Best Bar to Hear Yourself Think

Best: The Saloon
1207 U St. NW, (202) 462-2640
2nd Best: Fox & Hounds
1537 17th St. NW, (202) 232-6307
By now, the Saloon’s rules are famous: No standing anywhere, be civil, and stay within the realm of upright, concealable drunkenness. Do this and you get access to one of D.C.’s best beer lists on one of U Street’s most bustling blocks. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always Fox & Hounds. Located on Dupont Circle’s 17th Street strip, the establishment is known for its huge, open sidewalk seating. The bar delivers serious rail drinks—one G&T gets you a good two shots of liquor and the mixer on the side. Its menu is a study in abundant averageness; appetizers range from hummus to calamari; entrees from the kitchen shared with Trio’s next door include hamburgers and sandwiches. There’s nothing special about Fox & Hounds. And yet, I’m deeply fond of its adequacy. It’s never too loud, too expensive, or too terribly crowded. I’ve met longtime friends there. I’ve met new friends there. When my parents’ friends were in town, I met them there. It’s always a fine gathering point, although no one particular quality keeps you coming back. The bar, in and of itself, just becomes like an old pal—one that’s loyal, consistent, and a bit taken for granted.