Alcoholic desserts, like this stout beer float topped by ice cream, cherries and chocolate.
No need to check your WeatherBug app: Summer is in full swing.
That means sweltering morning commutes and increasingly sticky afternoons. Even shorter — if that’s possible — congressional work periods (c’mon, August recess!) And, we hope, several months of fun-filled nights watching the Washington Nationals make their case for inclusion in the 2014 pennant race.
The latest six-game homestead, which starts Tuesday, will give us plenty of indication of whether the Nats are for real, with four games against the division rival Atlanta Braves.
Luckily, there are a number of places surrounding Nats Park that lend themselves to enjoying our national pastime (beer, food, etc.) without having to awkwardly climb over fellow fans who refuse to budge from their seats.
Mind you, we only considered comfy, relaxing perches for this endeavor. Which is why the ridiculously overcrowded mess that is the Half Street Fairgrounds does not figure into this line-up.
Red Porch: Center field
Average entree: $13-$20 ($$). Check schedule for times.
This inside-the-park wonderland has got it all: Cool, delicious air conditioning. Ample seating. Unobstructed views of the entire field.
And loads of beer.
“No food at the bar. We specialize in liquid calories,” one barkeep quipped as she tossed a coaster our way. The list of featured suds is impressive, offering up a who’s who of artisan brews for $9 to $10 a pop (comparable to prices in the rest of the park).
One recent roster included: New Belgium Snapshot, Terrapin Rye Ale (a full-bodied, beer-lover’s beer), Foothills Torch Pilsner and People’s Porter (dark and lovely, with hints of coffee, hazelnuts and vanilla), Allagash Saison, Atlas Brew Works District Common (a pleasantly hoppy brew), Yuengling Lager, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy (refreshingly tart), Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale, Blue Moon and Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA.
More importantly, the restaurant specializes in boozy desserts.
The Boulevard Dark Truth Stout vanilla ice cream float is a thing of beauty. The top is adorned with whipped cream, cherries and milk chocolate swizzle sticks. Underneath lies a richly complex brew that smacks of chocolate and bourbon and is sweetened by slowly melting vanilla ice cream.
Craving something more substantial?
House-made kettle chips smothered in tangy balsamic, smoky chopped bacon and chunky blue cheese are tasty. A foot-long “homewrecker” half smoke topped with fried onions (splendid crunch), bean chili (more heat, please!) and queso (so-so) is messy as all get out but worth it.
Justin’s Café: 1025 First St. SE; 202-652-1009; justinscafe.com
Average entree: less than $12 ($). Open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, brunch Saturday and Sunday.
A neighborhood spot since 2010, Justin’s ropes in regulars with quality eats, frosty beverages and almost prescient service.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.