Cadillac Ranch

American
$$$$ ($15-$24)
'

Editorial Review

The shrieking is the first indication that someone is on the bull. It's also the signal for everyone in this rockin' bar to swivel and look toward the far corner of the room, where a large mechanical bull is surrounded by a thickly cushioned pad.
The whooping and cheering increases as the bull swivels and bucks, and abruptly changes to laughter and applause a few seconds later as the rider picks himself up and rejoins his group. This ritual plays itself out dozens of times an hour at Cadillac Ranch, a national chain whose slogan might well be "The Place With the Mechanical Bull."
The decor is cheesy - fake Western, with old guitars and license plates on the wall - and the food is adequate (the nachos topped with pork are a perfect example: good, smoky pulled pork atop some of the worst tortilla chips in the known world). It gets very, very loud thanks to the cheering bull riders and weekend DJs spinning a mix of country and rock.
But readers often ask where they can live out their Urban Cowboy fantasies, and right now, Cadillac Ranch is the closest such spot to Washington. After a spicy margarita or two, you might not even mind the $3 charge for each ride. (Schadenfreude is always free.) --Fritz Hahn, April 2011