D.C. is known for its politics, its historical sites, and the countless amazing (and many free!) museums, but it also has a vibrant and fun bar scene! Much like the community of D.C., the bars reflect a variety of personalities, backgrounds, and vibes. From spots where you can sit down and chat, to themed bars, speakeasies, dancing, and sports bars, D.C. has it all! (And the list continues to grow, so let us know your favorites!) So check out this list of 25 D.C. bars you need to visit at least once in your life:
1. Service Bar
Service Bar, located on the lively U Street, ranked No. 33 on the 2023 list of North America’s 50 Best Bars. It’s noted for its delicious cocktails (try the Italian Bubble Coat!), equally appetizing food, and casual atmosphere! “Since 2016, thirsty patrons have made Service Bar their go-to local in The District for three great reasons: the famous fried chicken, the lively, unpretentious ambiance, and outstanding cocktails delivered at reasonable prices.”
📍926-928 U St NW
Another 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars inclusion is Downtown D.C.’s Allegory coming in at No. 45. Hidden at one of D.C.’s most avant-garde hotels this speakeasy is accessed through a bookshelf in Eaton’s Radical Library. Tell the bartenders at Allegory what your favorite flavors are and they’ll craft you the cocktail of your dreams. Combine that with its stunning art, including civil rights activist Ruby Bridges depicted as Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” character, and you won’t want to leave.
📍1202 K St NW #1
3. Red Derby
If you’re looking for a dive-bar atmosphere with rooftop vibes and affordable drinks, then look no further! Nestled in Columbia Heights, Red Derby is a local favorite for its cheap bar eats (check out Tendie Tuesday!) and infamous $3.50 whiskey and tequila shots, and beer and shot combos. That’s hard to beat!
📍3718 14th St NW
Wet Dog Tavern is special. It’s fun, it’s social, it’s dog-friendly, and it was created for a good cause! In loving memory of their late Golden Retriever puppy Lilly Sophia, the tavern strives to create a community and bring awareness to life-threatening diseases in dogs like the one that took Lilly. They host fundraisers and events to support the community and fund research for these illnesses. Dogs of all ages are seen on its pup-designated front lawn (on occasion, even a leashed kitty!), as people take in beers and cocktails out front, inside, and out back! Add amazing dog decor and it’s the paw-fect bar!
📍2100 Vermont Ave NW
One of the newest additions to the D.C. bar scene, Royal Sands Social Club opened in late 2022! Royal Sands Social Club draws on Florida’s sun, sand, beaches, and pools to bring a Floridian flare to D.C. year-round. With a stunning “swimming pool”-themed bar at the entrance, complete with a DJ booth “lifeguard station,” the space is adorned with faux palm trees and swinging chairs and offers additional entertainment, such as arcade games and a photo booth. But if the aesthetics draw you in, the cocktails will make you stay with tropical favorites like the Frozen Pina Colada alongside new concoctions, such as the Sunny Place For Shady People (Tito’s Vodka, key lime juice, pink coconut foam, Pratt & Standard Pomegranate Grenadine).
📍26 N St SE
If you’re into speakeasies, this is right up your alley and possibly one of the most fun to get to! Located inside Capo Deli, the real part is in the back. Enter the walk-in freezer (Don’t worry, you won’t be pushing through slabs of meat!) and into a dark, glamorous speakeasy! With crystal chandeliers, leather booths, and a small, intimate vibe the only thing that’s better? You can grab a late-night sub on your way out!
📍 715 Florida Ave NW
Old Ebbitt Grill is a D.C. mainstay, filled with history. Founded in 1856 by innkeeper William E. Ebbitt is D.C.’s oldest saloon, having served multiple presidents (including Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt), crafted from heirlooms and antiques from across D.C., and serving a variety of beers, wines, and cocktails (try the Red Manhattan)!
📍 675 15th St NW
Named after the owner’s two grandmothers, both named Nellie, he wanted to honor their warm hospitality by recreating the positive environment these women made at their homes to this bar. In addition to being a gay-friendly sports bar with a renowned drag brunch, while you’re here watching the game, you can snack from their extensive menu and fun cocktail selection. Their “Funsies” items include cheaper drinks like $1 Jell-O shots, $6 ice pops, and $10 slushies. Have a delicious sweet beverage, and enjoy the vibrant ambiance of this lively bar!
📍 900 U St NW
A beloved walk-in ramen shop in D.C.’s Chinatown, it’s reminiscent of an authentic shop you’d find in Japan—quaint and vibrant. Though it’s a ramen shop first, it’s a unique and beloved place to have a drink—with a friend or alone! Sit at the bar, watching the chefs cook while you sip on imported Japanese beers, whiskeys, and sake. Then treat yourself to some mouth-watering Sapporo-style ramen to close out your night!
📍 705 6th St NW
10. Ivy and Coney, Shaw
The go-to bar destination for anyone who can appreciate a no-frills good time. On top of the quality cheap beer, you can also enjoy some of Ivy and Coney’s iconic dishes including their famous hot dogs, Detroit-style pizza, or even classic Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. This is a great space to watch some live sports and have a few drinks with some friends, but it doesn’t take reservations for groups under 20, so be sure that you get there early if you want a table.
📍1537 7th St NW
11. The Pug, Atlast District
As simple as it gets. The Pug is truly the quintessential dive bar of DC with cheap simple drinks in a classic dive ambiance. This local gem right in the heart of the Atlas District perfectly captures some of the local spirit of the city, it’s a rite of passage for all DC residents to stop in for at least a drink.
📍1234 H St NE
12. Lyman’s Tavern, 16th Street Heights
With jukeboxes, pinball machines, and a piano there isn’t many bar experience around DC that can compare with Lyman’s Tavern. This place offers an authentic old-school bar experience complete with a quality food menu and a long list of beers to choose from, definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for something a bit outside your typical dive bar experience.
📍3720 14th St NW
13. The Dew Drop Inn, Edgewood
With great deals on drinks and quality barbecue, if you’re looking for a unique bar experience that won’t break the bankThe Dew Drop Inn is the place for you. We highly suggest trying their famous “Wonder Drop Lager” a beer that was created in partnership with Wonderland Ballroom (another bar from the same ownership group as The Dew Drop Inn) and DC Brau Brewing Co.
📍2801 8th St NE
14. 600 T, Shaw
The speakeasy-style bar famous for having no name, 600 T, is home to high-quality craft cocktails and weekly live music shows. With its upbeat atmosphere and thoughtful staff, this is the perfect place for either a first date or an easygoing night out with friends.
📍600 T St NW
15. Metrobar, Edgewood
Built around a decommissioned metro car that has been refurbished into a fully functioning bar, Metrobar is a massive outdoor cocktail-centered bar space that focuses on supporting local causes and acting as a gathering place for the community. While Metrobar itself doesn’t have a food menu, there is always a rotating cast of local food trucks at the venue and if they don’t have what you’re looking for you can always check out the Bryant Street Market food hall, which is right next door!
📍640 Rhode Island Ave NE
16. The Gibson, U Street Corridor
One step into The Gibson and you instantly feel that you’ve been transported back into the Roaring Twenties when you notice this bar’s vintage charm and classy ambiance. The perfect intimate ambiance for those seeking a meticulously crafted cocktail from one of their skilled mixologists, this place is certain to leave you with a lasting memory.
📍2009 14th St NW
17. Walter’s Sports Bar and Restaurant, Navy Yard
A premier sports bar named after Walter Perry Johnson, pitcher for the Washington Senators, Walt’s Sports Bar is a perfect game day destination. With over 20 self-pour taps, tons of space, and over 30 HD TVs, it’s a perfect spot to get your sports filled with your friends.
📍10 N St SE
18. Tom’s Watch Bar, Navy Yard
With far more TVs than you could focus on at once, a dizzying catalog of drinks, and a menu built to facilitate the perfect game day experience, Tom’s Watch Bar may be one of the best sports bars out there.
📍1250 Half St SE
19. Franklin Hall, U Street Corridor
With one of the most immersive sports bar experiences in the U Street Corridor, Franklin Hall is the perfect game day location for larger groups that don’t feel like venturing out to Navy Yard. It has everything you need to have a spectacular game day experience including a large menu of draft beers, interactive games to play with your friends, and a walk-up kitchen that offers all the classics and more.
📍1348 Flordia Ave NW
20. Ambar Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill
Offering a unique brunch experience, Ambar Capitol Hill serves up a long list of traditional Balkan flavors reimagined into the classic brunch dishes we all know and love. With the options for bottomless mimosas, sangria, or bloody marries this place is a unique brunch experience centered around the best of Bulkan cuisine in a fun atmosphere with great service.
📍523 8th St SE
21. Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar, Downtown
Looking to break the mold from the typical bottomless brunch without breaking the bank? Pisco y Nazca offers elevated takes on classic Peruvian cuisine, while also paying homage to local ingredients throughout its menu. With a wide variety of classic brunch options inspired by Peruvian dishes to choose from and the option for bottomless drinks, this is a must-try brunch spot.
📍1823 L St NW
22. Le Diplomate, Logan Circle
If you’re hoping to class up your brunch plans this weekend then Le Diplomate in Logan Circle is the perfect place to go. This classic Parisian-style French bistro nails every iconic brunch dish you could think of and offers all the best hits of Frances’s culinary offerings. While this place doesn’t offer bottomless brunch, the quality of the food and upscale setting more than make up for it by making it a memorable dining experience.
📍1601 14th St NW
23. Shaw’s Tavern, Shaw
Whether you’re craving classic brunch favorites or innovative twists on traditional fare, Shaw’s Tavern has something for everyone. On top of its quality food options, Shaw’s also offers an expansive selection of brunch cocktails and shots, which means that this place takes the phrase “boozy brunch” very literally.
📍520 Florida Ave NW
24. The Midlands Beer Garden, Park View
While not a brewery itself, The Midlands Beer Garden offers the unique opportunity to sample a wide variety of DC’s best local brews without hopping around town. Being one of the best open-air bar experiences you can get in the DC area, complete with fire pits and heaters outside as well as a heated indoor space, you can enjoy a wide range of beers on tap, plenty of TVs playing live sports, and of course a handful of lawn games for you and your friends to have some fun while you wait for your food.
📍3333 Georgia Ave NW
25. Other Half Brewing, Ivy City
Opened nearly a decade ago in 2014, Other Half Brewing has been churning out some notable Hazy IPAs and Pastry Stouts that have garnered national attention. With a massive modern space to enjoy your drinks with friends, they encourage you to either bring your own food or order delivery, but if you aren’t in the mood for a meal you can choose from a selection of rotating snacks that Other Half Brewing offers to complement its beer menu.
📍1401 Okie St NE