A Guide to the Galaxy
By Fritz Hahn
Washington Post Weekend Section
Friday, Dec. 17, 2004
Galaxy Billiards Cafe occupies 15,000 cavernous square feet on the lower level of the old City Place Mall. (It's easier, though, to enter from Ellsworth Avenue -- one of the development's main shopping drags.) The name might seem familiar, as owner Tak Yoon runs another Galaxy in nearby Langley Park.
By the numbers, Silver Spring's Galaxy is truly impressive: 27 beautiful Brunswick tables; a 60-foot bar snakes down one side of the room; 35 36-inch televisions are strategically placed overhead; and a huge projection screen broadcasts key sporting events near a pair of dart lanes. There's plenty of room for happy-hour crowds, or the groups that hang out here before or after movies at the nearby AFI Silver Theatre or Majestic theaters.
While it won't win any awards for design -- a sea of green felt, televisions, cherry-colored walls and exposed pipes overhead, Galaxy looks "nice," more than anything else -- that's not really the point.
There's room between tables for tricky shots, as well as clear sightlines so you can watch your basketball game from almost anywhere and plenty of high tables scattered throughout the billiards and bar areas.
Pool halls really are the great equalizers -- Galaxy fills a need by attracting a mix of black, white and Latino pool players and sports fans, and serves home-style empanadas alongside burgers and neon-orange "galactic wings" on its menu. (Skip the wings, but the beef empanadas are pretty tasty.) Service can be a little chaotic if generally friendly, and managers regularly cruise the room, asking how everything is going.
Happy hour is a great time to visit; from 3:30 to 7, deals include $2.50 pints and $7 pitchers of domestic beer, with imports running a little bit higher, and some discounted appetizers. Pool costs $8 an hour for one player, $12 for two, $14 for three and $15 for four. (Add a buck per hour on weekends.) Get practicing -- there are plans afoot for regular tournaments and weekly leagues.
Seemingly destined to be Silver Spring's sports bar and pool hall of choice, Galaxy is worth a visit -- especially if you're looking to watch the big game and shoot pool in a smoke-free environment.