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Archive for the ‘Bars’ Category

Last weekend, I went down to Florida for my buddy’s bachelor party/birthday weekend. He lives in Sarasota, a part of Florida that I had never been to before.

I flew down on Thursday into the Sarasota airport and we immediately headed to the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Tampa. Just a tip if you plan on visiting. Some of the hotels in the area have brochures that allow you to get $20 of free play in the casino if you have never visited before. I’m sure if you call they can tell you where to pick up the brochure.

Before arriving, we made a quick stop at Brandon Cross Liquors to grab some drinks as the casino does not offer free ones. I didn’t expect much as it was just a small shop in a strip mall. However, this was a really great shop. They had a good selection of beer and liquor. We picked up a 6-pack of Laughing Skull Amber Ale, a beer made by Red Brick out of Georgia. This turned out to a good, not great beer.

Later in the night, we decided to grab some food at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was pretty empty, although it was a Sunday night. We were seated way in the back and a cover band was playing on the stage. I think they played “Happy Birthday” at least six times.

I ordered the chicken fingers and my buddy ordered the nachos. The nachos weren’t too bad. We ordered them with pulled pork and they tasted like standard bar food. The chicken fingers were good but they were really small and cost about the same as the nachos. Nothing award winning here, but we just wanted some food in our stomachs.

The next morning, we were starving and wanted something delicious for breakfast. I had read about this place not too far called Daily Eats so we decided to check it out.

For a Friday morning, this place was packed! It was definitely a younger crowd. I ordered the Tijuana, which was a breakfast bowl filled with scrambled eggs with vegetable chili, shredded pepper jack, jalapenos, and guacamole served over home fries. It was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend this place if you area in the area.

After breakfast, we wanted to shoot some pool so searched what was in the area. We found a place called The Tiny Tap Tavern which seems to be a popular place in the area.

Unfortunately, they were getting new pool tables as we walked up so we weren’t able to play but if I ever come back to the area I am definitely making a stop here.

Luckily there was another place not far away called The Rack.

This was a sushi bar/pool hall. It seemed like a pretty cool place to hang out. They had plenty of pool tables and also a ping pong table. We didn’t try the food so I can’t comment on that.

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A few weeks back, I won tickets to see a speaker at National Geographic. I invited my Mom to come out with me, and we met beforehand to grab something to eat. One of her favorite places for an easy meal is Tonic in Foggy Bottom.

It looks to be a place where a lot of GW students hang out. As you walk in, there is a bar straight ahead and a flight of steps taking you up to a dining area. We sat upstairs, which was pretty empty as they had just opened for dinner. This place is huge! I thought it was cool that you can draw on the paper table cloths and they also had books for people to read.

My mom ordered tea and I tried to order the Bell’s Two Hearted IPA on draft. Unfortunately, they were out but the waiter suggested I try the Spiced IPA from Widmer Brothers. This is part of the Rotator series. I really liked the beer. It had a nice balance of hoppy and spicy.

We both ordered burgers. I ordered the Southern BBQ burger, which came with Bourbon BBQ sauce, aged cheddar, apple-wood bacon, and fire griddled onions. I got it with a side of tater tots. This was a great burger, and I liked that when I ordered it medium rare, it was actually medium rare. The tater tots were also awesome and are hugely popular here.

This is a great place to grab some food and a couple drinks. It’s a very casual atmosphere, the food is great, and the prices aren’t too bad.

Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy on Urbanspoon

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As Wheaton Calling reported earlier in the week, Royal Mile Pub is back with new owners as of Friday, the 16th. They have done a great job staying on top of the story. Their latest can be found here

Last night, my family and I went for a birthday dinner. My parents tried to stop by on Friday and said that it was so crowded that even Nava Thai was packed, presumably because of people being discouraged by the wait at Royal Mile. From the looks of it, people really missed it.

We went about 6:00 or so last night, and there was no wait for our party of five. The new owners were at the door, individually greeting each person and we were seated right away.

The menu seems to be pretty much the same as before, if not a little smaller. The beer list is also slightly smaller. I ordered the Goose Island IPA, which was delicious. My Dad tried to order the Baying Hound Pale Ale, but it was not available. Every time we come we try and order this beer and it’s never available. I’m unsure as to why they keep it on the menu.

The service was a little slow, but being that they just reopened, we were willing to cut them some slack. To their credit, the food actually came out really fast. I ordered the corned beef and cabbage, and was pretty underwhelmed with it. Their was a huge half a head of cabbage with only a little beef and a few potatoes. They may be still be ironing out some of the kinks in the kitchen, as well. I did try some of their buffalo wings, which were good and very meaty.

After we finished our meal, it took a very long time for our waitress to come back and give us the check. When we got the check, we waited for some time and nobody came back to collect it. We had to flag down another staff member in order to pay. Again, we realize they are just reopening but the service needs to improve, especially because it was not all that crowded.

I’m glad that Royal Mile is back, and think it’s an excellent part of the neighborhood, but I hope that they continue to improve.

Royal Mile Pub on Urbanspoon

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I feel like I need to add my two cents being that I’ve been to Piratz Tavern countless of times. I’ve been to Rock Hall’s Pirate and Wenches Fantasy Weekend twice. My review of Piratz Tavern can be found here.

Here are my pros and cons of the bar.

Pros:
– Located right on Georgia Avenue in Downtown Silver Spring, right next to a parking garage and the Metro.
– Good food. Despite what I read in the reviews, the food is actually pretty good.
– Strong drinks. The absolute best bang for your buck here is the Grog. A huge mug only costs $11 and you can sip it all night.
– People watching. Piratz Tavern attracts an interesting clientele. I know a huge draw for me is just sitting at the bar and seeing who comes and goes. There is never a normal, quiet night here.
– Staff. I’ll address the service in the Con’s, but for every unpleasant staff member are some extremely nice and helpful staff members. Unfortunately, the person tending the bar that night can greatly impact your experience.
– Space. Although its kind of like a giant hallway, they do have pretty good space. The patio out back is a really nice area to hang out and have a couple of drinks.
– Entertainment. They have gone out of there way to do theme nights to encourage business, which shows that they are trying to bring more people in. Pirates for Sail are a lot of fun, the fire dancing (which takes place in the alley behind the bar) is entertaining, and it’s cool that they have belly dancing.

Cons:
– Prices. We love coming here for drinks, but if you try and do food and drinks you will break the bank. They need to find a way to make it more affordable.
– Service. I’ve had some really unpleasant experiences with the staff here. I’ve been asked to provide my ID multiple times in same night. I’ve had staff grumpily drop a plate of food in front of me as if I had greatly inconvenienced them. As I mentioned above, some people working here are great and they do what they can to ensure you have a good time. However, the bad attitudes of a select few here can really ruin the experience for some.

I think if they were able to find a better balance between food and drinks as well as get rid of some of the unpleasant staff members, they could take Piratz Tavern to the next level.

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Here’s a few various things from the last couple weeks:

  • Hollywood East Cafe is having a 14-dish meal to celebrate Chinese New Year, complete with Lion Dance. More information can be found here.
  • Wheaton Patch posted a story about the second generation at Los Chorros trying to increase their visibility. That story is here. My review of Los Chorros is here.
  • Eatin’ in Wheaton recently reviewed K Town Bistro in Kensington. The review can be found here.
  • Been There, Eaten That loves the spicy food at Nava Thai. The review is here.
  • Recently, while surfing the Internet I came across a condiment called Mike’s Hot Honey.

    It’s essentially honey infused with chilies. I highly recommend ordering some. I’ve put it on roast duck, bagel with butter, and chicken. The possibilities are endless. You can find out more about it here.

  • I’ve been able to try some great beers in the past couple of weeks. Some of my favorites are as follows:

  • I was recently at Woodmoor Supermarket and was blown away by their beer selection. I found a bottle of Baying Hound Angel’s Nectar.

    I’m a big fan of Baying Hound because they make good beers and they are local. This particular beer is a chamomile honey wheat beer.

  • While at Arrowine a few weeks back, I came across Bell’s Winter White Ale.

    This is a nice change of pace from the usual heavy winter ales. It’s a nice, light witbier. I highly recommend this beer.

  • I finally got around to trying Newcastle’s Winter IPA.

    I liked it, but it did not have any kind of bite to it. I like my IPA’s to be hoppier. However, this beer did taste good and I would definitely drink it again. It won’t blow you away but you’ll most likely grab another one.

  • Last week I stopped at Beers and Cheers and picked myself up a six-pack of Tröegs Hopback Amber Ale.

    I’ve never tried a beer from Tröegs that I didn’t like, and this one was no different. This is an Amber ale which a nice hoppy aftertaste. Pick this up if you come across it.

  • I went to Gilly’s recently and decided to make my own 6-pack. One of the beers I chose was a Scrimshaw Pilsner by North Coast Brewing Company.

    My initial instinct was that this beer almost had a salty flavor, in a good way. This was a fantastic beer.

    I also tried the new Flying Dog Wileman Farmhouse IPA.

    This beer just debuted this month. It was one of the best Flying Dog beers that I have ever tried. It’s a nice, crisp beer that packs a punch (7.5% ABV).

    Also in the 6-pack, I had a a Long Trail Harvest.

    Addmittedly, I was drawn to it because of the label. This is a brown ale from Vermont brewed with maple syrup. Truthfully, there is not a lot of flavor to this beer.

    I also tried a Slam Dunkel from Weyerbacher.

    I loved this beer. It’s a Weizenbock with a very balanced taste.

    Another beer I tried was Full Sail’s Amber.

    This was a very tasty, amber ale. It didn’t blow me away, but good none the less.

    In addition to the 6-pack, I picked up a bomber of Amber Dog by Pub Dog.

    I bought this mainly because it’s brewed in Maryland. I’ve tried Pub Dog beers before, and they are pretty good but nothing amazing. I liked this beer, but as I drank it I forgot I was drinking it. It’s a middle of the road beer.

  • Recently, I also tried the new Sam Adams Alpine Spring.

    I’m not sure why I bought a Spring beer so early, but I did, and I wasn’t crazy about it. This beer tastes way too citrusy. After a few sips, I slightly adjusted but I didn’t really enjoy it much. I’d be open to trying it again in the actual Spring time.

  • Speaking of beer, I was in New Jersey a couple of weeks ago visiting a friend and we were looking for a place to watch some NFL playoffs. Our options were slim, so we decided to go to Uno’s in Hamilton, NJ. I have not been to Uno’s since I was a kid, and I remember it used to be a treat when my family would go. Normally, we’d get Little Cesars or Pizza Hut.

    My expectations were extremely low, but to be honest it wasn’t all that bad. We were quickly seated, and our waitress handed us a beer menu. I couldn’t believe it – a whole page of craft beers on tap. I ordered a 20oz Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA for $7.50! I paid the same amount for a glass half that size at Dogfish Head Alehouse. Not only did they have great beers on tap, you could even buy growlers. Granted, the prices were awful but just the fact that you could do so blew me away.

    The food was definitely quantity over quality. We tried the wings, and I found it weird that they did not have hot wings. However, our waitress brought us a bottle of Tobasco. The service was quick, and again, the beer selections were great. They had Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Old Rasputin, and countless other great beers on draft and even more in bottles. While I won’t go out of my way to eat at Uno’s, if they all have this beer selection, I’ll certainly stop in for a beer.

  • Speaking of pizza, I recently ordered again from Big Papa Pizza and Wings in Arlington, VA. We ordered a Hawaiian pizza, a chicken parmesean sub, and an order of fries. The food came FAST which we really liked. Also, the pizza is definitely better then average. The crust is really good. The sub was pretty good, but nothing to go out of your way for. The fries came soggy so we had to crisp them up in the stove. I still want to try the wings. However, the draw here is definitely the pizza. Great pizza, fast service, and good prices make this place a winner.
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Last week, I finally had a chance to check out Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, MD. I’ve been meaning to go here for a long time, but didn’t have the chance. The last time I tried to eat here, the wait was over an hour and I was starving so I went elsewhere. They do not take phone reservations here.

It’s really easy to get to off of 270 and they have a huge parking lot. Keep in mind, this place does get extremely busy.

I arrived before my friend and was told the wait was going to be 15-20 minutes. They have a really nice bar on the main floor, and I grabbed a glass of the 90 Minute IPA. If I didn’t have to drive, I would have certainly gotten the 120 Minute IPA. The 90 Minute is absolutely delicious and one of my favorite beers. The layout of the bar is a little weird. There are small tables everywhere and it was a little tricky to make it over to the bar and order a drink.

When my friend arrived, we were taken upstairs to the dining area. It’s a very comfortable restaurant. One thing my friend and I noticed was that the staff were all extremely friendly. Not in the annoying, overbearing way, but just generally friendly and helpful. I opted for the crab pizza and my friend ordered the fish tacos.

The crab pizza was served with pesto sauce, lump crab, asparagus, tomatoes, fresh basil, a mozzarella/provolone blend and parmesan cheese. The portion was perfectly sized, and I really liked it. I did wish their was more crab meat on top, but for $12, it was a great meal. The beer is obviously the main draw here, but the food is above average as well.

I was very happy with my visit here, and will definitely return. I do wish they offered growlers/6-packs to go. However, excellent beer, above average food, friendly staff, and comfortable environment make this place worth a visit.

Dogfish Head Alehouse on Urbanspoon

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Happy Holidays

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. I’ve been eating and drinking very good these last few days. Just a couple of quick updates:

  • Recently, I returned to Taberna Del Alabardero for a birthday dinner. While the food was good, we did find that it was not as tasty as the last visit. Overall, we were pleased with the meal. We ordered a selection of tapas, including octopus ceviche, sausage and cheese platter, cod fritters, stuffed mussels, deviled eggs topped with tuna, and duck foie gras. We also tried the marinated pork loin and oxtail paella.

    My favorites were the duck foie gras and the octopus ceviche. They also provide you with complimentary bread and olive oil. The one dish we were particularly unhappy with was the deviled eggs topped with tuna. Last visit, this dish was the stand out but this time it tasted very over salted.

    The atmosphere and service here are great, which makes it worth a visit. However, the food could be better for the price.

  • For Christmas, I made kartoffelpuffer, or German potato pancakes. I had bought a mix from the Christkindlmarkt and decided to finally make it. It was extremely easy and it turned out really well. The mix only cost $1.80 and makes about 15 pancakes. They turned out crispy and golden brown.

  • I was finally able to check out Fenwick Beer and Wine. I’ve been meaning to go here for months. I stopped in to grab some last minute gifts as well as beer for the Christmas weekend. It’s located just off of Georgia Avenue in a converted house.

    The selection here is fantastic! They had a huge range of beer and wine. They have an amazing selection of single beers so you can make your own 6-pack. My one complaint is that they did not provide any 6-pack holders, so I was carrying the beers around the store.

    However, this is my new favorite beer store. I read a few reviews on Yelp, and some people were complaining about the prices. I found the prices to be very reasonable. They offer hard to find beers, and you’d be hard pressed to find these beers anywhere else in the area.

    I picked up a 6-pack of Hibernator by Long Trail Brewing Company and Hibernation Ale by Great Divide Brewing company (notice a theme here?)

    I really liked the Hibernator. It’s a malt-heavy Scottish ale, and would pair perfectly with a hearty stew.

    This is the winter offering from Great Divide. It is aged for over three months each year, so they begin preparing it in July. It’s a very robust beer, and packs an 8% ABV.

    I also picked up a few individual bottles. Three were gifts, one was to share.

    I grabbed a bottle of Lord Wimsey’s Mild Pale Ale. It’s made for people who do not like tons of hops. This is a good, light beer for when you don’t want something too hoppy.

    I also bought a couple of gifts:

    I mentioned how much I liked the store and their selection, and they gave me some goat cheese from Cherry Glen as a Christmas present. This cheese is made in Boyd’s, MD and is delicious.

    I also bought some chocolate for my family, as they had a nice selection by the register.

    Overall, this is an excellent beer store when you are looking for something a little different. I will certainly be back.

  • A friend of mine shared a bottle of Cockeyed Cooper by Uinta Brewery with me. It’s a barley wine aged in bourbon barrels.

    I really enjoyed this beer. It’s a heavy beer with an 11% ABV. This is a great beer to sip on and pairs well with cheese and dessert.

  • Last week, I picked up a 6-pack of Starr Hill’s The Gift. This is their winter beer, and it is excellent. It’s a German-style Hellerbock, meaning it does not contain a large amount of hops. This is one of the best winter beers that I’ve ever had.
  • While on the topic of beer stores, I recently returned to Wheaton Winery on University Boulevard. I’ve been here before, but never really paid much attention to it. Elbe’s is usually my go-to beer store. However, the selection here has greatly improved. I picked up a 6-pack of Butternuts Beer which included 2 Pork Slap, 2 Heinnieweisse Weissebier, 1 Moo Thunder Stout, and 1 Snapperhead IPA.

    They also have a really good selection of wine, champagne, and sake. The prices here are also excellent. The only downside is the parking is tricky in this shopping center.

  • I had a lot of time to kill yesterday and decided to go for a walk around Wheaton. I walked through Mangos Market, which I plan to come back to and order some food one of these days. I also stopped in to Rumba Y Carbon on Grandview Avenue for a beer. It’s a fairly big place with a bar, a good amount of tables, and also a stage. I sat at the bar and ordered a Corona for $2.50. They were playing soccer and movies on the TV’s. Bartender asked me if I wanted to see a menu but I declined, so I can’t comment on the food. The bartenders were really nice, as were the other people sitting at the bar. I can’t say I’ll hang out here every day, but it’s not a bad place at all.
  • Last night, I was looking for a place to watch Monday Night Football with a friend of mine. We were going to go to Limerick Pub, but they were closed for the holidays. We decided to go to Legends, which is a few doors down. There were a good amount of people in there for a Monday night. We sat at the bar and watched most of the game, but then decided we wanted to play pool. We payed $9 for an hour of pool. There are plenty of tables, although they aren’t in the best shape. This is a fun place to meet up with friends, have a couple beers, and watch football, but it does not fill the sports bar niche that Wheaton desperately needs. However, I like this place and like hanging out here occasionally.

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