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The Front Page

Submitted by on April 1, 2010 – 10:20 AMNo Comment
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1333 New Hampshire Ave.
Washington, DC
202.296.6500
http://www.frontpagerestaurant.com/

Hours of Operation: Mon. – Thurs.  11:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Fri.  11:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sat.  11:00 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.
Sun.   10:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

Best time to visit: Happy Hour

A sprawling restaurant with two big bar areas, The Front Page has one of DC’s more renowned happy hours.  This estimation is no doubt propagated by fans of food rather than beer, as it is the half-price appetizers that offer the big draw.  Of ten good tap beers, only Yuengling is available at a super-bargain $2.75 per pint.

As Bass, Hoegaarden, and Leffe Blonde are among the other available draughts, it is wise to have one or two of those quality brews first, then get your savings on the back side with a Yuengling or three.

The Front Page opens onto New Hampshire Avenue on one side and 19th Street on the other.  The bars at either end of the restaurant are laid out differently: towards the New Hampshire side is a smaller bar fronted with tall chairs and a scattering of tables, while by 19th you’ll find more of a public house “in the round” set-up.  But while the arrangements are different, the atmosphere is usually the same.

Both vary greatly depending on the time of your visit.  The young, hip, off-to-a-club-later crowd squeeze in on Thursday and Friday evenings.  The dinner-and-a-drink folks trickle in over the course of Happy Hour.  Random elements – mostly of the young, professional mold – may be found any given night.

For a mellow time and more reliable service, come early to beat the swarms.  A group at a leisurely pace may find space to relax in the vast dining area.  For individuals or couple, seats at the bar are recommended, if you wish to avoid getting lost as the place fills up.  If you’re there alone, perhaps saving a space for your working-stiff friends, there are plenty of newspapers to read – framed ‘Front Pages’ (apropos!) of everything from the Washington Post to the Weekly World News adorn the walls.

Despite the reputation of Happy Hour, reviews of the food are mixed.  There is inconsistency, but there are appetizer choices which are both reliable and unique.  Beyond the wings and calamari, there are tater tots smothered with pulled-pork et al, fish or chicken tacos, crab cakes, and more, including combo-plates.

But be forewarned: if your server recommends the Jalapeño Poppers – stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon – do not expect the usual mild pepper with a twist.  These are meant for professional fire-eaters only.  They ought to come with a warning and three gallons of ice water, but, alas, do not.  Ask for some bleu cheese dressing to accompany the salsa they supply, or risk permanent lip and tongue damage.

If not the food, then the very size of the place is its main recommendation.  If you get out of work on the early side and want to find a seat somewhere, a bigger place naturally has better odds.  But the longer you wait, the lower your chances.  The Front Page makes a good second option, if your first choice is small and filled to capacity.  But have a third option, maybe someplace more obscure but more consistent.

Pros: Cheap appetizers; a few good tap beers; hip, young crowd.

Cons: Hit-or-miss food; limited beer specials; hip, young crowd.

Rating: 3/5