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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Route One: A Travelogue of Sorts


Driving down Route One from College Park to the District is not the most scenic of journeys.
The landscape mostly consists of suburban sprawl- even when you cross into the city. Not much changes except for the names of the road, but there are places to fortify your soul for this journey.

Anyone who attended the University of Maryland since 1950 may or may not remember wandering into the lounge side of Town Hall Liquors.  Here Route One is Baltimore Avenue, and last week brought me back to this place- now an outstanding landmark for me because all of the other watering holes I knew-the Varsity Grill, Italian Gardens and even the Rendezvous are gone.

Town Hall has a slightly scary feel from the outside, but the inside remains virtually unchanged since visits during my college career in the late 1970s. Dead animal heads and aquatic type trophies still decorate the walls. The booths look original as does the vomit proof concrete floor. It can basically be described as a drinking bunker with pool and pinball.  And prices couldn't be more reasonable with or without happy hour specials. (One hand written poster proclaimed: Knob Creek $3 on Wednesdays!) There is no way to further describe this place without resorting towards ugly, but it's a mooring to the past where you can dock yourself at the bar and hoist one to the Terrapin.

A little less than three miles down the road, Franklin's Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville is now a favorite for those in need of fresh beer and decent grub. With one foot in the past, the building dates back to the 1890s, but slightly ahead of its time, Franklin's began producing its own beer and good food in 2002.  The recipes are a success. Happy hour is every day from 4-6, but towards the week's end, evenings are generally PACKED with very happy patrons- families and students alike. Although the beer menu changes according to what's being brewed-the quality does not.

If you have a driver, from Franklin's you have to jog back north just a bit on Route One to the first right which gets you onto Route One Alternate South or Bladensburg Road. ( I told you you'd need a driver now.) Our next stop- again only about 3 miles- is DC Brau  one of only two breweries located within the confines of the District of Columbia. This is not a pub, but the brewery is open for tours, tastings and growler fillings most Saturdays usually from 1-4. It's a bit hard to find- but their website shows the secret passage to get you behind the post office. The beer is DC centric- owned by DC guys with DC pride- and it's a dang good potation on top of all that.

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