Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Introducing the Georgia Avenue Bus Bar Crawl: get some drinks and check out some new places

Do you like bars? Do you like exploring? If so, here's a fun way to check out some new places while having some drinks with your friends: the Georgia Avenue Bus Bar Crawl. The idea is that you take the Metro to Silver Spring, hit a few bars there then hop on the Georgia Avenue bus (70 or 79) and stop at bars and restaurants that serve alcohol along the way. You try to have one drink before the next bus comes (using Nextbus or a similar app or website) then hop back on and ride down to the next spot.

The nice thing about the bus crawl is that within two hours you get a free bus transfer, so you only pay a couple of bus fares, depending on how efficient and speedy you are.

I also recommend getting some food along the way. You'll probably need it.

So without further ado, here's how our test run went. My buddy Brian came up with this idea last year but I saw a similar, also funny idea (the 70 Bus World Cup Bar Crawl, happening Tuesday) so I wanted to make sure he got full credit for his idea Of course, you can pick and choose any venue you'd like along the route, these are just the ones we hit on our trial.

The Crawl

After hopping off the Metro in the wilds of Silver Spring, Maryland, we headed to Quarry House Tavern for our first stop. Quarry House is a neat, divey place (it's literally underground) owned by the same folks who own El Chucho -- a nice connection to our neighborhood. The place has a lot of beers plus tasty burgers if you need to start out with some food -- but to be closer to the crawl idea, I'd suggest eating before meeting. We had a beer there, chatted with the bartender who didn't think our idea was very funny, then walked to the next spot we could find. Silver Spring has a few bars in close proximity.

The next place we planned to visit was Piratz Tavern, the pirate-themed bar where people in pirate gear serve up grog and such (plus beer and food.) However, we were testing the bar crawl on a Sunday, when Piratz is closed. Whoops. Piratz, if you recall, was on the TV show Bar Rescue, where an expert comes in to save a failing bar. The place was losing tons of money and the show changed the concept completely to the Corporate Bar & Grill, but the pirates banded together and revolted, changing it back to the original pirate material. That said, it's reality TV, so who knows.

After Piratz, we walked a little bit to Jackie's/Sidebar, another spot owned by Jackie Greenbaum of El Chucho fame. Jackie's is a restaurant while Sidebar is an adjoining cocktail bar, so we opted for that. In this case the staff and customers loved the bus bar crawl idea and gave us a lot of suggestions for where to go next. I got a really tasty cocktail, though in the intervening months I forgot what it was. It was a nice spot, and I hope to go back soon.

Our next stop just down the road was a place we weren't familiar with, Fire Station 1 Restaurant and Brewery. Located in what was the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department, the spot brews their own beer and has a big patio and wide open inside -- it was a firehouse after all. However, on this Sunday they seemed to be out of all of their own beers, so we got something else. This also began the bus portion of our trip via bus into DC.

Into the District: Hunger Sets In

This also took some detective work. We weren't familiar with this part of town, and the folks we chatted with along the way in the previous bars weren't either. Doing some Googling, there were two restaurants, El Tamarindo and Silver Sands near Georgia and Geranium, just north of the closed Walter Reed Hospital, but for whatever reason we didn't go there.

Our next stop then was Haydee's at Georgia & Sheridan. If you recognize the name, you're right, it's the same folks as the popular Haydee's in Mount Pleasant. Being that we'd had 4+ drinks and no food, we decided to stop and eat here, and the food was much the same as the MtP location -- cheesy goodness.

After Haydee's we walked across the street and half a block down to Serengeti, a thoroughly sketchy little bar. The place had a basement bar with a low ceiling and some kind of dance floor upstairs, and even though it was mid-afternoon, the place was odd. The bartender was friendly and said she had just started there a few days ago while a weird dude sat with another waitress at a table, the only other customers there. We got our drink and got outta there.

Petworth and Park View: Options

Our next bus leg was a little disappointing -- Moroni Brothers and Fusion, the great pizza and Indian places in Petworth, had closed, and we chose to skip Macombo Lounge, a strip club, so we went to Chez Billy next. (Since our test run last year, Simple Bar & Grill has opened at Georgia and Military, and I've heard good things.) Chez Billy was fun, there was some kind of jazz night going on and we had a nice drink.

For some reason that I don't recall, we skipped the places on Upshur, maybe because they were technically on Upshur and not right on Georgia Avenue. If we hadn't, Domku would be a good option, plus Petworth Citizen (and depending on when you go this year, there may be more options open by then.)

Being that we were only about halfway into our crawl if we chose to hit all the spots around the Georgia Avenue Metro and to the south, we decided to skip the Looking Glass and DC Reynolds, as we'd been there a zillion times. Of course, you are free to choose which spots you'd like to hit. Part of the idea for the crawl was to go to new spots, hence Silver Spring and the places like Haydee's and Serengeti. Even if we wouldn't go back, it's an experience.

So given that, next we stopped into the Mothership. The bartender here thought the bus bar crawl idea was hilarious, and we had a couple drinks until the next bus came. At the time, Bravo Bar hadn't opened, but we would have stopped there. Instead, we decided to head to U Street for a final drink as it was getting late. Other options along southern Georgia Avenue are the always fantastic Mama Chuy at Georgia and Fairmont and Dulcinea next door (which I haven't been to yet.)

So we rode on to U Street and walked over to the Brixton as a nice rooftop place to end our crawl. You could continue on into downtown or hit the new Shaw spots on 6th Street, but then it wouldn't technically be the Georgia Avenue bus bar crawl, no? We were sticklers on this test run.

The Result & Recommendations

In short, we had a good time on the crawl -- all the way from Silver Spring down to U Street, mostly by the 70 bus with a small amount of walking. We saw some new spots, spent maybe $5 on transportation, and visited a lot of places we hadn't been -- both alcohol spots and neighborhoods. There are some nice, leafy areas up there. Who knew? (Ok, probably lots of people, but not us.)

I'd recommend Saturday or Sunday as the best days to go and try to start as close to noon as possible. Eating somewhere along the way is probably a good idea, and if you have a big crew, splitting up may is a good option due to people drinking at various speeds -- they said, the idea of a big crew piling on the bus is a pretty fun one. But in short, have a good time and make the bar crawl yours! And let us know if you'd suggest other good spots on Georgia to hit next time around.

1 comment:

Anna Moran said...

I really want to go on a pub crawl and love the idea of a bus to get around - no worries about drinking and driving - or getting lost.