Winter Classic Visitors Guide: DC’s Sloppy Seconds

DC sloppy secondsSo far, we’ve endeavored to take our our-of-towner Winter Classic visitors to some of DC’s most hippin’ and-a hoppin’-est neighborhoods: U Street, H Street, Barracks Row and Arlington. But there’s plenty of other places around town. Today, the best of the rest…best as determined by a somewhat random metric.

Time was if you wanted to go out in DC you went to Georgetown or Dupont Circle (assuming you didn’t really want to go to the gay go-go boy clubs down in Skankytown.) That’s changed. You don’t really need to know the neighborhoods listed here; any cab or Metro should get you pretty close.

Keep in mind that there’s great places around Nats Park – among them the Bluejacket brewery. But these places tend to get beyond full game days, and we expect on January 1 will be all but inaccessible. Hence, just a few other ideas within a few miles of the game.

Finally, this list is not comprehensive, and especially is not a fine-dining guide to DC. These are more the kind of comfy places you might wish you had in your neighborhood if you lived here: a Cheers bar with much more sawdust and much less light. Continue reading

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Winter Classic Visitors Guide: Arlington is ArlingFUN!

Actual Arlington skyline, seen from the District

Actual Arlington skyline, seen from the District

Out-of-towners often ask about the District’s unusual history; something along the lines of ‘Are you a state or a city or what? Does your mayor still do crack? And why is it shaped so weird?’ Meaning, we assume, the District, not our mayor.

Pass on the first two. But true story! The District was once nearly almost completely diamond-shaped, straddling both sides of the Potomac, until some fancyboys in the Commonwealth got a little snippy and took back their side, turning it into Arlington.

Today it’s home to over 200,000 people, and notably features many many little group homes where underpaid Capitol interns share their sad nights. But this is a good thing, because many underpaid interns equals many fun places to hang out, sample local cuisine, build friendships and drink. Who are we kidding…it’s just the drinking part.

Today’s tour guide is the amazing Jason Rogers – world traveler, captain of the now defunct Arlington Sperm Whales, and, as he explains, “can recite Sartre in three languages just as fast as he can put a puck past your ear.”

Congratulations on your purchase of tickets to the 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic, and welcome to Washington D.C.! This great city is home to our nation’s capital, the seat of power of our mighty government, the environs of some of the most exquisite civil architecture in the world, and the address of many of the finest restaurants, hotels, nightlife, and cultural landmarks on earth.

For some reason, this is a thing in Arlington. Don't do this thing.

For some reason, this is a thing in Arlington. Don’t do this thing.

Oh, wait. You’re staying in Arlington?

I have a dirty little secret, Washingtonians: I live in Arlington. That’s right, the cubic zirconia of cities. Some people buy fake Shelby Cobra replicas; I live in Arlington. Some people wear clip-on bow ties because they can’t tie the real ones; I live in Arlington. Some people lie and tell out-of-towners they live in D.C.; so do I, because I live in Arlington.

But if your Winter Classic experience involves bunking down in A-Town, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained on this side of the Potomac. So grab your four-dollar cigarettes and your concealed carry license, because we’re going to Virginia!

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Winter Classic Visitors Guide: Barracks Row Says “Hello Sailor!”

Marine BarracksToday’s Washington tour guide for out-of-town Winter Classic attendees takes us to 8th Street SE, also known to locals as Barracks Row.

Like many neighborhoods in DC, 8th Street SE has seen its share of tough times – but these days, most of that is in the rear view window. The center of the entertainment district runs from Pennsylvania Ave down to I Street SE, right next to the Marine Corps barracks and parade ground – the oldest active post in the Corps, and source of the neighborhood’s nick-name.

Barracks Row may be a short four or so, but it packs in some of the best restaurants and most easy-going bars to be found in town. Hill staffers abound, but so do just plain folks.

Our tour guide is Michele Johnson, the pride of northern North Dakota, and hockey aficionado. She’s got a sharp eye for bad penalties and great restaurants, so we’re thrilled she’s sharing her neighborhood love with us. Take it away, Michele!Barracks Row

8th Street SE, aka Barracks Row:

A short walk (or Circulator bus ride) from Nationals Park, is historic 8th Street SE, occupied by everything from a U.S. Marines base to Bon Appetit’s best new restaurant of 2014. The following is a guide to the many bars, restaurants, and stores that call 8th Street (and Pennsylvania Ave SE) home. They are listed in order, starting at the intersection of 6th and Pennsylvania Ave SE, walking southeast to 8th Street SE, then taking a right and walking south down 8th Street SE. Continue reading

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Training Day: Metrorail’s Winter Classic Plans

For the smart set commuting to and from Nats Park for the Winter Classic, good news from our pals at WMATA.

WMATA Navy Yard_Carousel

While trains will be operating on Sunday hours, 7:00am to midnight, we’re told they will heavy up the service to the Green line’s Navy Yard – Ballpark station. A WMATA spokesperson says to expect an increased number of trains as well as big ones, eight cars long, before and after the game. And don’t forget to use their cool Next Train app!

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Winter Classic Visitors Guide: H Street is for Hipsters

H Street CCToday’s Washington tour guide for out-of-town Winter Classic attendees takes us to the newest up-and-coming neighborhood to up and come. H Street NE spans about 13 blocks, from just north of Union Station to around 15th Street and the old Hechinger Mall.

Once dreary and down on it’s heels, H Street NE these days is home to thriving night life, great food and drink, and tons of younger scene-sters with funny mustaches and ridiculous skinny jeans. It’s also one of the few places left in town where rents are affordable enough for bars and restaurants to take some chances.

Today’s tour guide is Dave Eskola, a DC transplant by way of Duluth and hockey fan extraordinaire. Dave was smart enough to buy a house just off H Street several years ago before it exploded, banking that it was going to be DC’s hot-hot-hot spot.

H Street in warmer months

H Street in warmer months

The H Street Corridor,a.k.a. Atlas District, is a symbol of DC’s renewal as a place to live and live life, not just to work. A center of African-American commerce and nightlife through the 1950s (Charlie Parker recorded the famed live LP “One Night in Washington” at the long-gone Kavakos Nightclub at 727 H NE in 1953) – much of the strip burned during riots in 1968. It was largely derelict until the high housing prices and the prospect of shorter commutes started luring Yuppies into the neighborhood in the mid-00s. This displaced some long-time residents – and made other long-time residents wealthy.

Bars and restaurants followed. Former Mayor Adrian Fenty tried to goose development and tourism and improve transportation with the addition of streetcar tracks during road reconstruction five years ago. Haphazardly planned and long delayed, the trolley may start taking passengers this month. Rides reportedly will be free for awhile.

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Winter Classic 2015: View from Capitol Hill

Rep. Mike Quigley and former Hawk Jimmy Hayes teaching hockey in Chicago

Rep. Mike Quigley and former Hawk Jimmy Hayes teaching hockey in Chicago

As part of our previews of the New Year’s Day Winter Classic, today we hear from a guy who knows more about Chicago, Washington, DC and hockey combined: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois D-Blackhawks).

Chicago may be Quigley’s home, and Washington his work place, but hockey’s in his blood. As chair of the Congressional Hockey Caucus – yes, that exists – Quigley can often be found either out on the ice – as when he plays against the USA Wounded Warriors – or working to bring hockey to the children of Chicago. He’s a Hawks fan through and through, but keeps a close eye on the Capitals, and shares his thoughts about this game, and The Game.

What’s the Winter Classic mean for you?

You’re actually talking to someone who’s played outdoor hockey. I moved to Chicago, a village called Carol Stream – back then just a subdivision with ambitions. There was a corn field and lagoons, and the lagoons would freeze over. One year when I was eight my parents bought me a pair of skates and a Northland wooden hockey stick.

It was an incredibly cold winter, and I had no idea what I was doing. I put my skates on in the house with no blade guards, walked all the way to the lagoon on the skates and stepped onto the ice for the first time in an outdoor setting. I could hardly skate, but to the extent you could glide around the ice with a puck and a stick, I was hooked. It was freezing, incredibly bad conditions, the ice was rutted…but all of my early hockey was outdoors.

Rep. Quigley hits the ice

Rep. Quigley hits the ice

I’m just now reminded there were certain rules. Like, if you shoot and miss, because it was two Folgers cans and a net, you had to go chase the puck which is sometimes a quarter-mile skate, and then you had to dig the puck out of a snowbank. Then after a while there were no lifters; which means that if you lifted it, it would be very hard for a goalie with no pads to stop it, and it kept giong on ice – there were no boards obviously so you had to go chase it and bring it back.

We played because it was just amazing to play; 4, 5, 6 hours, all day. And we had a guy from the park district who did us a favor occasionally. He put his park district jeep headlights onto the ice so we could play a little bit longer.

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Winter Classic Visitors Guide: U Want To Be Here!

Let’s Start The Winter Classic Proper, Shall We? 

Soon, the hockey world will descend on our quaint little hometown of Washington, DC: America’s least favorite theme park. Or as JFK once described it, “a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” As 25 year residents of the city, we’re here to provide that charm. Consider us your 2015 Winter Classic Welcome Wagon.

Greetings

Visit DCAlthough visitors come in for the big game, they may find themselves with some extra time to explore some of the city’s sites, dining, entertainment and cultural venues. We’re doing this in part because the official DC visitors’ organization, Destination DC, doesn’t appear up to the task. Their Winter Classic page is meager; the only event site they offer is a link to Stubhub (SRO from $129), which is basically saying, “Good luck, suckers.” Their bigger sin however, was not returning our emails.

We’ve made a career out of writing how 29 other NHL cities smell or have ugly people, or in many cases, smelly, ugly people. DC certainly deserves every disparaging barb that can be hurled at it and we’re more than happy to pile on. Like many fossils in this town, we look back wistfully to a time when this city functioned, had ample street parking, nabes had vibes instead of BIDs and true giants roamed the marbled corridors at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue – not these punk-ass bitches who look like they came out of a central casting call for punk-ass bitches.

The side of DC the tourists never see

The side of DC the tourists never see

It’s a cliché, but Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. It’s cliché for a reason; it’s true. Stick around after the Winter Classic and take a stroll around Capitol Hill or the soul crushing canyons of K Street on a busy workday, and you’ll know what we suffer through. Those shambling cadavers you see are not extras from the Walking Dead; we call them lobbyists. How bad is DC? Even Wyshynski fled.

But when planned wisely, a weekend in DC can be a pretty fulfilling and rewarding way to…visit your squandered tax dollars. Given the spread and diversity of this sleepy southern town, we’re going to publish these visitor guides by geography. First up, our ‘hood, 14th an U Streets, then later this week, H Street, Barracks Row, and Northern Virginia (if you insist on doing this trip on the cheap and want a horrible experience).

First things first, you can’t get there from here: Navigating DC

If you’re driving to DC for the game, park your car at the hotel and leave it. DO NOT DRIVE IN OUR CITY, TOURIST!

DC MapDC was laid out by a guy named Pierre L’Enfant in the 18th Century and the street grid makes no sense to anyone who isn’t a 250 year old French civil engineer. So unless you’re driving a four-in-hand or being squired around in a Hansom, STAY OFF THE STREETS. Number streets run north-south, letter streets run east-west, and Avenues named after states spiral out from un-navigable traffic circles. You will get hopelessly lost, ticketed, booted, or towed. Paid parking is pretty steep, too, but you have alternatives, and many of them safe.

MetroRail: Nats Park is conveniently located on Metro’s Green line, and the station is mere steps from the stadium entrance. Metro also serves just about any neighborhood you’d want to get to during Classic weekend and probably your crappy hotel, too.

Metro floodDepending on the day, service begins at 5:00am and runs until the wee hours. It’s quiet, a clean system and very safe. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our 40 year old subway system is a bit creaky. Two major lines were shut down just last week due to a water main rupture that flooded several downtown stations. Delays happen often and expect very crowded cars getting to the Stadium on New Year’s Day. Metro may throttle back to a holiday schedule that day and wait times could be long. Be smart, get SmarTrip card and load it up with shekels to cover you for the weekend, so you don’t have to dick around with paper farecards that charge a $1 premium per ride.

Metro tips: Don’t stand around like an idiot looking at the FareCard machines, trying to figure out how they work.

metro-passesfarecard-machineThe instructions are in hieroglyphics so ask a friendly local like ourselves to interpret and walk you through the steps. We may steal your wallet so keep an eye on your belongings. When riding the escalators – that are sometimes known to work – do not stand at the top or bottom of them. You risk being trampled, sworn at, or run like Milan Lucic did to Ryan Miller. When you get on a train car, don’t crowd around the doors like a pylon hoping to be first off. That’s what fat ass, self-important lobbyists do when they’re late for a meeting on the Hill with some jerkwad senator to plead for a tax break for some greedy gazillionaire, who probably owns your favorite NHL team.

Taxis: Back in the day, under the zone system of fares, just about any cabbie would rip you off. Taxis are now on meters here, so unscrupulous hacks can’t pull fast ones anymore.

taxi_driver_12They even take credit cards now. The cabbies are pretty much OK, many even know where they’re going and it’s easy to hail them on the street. Expect the unmistakable aroma of carbon monoxide wafting up through the floorboards in many of DC’s cabs because motor vehicle inspections are merely suggestions to these guys. So is cleaning filth off the backseats. So is speaking English. If he asks you to get in the trunk, just do what he says.

Uber: Don’t use Uber. They’re evil. And it may end poorly.

Biking: If the weather permits, DC is a great bike town with plenty of bike share locations all across the city, including Nats Park. But since we’re expecting near-freezing temps, screw that; save the biking for your springtime visit to DC – WHEN THE CAPS ARE GOING DEEP IN THE PLAYOFFS!

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