Mug Shots: Get Into Trouble (or Checkers) at Local Bars

Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:12pm

As August begins, it’s hard not to think back to summers gone by. The free time of recess mixed with the heat can conjure up memories of being a kid without a care in the world for three whole months. While it’s impossible to go back in time, it is possible to relive your youth at several area bars and eateries where board games are all the rage.

• On the Hill, Trusty’s (1420 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), located just outside the Potomac Avenue Metro stop on the blue and orange lines, is the place to go for games. This gas-station-themed haunt offers everything from Trivial Pursuit to Clue to checkers. Trusty’s, owned by bar guru Joe Englert, is decked out in oil cans and mud flaps, while drinks are served in mason jars. The upstairs even features an actual (partly disassembed) school bus and a handful of outdoor tables. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and features a $1 discount on draft beers and rail drinks.

• Closer to the Senate, Hamilton’s Bar and Grill (233 Second St. NW) is tucked away on a quiet street near the Department of Labor. This dive bar is home to childhood favorites such as Trouble and checkers. Sixteen beers are available in the bottle, while an additional 11 are on tap. Each day Hamilton’s serves a rotating pint of the day for $3 as well as $3 baby shots of Grand Marnier.

• On the H Street corridor, retro bar Toyland (421 H St. NE) recently began hosting weekly Tuesday game nights. The inaugural event centered on a Jenga tournament. No word yet on what other games will be played, though you can bet they’ll all be a bit more fun while sipping on a beer off the bar’s excellent list. In addition to brew, Toyland also mixes killer cocktails — the Cucumber Fizz is a Mug Shots favorite — and has wines by the glass.

• Hipster haven Red Derby (3718 14th St. NW) in Columbia Heights has more than 30 bar games and a large selection of cheap canned beers, ranging in price from $2 to $6. Owner David Leventry first began keeping games in the bar four years ago when he noticed Monday nights were slow. Over time people began requesting games, and he started buying them. These days, old-school favorites such as Apples to Apples and Jenga are available.

• The name says it all, but there are more games to be played at Atomic Billiards (3427 Connecticut Ave. NW) than just pool. The Cleveland Park bar also offers a few dartboards — there’s even a dart league — in addition to a wide variety of board games. Uno, Connect Four and chess are available. Atomic has nine beers on tap, including Guinness and Harp, as well as microbrews Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. A large selection of canned beers is also available. The bar hosts happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday. The specials include $3 Miller Lites and Yuenglings as well as $4 rail drinks.

• If you prefer cupcakes instead of cocktails with your board games, take a trip to Buzz Bakery (901 Slaters Lane) in Alexandria. The quaint eatery serves some of the best baked goods in the area — try the red velvet cupcakes — and has ample seating. Buzz even has a cocktail, beer and wine list to accompany the sugary treats. Such childhood favorites as Scrabble, Candyland and Cranium are available.