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Iron Horse Taproom

Submitted by on April 22, 2010 – 10:36 AMOne Comment
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507 7th St.
Washington, DC

Hours of Operation: Mon. – Thurs.            12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Fri. – Sat.  12:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sun.  12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.

Best time to visit: Happy Hour; Weekends

Yes, it is odd to see a motorcycle-themed bar attracting a vaguely-Yuppie clientele, but a good happy hour crosses all boundaries of class, style, and fashion.

The newly-opened Iron Horse Taproom in downtown DC may still be finding its feet, but it already possesses considerable character and potential.  A ’63 Triumph Thunderbird, restored by the owners, is one of several impressive machines that serve as décor.  These bikes overlook an open space, with a few tables in the corners and counter spaces, in addition to the bar at one side of the room.

The overall use of space is as unusual as the decoration.  The main room is like a dance-floor without dancing.  There are seats – just not very many, compared to the fire-code capacity.  More tables might serve to draw in a larger tired-out-after-work crowd.

However, the downstairs game-area offers additional seating, as does an odd little loft behind the main bar.  This novel space, in a café, would invite poetry readings.  Here, perhaps a book club would be more appropriate – one in which readers could pair up authors with the drinks that killed them.  If you’re planning a meeting outside the office, this is a tea room with something better than tea.

But before describing the beer, there’s that downstairs game room.  An additional bar is surrounded by shuffleboard tables, skee-ball, and other attractions and distractions.  Bored of just the occasional pool table blocking up space in your local tavern?  There’s plenty of room here, and lots of other options.

As for the beer, a nice variety is available, mostly between five and seven dollars per pint.  Since the only proper beer at $5 is Yuengling, it might be worth attending the aforementioned Happy Hour, during which all tap beers cost two dollars less.  Suddenly you can get your Allagash White, Loose Cannon, or Golden Monkey for that same five bucks.

In all, twenty types of refreshment pour from the Iron Horse taps.  In addition to many standards and semi-standards, like Stella Artois and Sierra Nevada, the Dogfish 90-Minute is rightfully considered one of the best examples of a strong IPA.  A snifter after a long day starts the evening off right.

The only thing to keep Happy Hour from the top-echelon of five-o’clock getaways is that there is no kitchen.  While this is clearly a negative, they do not frown on bringing your own chow or ordering in.  But, again, this is where a few more tables would be helpful.

There are enough TVs to entertain without overwhelming, and the high ceilings offer a very different feel than one would normally associate with a “biker bar.”  (To be fair, the bikes seem to outnumber the stereotypical bikers.)  The lasting impression is that this young bar is still looking for its crowd and exact personality.  But lots of space, games, good specials, and a nice beer selection are all good starting points.

Pros: Unique atmosphere; lots of space; good selection; good specials; games-a-plenty.

Cons: No food; limited seats.

Rating: 3.5/5