Bar Review: The Looking Glass Lounge
Atmosphere: 8/10 – Good dive bar without attracting the faux-dive crowd.
The Looking Glass Lounge is owned by the same people who brought Wonderland Ballroom to Columbia Heights, and while the two bars share the same bar staff and events (comedy shows, DJs, and trivia), thankfully they do not share the same crowd — at least not yet. The Looking Glass has the similar feel that Wonderland had the first time I went there in 2006 — a good local spot that is great to grab a beer after work and not usually overrun by people.
The bar has two floors: the first floor has the main bar and seating area, and the basement has a small bar, small inside seating area and a nice outside seating area. The main floor has saloon style old paintings on the wall, dive-bar-ish dim lighting in the back seating area, an old jukebox (not a internet-enabled crappy one) with a good mix of older music, and plenty of booths.
The largest crowds tend to show up for trivia night (Tuesdays, starts at 8, winners get $60 off their tab, best name gets $15 off, and if its raining be sure to sit at the back of the bar, so I can hopefully get a dry seat at the front…) and on the weekends starting around 11pm. Aside from a few bar flies, the weekend crowd seems fairly migratory and quickly moves on to either another bar in the area (perhaps, they are looking for the Wonderland crowd and are disappointed) or home. Perhaps most importantly, I have yet to see a baby here! I’m sure it’s a matter of time, but I’ve found the need to dodge strollers, babies, and little children at the other bars in the area — Wonderland, Meridian Pint, and Red Derby. Babies should not be in a bar because THEY ARE FUCKING UNDERAGE!!! And if you are going to let them in a bar with a small food menu, at least don’t allow them in after 7pm.
It is usually not hard to find a stool at either the main floor or basement bar area, a seat at one of the booths on the top floor, or a bench in the outside area. A nice advantage that the Looking Glass Lounge has over Wonderland is that it boasts a TV over the upstairs bar. Even if the TV appears slightly out of place, it still affords bar patrons a sports update and distraction while waiting on others to join them.
Beer/Drinks: 6/10 – Good, small selection of non-macros on tap but needs more rotation.
The beer list is limited, and the taps rotate as infrequently as Mercury rotates around the Sun. Currently, the taps are:
- Brooklyn Brown Ale (Had one last night. Good beer but has been on tap here since 2009. Bar keep said it’s about to be rotated off but couldn’t say what was coming on.)
- Blue Point Toasted Lager (Had two last night. Tasty lager.)
- Loose Cannon IPA
- Some Strawberry Wheat Beer
- Shintern’s #2 Pretentious Beer aka Stella Artios
- Flying Dog Hefeweizen
The bottled beers:
- Miller Lite
- High Life
- Wild Blue Blue Berry Lager
- Sam Smith Organic Cider
- Delirium Tremens
- Natty Bo
They also have liquor and two combo offers: Regular Combo of Natty Bo and Beam for $5 and Gentleman’s Combo of Yuengling and a better whiskey (Jame-o I think).
Food: 7/10 – Typical bar food but offer more than just fried goods. Fries are usually fantastic (garlic and bay seasoning offered)
After a short hiatus, their food menu has returned to some of its old glory. For a while, the bar downsized their menu to essentially just fried foods, but they have returned to offering burgers and other items. The quesadillas are pretty solid, but need to be accompanied with some good ol’ bay fries.
Overall: 7/10 – Good food, good atmosphere, good beer but could use a “guest/rotating” tap to highlight various beers. Dangerous that it’s between the Metro and my house…
The Looking Glass Lounge
3634 Georgia Ave NW
Washington DC, 20010
Open daily at 5pm and closes Sun-Thur at 2am, Fri & Sat at 3am