I went to the brand new Washington, D.C. location of Chicago's famous Billy Goat Tavern this past weekend, and to put it succinctly, I was horrified. For anyone who has been to the legendary Billy Goat Tavern on lower Michigan Avenue in Chicago, where the smell of grease is strong, where every surface is covered with Chicago Tribune clippings, where the Cubs rule, where pictures of goats and Tribune columnists adorn the walls, and where there is no Pepsi (only Coke) and no fries (only chips), the shock of the pristine Starbuck'd location and feel of the D.C. branch of this fine Chicago institution would be too much to bear.
Not only were there chips and Coke on the menu, but there were even White Sox pennants hanging behind the bar and above the condiment station! The White Sox! In the Billy Goat Tavern! That is blasphemous (unless, of course, it is some roundabout way of transferring the Cubs' curse to the White Sox, in which case I'm all for it).
Furthermore, there was a sign welcoming both elephants and donkeys, something that would be unheard of in the Chicago original where, during the Republican convention of 1944 in Chicago, a sign went up proclaiming "No Republicans Allowed." Perhaps this concession is a political necessity in a political city, but it still goes against the grain of the Billy Goat Tavern tradition.
The burgers are identical, though the buns lack the grease-infusion offered by the decades old grill surface in the Michigan Avenue original. And again, there were chips and Coke. That's a slap in the face to tradition.
I think I will be reserving my Billy Goat visits for the Chicago original. This D.C. location has sold out and sold out badly.