Television Free Europe(an Bars)

The New York Times ran an interesting article last weekend; writer Glen Collins sought out bars and taverns in Gotham without televisions. This interesting idea got GM thinking, what bars and taverns in Georgetown are T.V.-free? The answer: not many.

The Times article laments the social loss that accompanies a bar with a TV. Collins quotes a bar-keep:


“Not having television — that’s the pure bar environment, where conversation is most important,” said Danny McDonald, 43, co-owner of the lounge, at 34 East Fourth Street in NoHo. “We’ve never had a television because we wanted to inspire something that is close to the conviviality of pubs in Ireland.”

He shook his head. “And now even pubs over there are putting in TVs.”


GM agrees that as they do at home, TVs do in bars, namely give people a reason not to talk to each other. (It’s a fair counterargument, however, that sports give people a common topic to talk about, like the weather. But then all you end up talking about is sports).

So what bars and taverns in Georgetown are TV-free? The only ones GM could think of are:

  • Cafe Bonaparte
  • Bistrot Lepic’s Wine Bar
  • Mate

What’s the common theme? European. (Ok, Mate is technically a South American-sushi fusion place,  but most people would call that place pretty damn Euro). All the tradition “pubby” places like Martin’s Tavern and Nathans have one or more television (although Martin’s is now hiding theirs behind a one-way mirror, so that almost counts).

Certainly there are restaurants that happen to have bars and those bars don’t have a television (e.g. Hook) but GM doesn’t think of those primarily as “bar” establishments (GM’s treating Bistrot Lepic’s wine bar as separate from the main restaurant).

Are there any others that GM missed? Do you prefer a TV-free bar or do you like the background noise of a TV?



Filed under Bars

4 responses to “Television Free Europe(an Bars)

  1. The Saloon on U Street hasn’t a TV or loud music, why can’t there be more bars like that?

  2. We don’t have cable, which pretty much means our TV doesn’t work. That’s why I vote for having a nice local bar with a TV, as long it is not too loud. That’s the whole point of a neighborhood bar … a meeting place/extension of living room when one can have a jar and catch up on gossip, news, sports and special events.

  3. J. MacLeod

    Having a TV isn’t the problem – it’s what the establishment does with it… Aside from too loud music, the volume turned up too load on a bar TV is highly annoying! Having the news or a Presidential debate or address on at a bar is pure joy for me! I have rarely shared more comradery with strangers at a bar than when watching a debate or the State of the Union speech.
    GM – could you put spell check on your site?

  4. GM

    I normally do spell check my posts. Am I missing some errors?

    I can see your point on the TVs, but its nice to have at least some places that are TV-free. In the case of Cafe Bonaparte, I just don’t think it would feel the same with a TV in it. Even if it were muted, it still would be casting a bright harsh light in a dark mood-lit space. It’d be impossible to take your eyes of it.

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