D.C. Warms Up to N.Y. Tavern
By Fritz Hahn
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, March 27, 2009
Whether it's pizza, bagels or night life, comparing Washington to New York is a favorite parlor game for new residents and transplants.
Town Tavern made its way to Adams Morgan from Greenwich Village in January, and it's already causing a stir. Where the original was dubbed "a hookup hotspot" by Cosmo magazine and "a neighborhood spot, college hangout, and sports bar rolled into one" by New York magazine (there's also a branch in Pittsburgh), most of the online chatter about the District's tavern has centered on its stringent door policies: For starters, men must be 23, while women need be only 21. There is a long list of what can't be worn (hats, visors, sneakers, combat boots, etc.). The list also states "no unaccompanied groups of males."
Bargoers are greeted at the coat check by a woman who offers a $5 "warm up" shot, a peachy-fruity thing. It becomes quickly apparent that this place is meant to be hookup central.
Despite its reputation, Town Tavern is the most basic of nightspots. The first floor has a small raised area where weekly beer pong tournaments take place. There are bars at both ends of the room upstairs, and the expanse between them becomes a dance floor on weekend nights.
Although we usually rise above the Washington-New York comparisons, we thought that, this once, we'd stop by on a Friday night and ask patrons what they thought of the new bar.
Hanging out on sofas in the back of the first floor, a group of Catholic University students are enthusing about Town while sipping drinks and scoping out the crowd.
"We heard the other one in New York was awesome," says Kaylie Metz, 22.
"We always come to Adams Morgan to meet boys," explains Alison Ryan, 21.
"We hadn't been here, so thought we'd try a new place," says Kelly Torlone, 22.
Their friend Mary-Elizabeth Griffiths, 22, knows the Town Tavern in New York. "I went there so many times," she says. "It's one of my favorite bars in the city. We had so many birthday parties there. So when I found out it was opening [in D.C.], I said, 'We definitely have to come here.' I love Adams Morgan. It's the best scene in D.C."
This Town Tavern, she says, is almost as good as the one back home. (So score almost one for the nation's capital.)
On the other side of the coin is 26-year-old Ali Cieslinski, who has come from Gainesville to meet up with friends from Arlington. She and her friends weren't aware of the venue's name and pedigree until they arrived, but they're enjoying themselves regardless.
They've already made their way onto the middle of the dance area on the second level.
"We've been here when it was [the former occupant] Nolan's," Cieslinski explains. "We like the music they play."
She said she wasn't aware that there was another Town Tavern anywhere, not that it matters.
"No cover is always good," she laughs. "There's good drinks and good music. That's what makes a place."
Megan Kersh says she and her friends first dropped by Town a couple of weeks ago."They had no cover and dancing, and it looked like fun," says the 22-year-old consultant. They're back for a birthday party, and she has no complaints. "I've had a lot of fun. They have good music, good drinks, and they have the games on for the guys."
And what of Town's reputation as a destination for singles? Over at the dimly lit bar in the back of the upstairs room, Joel Hayes, 26, and Leila Smith, 25, are getting to know each other. Hayes says his friends have been talking about the place since it opened, but this is his first time here. Smith read a review of Town online and decided to check it out. Now they're happily having drinks. "This place is awesome!" Hayes enthuses. "I just met my girlfriend here!"
Smith leans in close. "He's really cute," she confides.
Definitely score one for D.C.