The Bar Belle: Recessions Lounge & Sports Bar

Recessions Lounge & Sports Bar
1823 L St., N.W.

Ever since I was a little girl, aged 21, I’ve had one dream: to find a real, live dive bar to make my own. But in Foggy Bottom’s sea of yuppie bar and grills (you get that Mike’s Hard out of my face, Front Page) and frat pubs (toga parties, McFaddens? Get ahold of yourself), all hope is lost. So where’s a girl to turn when she’s looking for a little dirt with her drink? Not so fast, McFaddens. I’m looking for dirt with some character.

Recessions, the basement bar sneaked into the suit-and-tie mecca of L and 19th streets, is certainly no biker bar off the interstate. But the beers are cheap, the carpet velvety and the girl is desperate. So I’ll take what I can get.

The ugly step-child of Mackey’s Public House, Recessions is tucked safely in the cavernous, stone-walled lower level of the Lincoln Suites Hotel. Recessions’ smoke-filled, pleather-seated, hotel-off-the-Vegas-strip feel breathes with the realness that downtown’s other, Disney-like spots shun. Old kitsch lines the mess of crimson booths, pool tables and videogame machines that beg for a bored drunk with a quarter.

The clientele, though saturated with young college grads looking to drown their corporate sorrows in an oversized glass, has its share of eccentric types. For every intern bobbing their head to Kanye over an after-work drink with friends, you can find an old man stuck to the bar stool who looks like he doesn’t have any friends or work beyond the drink in his hand.

In good dive form, I have never been carded there, nor have I ever seen anyone else flash an I.D. Not once. Good, because when I entered a few weeks ago, two of my underage companions were holding fake I.D.’s with the same girl’s picture plastered on it.

Not that it would have mattered. “Mohammed,” one of the girls said as our friendly waiter came up and placed his hands on our backs, “LOVES me.”

Which is what really pains me. Recessions brings the velvet carpet, but it can’t deliver the dirt. Does the staff have to be so nice? The bathroom so clean? The area so safe and comforting? The liquors so strong, and not stealthily topped off with water? Where, Recessions, is your sleaziness?

Well, if I can’t get dirty, at least I can get dirt-cheap. Recession’s daily happy hour specials are the real draw. Come between 5 and 8 p.m. for $2.75 26-ounce “King Kong” drafts, daily rail specials and discounts on the mega-greasy appetizers, from their plate of mozzarella sticks to their heaping mound of onion rings.

As if that weren’t enough, I’ve just discovered that Recessions offers karaoke on Fridays from 7 to midnight. As much as I love a good dive, I’ll always be a sucker for public embarrassment. And maybe – given Recessions’ unexpected clientele – one magical Friday, we’ll catch a burnt-out trucker shouting the wrong lyrics to “My Sharona.”

A girl can dream, right?

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