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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thing 24: Trusty's

I strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue early Thursday evening, leaving work and heading Southeast towards the Anacostia. Past 8th Street and Eastern Market, watching the houses get a little smaller and a little shabbier, past the local shops and corner bodegas, past parents strolling with their children on bicycles. Around 12th Street I crossed the street and started strolling on the wide median that was covered in new, bright green grass and lined with trees blooming small pink and white buds. The air was fresh and cool from the afternoon's April shower. I continued under this blooming canopy down past Potomac Ave and then another block until I reached Trusty's. It's just a small storefront, with four small tables on the sidewalk and a large orange sign announcing "Trusty's" and "Full Service."

Brought to you by the people who own the Pourhouse, Trusty's Full Serve Bar is a small neighborhood joint designed to invoke a service station. A large road map of the United States lines the wall in front of the bar and vintage license plates and road signs fill the walls. The bar itself consists of one room, with a couple tall tables in the front window, a bar lined with stools, and about ten larger tables in the back. Trusty's supports the Nationals...obviously.A large chalkboard on the back wall wishes luck to the Nats in large letters and decorated with pastel fireworks. TVs on the walls broadcast the Nats. Located walking distance from RFK, this bar roots for the home team and serves game day drink specials before, after and during Nats games.

But the best part, oh the very best part, is that each table in the back area is stacked high with games! Connect Four, Parcheesi, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, chess, cards, Jenga, backgammon, Jeopardy. They're all there and they're all free, yours to choose and play at your leisure.

Games, games, games!
I went there on Thursday, with GFL and the Boyfriend. We ordered beers, which arrived in mason jars, and looked over the brief menu. The "kitchen" consists of a deep fryer and a small griddle, each about a foot and a half across, and both located behind the bar. The two guys working that night do everything -- serve the drinks, fry the food and clear the tables. The menu reflects the limited cooking space. Sausages and hot dogs, burgers and grilled cheese, nachos and chili are about the only choices. My party each orders a hot dog or sausage and they come to our table greasy and delicious, with a heap of potato chips.

Trusty's kitchen is, well...there it is.
And now it's time to get down to business. Or rather, get down to playing. It's game time.

Mmmm...half smoke.We start with Chutes and Ladders, which is much preachier than I remember it being. GFL gets caught up in the initial series of chutes, and stays towards the bottom of the board for the majority of the game. The Boyfriend starts out hot on my heels, but a couple of chutes at the end trip him up Chutes. I emerge the triumphant winner.

Tired of getting lectured at about eating too many apples or pulling the cat's tail, we put away Chutes and Ladders and break out the Parcheesi.Parcheesi Trouble is, none of us know how to play. But I used to play when I was seven, so how hard could it be? GFL reads us the rules and we begin to muddle along, moving our elephants and camels slowly across the brightly colored board. About midway through, when it is taking forever, I remember that GFL had said something about moving 20 extra spaces each time you land on and "kill" an opponent's piece. Ah ha! Once we begin employing this rule, the game moves at a more rapid clip.

This also led to one of the funnier incidents of the night. Hoping to win a bonus and move ahead, GFL says, "I really need to kill someone soon!" The uniformed police officer sitting at the bar turns to us and says "I didn't hear that." GFL immediately starts back-tracking, "I mean, I, um, I really need to kill someone in the game. This game...right here...Parcheesi...oh dear." The Boyfriend and I are in stitches.

I won Parcheesi too, by the way.

While we are playing our games, a random man with a laptop sits in a corner and plays some tunes. He wasn't really a DJ, or a least didn't look it and didn't seem to be taking requests. He appeared to be just some guy from the neighborhood, selecting Tribe Called Quest, Ben Folds, Green Day and Bon Jovi from his personal I-tunes play list, whenever he felt like it. GFL, who lives in the neighborhood and frequents the place, assures me that there is always some guy with a laptop playing tunes. Not always that same guy, but always some guy. We then go back to singing along to Ben Folds.

GFL demonstrates her Jenga skills. Sort of.Finally, we order one last beer and break out the Jenga. The Jenga set has already been abused by various drunken parties over the course of its history - the pieces are written on with everything from 'yo mama' jokes to chemical formulas to very dirty commands. I decidedly lose at Jenga, knocking over the tower into GFL's lap.

Trusty's is working hard to be a place for the neighborhood, from its cheap eats to its low frills setting, support for the home team and friendly setting. Thursdays they offer a 15% discount to people from the neighborhood, but it's not all that expensive to start with (the three of us drank and ate well for $40). To the naysayers who think they absolutely cannot travel that far, I say that it is one block from the Potomac Ave metro stop -- closer than a trip to RFK stadium. Trusty's is a great place to relax with a jar of beer, a board game, and some friendly people from the neighborhood.


MonkeyBoy said...

Amen! This is one of the best bars in the city. It doesn't try to be anything it isn't - it's just a watering hole and fantastic for a pre-game drink (or 4). Before games I tend to end up there, and sometimes return for a nightcap and to drown my sorrows when the Nats lose (which, let's be honest, is nearly always).