The only discrimination you'll ever spot at this venerable tavern is physical: The folks at the bar are thinner than the ones at the tables.
And after one meal there, you'll appreciate both facts, because this is definitely where the beef -- and the beefcake -- is. It's hale at one end, and hearty at the other.
The bar is still the heart of Henry's on the Hill, as it is sometimes called. With branches in Georgetown, Adams-Morgan, Woodley Park and Washington Circle, the Washington Henrys are on their way to rivaling the Tudors.
Old, scarred and with the hard-earned patina of bent elbows, this crowded counter gives "intimate" new meaning.
The walls are a collage of reproduction beer ads and photos of langorous tipplers (although the actual beer list is short and sweet), and the tables are cheek-to-cheek and check-to-check.
But "ambiance" would be too flagrant for a place like this, and probably too fragrant as well -- we're talking some serious smoke pollution here. Even "atmosphere" is a little affected. Just take it or leave it, and forget it if you can't take smoke.
There is no menu, just a blackboard jungle across which crawl a pride of lion-sized sandwiches: hamburger and cheeseburger, turkey club, ham, grilled cheese with bacon and tomato, BLT's and tuna, corned beef, hot pastrami, and so on.
This is no deli for the delicate; this is two-fisted feeding. A "Henryburger," topped with melted swiss cheese, sided with French dressing and adorned with enough lettuce and tomato to turn into a salad, is served on a sub bun.
And a Reuben, though surprisingly coy with the sauerkraut and swiss, spills corned beef all across the platter, practically obliterating the rye.
Nor is this generosity limited to the meat of the issue. A side order of French fries is a breadbasket of skin-on slabs, half an inch thick or more, and soft rather than crisp. "Potato skins," which can be ordered with cheese topping and such, are akin: potato lovers' indulgences, really scooped-out tubers with plenty of potato left on, and half a dozen of them, at that. They're a meal in themselves, and a carry-home tray is the norm.
On the lighter side, Mr. Henry's does list a couple of salads; but on the other hand, the desserts are not for the dieting: cheesecake, chocolate cake, pecan pie . . . .
No wonder the bar is standing-room only. Too many meals at Mr. Henry's, and you'll have a new seat.
Incidentally, for patrons of the upstairs: Dot's Spot is closed for the summer.