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“Great venue and service.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Birchmere

The Birchmere
3701 Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305
1-703-549-7500
Website
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Ranked #12 of 39 Attractions in Alexandria
Type: Bar/ Clubs, Performances
Activities: Nightlife
Attraction Details
Franconia, Virginia
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Great venue and service.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2013

Came here for an emmet swimming concert on a SAT. I had never been here before so didn't know what to expect. About half the crowd was somewhat late arriving but filled up by gametime. It's interestingly decorated and nicer and cleaner than I was expecting for such an old venue. You basically muster in a bar area with high bar tables or and adjacent 8 person table area that is like cafeteria seating. It was a 90's band so there was a mix between 40-50s and younger crowd. Surprising number of kids running around for a band. It wasn't that loud (for a band) but still seemed a little loud for elementary school kids.

They have Bass on tap and let you run a tab with CC. Pint was about $6 and pitchers $20 which seemed pretty decent for DC area and a concert scene. Bar service was pretty quick. Only have nachos at the bar until 6PM. They give you a numbered ticket when you check in. I got there at 5:30 and was #42 at which point the center section was pretty full but elevated both sides where completely empty all the way to the front. Sitting up front wasn't overwhelmingly loud like it can be at most concerts but may be dependant on the band.

Some of my party was late but saving 2 seats wasn't a problem at all and when they arrived, they just texted and I brought their tix out to the bar. Only thing I wasn't crazy about was that they take the whole ticket and I like to keep the stub for a souvenir.

Service was quick and on point all night. After seeing some of the reviews I was a little worried that if I didn't order dinner right away, I could be waiting for hours. Got the catfish with red beans & rice it came out piping hot in maybe 10 min so it wasn't prepared way ahead of time. Even though 500 people are ordering pretty much at once, the kitchen seems to have this down pat. I was very impressed. Catfish was pretty decent. The servers seem to be able to move through the aisles and keep your beer filled and dishes bused even during the show. Probably still a good idea to get pitchers so it's easier for them to keep track of how fast your table is drinking.

Afterward you can have a post game beer in the bar and get a CD/Tshirt etc in the gift shop.

The place is a little isolated so I was a little concerned about getting a cab afterward but there were several cruising by along Mount Vernon and I had one within 10-15 min without too much problem.

Overall it was a nice experience and I'm a little embarassed that I haven't made it here in the last 20 years. I'll be looking for an excuse to come back.

Visited June 2013
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181 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Arlington, Virginia
Top Contributor
95 reviews 95 reviews
48 attraction reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Exellent Sound and Site”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

I have been seeing shows at the various Birchmere locations for over 30 years. The Birchmere started as a bluegrass only club located in Shirlington back in the 70s. Upon moving to its first Mt. Vernon Avenue location, the owners began to expand on the genres of music the Birchmere presented. When the Birchmere moved to its current location in the 90s, the transformation into one of the DC's area best music venues was complete.

Recently, I have been to shows by Bruce Robison & Kelly WIllis in main concert room and Todd Snider and Elizabeth Cook in bar/flex stage area. First, the Birchmere's good qualities. Both rooms are relatively small, so the sightlines are great and you feel close to the performers. The sound system in the main concert room is excellent, maybe the best in the area, and the flex stage sound is very good. The Birchmere has a reputation for treating performers quite well and the audiences are usually attentive, so most performers seem to love playing there. Also, the wait staff is usually quite good and quick, which is somehwat surprising given the size of the crowds and the rush when the main stage doors open at 6:00.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of things about the Birchmere that preclude me from giving it a 5 star review. First, is the first come, first serve general admission seating arrangement. It can be quite frustrating when you buy tickets, often at over $50 each, for a show months in advance only to know that you often have to the be at the club prior to its main doors opening at 5:00 pm in order to get a seat near the stage. When the club opens at 5:00, the staff begins giving out line numbers for entering the main stage room when its doors open at 6:00. Most shows at the Birchmere begin at 7:30 and the staff usually stops allowing the saving of seats around 7:00 when a show is sold out. Second, the food is exremely average to not very good, but this somewhat understandable seeing the kitchen often has to prepare 400-500 meals within an hour of the main stage doors opening at 6:00.

Some additional notes...If you like to have a few adult beverages during a show and need a way home, public transit service to/from the Birchmere consists of only a couple of bus routes. So, plan on having a designated driver or taking a cab. Finally, a word about ticket prices at the Birchmere. Many shows have ticket prices of over $50 after service charges and some shows are over $100. Often this seems quite pricey, but there are few other venues that give you the chance to see performers such as B.B. King, Merle Haggard and Lyle Lovett in such an intimate setting with such great sound.

Visited June 2013
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Elkins, West Virginia
1 review
“I haven't been there in years.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2013

The last time I was there was back in the early 80s before I joined the military. The place was great back then I used to go to see Ricky Skaggs and the Whites back then.

Visited July 2012
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Radford, Virginia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Concert venue”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

Excellent little out of the way venue for a concert, small and intimate. Not a bad seat in the house. You sit at tables, food and drink options, and service, is quite nice. Would definitely return. Saw Beth Hart and she rocked the place!

Visited May 2013
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West Jefferson
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Top Notch Talent”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

What a great place. Top notch "National Acts" found in a local setting. The venue hold several hundred but because there is no reserved seating it just comes down to how badly you want a front row seat and if you are willing to wait in line. You wait in line to buy your ticket and are given a number and then when they begin to let the people in you go and select your seat by the number you were assigned when you purchased you ticket.
The food is good but a little pricy and the selection is adequate.

Visited November 2012
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