Light from 16 big-screen TVs flickers from the walls at Big Play Sports Grill, meaning diners can catch their favorite team from almost any seat in the house. The grill's menu embraces the sports theme by offering hearty portions with playful, sports-related names. Guests can step up to the plate for some slow-roasted triple double smoked ribs, hole-in-one tilapia, or a hat trick half-roasted chicken flavored with a robust blend of 12 spices as opposed to ice shavings carved by minor-league hockey players. Lighter, more snackable options run the gamut from Mississippi catfish po'boy sandwiches and grass-fed burgers to boneless wings and crab cake sliders.
If comfort food is supposed to evoke a sense of ease and familiarity, the Impossible Double Hank burger breaks rather severely with tradition. With its intimidating name and heaps of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bacon, and cheddar, the burger forces the brave patrons of Hank’s Tavern & Eats to confront their most delicious fears. Though less overwhelming than the double-portioned hamburgers, the tavern’s shrimp po’ boys, baby back ribs, and fish burritos are made with similarly fresh ingredients and prove just as tasty. While digging into these and other hearty eats, patrons can follow local sports on 20 TV screens and guesstimate their height by lying facedown on the 50-foot bar.
Overhung with glittering chandeliers and surrounded by billowing red curtains, The Fillmore Silver Spring's main room easily holds elegant concerts and thrashing dance parties alike on its hardwood floor. Balconies equipped with tables and chairs allow VIP seclusion, elevated sightlines of onstage antics, and easy conversation with GA-ticket-holding giraffes.
At the The Royal Mile Pub, servers and regulars alike greet guests with a hearty "Cead mile failte!" It's Gaelic for "a hundred thousand welcomes," and the sentiment permeates every brew, stew, and show. Juxtaposing the local with the far-flung, Royal Mile cultivates a communal mood while maintaining a Scottish identity. To wit, the menu spotlights haggis, Orkney Scotch eggs, and traditional British-style breakfasts.
Spotlighting Scotland is a trend that also permeates the eatery's decor. Colorful tartans hang from the rafters, some of which match the kilts of live performers. The pub even takes its name from the region: Between Scotland's Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyroodhouse, there's a 1-mile series of streets traditionally traveled by Scottish royalty. The Royal Mile Pub is named for this thoroughfare, and its staff has welcomed its guests as it would kings and queens since it opened in 1981.
In lieu of buns, Duffy's Irish Restaurant & Pub's Monster Burger earns its name by piling bacon, grilled onions, and a half-pound burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches. The Washington Post profiled the beastly eat and its “calories-be-damned goodness” in its This Thing You Should Try series. Those with tamer appetites assemble less daunting burgers with a beef or homemade black bean patty served on a white or whole grain Kaiser roll. Along with burgers, Duffy's culinary team crafts casual dishes such as mushrooms fried in peanut oil, vegan pasta tossed with homemade tomato sauce, and seven wing varieties voted the city's best in 2012 by readers of Washington City Paper.
Along with the menu of daily grub, Duffy's staff supplies discounted drinks and quesadillas at weekday happy hours and hosts brain-teasing pub trivia challenges every Wednesday night. 12 flat-screen TVs throughout the bar stay tuned to the latest Florida Gators and Green Bay Packers games, a more thrilling alternative to watching looped footage of an actual gator attacking a defenseless cheese wheel. In addition to front of the house entertainment, Duffy's accommodates private soirees with a back room equipped with more flat-screens, skeeball, darts, and an internet jukebox.
“A synthetic turf-covered love letter to Washington.” That’s what Fritz Hahn of the Washington Post had to say about H Street Country Club after visiting the nearly 7,000-square-foot bar at the heart of the Atlas District. Yet Hahn wasn’t talking about the eatery’s decadent food; he was commenting on the space's devilishly tricky indoor golf course. During each nine-hole outing—for adults 21+—putters encounter the Lincoln Theatre, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and the titanic grasping hands of a half-submerged Marion Barry. As if a trip to the links wasn’t enough to work up an appetite, the entire first floor of H Street tempts gamers with skee-ball, shuffleboard, and wall-vs-human staring contests—all within an arm’s reach of margaritas, mojitos, and other specialty drinks.
Upstairs, a glass panel filled with retired golf balls gazes out over artist and contributing decorator Lee T. Wheeler’s talents, which alight upon everything from the sculptures crafted from repurposed birdhouses to the bar’s cushy lounge seating. The design sets the stage for executive chef Pablo Cardoso’s upscale take on classic Mexican food, with tables welcoming grilled skirt steak splayed over "cowboy" beans, a half chicken paired with yuca, and fajitas stuffed with still-sizzling shrimp. For dessert, the chef stuffs crisp empanadas with sweet mangoes, topping the confection with creamy ice cream and a note to get out of gym class for a week.