Bier Magazine
Home » bar reviews, washington d.c.

Bar Review: McFadden’s

Submitted by on June 3, 2010 – 11:17 AMNo Comment
Bookmark and Share

2401 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC

Hours of operation: Mon.  5:30 p.m. – 12.00 a.m.
Tue. 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Wed.  11:30 a.m. – 12.00 a.m.
Thu. – Sat.   11:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sun.   11:30 a.m. – 12.00 a.m.

Best time to visit: Afternoon to early evening

McFadden’s in DC is a palatial oaken pub which has mysteriously sold its soul to the college and corporate gods.  When empty of late-night, cover-paying patrons, it has terrific potential.  It is also then possible to see that the beleaguered bartenders are actually personable and skilled.  Weekends (and many a late weekday night) they may find themselves reduced to simply filling the troughs of trendy club-goers with dubious IDs.

Another brand-name pub-chain, McFadden’s was born in NYC in the seventies, and is currently consuming great locations throughout the US.  Many lush, attractive, and inviting old-style establishments with magnificent wooden interiors and vast bars (sheltering countless, varied taps) have been converted into cover-charging pseudo-dance-club pick-up zones.

And so a philosophical debate ensues.  Is it better for the young folk – eager to simply go out, get trashed, be loud, and wake up somewhere unexpected – to have the experience of a visit to a beautiful pub with excellent beer, in the hopes that eventually they will realize that this is the appeal?

Or should these testaments to great pub architecture be reserved for the reserved, so to speak; to provide the needed escape from reality that true bar denizens require, a mellow fantasy setting in which to appreciate the good things: beer, titillating conversation, the wisdom of bartenders.

A strobe-lit dance floor, a drum machine, and five cases of Silver Bullet would certainly suffice for many of McFadden’s patrons, but the swine here come to the pearls, and it remains to be seen if they develop a taste for fine jewelry.

The huge spaces that comprise the capital city McFadden’s offer endless possibilities, and plenty of quality draught beers.  (Some varying, some standards from here and abroad, occasional micros.)  Maybe it is enough, then, that a few hours each weekday offer free admission to a quiet, Escheresque watering hole, where there are bar stools enough for the intellectuals, the artistes, the businessmen, and the interns to all turn out and reflect on their respective lots.  Maybe this introspective atmosphere can osmotically influence the late-night revelers.

There are specials every night, and many are there to entice those young folk to come early – only rarely does the Happy Hour special involve one of the many quality craft brews that are so readily available, yet only sporadically served after 8 p.m.  It becomes necessary to wait at the door for opening time, enjoy this cathedral of ales and lagers, quaff the finest brews available, and then sneak out home.  This is a bar that may be a super hang-out spot, but anyone over thirty is better off coming early and leaving before the screaming masses roll in.

Pros: Beautiful establishment; good beer selection; quality staff

Cons: Invites entirely the wrong crowd for such a space

Rating: 2.5/5