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Bar Review: Ventnor Sports Café

Submitted by on December 14, 2009 – 12:14 PMNo Comment
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Ventnor Sports Café
2411 18th St. NW
Washington, DC
Tel: 202.234.3070

Hours of Operation:

Mon. – Fri.:    5:30 p.m. – Close
Sat. – Sun.:    12 p.m. – Close

Best time to go: To watch the big game; Quiz night

ventnorsThe Ventnor Sports Café doesn’t stand out among the many bars and restaurants along 18th St. in Adams Morgan.  But it measures up fine, filling the prerequisites of a decent sports bar: beer, food, and lots of TVs. As in so many sports bars, the beer selection will not amaze.  But if you go at the right time, a $12 pitcher of Yuengling is nothing to sneeze at.  This seems to be a happy hour special, but the specials change regularly, and some nights happy “hour” goes until closing time.  Though it might be tough to plan around, the good news is there is almost always a special on food, drink, or both.

Two other things set this apart from many other sports bars.  First is the Tuesday Pub Quiz, which is fun, well run, and does not focus exclusively on sports trivia.  Second, when you show up for the quiz you will find a bag of popcorn waiting for you.  Sure, it might be a little stale by late in the evening, but by the time you’re halfway through that pitcher, and it tastes just fine.

The popcorn speaks for itself.  Never a bad thing to have a salty snack handy to spur on the thirst of the bar-goer.  But the quiz is something else.  It draws in the bars regular clientele, plus an assortment of quiz-lovers and college students who might care not a whit if the Wizards are playing.  The quiz goes on rain or shine, big game on TV or not, with a variety of topics and some twists on the usual quiz format. Though it doesn’t begin until 8:30 or so, whenever you arrive you can grab your answer sheets and get to work on the picture round.  A hint: if you’re looking for a team to join, try to find the one that has identified all the pictures you couldn’t. There are also a couple sheets of multiple-choice answers.  A real pro can read through these and determine what the question might be, such as seeing a list of five cities, four of which are national capitals.  Spotting the out-of-place responses will give you a head start, before the beer settles in and you’re not so sure of yourself. Prizes include free beer.  What else do you need?

The menu is standard bar fare, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  The prices aren’t bad, and, again, most of the time you’ll find a special.  (35-cent wings, for example, or ½ price burgers.)

The bar thrives on weekends, especially in football season.  But any night there are bound to be several games on, with partisans from all over — notably Syracuse and UNC college hoops fans.  There’s a good draw for NBA and NHL games, too. The bar has two floors, but there is little to distinguish them; both are well-lit, a bit narrow, and, where not covered with flatscreens, the walls have the traditional collection of semi-random sports memorabilia and framed newspaper clippings.  But the downstairs has the bigger bar, and thus fills up first. Ventnor’s draught selection is unimpressive, although there’s nothing wrong with the Yuengling.  By the bottle, they sport the normal array, with Sam Adams, and Sierra Nevada popping up frequently in the ever-changing assortment.

So, go for the quiz or go for the game.  Don’t go for the beer, but at least enjoy whatever bargains they’re offering at Ventnor that night.

Pros: Good staff; decent quiz; plenty of TVs; free popcorn.

Cons: No great tap selection; don’t check the website looking for up-to-date info.

3 out of 5