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Bar Review: Duffy’s

Submitted by on February 3, 2010 – 12:56 PMNo Comment
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2106 Vermont Ave.
Washington, DC

Hours of Operation:
Mon.  5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Tue. – Thu.  11:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Fri.   11:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Sat.  12:00 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Sun.                        12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Best time to visit: After work; Happy Hour; When you want to relax near U St.

Duffy’s Irish Restaurant & Pub – usually just referred to as “Duffy’s” – is thoroughly unpretentious.  Its location a block or two off of U Street is perfectly suitable; it stands out from the barren surroundings, yet does not meet U Street’s usual hipness quotient.  It is virtually a dive, but in the best sense.  And the Guinness is surprisingly good.

This is, of course, the true test of any bar that chooses to incorporate Irishness as a motif.  Sadly, many a so-called Irish Pub creates a beautiful, authentic appearance, then serves a flat, sterile pint of Guinness.  Duffy’s’ décor is simple, but the pints are more than up to scratch.  And while you aren’t likely to hear an Irish accent from the bar staff, you will get friendly service, as attentive as the crowd will allow.

As for the crowd, it is mixed in terms of size and type.  The location draws those skirting the U Street hordes and the locals from the surrounding neighborhood.  The atmosphere draws good working-class sorts, the type who just like a relaxing joint in which to hang out during off hours.  Numbers swell around Happy Hour and later in the evening, particularly on weekends, but rarely does the bar feel packed.

Duffy’s fills a niche in an ideal way.  It is good enough, regarding the quality and variety of menu items, to bring in those who wish to settle down in a quiet corner for a beer and a satisfying meal.  It is also down-to-earth enough to attract those of simple tastes.  It is proof that, even in the District, a place doesn’t need to be overpriced and brimming with ambience to provide good service and good beer.

Not that prices are bargain-basement-like; it is still DC, after all.  But there are plenty of dinners around the ten dollar range, and a daily special for $8.95.  The 4:00 to 7:00 Happy Hour each weekday leaves out some of the better beers on tap – the Guinness, Bass, and Hoegaarden, for example – but nightly specials and three dollar Yuenglings and Shock Tops help to counter-balance this shortcoming.  Half-price wings offer another strong H.H. endorsement.

The competition within easy walking distance is fierce, but Duffy’s offers something most nearby bars don’t: a bit of peace and quiet.  Even when it’s busy and the juke-box is cranked up, one feels comfortable, relaxed, and at home.  Why?  Because even when there isn’t much space inside, there is breathing room out the door.  At Duffy’s you’re a few blocks away from any other drinking establishment, but you should be able to get what you need right there.

Pros: Friendly staff; Good selection & Happy Hour.

Cons: A slight dive-y feel, without the beer prices to match.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5