51st State Tavern, 2512 L Street NW
I’m not really sure to what the name 51st State Tavern is referring. Is it a political cry for statehood for the District? Or perhaps a humorous attempt at declaring itself an official entity of drinkers and booze? Honestly, last Friday night I didn’t really care what the name meant. It wasn’t a red, blue or swing state, so I wouldn’t have to talk politics all night, and I could get drunk close to home.
Because of its novelty as the most recent addition to the pathetic Foggy Bottom nightlife scene, it wasn’t too difficult to gather a group of fellow revelers to check out the place in hopes of discovering a fun local bar.
With the nice weather, I was excited to see that the bar had a patio area in front and an empty table to comfortably seat my posse. After we were carded outside, we assembled around the table and a server quickly presented us with menus. Their drink menu was more extensive and expensive than I would have associated with the bar’s unpretentious atmosphere. Wines by the glass were $7, martinis $8 and a wide variety of beers, from Magic Hat 9 to Strongbow Cider, were priced up to $5.
We had plenty of time to check out the scene, as our server did not return with our drinks for a good 10 minutes. Surrounded by middle-aged couples and late 20-somethings, we enviously watched our peers stumble by the patio on their way out to Georgetown.
I learned one major drawback of the bar while looking for our server. As I turned my head, I was instead greeted with enthusiastic waving from an old man dining in the Thai restaurant next door. My new friend and I were sitting side by side, the buildings only separated by a large window. I’m not going to lie, it was weird.
Watching the people eating at the Thai restaurant worked up my appetite and I was pleased to see that the bar had a food menu with typical options such as burgers and chicken wings. But apparently I missed the disclaimer stating that the kitchen closes at 11 p.m. and was informed by the server that he could only offer us chips and salsa for $4.95. No thanks.
I slid away from the table unnoticed to check out the scene inside. I thought perhaps we were missing out on some crazy partying or hot guys. Sadly, between the vintage, postered brick walls, the only things to be found were a few suit-clad drinkers left over from happy hour and empty tables. Upstairs was even worse. A small group was crowded around the single pool table while the lone bartender belted out a U2 song.
I returned from my expedition to find one of my friends tutoring a girl in her organic chemistry class on her cell phone and the others with bored expressions across their countenances. It was apparent we were not hanging around for a second round.
The 51st State needs some campaigning advice: Drink specials and student promotions will bring the masses; without them you are destined to the fate of your late neighbor, The Dark Horse.