There's one thing that's immediately apparent about U Street's newest sports bar, Touchdown: It's not going to replace Public Bar or Buffalo Billiards, and it isn't trying to. Instead, the owners of Tabaq and U-topia hope their newest venture becomes a place where fans can focus on what makes sport such an integral part of our culture: the artistry on the field.
Opening today (just in time for the huge Barcelona-Arsenal Champions League match, manager Karim Soumah points out), Touchdown occupies the former Momo's space at 1334 U Street NW. Enter the slim, red brick space and the first thing you'll notice: It's cozy, with 67 seats spread across two floors (a third floor will open next month).
The walls are lined in near equal measure with 18 flat-screen televisions and framed photos honoring Washington's sporting past and present (including a collection of photos from the 1924 World Series featuring your Washington Senators). Manager Karim Soumah plans to rotate the bar's artwork on a seasonal basis, and is awaiting the arrival of a Duke Ellington mural that will occupy an entire wall on the second floor (Ellington was a huge baseball fan).
Soumah wants to cultivate a neighborhood vibe built around local sporting events: The bar has partnered with D.C. United to host away-match viewing parties and team-sponsored events, so add Touchdown to a list of soccer-friendly D.C. bars that will be open early to show international matches on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The bar also plans to cater to niche sporting events like the September's Rugby World Cup and the ongoing International Cricket World Cup, which Soumah plans to show on tape-delay.
"We'll even take a look at showing the Bassmasters series," Soumah joked.
Touchdown's bar menu should also draw your attention: Pitchers of Pabst Blue Ribbon are just $10, a nice price point that drops even further from 3 to 7 p.m. and from midnight on, when happy hour prices drop rail drinks and drafts by 25 percent. The 26-deep bottle-and-can list shows depth, with hard-to-find offerings from the likes of Avery, 21st Amendment and AleWerks. On your plate, you'll find gussied-up bar food: Touchdown Fries, finished with duck fat and a goat cheese quesadilla, for example.
As for the name? The irony of opening a bar called Touchdown during football's long offseason isn't lost on Soumah, but he thinks it'll stick. "It's an easy name to remember," he said, and combined with its prime location, it could become a play you call time and time again.