Where to Drink Right Now: Finnegan's on Willow
In many ways, a bar is a bar is a bar. We all head out to taverns looking for the same things: Well-priced drinks mixed or poured by a pro, a snack or perhaps a full meal, music, friendly folks, and good service. It's not a complex equation; the complexity comes in when you try to figure out why one bar hits and one misses when they both seem to have the basics covered.
Finnegan's, located between Seventh and Eighth Streets on Willow Avenue, takes over from Rogo's. If you'd never been to Rogo's you were in illustrious company that must have included most of the city. One of the problems Rogo's had was a lack of identity: They did nothing wrong, really, but they weren't a memorable spot for a pint and a snack.
The Irish Have Landed
Now, an Irish Pub is not exactly a revolutionary idea for a bar, but Finnegan's, now firmly installed in the old Rogo's space, comes by it honestly, as owner Eoin Finnegan named the place after himself. The bar has a good beer selection and a good menu, featuring a few touches of Irish cuisine, including the old favorites Shepherd's Pie and Bangers and Mash, as well as pizzas, hamburgers, and chicken wings that come in a surprisingly large number of flavors, and which are very fresh and delicious.
So, they've got the basics down. It's also been refreshed from the Rogo's days, and is now a bright and cheerful place where the music's not too loud and the pool table in the back beckons. Overall, if you're on the bus home at night or live nearby, stopping into Finnegan's for a nightcap or to meet some friends is a great idea.
What sets Finnegan's apart, however, is the service. You won't have any trouble getting served in this place – in fact, after the third or fourth person checks to make sure you have everything you need or want, you might even wish they'd be a little less interested in making you happy. It's one of those places where you can tell they're very dedicated to ensuring you enjoy yourself in their bar, and that makes it a lot more fun to hang out in.
The bartenders (the owner himself can be found back there some nights) make an effort to get to know your order if you come in a few times, and are that ideal balance between friendly and chatty and overly intrusive. I like it when the bartender pretends to care if you live or die, but I hate it when that turns into someone talking to you all night while you're trying to hang out with friends. So far the folks at Finnegan's are doing it right.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a relaxed, quieter spot off of Washington, check out Finnegan's. They don't have any gimmicks to blow you away, but it's a great place to have a drink. And sometimes that's all you need.