Journey to a strange planet
By Fritz Hahn
Friday, July 13, 2012
Spacebar is not for everyone.
The one-room Falls Church watering hole sells craft beer -- 24 taps, a half-dozen more in bottles -- and no hard liquor. The only food on the menu consists of grilled cheese sandwiches (17 varieties) and hot dogs (one kind), all prepped on a flat-top grill behind the bar and served with salad or a pile of tater tots.
And even if you get one of the dozen tables that run along one wall of the boxy little bar, service is rudimentary at best: You order your food and drinks at the bar and carry the glasses back to the table yourself. (Thankfully, a runner brings your grilled cheese out to you, along with ketchup.)
Spacebar is in a vintage strip mall on the side of Broad Street, alongside a used-record store, a psychic and an insurance agency, with not much parking out front. The lone TV is more often tuned to black-and-white movies than to sports.
No wonder the regulars at the bar love it. “I live a four-minute walk away,” boasts Neil Macintosh, 42.
“He was ecstatic to find out that this would be walking distance from his house,” jokes his friend Kevin Campbell, 49, who’s sitting on the next stool. “The staff and the atmosphere are great, and they appreciate their beer,” Macintosh says with a Scottish burr. “I love the music. It has the feel of a local [pub].”
The two were occasional visitors to Spacebar’s sister bar, Galaxy Hut, a tiny Clarendon establishment known for excellent beer and live music. But the hassles of going to Clarendon meant they weren’t regulars there. Spacebar, however, is another matter.
Here, the taps pour microbrews from Virgina’s Devil’s Backbone, Blue Mountain and Lost Rhino breweries -- and Massachusetts’ Clown Shoes, California’s Lost Coast and Kansas City’s Boulevard, among others, available in pints (most $6-$8) or 10-ounce goblets ($4-$6). Behind the bar, cooks whip up nontraditional grilled cheese sandwiches with ingredients such as feta, mozzarella and spinach on sourdough, or slices of apples interspersed with gouda. There are vegetarian and vegan options, and a long list of ingredients if you’d like to design your own.
Spacebar opened in early June, and its first few weeks have occasionally been rocky -- I stopped in one Thursday to no empty seats and a lone bartender trying to serve the whole house -- but on the whole, the service is friendly, the beer list sparkles, and the sandwiches are filling. It lacks brunch hours, live music and DJs at this point, though all are coming eventually, along with a rooftop deck.
Really, though, it’s cool to see Falls Church -- not exactly a nightlife hot spot -- add another option to its growing bar scene.
“I like Guinness and know all the people at the 4Ps, but that can get a little boring,” Campbell says. “Here you get beers you’ve never heard of.”
What does he tell his friends about the place?
“They’ve got a great beer selection. I’ll meet you there.”