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.
Guests pass by the ArtIz Gallery Lounge’s walls adorned with the work of local artists before entering The Art Spa, where they benefit from the expertise of licensed aesthetician Ms. Cherie. In addition to three types of facials, she and her team expertly remove unwanted hair as painlessly as possible during more than 25 waxing treatments. To beautify blinks, she applies eyelash extensions using both flares and individual lashes.
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.
Deftly blending New American and Spanish culinary propensities, Nicaro's menu changes daily to accommodate fresh flavors and culinary innovations. Recent offerings include bold, seafaring starters such as the shrimp bruschetta and the blackened, grilled, or barbecued salmon bites (each $9). The blackened chicken sandwich ($12) is served with steak fries and chipotle aioli, and the tossed house salad ($4.50 for a small and $8 for a large) unites julienne peppers, mushrooms, croutons, and bruschetta tomatoes in the perennial battle against boringly bagged grocery-store salads. The fettuccine with Alfredo sauce and basil pesto ($24) and the grilled vegetable platter ($15) both come stamped with the chef's recommendation.
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.
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.