Hank Dietle's white "Cold Beer" sign and front porch look more than a little out of place among the neon lights of Rockville Pike, but for people looking for a no-nonsense neighborhood bar, it's a welcome spot.
Watching a Redskins game at Hank's is like watching it in your friend's living room. Snacks -- free chips, dip in a crockpot and sandwiches -- are provided on a card table in the small bar and patrons shout at the quarterback and the officials from their bar stool or booth. The regulars are mostly locals in their thirties and forties, although weekends can draw both a younger and less local crowd as well.
Beer (Bud, Miller Lite and something called Faust) is $2.10 a bottle ($1.50 during games and happy hour), a bowl of spicy chili is $2.25 and the pulled pork and deli sandwiches are $3.50. But food is not the point: You go to Hank's for the atmosphere and character.
A jukebox with country and classic rock hits, and on a recent visit, a little paper sign by the coin dispenser that says, "Yeah, Right!" sits against the bar's south wall. There is also a cigarette vendor, three video games and two pinball machines. The tiny one-room bathrooms neighbor an old-fashioned wooden phone booth (surprisingly, the phone works). Two tables with chairs sit precariously on a one-and-a-half-foot ledge in the bay windows at the front of the bar.
Candid photos of the club on earlier evenings attest to its liveliness, and rowdiness at times. The bar's eight wooden booths sport the handiwork of sentimental patrons. For example: "Mouse Luvs Vonda" and "Boomer N Bug" -- both in big, voluptuous hearts.
Comfortably run-down is probably the best way to describe Hank Dietle's, but if you like a good dive, it's perhaps the best option on the Pike.
-- Shayla Thiel