Fast Eddie's of Fairfax

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

Fast Eddie's is NOT a pool hall. It's a "Billiard Cafe." The jeans- and flannel-clad pool sharks at Eddie's take their game quite seriously. We're talking pool tournaments, league play, guys who bring their own $500, custom-made, ebony and rosewood cue sticks in padded little briefcases.

The cracking sound of cueballs and rock music echoes through the cavernous and smoky play area, decorated with giant paintings of prohibition-era gangsters shooting pool. A dozen televisions let players keep in touch with their other favorite sports on ESPN, although one smaller TV behind the back bar always seems to be playing the Howard Stern show. Giant mounted heads of bulls and rams above the ample back bar keep watch, while the friendly shirt-and-tie- clad wait staff keeps the fans happy from more than a dozen microbrews on tap and a fully-stocked bar.

Fast Eddie's is pricier than some of its "pool hall" competitors like Bardo Rodeo: depending on the number of players per table, the charge ranges from $3.60 to $5.25 per head per hour during the afternoon and $3.80 to $6.60 after 5 p.m. But you get what you pay for: 10 relatively new, 8-foot tables and 10 smaller 9-foot tables, all top-of-the-line Brunswicks. The house cue sticks and balls are all tournament quality, albeit not of the $500 variety.

The front pocket of Fast Eddie's features a bar and restaurant offering a quiet respite from the action with a broad American menu: Appetizers range from $3.95 to $6.95 with standard fare like nachos and chicken fingers; and salads, sandwiches, pizzas and burgers for $4.25 to $7.50. Parties who order $8 of food per person can play pool for free.
On weekends, the tables are pushed back to make room for local live bands like Danny Morris, Downtown and the Rocknods, and open mike acoustic rock and blues on Tuesdays, hosted by the Crow Valley Blues Band. And there's never a cover charge.
Thrift seekers can play pool for free from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays with the purchase of brunch that features eggs benedict. There are three Fast Eddie's in Northern Virginia, but the Fairfax Circle location is the crown jewel.

- Cesar G. Soriano