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Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.

A regional gem: Hard Times Cafe

Affordable food. Friendly service. And cold beer.

What’s not to love?

We’ve enjoyed Hard Times Cafe since 2001: When we worked in Rosslyn, we used to stop at the one in Clarendon after work, then years later the Fairfax store opened around the corner from our then-new neighborhood, and that made for a nice welcome.

Often after a busy Saturday of errands and yard work, we’ll stop in for wings and chili. Our faves: the chili lime boneless wings and the Terlingua Red chili. Also not to be missed: the vegetarian chili, which is truly masterful. (Have a nut allergy? Take a pass on this chili. It has peanuts.)

Don’t live in Arlington? Not in Fairfax? Don’t worry, Hard Times Cafe has 16 locations in the D.C. metro area. You can find them here.

In Fairfax
Where: 4069 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703.267.9520

E-mail: fairfax@hardtimes.com

Hours: 11 a.m. until 1 a.m.
Sports Cue closes at 2 a.m.

On Google Maps:

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here

‘A Plea to Michael’s Maid’ on Doorknobs & BodyPaint

I’m so happy to report my short “A Plea to Michael’s Maid” won first place in the Doorknobs contest at Doorknobs & BodyPaint. Check it out here.

The story had to be about a saint and the miracles they call for. The Doorknobs contest had the following restraints, er, guidelines:

1. Maximum length: 250 words.
2. The sub-theme is: miraculous.
3. The year is: 1943.
4. Within the story, this text must be used: exceptional deeds.

The hoops were especially daunting this round, and I wasn’t sure I was going to enter. But inspiration struck over pizza and beer the night before the contest deadline. What saints did I know? Was Teresa a saint yet? Wait, I knew a saint! I’d write about Joan of Arc! Of course!

As a kid, I was fascinated by the story of St. Joan of Arc, the girl captain who led France to several victories during the Hundred Years’ War. I can’t tell you when I first heard or read about her: Saints and their miracles, for the most part, were lost in my Protestant upbringing, but as an eager reader in fourth and fifth grades, I learned as much as I could about her through young-adult fiction, dusty biographies, home’s World Book and the library’s Encyclopedia Britannica. For a fifth-grade history project, I made a presentation dressed up as the Maid, complete with a sword and breastplate made out of cardboard and Reynolds Wrap. Somewhere in my basement, or perhaps in my parents’ attic, is a black-and-white photograph of a gap-toothed me — in full homemade armor — looking every bit as distressed and frustrated as a 10-year-old wannabe warrior could look when she finds out that she’s not nearly as cool as her favorite heroine.

Skipping forward 30 years, a sausage slice and a refreshing Kölsch helped me remember a saint, now I just had to figure out what to do in 1943. Joan was the patron saint of the French army, so I’d write about a French soldier in 1943.

“The French were getting their asses kicked then,” my husband, the historian, reminded me.

Even better. All the more reason for St. Joan to call for a miracle.

And so she did. And you can read all about it here.

Eat it up at EatBar

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nowhere from Here is now defunct.

Over at Nowhere From Here Forks and the Road, which is starting to look slightly less neglected,By J. Barrineau I begin babbling about Northern Virginia restaurants with EatBar in Arlington. It’s one of my all-time favorite restaurants, and I’m sad to say that I don’t get there nearly enough. The small-plate menu is always interesting, so much so that if you’re on a first date, you can relax — the menu can easily inspire conversation.

Read my whole review here.

EatBar on Facebook: Here

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here

(Photo by J. Barrineau)

More on beer and fried pickles

Over at Forks and the Road, my woefully neglected travel blog,By J. Barrineau I yammer on about the Outer Banks Brewing Station, one of my most favorite establishments in the world. (Seriously, I’m not just kissing up.) They’ve got great beer, a nice menu and nicer folks, so if you’re ever in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., you should check them out.

They also have a full entertainment calendar featuring such acts as The Influence, which will be performing Nov. 19-20.

Recommendations: Lemon Wheatgrass Beer or the Olsch.

Where: MP 8.5, 600 South Croatan Highway
Kill Devil Hills, NC
On Google Maps: Here

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m., seven days a week

Phone: 252.449.2739 (BREW)

Outer Banks Brewing Station on Facebook: Here

On Yelp: Here

On foursquare: Here

On Gowalla: Here

(Photo by J. Barrineau)