The Scene: First Down is very much a neighborhood sports bar: suits and baseball caps mix at happy hour, and the ages range from 20s to 50s and beyond. There's a good mix of women and men, too. As soon as you walk in the door, you'll see the framed Chris Cooley, Sean Taylor, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler and the large Redskins logo painted on the dark red walls.
In Your Glass: There's a surprisingly large draft beer selection for an Arlington sports bar, and it's all discounted from 3 to 8 on weekdays. Miller Lite, Bud Light and PBR are $1.99. "Premium" beers like Sierra Nevada, Yuengling, Sam Adams, Shiner Bock and Widmer are $2.99. Imports (Guinness, Bass, etc.) are $3.99.
Nightly deals include $1 PBRs until 8 on Monday and Wednesday, $6 shooters on Thursday and $8.99 domestic pitchers on Sunday.
Mixed drinks are also a buck off until 8, but I've been sticking to beer on all my visits. (With prices like that, it's hard not to.)
On Your Plate: This is the kind of place where you'll receive a personal roll of paper towels when you order wings, and you'll need them. A full page of the menu is dedicated to all the options, starting with a choice between traditional or boneless chicken.
The five levels of spice range from mild to fire. (My bartender advised me to skip the latter: "You don't want to eat those. People turn red and start crying." Sounds like a good idea for a dare.) Stick to "Madness," which is one step down, or "Hot" if you just want a touch of heat. Then pick a flavor: garlic butter is good, Old Bay is better, teriyaki is a little sweet.
The wings themselves come out a little dry, but the flavors are good. It's best to visit on Thursday, when you get all the wings you can handle for $12.99, or Monday for the $2.95 baskets of six.
Burgers are average. Stick with the wings.
Nice to Know: The usual assortment of bar games includes Texas Hold 'Em poker (7 and 9:30 p.m. Monday) and trivia (7:30 Tuesday).
Price Points:Outside of happy hour, beers are in the $5-7 range, with mixed drinks a little more.
Playing shuffleboard will cost you $3 a game (15 points or 15 minutes, monitored by the electronic scoreboard), while foosball's a mere 75 cents a go.
-- Fritz Hahn (July 16, 2009)