Archive for October, 2010

Bar #27 – The Pug


This post was written by another one of our guest-bloggers.


When I stumbled into the Pug, a strange feeling washed over me that I can only equate to coming home after a long absence. My first thought was that this was how the folks in Cheers used to feel when they walked down those steps. I was immediately surrounded by friends and the sounds of merriment, and in the low warm light even total strangers seemed like old chums.

I want to qualify these observations with the fact that I had been drinking for hours and was hammered out of my gourd. I had also just gotten off a loud fluorescent bus, so anything would have been an improvement other than the back seat of a police car. The Pug, however, is a place made for hazy details and pleasantly fuzzy memories.

I seem to recall that there was a ton of old war-related stuff on the walls, like big model planes and pictures of old battleships. It reminded me of a really classy VFW hall, sans despair. Good woodwork, too.

As soon as I walked in the door, someone handed me a Shiner and did not ask for money. (For those of you who don’t know, Shiner Bock is like the PBR of Texas) This happened several times. I’m pretty sure I paid $9 for a draft of Flying Dog and a can of PBR at some point in the evening. As far as I’m concerned, that alone solidifies The Pug’s position among my “pretty good joints”, the only criteria being access to reasonably priced good beer and cheap beer that is NOT Budweiser. I didn’t have any of the food, but it smelled fucking righteous.

Outside, there was a dude drawing portraits on matchbooks for money. They looked nothing like any of the people who got them, and contained some strange, indecipherable code of letters and numbers. I offered him a beer, but I think he was denied access on account of craziness.

In terms of Atlas District bars, this is a great spot to meet up with your buddies in a comfortable atmosphere without the costliness or pomposity that comes with some other H Street watering holes. The mood is jovial, and the place is, by all accounts, always filled but never crowded. Great for riding a buzz to just the right place.

– “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”

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Bar #26: The Palace of Wonders


Time: Saturday 7
Clientèle: H-st regulars, tats, piercings, dancers, and freaks
$4 Miller

Honestly what’s to be said? When I walked through the doors I immediately felt like I was home again. Having run away from the circus at the age of 12, walking into Palace of Wonders immediately brought a million emotions and memories rushing back to me. Like how excited I was when I was finally old enough to be shot out of the cannon. Or how terrified we all were when we weren’t sure if the lion would let go of Petri’s head.

On this night the Palace of Wonders had a Burlesque show, with a cover of $20. We didn’t have time to stay for it so I explained our situation to the bouncer who graciously let us in for a drink or two before the show started. The place was empty and with the first floor set-up for the show we headed straight upstairs. Along the wall were display cases filled with old familiar items and new pieces I’d never seen in my old days. Among the shrunken heads, a mermaid, a furry fish, an 8-legged goat and numerous other items it was difficult to see all the shocking and amazing things displayed here.

As I sat and drank my PBR tall-boy I noticed the rest of the bar. Like many bars in DC it is a narrow row house that would be tight for space on a busy night. This is the type of bar where you can easily just hangout, drink and chat with your friends: not too loud, not too crowded, perfect atmosphere (reminds me of the tent). When I went downstairs to the loo I found myself chatting with one of the burlesque performers about his tattoos. I knew I had to leave before the show started or the conversation went any further, otherwise I might be tempted to run away from my current life to join this troupe or return to the circus where I came from (though it must be said, DC does remind me of the circus).

Bar #25: The Red and the Black


Time: Saturday, 9-ish.

Cost: comparable to other bars in the area.

Clientele: Metal-heads, punk-rockers, H-street hipsters, neighborhood locals, and one cat.

The next bar review in our H Street series is the Red and the Black, the N’awlins-themed tavern next door to Palace of Wonders. In fact, later this year, both bars are going to knock out the dividing wall and become the Red Palace. Which kind of means that this post unnecessary, since we’ll surely be heading back to H-st again soon. Nevertheless…

R&B is one of the new music venues on H-st, and there was a show upstairs that night. Samehdi and I thought that, since we are bar bloggers, we should be given an opportunity to check out the performance space. Unfortunately, the bouncer didn’t see it that way. We asked if we could just “take a peek,” and then when we were denied, I gave him the whole “Don’t you know who we ARE?”and“but we’re BLOGGERS!” and etc., but he still wouldn’t let us in if we didn’t cough up $10 apiece. As far as I know, the bar predominantly features metal and punk shows (that is, shitty testosterone-fueled cock-rock), so I doubt I’ll be going back to check out the upstairs anytime soon. However, many Yelp reviewers have complained that the space is really small and reaches capacity too quickly. In fact, that argument could be made against the lower level, as well. We had a group of about 10 people, but we couldn’t find any tables or spaces large enough to all be together.

The bar has a neighborhood alley cat that sometimes comes in and chills with the customers. The staff didn’t know to whom the cat belonged, but assured us that it was very friendly, and a few patrons were even getting cozy with it.

The beer selection has enough variety to please anyone who’s not a beer snob. Unless you’re coming to see a show, The Red and The Black isn’t going to be an H-St destination bar. But if you’re in the neighborhood or you live nearby, it’s a decent place to have a few inexpensive beers.

I’ll look forward to seeing the new Red Palace later this year.

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