Ventnor Sports Cafe closed at the end of November after 14 years in Adams Morgan. But the void won’t last long. A new sports bar called The Game Sports Pub opens on February 7. This isn’t your traditional sports bar though. Sure, you’ll find 22 screens, nachos, and wings. But the pub also wants to highlight Filipino dishes and cocktails.
The new spot comes from longtime bartender Jo-Jo Valenzuela (previously of Brine in Mosaic District and Jack Rose) and Oscar Guardado, an alum of Think Food Group who’s now a partner and manager at the Rosebar Lounge in Dupont Circle. Guardado’s family owns the building but were unable to come to a lease agreement with Ventnor. So Guadardo teamed up with Valenzuela to do something new.
The food menu will have some international flare with bar snacks ranging from Spanish garlic shrimp to Buffalo wings. Valenzuela, who was briefly a partner in a Crystal City Filipino restaurant, will also offer some Filipino dishes such as sisig (a sizzling plate of chopped pig ears, pork belly, and chicken liver aioli) and pares (an Asian-style beef brisket served with garlic fried rice and a side of beef broth). The team will even bring back ceviche and pupusas from the Mexican-Salvadorian restaurant that Guardado’s family operated in the building in the ’80s and ’90s.
Six beer taps are available upstairs and another half-dozen can be found downstairs. Bottles and cans will range from craft beers to Tecate and Filipino San Miguel lager. Valenzuela also plans to offer cocktails but says that they’re “not going to be very nerdy.” Expect Manhattans, White Russians, and “weng-weng”—a Filipino drink with six different spirits, pineapple and orange juices, and grenadine. (Valenzuela’s version, however, will use fresh-squeezed juices and pomegranate in the place of grenadine.) At least two bartenders have backgrounds as sommeliers, so Valenzuela hopes patrons won’t overlook the small selection of wines either.
As for sports, the bar will play NFC East, soccer, baseball, UFC, and more with a focus on local teams. (Valenzuela is a Redskins fan, but Guardado roots for the Cowboys.) The owners replaced all the TVs with more updated screens and are also talking about eventually offering karaoke or Playstation tournament nights.
The place also has a new paint job and some other cosmetic upgrades, but the biggest change will come down the line when they transform the upstairs bar into a restaurant and lounge focused on more Filipino food.
The Game Sports Pub. 2411 18th St., NW.