The Guards is like Harvey Dent from Batman. One side isn't bad to look at by a long shot, but the other side just makes me want to look away.
The upstairs kind of feels like you've snuck into an adult dinner party as a kid, but the adults don't mind and let you stay. The upstairs bar manages to avoid the georgetown college crowd. People in the bar aren't just post-college, they're established in their careers. It's like partying with that one friend of your parents who gets a little too sloshed at the holiday party.
The Guards is definitely not a dive. The place has class without being pretentious. The drinks aren't cheap, but you also have to remember you are in Georgetown. The glasses are nice, they offer top shelf liquor, and the wooden bar stools have a distinctive shape that suggests it's something more than your average bar serving American food. It has a saloon-esque feel with pub-like qualities. Middle-aged bartenders dressed in all black polish glasses as they great you. They're attentive, willing to stop and chat, and as long as your respect the bar (read: don't be sloppy), they'll respect you.
The downstairs is where The Guards does an about-face. The area turns into a dance party on weekends, where DJs spin primarily tunes from the '80s. If you were wondering where all the college kids were, this is where you'll find them, drunk as anything and ready to sing along to anything, badly. They're sweaty, they're gyrating, and they'll make you want to immediately turn around and go back upstairs. Unless, of course that's your thing.
By all means, if you're looking for an all-out slopfest of a dance party, clop down those stairs and enter in the fray. But if you're looking for a subdued evening with a nice feel, stick to the upstairs, and the only thing getting hit on will be your credit card.
2915 M St. NW, Washington, D.C.
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