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Guide to U Street
Comments () | Published November 19, 2008
Inside Nellie's Sports Bar
Marvin. Named for singer Marvin Gaye, a DC native, this glass-fronted restaurant and lounge is so quietly tucked away near the corner of 14th and U streets that it can be easy to miss. But if a good Belgian beer and a meal of solid bistro fare is what you crave, you won’t want to miss it. On tap, the bar offers Abita Turbodog, Stella Artois, and Maudite, among others, and stocks around 30 bottled Belgian beers. The food, though slightly pricey—an $11 plate of ribs is among the menu items—is worth the splurge. There are no happy-hour deals, so come a little later to enjoy a meal and a drink after you’ve spent time hopping around the other bars in the neighborhood.

Momo’s Sports Bar
. This sports mecca has three floors, two bars, and 25 flat-screen televisions showing everything from football and boxing to UFC. The food menu is filled with standard bar food and the occasional healthy surprise, such as an apple-pear-and-walnut salad. Happy hours have nightly themes, including college night, ladies’ night, and gamer night. The standout is a Mexican-inspired Friday deal: $2 Coronas, Pacifico beer, tacos, and nachos.

Nellie’s Sports Bar. Nellie’s opened its doors to the sports-loving gay community in July 2007. It welcomes patrons of all stripes, but if you go to this not-so-typical sports bar—with Christmas lights illuminating the exterior, quaint portraits lining the walls inside, and Tuesday-night drag bingo—expect a curious crowd of macho and metro sports fans who are there to check out the latest game, play some Foosball, and nosh on the bar’s signature sliders or tasty empanadas. Not a sports fan? Not to worry—grab a board game and a brew, and head to the rooftop deck for a night of old-fashioned fun. Time is critical during the “beat the clock” happy hour from 5 to 8, which starts with $1 bottled beer and rail vodka and increases by $1 every hour. Nellie’s opens at 5 PM during the week and at 11 AM on the weekend for brunch.

Polly’s Cafe
. Though this small basement pub serves dinner during the week, the weekend brunch is what makes people come back. Drinks including mimosas, Bloody Marys, and screwdrivers come by the glass and the pitcher. Try eggs Benedict served eight ways—avocado, portabello, and spicy southwestern, among them—or a smoked-salmon omelet. Not in the mood for eggs? Polly’s also dishes up Belgian waffles and challah French toast.

The Saloon. Unlike its U Street neighbors, the Saloon has a few unconventional choice rules: no standing, no loud music, no saving seats, no TVs. What patrons get is a comfortable pub where you can enjoy pleasant conversation with friends or strangers. Most important, there’s a fantastic selection of Belgian and other imported brews—some argue it’s the best beer selection in the District. Sorry ladies, no martinis.

Solly’s U Street Tavern. Solly’s is the classic neighborhood dive to chill out after a hard day’s work and have a cheap beer (or two or three) with a pal. Popular events happen regularly, including Kostume Karaoke on Wednesdays—with hundreds of costume pieces on hand if you forget to wear your own—and local comedy acts on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Weekday happy hour goes until 8 PM, with games playing on 11 flat-screen TVs.

Stetson’s Famous Bar & Grill
. While change abounds in the U Street restaurant and bar scene, Stetson’s stays the same. A neighborhood favorite since opening in the early ’80s, the low-key, Tex-Mex-themed bar provides a friendly atmosphere for watching the game on an enormous flat-screen TV or on an assortment of smaller screens. A couple of pool tables and dart boards are available upstairs. During hot summer evenings, expect the rooftop patio to be packed. The kitchen turns out satisfying but greasy bar fare, with half-price burgers on Mondays and 25-cent wings on Wednesdays during happy hour.


9:30 Club
. A block north of the main drag is the 9:30 Club, one of the city’s best live-music venues. It hosts rock, punk, hip-hop, and country acts as well as some local bands almost every night of the week. It’s a two-level space, so if shoulder-to-shoulder crowds aren’t your thing, head upstairs to the balcony for a slightly roomier spot to watch. The venue offers four bars stocked with more than 50 beers; a food window with sandwiches, wraps, and other munchies; and an upstairs coffee counter to keep you wired. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, through the Web site, or by calling 800-955-5566. Prices and showtimes vary so check the Web site before heading out.

African-American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Probably the first and most striking sight you’ll see in this neighborhood is the nearly ten-foot bronze sculpture designed to memorialize African-American troops who fought in the Civil War. Designed by sculptor Ed Hamilton, “The Spirit of Freedom” was the first memorial by a black artist to be displayed on federal land in DC, and it sits surrounded by a semicircular wall carved with all 209,145 names of the US black troops who fought to preserve the Union and end slavery. Two blocks west, the African American Civil War Museum gives a deeper history of their battle for freedom. Open Monday through Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 10 to 2; free, but donations are welcome.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 11/19/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles