Hard Times Cafe (Bethesda)

I had never been to the Hard Times Cafe until Groupon (or one of those sites) sent us there recently. If Groupon commands it, we must go! (Mrs. Me is a bit addicted) We went to the Bethesda/4920 Delray location. Overall, I thought Hard Times was okay-to-good times: nacho ingredients, for example, were fresh and balanced and most of the fresh crunchy chips had coverage, but the cheese was barely warm and unmelted  — why not slap the plate under the broiler for a minute before serving?  Well-cooked burger, okay bun.  Good but unspectacular chili, the Terlingua is supposed to be spicy but…not really?  Love the house-made root beer, both in concept and execution, and well-served by its frosty mug.  Solid beer list.  Hard Times knows its beverages, both adult and G-rated. Fun atmosphere but LOUD, conversation is difficult across the broad wood tables and my voice was shot by the end of dinner.  Will try the wings next time, especially if there on a Wednesday when they are half-price!

If a restaurant is designed to feel like a dive but isn’t really a dive, does it still qualify as a dive?  Quasi-divey HTC scores pretty well on the atmosphere front.  Like the nearly-ex-governator said, I’ll be back.

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5 responses to “Hard Times Cafe (Bethesda)

  1. Would you lump HTC under the category “Chain Restaurants”?

  2. I’m pretty much a “regular” at Bethesda’s Hard Times Cafe. Regarding the nachos, they do shove them under the broiler to melt the cheese, but it sounds like they pulled yours too quickly.

    IMHO the original Texas wings are great – not breaded, flash fried and then finished on the grill after being dipped in a spicy wash – finished with a “shake” of spice – good stuff.

    As for the chili, I also go for the Terlingua Red and usually make it a “four way,” chili over pasta with cheese and raw onions. Tabasco or the house hot sauce added to increase the burn.

  3. Steve: I would call it a local chain. It doesn’t have a particularly chainy feel to me.

    MDBBQF: thanks, will definitely try the wings (and hot sauce on the chili) next time.

  4. The best thing about the Hard Times in Bethesda is that it is literally next door to the trade association for American gastroenterologists. I just find that funny. Hard Times is great. the one in College Park is a classic pre-game stop before going to a UMD game.

  5. Hilarious! Thanks. I can see how HT would be good for pre- (or post-?) game feeding.

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