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Bar Review: M & S Grill

Submitted by on February 7, 2010 – 2:52 PMNo Comment
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600 13th St.
Washington, DC

Hours of Operation:

Mon. – Thu.    11:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Fri.   11:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Sat. – Sun.   4:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Best time to visit: Happy Hour, if you can get a seat.

Despite its connection to the McCormick and Schmicks seafood restaurant chain, the M & S Grill in downtown DC deserves to be assessed by its own merits as a bar, and, more importantly, as an after-work meeting spot.

The restaurant area is very tasteful, classy, and so on.  But, to the left as one enters at the corner of 13th and F Streets, one will be drawn into a quaint, vaguely-nostalgic saloon.  The decorations on the dark paneled walls are eclectic – from old Time and Sports Illustrated covers (generally celebrating a DC area figure) to the occasional stuffed fish or bird, it is difficult to pin the M & S Grill down as anything other than a pub – no modifiers, not a sports bar, political hang-out, or hunting lodge.  But, at least when it’s not too crowded, it is a very comfortable space.

If there is a drawback, it is that ‘crowded’ is usually an apt description.  It is not spacious, and the Happy Hour specials attract a large number of workplace escapees.  An early arrival may guarantee a seat, but it will not guarantee that all the surrounding seats will not soon be filled, leading to possible claustrophobia.

But, of course, there is a reason.  Happy Hour, from 3:30 to 7:00 from Monday to Friday, with a reprise Monday through Thursday from 9:00 to closing time, offers the best cheap eats around.  A substantial portion of Spinach Dip served with tortilla chips, or a good-sized Buffalo Chicken Sandwich or Cheese Quesadilla, will run you only $1.95.  Likewise an order of Chicken Tenders, which is a bit small, but very tasty.  Though the name ‘sliders’ to describe a small hamburger may still strike some as unpleasantly descriptive, a plate of three plus fries for $2.95 will cause one to ignore the oily implications of the name, and appreciate some surprisingly good mini-burgers.  An order of wings or mussels comes in under four dollars.

There is a (not strictly enforced) two-drink minimum; unfortunately most of the tap selection is not discounted.  The on-tap Yuengling is the best bet (Amstel Light and bottles of Bud Light are the only other $3.50 options), but what one saves on chow one can always put towards a pint of Harp, Bass, or Sierra Nevada.

A friendly atmosphere of fellow workers de-stressing from a long day helps the M & S Grill maintain an inviting ambience.  With another McCormick and Schmicks restaurant four blocks away, the management ought to consider converting the dining space to additional pub seating, so that more DC employees can enjoy the feel and deals of this attractive old-style bar.

Pros: Decent selection; Good Happy Hour deals.

Cons: Often crowded; Pricey (other than Happy Hour).

Rating: 3 out of 5