Is there some sort of rule in Washington that all pool halls have to be underground? Like Atomic Billiards in Cleveland Park and Bedrock Billiards in Adams-Morgan, Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle requires patrons to descend into the depths. Out of these three, however, Buffalo is the only establishment that avoids a fallout-shelter aesthetic. That, along with a well-stocked bar and tasty burgers, are the principal reasons Buffalo is an entertaining place to go -- even if you're billiards-challenged.
Despite the fact that it contains 30 well-kept pool tables, a snooker table, five dartboards, two full bars, two jukeboxes stocked with a range of mostly rock music, several televisions and over a dozen tables and couches, Buffalo Billiards manages to keep from seeming cavernous. The decorating secret: strategically intermingling couches and cushy chairs among the tables. There are also two separate rooms (which can be rented out for large parties) and two outdoor patios that are opened up during warm weather.
The beer selection includes microbrew favorites such as Anchor Steam and Bass, with prices ranging from $3 to $4.50. Prices drop about a dollar during happy hour, which lasts from 4 to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 1 to 7 p.m. on the weekend. Monday features half-price chicken quesadillas, which are a steal at a little over $3. As for the rest of the menu, Buffalo serves up fairly traditional burger-and-salad fare, although the quality is better than most. One sandwich even features real buffalo meat.
Pool prices range from $8 to $18 per hour during prime time (after 8 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday), depending on the number of people playing. And be prepared to wait at least 45 minutes for a table during these times, as the place fills up quickly with its fairly young, affluent crowd. There are plenty of ways to pass the time before your table opens up, however, whether it's borrowing a board game, browsing the cigar selection or just drinking at the bar.
-- Anthony Zurcher