Hard Times Cafe

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Hard Times CafeHard Times Cafe
8 Ratings
Hard Times CafeHard Times Cafe

Type: Bar, Eatery

1404 King St
Alexandria, Virginia, 22314-2715
United States

(703) 837-0050 | map

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Added by 99bottles

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Ratings: 8 |  Reviews: 5
Photo of VABA
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

Photo of wisrarebeer
4.34/5  rDev +17.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I've been coming to the original Hard Times for over 25 years and it's always on my list when I visit DC. Beer selection is decent (I remember the days when they had Old Foghorn on tap) and includes Heavy Seas Peg Leg, Sierra Nevada PA, and others but nothing crazy. Food is their mainstay with great burgers, wings, chili, etc. Service has always been stellar and their nightly specials are incredibly reasonable for DC.

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Photo of Iamjeff6
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of Storning
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%

Photo of francisweizen
3.58/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

A solid spot on historic King street in beautiful downtown/old town Alexandria. Atmosphere is nice. Dark wood with a fair number of booths lining the floor. Service is pretty decent, the chili is pretty darn good and the beer selection iskinda boring but features some dfh, old dominiion, etc. Not the best place in Alexandria but good for the old town/downtown area. For people exploring on foot, the main Alexandria King Street Metro station is only a few blocks away and makes for a nice walk on a chilly December evening.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4

Hard Times Cafe is tucked up on the west end of King Street, away from the hustle and bustle of the heart of Old Town. You'll probably be able to find on-street parking without difficulty on a Saturday night.

There are about 15 booths on the main floor, with a small bar/overflow area in the back. There is an upstairs area as well with additional seating. All aged, oak wood, the place has seen its fair share of patrons come and go over the years. Texas twang plays from the overhead speakers, and the wall decor is in the same vein.

The emphasis here is on chili: Texas, Cincinnati, and Vegetarian, done up 3, 4, or 5 way. This basically means over noodles, with cheese, with onions, with beans. They also offer an array of salads, burgers, and chicken dishes. Everything is good, decent sized portions, but not so huge as to leave you leftovers for another day.

The prices are extremely reasonable for the area, with chili starting at about $6 going up to about $8 for a 5-way.

Their beer selections have changed over time and not for the better, and my 2.5 for "Selection" is based solely on the beer choices. On our recent visit, they had DFH Indian Brown, Sam Adams lager/seasonal, Shiner Bock, Hard Times Ale, Bud, Bud Light, and Lite. There were a few other choices, but not overly distinctive.

They are kid friendly and high chairs are available. Hard Times is a good, affordable destination when in Old Town, but don't come only for the beer as there are better establishments in the area. The food is solid and filling, you'll be able to talk with the people at your table without difficulty, and you'll have money left over to visit another place later in the night.

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Photo of TinusTime
3.95/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Used to go here all the time when I lived up in Alexandria. Stopped back for Lunch while visiting my pops up there. Same as it was 10 years ago (which is a good thing). Smaller than some of the other Hard Times. Dimly lit. On draft I saw DFH 60, SNPA the two Hard Times beers( brewed by Old Dominion) cant remember the rest as I settled on a 60min. The service is ok. Nothing bad nothing outstanding. The food is good although I hate their chili. Sorry, Texas chili is not made with ground beef. However the burger is killer and so are the onion rings. Over it all it was nice to see that you can go back again. A pleasent place to have an inexpensive lunch or dinner throw down a couple of decent beers and just hang out.

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Photo of 99bottles
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

This is a little hole in the wall chili joint located in Old Town Alexandria. It's not really a hole in the wall, but it tries to be with small dimly lit booths and cowboy posters lining the walls. The surprise here- they have some decent beers.

If you walk to the back of the restaurant, there is a small bar to the left with about a half dozen seats and some more barstools not directly at the bar. They have a nice tap selection for such a small restaurant, and while I was there they had Victory HopDevil, DFH 60 minute and Shelter PA, Widmer Hefe, SNPA, Yuengling Lager, Shiner Bock, a DeGroens, I forget a couple, and their own house brews Hard Times Lager and Hard Times Brown Ale, both apparently contract brewed for them by Old Dominion. The bottles were mostly imported macros like Amstel Light and Heninken, so I stayed away.

The food is really the reason to come to this place, and as they advertise, they have really excellent chili ( I had the Texas, but I tried the Cincinatti and found it to be a little too sweet and cinammon-flavored). The salads and other meals are very large portions, and the prices are very reasonable, especially considering the location. I'd certainly go back if I ever make it down there again.

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Hard Times Cafe in Alexandria, VA
Place rating: 3.69 out of 5 with 8 ratings