It’s football season! While that usually means months of nail-biting and near heart attacks for us Redskins fans, it also means a chance to get together with the Usual Suspects almost every Sunday for beers, burgers, and camaraderie. Every year an e-mail goes around before the regular season first game to decide where we’re going to watch the games this year. We don’t always go to the same place, but we do establish a “home base” where we become regulars for four or five months of the year.
Herewith, a list of some of my favorite places for eating, drinking, and screaming at large men who can’t hear me.
Good old Muttley’s is gone now, and it’s really kind of a shame. It was a shithole, the bartender was always hung over, and the sliders were always burnt, no matter how many times I asked for them medium rare. But they had a bunch of TVs, and if you got there first, you could dictate which one showed your game. The beer selection was crap, but the bartender Hernando* was friendly and generous with the rally shots of Jamison’s. And it was right down the street from my apartment. We frequented Muttley’s for most of the 2008 season, and then one Sunday it was just closed. For good. No warning.
Farewell, Muttley's. I hardly knew ye.
So we turned to…
This place originally opened as a dining destination with exceptional beers and organic, sustainable ingredients. Over the years the ownership and chefs and menus have changed, and The Reef (so named because of its many aquariums full of colorful fish) has become more of a neighborhood bar. Nothing wrong with that, especially since its commitment to organic food remains the same. The beer selection is still nicely varied, and the appearance of wings on the menu (and TVs above the bar) make it a fine football venue. Plus, I’ve been going to The Reef since it opened, so I know the bartenders. Which never hurts.
Maddy’s Bar & Grille
I stumbled across Maddy’s last year when looking for a new place to go (after the demise of Muttley’s). I noticed that Timberlake’s, a bar I used to frequent back in the day, had closed and that a new place was opening soon—right before the season started! I looked Maddy’s up online when it opened, and the reviews on Yelp were pretty good, so I suggested it to the gang.
It was a good suggestion.
In addition to a nice (if not large) beer selection, Maddy’s had GREAT food. (Which is a bit surprising, considering that the chef’s a Dallass [tm Vlad] fan.**) The wings took a little while to perfect, but now they come in a bunch of different varieties. The burgers are big and juicy and properly cooked, and served on brioche buns, and the sliders are just as good, but smaller, and served with onion strings that are KILLA. The flatbreads are a nice change of pace from the usual bar menu—try the pesto/gouda/chicken one. And the fries, you guys.
You can get regular or sweet potato fries, and they come in a big cone and are served with your choice of dipping sauces. Truffle cream. Horseradish cream. Pesto aioli. Chipotle cream. (There’s a roasted eggplant one, too, but I don’t know how it is, because why would you want eggplant on your fries? Maybe that’s a Dallass thing.) Make sure to ask for them crispy, though—the doneness can be a little hit or miss.
Maddy’s also has a good brunch menu, in case it’s a 1:00 game and you want to get there early. And if you do, Chris will make you a very nice bloody mary, with the spiciness to your liking, because he rules.
And then there are our back-up/specialty places:
This is where you go if you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I don’t know how it became a destination for the black-and-gold-ers, but if you go there, you can expect to be surrounded by a very loud sea of Stillers fans. The Pour House has plenty of specialty beers, in addition to the regular stuff (including Yuengling, of course). The food is fine, if not adventurous—the notable exceptions being pierogis and the “Three Rivers Primanti-Style Kolbassi & Cheese,” which is a giant sausage sandwich with fries RIGHT IN IT. You will leave the Pour House full and deaf.
This big ol’ sports bar in Gallery Place boasts one million TVs and loaded tots—tater tots topped with queso, scallions, and… (wait for it) BACON. Other than that, there’s not much to recommend this place. The service is shitty, to the point where we had to threaten to leave last year when they said they weren’t going to turn off the music and turn on the sound when the game came. This when the bar was FULL of football fans who were obviously there to watch the games. Stupid. I’m really just including it here because of the tots. They’re that good.
The Corner Pub
This little joint in Silver Spring, which I’m fairly sure has been there since the dawn of time, is pretty much as “sports bar” as you can get, and not in an ESPN Zone kind of way. There are pennants and flags and pictures from the various local teams all over the place, and TVs aplenty. The beer selection covers everything from Miller Lite to Smithwick's, and the menu is groaning with the food you want in a sports bar—wings, burgers, pizza. Get there early, though—this neighborhood joint fills up FAST. Don’t expect fancy, but do expect friendly.
Unless you’re a Dallass fan.
* A one-act play about Hernando:
Gary: What’s his name?
Gary: The bartender.
Me: Yeah. Hernando.
Gary: What’s the bartender’s name?
Gary: He looks like an Eric.
** JK. Kisses, Carlos!