Do you like to eat good food? What about drink good drinks? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, you’re probably familiar with the 14th St and U St area. Swarming with options for both, let us guide you to the best bars to either spend a night at or wait out your reservation.
A great in-between bar where you can mix it up with some people you don’t know on the bocce court, or grab some duck nachos with a small group. Right above Pearl Dive Oyster Bar, it’s a great place to drink before getting your shellfish on.
One of the largest beer lists in the city, and with knowledgeable bartenders as well. The cocktails are nothing to sneeze at either, so don’t be afraid to order one. Don’t count on scoring one of the coveted tables though. The sister bar to Birch & Barley, they have a limited menu that will get the job done in a pinch.
Our favorite cocktail bar in the city. A modest sized, upstairs room of an unmarked house that will make it seem you walked into a wealthy southerner’s sitting room in the 1950’s, they have a great cocktail list, but will also make you pretty much anything off the menu if you describe your likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams. Be warned, if you make friends with the bartenders, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up doing a shot(s) of some unpronounceable spirit you’ve never heard of. Do so at your own risk.
Home to the best nachos in the city, be warned that past 10:00, this turns into one of those overcrowded zoos that PETA calls the authorities on. Seriously, it’s tough to breathe. Which is a shame, because with the retractable roof out back and a couple TVs, it’s one of the best spaces in the city. Stick to a day drinking/happy hour situation and you’ll be golden.
A truly great sports bar, which is tough to come by. All the usual beer choices plus a selection of ciders and moscow mules with a decent food to boot. They know the key to a great sports bar: they’ll turn the sound on for the big games. Especially if said game is a University of Maryland one; the owner is a Terp.
One of the best outdoor patios in the city. Unfortunately, everyone knows about this, so it can get crowded. Not crowded enough that you can’t move, but don’t plan on getting a seat at the picnic tables during peak hours.
Expensive cocktails that are totally worth it. The drink list changes frequently, so there’s always something new to try. The vibe does have a little “Stefan SNL skit” thing going on, since it’s in a basement with no windows and completely white walls, but it works. Take your cool friends from out of town here.
Never as crowded as it should be, and we can’t figure out why. If a couple of the window bar seats are up for grabs, snag them with a friend a people watch the 14th St madness go down.
The Dr. Jekly and Mr. Hyde bar. Upstairs is a perfectly fine, WWII era bar in a French style. Downstairs is a dirty, sweaty dance club that will make feel phantom bass drops in your chest days later. If either is your bag, drink up.
The official bar of all first dates in DC. The food isn’t bad either, so if you’re looking to extend the date, you won’t have to leave.
An underrated rooftop situation goes down here. The cheap drinks (including frozen moscow mules) and a great view of U St should be utilized more often. Go ahead, go utilize on the next nice day.
Another good patio situation, another overcrowded bar. As long as you don’t want to have deep, intimate conversations with your crew, this can be a fun spot for a big group, provided you can all get in.
Attached to the 9:30 Club, this is a good pre-concert option. The caged-in, covered patio is our go-to spot here. Know that while they do serve food, it isn’t going to blow you away. Stick to anything in liquid form (including the boozy shakes), and you’re in good shape.
A dive bar in the best possible way. Now that they’re serving Sloppy Mama’s BBQ, which is more than adequate after a few drinks (especially the BBQ and cheese topped fries), a contender for our favorite bar in the city. Especially if you can score on of the tables on the front patio and watch the U St madness pass you by.
One of the newer bars closer to the Shaw part of town, they serve decent food here, including a double stacked burger and chicken & waffles that may put you out of commission for the rest of the night. The rooftop is fun here, but there’s a double-edged sword: they limit the number of people up there at any one time, so you could be out of luck and stuck on the second floor. They do have some TVs to catch whatever game is on as consolation, though.
Along with Eat The Rich and Mockingbird Hill right next door, this trio of small bars in what is technically Shaw run by the same ownership group. They each have a different focus (bourbon, oysters & gin, and sherry, respectively). They’re all a good, classy time. And yes, Mockingbird Hill does transition into a Christmas bar (with a Hanukkah room, too!) in December if you’re willing to wait hours on line to get in.