Best of D.C. 2017 Staff Picks: Bars and beer

Best bar to unexpectedly make friends
Big Chief
2002 Fenwick St. NE
There’s something about Big Chief, the cavernous New Orleans-themed bar in Ivy City. Maybe it’s that the warehouse-like space is so massive (7,000 square feet!) that it rarely feels annoyingly crowded. Maybe it’s the cheap tallboys — or the fact that most people come in having already imbibed at one of Ivy City’s distilleries. Whatever the case, if you start playing one of the games at Big Chief’s back bar, you WILL make friends. This is no place for quiet conversation or avoiding eye contact with other patrons — this place is for arguing loudly over the rules of pingpong with a total stranger. You’ll likely get challenged playing a giant version of Connect Four while you’re there (please don’t play against me; I will absolutely lose). Once, an absolute angel tried to help me hold up a basketball player-size Jenga tower when I was nearing defeat. You can keep your $14-a-cocktail spots — I’d rather have a place that applauds when a giant Jenga tower comes crashing down around me. Lori McCue