10 Bars That Anchor Their Neighborhood in Washington D.C.

Our nation’s capital is filled with more than just politics, national monuments, and historic landmarks. Washington D.C. is a diverse and vibrant city that has a trendy bar scene scattered throughout its most notable neighborhoods. It’s home to a variety of unique and exciting watering holes as well as familiar and cozy bars that have stood through the test of time. From pubs to lounges to dive bars, the District has a spot that will make you feel like it’s your second home. Whether you’re meeting up with friends after work for happy hour, watching the big game with a cold beer, sampling vintage wine, or trying to forget about politics with a few (or several) shots, there is a bar in your neck of the woods that has exactly what you need. Check out these great bars that anchor their neighborhood in D.C.

photo by The Gibson

The Gibson – U Street Corridor

This U Street Corridor bar provides an intimate ambiance with its sleek décor and dim lighting while serving up Prohibition-era inspired cocktails that are constantly changing. Although this cozy speakeasy might be hard to find due to its unmarked front door, it’s worth the effort. It has two floors and about 40 to 50 seats inside and out, consisting of bar stools, booths, and white marble tables. The Gibson has a strict “no-standing” policy so your best bet is to make a reservation in advance for a spot in this cozy bar, but walk-ins to the bar and patio are also welcome. The unique drink menu offers seasonal cocktails with creative names like “I’ll Make Breakfast,” “The Cat’s Meow,” and “Yabba Dabba Doozy” that are sure to make for an interesting convo with your bartender or date.

The Pinch – Columbia Heights

What’s not to love about a bar with a great beer, food, and entertainment? This welcoming neighborhood bar opened its doors in Columbia Heights in 2012 and has become a local favorite ever since. The menu features top draft selections like Lagunitas IPA, Bell’s Oberon, and Great Lakes Conway Irish Ale as well as a rotating menu of bottled and canned brews. The Pinch’s food menu includes classic bar bites like burgers and sandwiches to brunch staples like French toast, crab cakes, and bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. In addition to savory grub and refreshing drinks, The Pinch also hosts regular events like game and trivia nights, burlesque shows, live bands, and open mic nights. It also has a dog-friendly patio so you never have to leave your furry friend behind when searching for a cold beer.

ChurchKey Sampler / photo by snapzdc / CC BY

ChurchKey - Logan Circle

Craft beer connoisseurs will feel at home in ChurckKey thanks to its selection of casks, drafts, and bottled beers that total to a whopping 555 hand-picked options curated by Beer Director Greg Engert. This award-winning craft beer establishment in Logan Circle features an extensive draft and bottle list, which includes a wide selection of brews from malt and crisp to tart and funky. Pairing a meal with a good beer is key here and the cuisine doesn’t disappoint. The food menu offers classic bar bites like tater tots made in-house, double decker burgers, and fried chicken sandwiches to more upscale dishes such as charcuterie, margherita flatbread, mussels, and gnocchi with braised chicken. And if you’re in search of different refreshment, ChurchKey also serves craft cocktails and wines.

Copycat Co. - H Street Corridor

Craft drinks and Chinese bites is what you’ll find at Copycat Co. in the H Street Corridor neighborhood. This hip restaurant and bar is a local favorite because of its atmosphere and wide selection of colorful cocktails. They serve up Chinese bao buns, dumplings, skewers, and pot stickers, perfect for an early dinner date or late night snack. Copycat Co. is spread across two levels with the first floor providing a grab-and-go vibe, while the upstairs offers cozier lounge setting with dimly lit décor, tables, and atmospheric music.

Barack Obama celebrating St. Patrick's Day at The Dubliner / photo by Pete Souza / CC0

The Dubliner - Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill doesn’t offer too many options when it comes to authentic bars with food that are open late. Luckily, The Dubliner is located in this part of D.C. Daniel J. Coleman, who saw a rise in Irish-Americans migrating to the area during President Kennedy’s administration, decided to open The Dubliner in 1974. It has been one of Capitol Hill’s oldest Irish pubs, which was built to recreate an authentic Dublin city pub. The bar, which is now run by Daniel’s son Gavin, continues to be a traditional Irish pub and a favorite among D.C. locals. Anyone looking for authentic Irish cuisine will feel right at home with The Dubliner’s specialties like fish and chips and Irish beef stew, as well as its great selection of Irish whiskies and, of course, Guinness on draft.

Eighteenth Street Lounge - Dupont Circle

Eighteenth Street Lounge is a unique experience for either after work happy hour or late night dancing with friends. With five low-lit rooms for live music and DJs, this Dupont Circle lounge is anything but ordinary. The décor resembles a slice of the Victorian era with its antique sofas, hardwood flooring, and candlelight, creating an intimate environment. It’s also said that President Teddy Roosevelt used to live in this building at one point in time, which has since transformed into a lounge with live bands and world-class music ranging from reggae, Latin, jazz, funk, and electronic.

photo by The Sovereign

The Sovereign – Georgetown

The Sovereign is a modern day version of a Belgian beer bar and bistro located in the popular Georgetown neighborhood. It offers 50 drafts that include some rare Belgian finds like Brasserie de Blaugies, Brouwerij De Ranke, and Brasserie de la Senne as well as Belgian-style beers brewed in the U.S. like Tired Hands and Jester King. The Sovereign also offers more than 350 bottles of beers curated by Beer Director Greg Engert. And in this type of bar, you’ll get your drink served in the appropriate glassware at the exact temperature from a knowledgeable bartender. Come for the Belgian brews, but stay for the fusion-inspired menu that draws from French, German, and Dutch ingredients that blend together seamlessly. The bar’s staff can also offer recommendations on what to pair your meal with, even if you’ve never had a Belgian beer before. 

Dan’s Café - Adams Morgan

Don’t let the name fool you -- this isn’t a café at all. This dive bar is a classic neighborhood staple that has plenty of character. Throughout all of the changes in the Adams Morgan area, Dan’s Café remains the neighborhood’s few constants and has been owned by the same family since the 1940s. What sets this dive bar apart from the rest is the option to make your own drinks. At Dan’s Café, you bring your inner bartending skills because you get the essentials for your DIY cocktail: a bucket of ice, cups, and squeeze condiment bottles with your liquor and mixer of choice. But leave your debit and credit cards at home because this place is cash only -– like any self respecting dive bar. So if you’re looking for cheap drinks, unpretentious décor, a loud atmosphere, and an incredible experience, then you’ll feel right at home at Dan’s Café.

photo by Off The Record

Off the Record – Downtown

Located in the luxurious and historic Hay-Adams hotel in Downtown D.C., Off the Record is an upscale bar that has been regarded as “the place to be seen and not heard.” It has been featured on Forbes.com’s list of “World’s Best Hotel Bars” and has been a popular hang out spot for locals, politicians, tourists, and hotel guests. Off the Record’s ambiance makes you feel like you are a socialite entering a private club. Off the Record’s style is classic and old school. Its walls are lined with caricatures drawn by political cartoonists throughout history. Patrons visiting this ritzy bar can sample bites from the bar menu that include shrimp cocktails, charcuterie, artisanal cheese boards, pan-seared salmon, and mac and cheese fritters. And if you’re feeling like discussing politics, you can always order one of the election specialty cocktails, including “Hillary’s Last Word,” “Trumpy Sour,” or “Pence’s Tea Party,” which are sure to spark completely healthy and reasonable conversations with strangers at the bar.

The Looking Glass Lounge – Northwest Washington

This no-frills Northwest Washington bar offers the perfect balance of fun and relaxation thanks to its split-level design and scheduled events. During the week, The Looking Glass Lounge can be a quiet and laid back bar that’s perfect for the happy hour crowd looking to unwind as well as those who want to play on trivia nights. But on the weekend, the crowds are ready to dance the night away as the DJ drops tunes from old school hip hop beats to classic 80s jams. The Looking Glass Lounge drinking offers rotating drafts, bottled beers, and cocktails along with classic bar bites, sandwiches, salads, and brunch specials.

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