Jukebox Skipping

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garrett's Washington DC -- REVIEW

Garrett’s Restaurant and Railroad Tavern
3003 M Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20007-3702
(202) 333-1033

For those who don’t really know the Georgetown culture, it’s the kind of an area where groups of guys go out to meet women wearing suits and ties (even on a Saturday) and are willing to pay $15 a drink just to look “awesome”. Fools!

This was a homecoming of sorts. Garrett’s was a place I would visit on occasion when the rest of the crew I hung out with in the DC-area felt like getting “uppity”. The only reason I would agree to visit Georgetown was on the condition that at some point we would stop into Garrett’s…which is as big as a dive bar in this Beverly Hills-wannabe area of DC as you can find. I had hoped that my memory had served me correctly and that this was still a dive-ish place with good wings. Of course that was a decade ago, so I decided to stop in and see if things have changed.

First Impression: Where is everyone? Today in DC was nearly 100 degrees with a heat index of 115, and just before I got to Garrett’s there was a tornado warning with torrential downpours, so maybe that scarred some people away. It still looked like the comfortable dive I remember, just with a lot less people. I grabbed a seat at the bar (downstairs) because it was easy to do with only one other person sitting there.

Bar: Classic wood and bar stool set up. Nothing fancy (But nothing cheap-looking either). It has the feel of neighborhood dive that is not trying too hard to be anything more than a neighborhood dive (A Ha! Just as I remember it). It has the mandatory video game (Buck Hunter) in the corner and a jukebox on the wall. Other than that, it is just a bar and tables (no complaints here). Keep in mind if you go, Garrett’s has an upstairs as well, which was where I generally liked to hang out when I lived in the area(bar on the left…not the one on the right).

Crowd: At first it was just some me and a dude from New York (by way of Texas). We sat and B.S.ed for a while until a few regulars showed up. Without missing a beat, the regulars joined into to our conversation which consisted of basic nice-to-meet-you bar bullshit (does it even matter at this point?) As the day wore on, a family or two showed up, as did a few couples either trying to beat the rain, the heat, or both. All-in-all a fun crowd.

Service: Our bartender for the afternoon was a blonde Jewel-looking woman named Natalia. She is new to area by way of Chicago, but did not hesitate to jump into the middle of any conversation that was on-going. She also only does this as a part-time gig, but also has a government job during the week. Although new to the area, and fresh out of college, she clearly knew her way around a bar (even if she didn’t know, nor did I, what all went into a Kamikaze).

Price: For Georgetown…not too bad. I paid $3.00 for a domestic pint. But they also had signs around for drink specials that included $5 JagerBomb shots on Wednesday when the had a Wii Tournament going on upstairs. For the record, the special when I got there was for Bloody Marys, but at 3:00 in the afternoon on a HOT day did not seem like the time to give that particular special a try. By comparison, the beer I ordered with dinner later in the evening (as a different, non-dive place just down the street) cost a whopping $8.00 for a 12-ounce bottle. It was nearly the same price as the pizza I ordered!

Food: I didn’t eat (because I stuffed myself on Carolina barbecue at a great place just up the street at a great place called Old Glory) but a guy next to me ordered the wings and they smelled and looked fantastic! Nothing against the Midwest, but you just can’t find wings like this anywhere but in the on the East Coast.

A/V: Nothing special. A few TVs around the bar-area. They have DirecTV, so I’m assuming that watching a sporting event here is pretty easy to do. Unless of course, a monster storm rolls into town again and wrecks havoc with the satellite signal.

Restrooms: I only used the one downstairs so you have been warned now. It is directly behind the bar and is a “unisex” set up. It has a sliding door with an old-school latch on the inside. It is more than a bit dingy and roughly the size of a phone booth. If you are claustrophobic, germaphobic or have a “shy” bladder, you may want to venture to the ones upstairs.

Bartender Chat: Good tips for the male readers out there from bartender Natalia…she was bemoaning the fact that a bunch of yuppie-types were hitting on her the night before and how bad they were at it. When the few of us at the bar pressed her on what they did wrong she said “bartenders know when guys like that are full of shit.” Apparently they kept trying to convince her that the one dude’s girlfriend either just left him and or died. For those familiar with the movie Animal House, apparently trying to meet women by claiming your girlfriend died works only if your name is Eric Stratton (RUSH chairman, damn glad to meet you).

How Far Did My $20 Go: Twenty bucks will get you close to a half-dozen pints of domestic beer. Hey, in Georgetown (or most of DC for that matter) that is a pretty damn good price.

Final Impressions: Garrett’s has stood the test of time and is every bit the fun hangout type of dive I have always loved. In talking with some people in town today I was reminded that Garrett’s is a bit of just-old-enough-to drink place on the weekends…so keep that in mind when making your plans to visit. Of course, I highly encourage you to stop by for the first-time if you’re visiting DC, or check it out again if it has been a few years since you’ve wondered into the place. It will remind you that a good dive can exist even in the high society parts of town.  Hit this dive!