The Best Bars On U Street
The best bars on U Street in DC.
The U Street Corridor is home to some of the city’s best nightlife scenes and some of our favorite places to drink in DC. There’s something for everybody, from college kids to grown-up kids. Since you’ll unavoidably find yourself on the corridor at some point, here’s a list of the best places for a quality cocktail perfect for a first date or a rowdy night out.
photo credit: Rey Lopez
Dram & Grain
At first, Dram & Grain is hard to find. This cocktail den is down a set of dark gray stairs and through the doors of Imperial, a restaurant on the corner of U and 18th. But once inside, you’ll feel transported to a new world, thanks in large part to the purple velvet carpet, the granite bar, and the marble table tops. Dip in here to escape the noise and excitement on U Street, and slide past the front bar into the back room for a secret rendezvous. It’s ideal for late-night drinks with friends or a wind-down after a long day.
photo credit: Jai Williams
If you’re going to pregame before the function or are just looking to drink multiple pitchers of margaritas with your friends, El Rey is the place for you. Everybody and their mama is here: the college kids, the baby boomers, the we-just-need-a-drink-girl crowd. It’s loud, it’s fun, it’s grungy. There's a skylight ceiling that makes the inside feel like outdoors plus plenty of seating for large groups. The drinks aren’t fancy, but they’re good for what they’re worth and the mango margarita is downright delicious.
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photo credit: Nina Palazzolo
There’s a lot going on at Alice on U, but that’s what makes it wonderful. There’s a fast-casual pho restaurant on the bottom floor, arcade games on the second, and a bar playing hip hop and R&B jams on the third. The theme, as implied by the name, is an ode to Alice in Wonderland and the venue has curated a loopy, surreal experience to match. There’s crystal chandeliers, beaming lights and a hallway mural painted in neon colors. It’s the perfect place for an adventure, but also great for anyone more excited about the food waiting downstairs on the way out. But note that the kitchen shuts down at 10pm, four hours before the bar.
photo credit: Michelle Goldchain
Solly's U Street Tavern
A solid dive bar with good, cheap drinks and a casual environment is hard to come by, but Solly’s does all that. This two-story bar has karaoke night every Thursday and Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3-8pm, which is good news if you've hoping to finally make either. You’ll catch transplants and natives, office dwellers and work-from-home types all mingling at Solly’s thanks to the classic dive bar drinks at classic dive bar prices.
photo credit: El Secreto De Rosita
El Secreto de Rosita
El Secreto de Rosita is a popular Peruvian restaurant that also has a fantastic bar. It’s a great spot for late night drinks with friends since time just seems to fly by here. Their signature cocktails play with pisco or whiskey and an assortment of fruity and floral flavors. Try the atardecer, a drink made with pisco, passion fruit, and lime—a drink that can only be described as tasting like flowers in full bloom. Also, they might have one of the prettiest bathrooms we’ve seen in DC.
The Alchemist touts an impressive craft and specialty cocktail menu with drinks that taste as good as they look. There are things like sour apple rum and rosemary whisky on the menu, which you can order to impress your date or just to satisfy your own curiosity. The lighting here is dim, which bodes well for the mysterious, sultry vibe. For a speakeasy, the bar itself isn’t too hard to find. There’s a sign out front that clearly points to the entrance.
Lulu’s Wine Garden
The outdoor patio at Lulu’s Wine Garden feels like a garden villa somewhere in Europe, with lanterns and string lights charmingly adorning the space. There are outdoor heaters during the winter months working overtime and plants and vines that delicately drape the walls. Come for a date night or an intimate get-together with friends. The only downside here might be the prices, which are on the higher side even for U St. standards. A glass of wine here typically runs about $15 and full bottles are around $55.
photo credit: Michelle Goldchain
801 Restaurant & Bar
The restaurant part of 801 Restaurant and Bar is why most people come here, but the bar deserves some love, too. If you’re looking for something quiet or more intimate, there’s a bar on the second floor that serves one of the best espresso martinis we’ve had in a long time. If you’re looking for something more rowdy, there’s also a rooftop bar that gets crowded quickly with younger folks looking for a good, but messier, time.