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For hoodie and Timberland-sporting hiphop heads, Republic Gardens is anathema. The place has a dress code and image-obsessed patrons—and you’ll never hear Company Flow. While its neighbor, State of the Union, is the choice of most underground denizens, Republic Gardens is inhabited by Howard grads working at engineering firms or advertising companies. Though I hardly count myself part of the bourgeoisie, the fact is that I just can’t front on Republic Gardens, a club that offers free drinks, a complimentary buffet, and a healthy bit of eye candy. Even if you ritually rock a backpack, sweats, and jerseys in the club with Redman blaring in your Walkman, Republic Gardens’ lethal combination of jerk chicken and cocktails will make you a believer. I’m an advocate of throwing some Black Star in the DJ mix. But quite frankly, I’m an even bigger advocate of free food and free vodka. Skip the debate with your friends over Mos Def’s latest album for just one evening and come floss drunkenly at Republic Gardens’ Lounge Thursdays. At 5 p.m. at Republic Gardens, 1355 U. St. NW. $5. (202) 232-2710. (Ta-Nehisi Coates)