1234 H Street NE
(between N 12th St & N 13th St)
Washington, DC 20002
**Thanks to Tony T of The Pug we now have clarification on the shot versus shooter debate**
The Pug is a place that’s been on my list for several months. If you ask someone in DC about a great dive to check out…”The Pug” has been the bar I hear mentioned second most behind the Tune Inn. It’s just down the street from the Star and Shamrock and right next door to a restaurant called Granville Moore’s (one of those places made famous by some cooking show in the Food Network. Yuck)
First Impressions: Not bad. There is a nice sort of dive wannabe feel to the place. It is decorated with a ton of cool shit all over the walls and even games you can play like Barrel of Monkeys and one of my all-time favorites Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.
The Bar: There were a decent number of people sitting at and around the bar, and for 10:30 on a weeknight, that seems pretty good to me. The bar area is pretty cramped but not uncomfortable and there seems to be a decent amount of tables in other parts of the place. Behind the bar I notice a sign that reads “No Specials. No Politics. No Shooters. No Idiots” Idiots and politics I can live without, but no specials and no shooters (do they really mean no shots?) that is not a good motto for a dive to adopt.
The Crowd: Twenty-something yuppies and the usual “hipster” types. Northeast DC really seems to be a magnet for people that like to express their individuality by looking and dressing like everyone else…but I digress. How to sum it up? One of my notes reads “no sense of danger whatsoever”…and that’s not a bad thing at all. I think in the back of my mind I thought the crowd here would have a bit more of an edge to it. But all-in-all a fine-looking bunch of eager young DC beavers.
Service: Great. No frills. Very quick with the orders. Nothing really memorable, which means even with a slight buzz the bartender didn’t do anything I found to be annoying. And that is hard to do, so that’s my way of saying I liked the service…even if it was a bit nondescript.
Prices: YIKES! Since this is a retro-hipster type of place, they have the usual PBR, Natty Boh and other retro swill beers. Assuming PBR is always a nice and cheap option I order one in a can. The efficient bartender brings it over and lets me know “that will be four dollars.” For PBR? In a CAN?? Keep in mind an entire six-pack of PBR tall boys is roughly $4! I was getting ready to ask if they had any drink specials, and then I remembered the sign that said, among other things, “No Specials.” F*** me!
Food: Adding to the kitsch of this place, the only food they have (not counting Sunday brunch) is prepared on a George Foreman Grill behind the bar. Well isn’t that a cute little touch. Wait, did I just use the word “cute” in a bar review?
A/V: A few TV’s around...nothing great. The Washington Nationals were on that night, so a few of us were huddled around one of the TV’s near the bar. They actually had a decent sound system and an affinity for playing The Pogues…always a plus in my book!
Restrooms: Again what's with the DC single-seater restrooms! This one, unlike many of the others, was pretty big and well-decorated with stuff everywhere. Check out the picture, you’ll see what I mean.
Bartender Chat: The usual sports and weather chit chat. Although the bartender seemed to be tight with a few of the cops who showed up to watch the baseball game on TV. Hey, are those cops drinking beer? In the words of Sergeant Schlutz…I see nothing!
How Far Did My $20 Go: A yuppie food stamp…aka 20 dollar bill…will buy you a handful of 12 ounce PBRs in a can. And NO SPECIALS (the sign says so, remember). It’s good to see that The Pug is doing what it can to pull this country out of its recession.
Final Impressions: It’s hard not to like this place, they’ve done a nice job of making it look old and funky, even if it has only been around since 2007. (December 2010 UPDATE) Please follow THIS LINK to the review of my second trip to The Pug.
So, to set the record straight The Pug does allow its drinkers to throw back shots...just not "shooters". I'll let Tony say it in his own words: "As to the shot/shooter debate, i would go with a shooter being a mix of ingredients often with a clever name. Since i'm a crap bartender, i prefer the one bottle no chilled shot. Keep drinking keep reviewing, hope to see you sat for a "drink" of whiskey."
DIVE-O-METER (New score after my second visit)
SPECIAL ADDED BONUS
I ran into this guy outside the bar…the video sucks but just listen to this guy play!