watch the game on one of the TVs overhead.
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