As you drive down Baltimore Avenue in Hyattsville you might notice the new development of town houses bringing in younger and older families, couples, and college students. With this new development comes a sort of higher class strip-mall type place. In my opinion one of the better if not best additions in the city, BusBoys & Poets. This restaurant really has that night time poetry jam, stand-up comedy, even during the day. It's “the fourth area location for the chain, founded by Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist, and restaurateur.” As stated by the Busboys & Poets webpage.
From the outside, the building it looks like your run-of-the-mill decent restaurant, however once you enter you see that it's not what you thought: it's better. Part restaurant, part watering hole, part performance space, part club, BusBoys manages to easily do it all and it’s a breath of fresh air in Hyattsville.
The atmosphere is great, it works as a club setting (both party or otherwise) and as a nice hangout ideal for working on school assignments, business work, or just a nice escape from the daily grind. It draws a cool mix of folks; students, businessmen, moms and older couples. Some evenings, there’s a video playing on the large back wall and if you listen hard enough, you might hear a favorite song coming from the sound system. That’s because the sounds of laughter and conversation will drown out the music. With its comfy chairs and tables and eclectic atmosphere, Bus Boys is that happening place where everyone wants to be.
Now this past week I had the chance to go to a Neo Groove concert held as one of the events at Busboys. Not really knowing much about how busboys ran their events I was slightly nervous. Once I got in the building they asked if I was there for the concert then delightfully pointed me towards the back of the building where a stage, dining hall, and bar were stationed. After I paid my 8 dollars they informed my Friend and I that the seating for that night was fair game so naturally being shy teenagers we sat in the very back. The show didn’t start at the 10 ‘o’ clock mark as it stated on the webpage, beginning closer to 10:15 or 10:30. But once the show did start it didn’t stop, the sound, while a bit on the loud side was perfect even in the back, and the servers that night emits all of the noise and confusion brought our food in a timely manner. All in all it was an amazing experience and one I hope to have again.
The menu is vast in its offerings and pretty awesome in its execution. You have the choice of pizza, sandwiches, hot paninis, of course burgers, fish, soups, and salads. To start, I ordered the chicken quesadilla appetizer with mixed peppers, caramelized onions and jack cheese served with guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream. My favorite was the Poet Pizza, with zesty mozzarella, portobello, and spicy red peppers on a tough and chewy whole wheat served with a choice of sides. Who knew healthy could be so good. Their Chicken Salad Sandwich is also no exception to this reputation of good and healthy food, served with chicken mixed in with apple pieces, raisins, and walnuts, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on Challah bread.
Now times are tough and many people want quality food without the price. My entire meal came in at a reasonable $30. Going here won't break the bank and you definitely get more bang for your buck. With their generous portions, there may even be leftovers!
Service is a mixed bag of sorts. While going on Halloween, many of the waiters pranced around in costumes with smiles on their faces, telling jokes and other sorts of entertainment. But my server was a different story. While he wasn't mean and nasty he did seem to have a Scrooge-like attitude at times. It was as if previously had someone told him off and he was trying to get over it. Nevertheless, he was patient and friendly enough.
BusBoys & Poets is a great addition to the Hyattsville community. Drawing people from all walks and offering good solid food and a thoughtful, eclectic cultural mix, it’s a place to visit again and again. I certainly plan to tackle an Open Mic Night. Perhaps we’ll run into each other that evening when I step up to perform.