Where To Eat & Drink Near Capital One ArenaYou can totally rock the red in these spots.
So you’re headed to the MCI Center or the Verizon Center or whatever the hell they’re calling it now. And while Ovi is the only consistently exciting thing happening off of Abe Pollin Way in the last 20 years, exploring the many bars and restaurants nearby is a close second. Here are the ones you don’t want to miss.
Karaoke and a meal before you rock out with your favorite band? Yes. Please. Wok And Roll on H St. has delicious Chinese food like beef and broccoli and lo mein, but also serves really good sushi (hence the name). The restaurant itself is small, with a bar and some wooden tables, but there are also private rooms where you can sing your heart out for $40 an hour. They run a lot of karaoke specials during the week, like BOGO on hours Monday and Tuesday, so check those out before you go. If the private rooms aren’t your thing, there’s a lively group karaoke situation that pops off in the main dining room some nights.
Head to Yardhouse restaurant and bar on the corner of 7th and I streets if you didn’t score tickets to the game, but still want to be where all the action is happening. You’ll watch the game on the many televisions around to a soundtrack of classic rock and very loud patrons, most of whom will be crowded around the bar in the center of the room. Expect typical bar food (wings, burgers, pizza), but Yardhouse also has lots of vegetarian options and low-calorie meals. Get there from 3-6pm during the week to score half-priced appetizers and drink specials. Plus, it’s also open until midnight during the week, which means you’re able to stick around if that Tuesday game runs late without feeling horrible about keeping the wait staff after closing.
Denson Liquor Bar is a tiny speakeasy in the cut along 6th St. that serves small European bites and incredible cocktails (and mocktails, though there isn’t a specific menu for these). Walk down the metal steps near the corner of 6th and F, with lanterns on either side of the black doors lighting the way, and into the dimly lit bar with a handful of leather tables and an art deco style bar. Make a reservation for a booth in advance, otherwise there’s a decent amount of walk-in bar seating. It does get packed whenever there’s an event happening near the arena, though, so plan accordingly. And while the drinks are the main event here, the spiced pork belly with roasted potatoes topped with blueberry chutney is the kind of dish you’ll dream about.
Occasionally that ridiculous flowers and neon sign thing works, and Urban Roast is proof of this theory. The American cafe off of 9th St. is split into three sections: The main dining room, an intimate white-flower-covered alcove, and the coffee bar. The alcove feels a little like you’re in a room decorated by President Snow, but it’s our favorite place to eat here, especially if it’s date night. There’s also a small patio along 9th St. if you’re in the mood to sit outside, and fire pits that can be lit if it’s chilly. Split the spinach and artichoke dip, which is cheesy and actually full of both ingredients—no skimping here. And grab the caprese sandwich, served on a soft onion brioche bread with crisp, fresh mozzarella, tomato, and greens smothered in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Whether you’re thinking about doing a full tasting menu or quickly grabbing your go-to Indian entree, Rasika on D St. is a great stop for flavorful food and a relaxing meal. The dimly lit restaurant is typically full of business types and date night couples, seated under hanging jewels at tables dressed in white linen. You’ll be eating with your nose long before your plate hits the table, as the dining room air is full of chutney, garam masala, and naan. There’s also a bar along the far wall where you can grab a seat if you forgot to make a reservation.
While it’s a little further away than some of these restaurants (about a 10-minute walk to the Old Post Office Building), José Andrés’ Spanish restaurant inside the Waldorf Astoria will do you right if you’re looking for something fantastical. Go for dinner so you can sit on the second floor and see the entire atrium (including indoor cherry blossoms) and look up at the sky through the glass ceiling. The food is some of Andrés’ best in the city, though it’s still not great. Avoid José’s taco at all costs because it's basically a shot of salt, and opt for the Spanish octopus and sweet potato and persimmon ceviche, two of our favorites on the menu.
You already dropped $1000 on those VIP Caps tickets because you wanted to see Ovi up close and personal so the budget is tight, but you’re still looking for a good time. Rocket Bar on 7th St. is where you’ll find it. Aptly named for the rockets and robots all around the bar, you can land beer and rail drinks for $5 during Happy Hour, which runs from 4-8pm. And you can bring your own food, so your options are limitless. Pack a sandwich from home or grab one at HipCityVeg down the block and munch on it while you play pool, shuffleboard, or basketball before the game.
Your boss has worked your last nerve all day, but you don’t want that to ruin your big night out, so it’s time to grab a cocktail and unwind. Clyde’s will get you right. Climb the stairs to the second floor, a bit away from the crowd, where you can settle in at the old-school heavy wooden bar or at one of the hightops by the railing. Drinks are pricey here (between $15-20 for a cocktail), but they’re strong, so you’ll get your money’s worth, and there’s also a decent alcohol-free menu. The drinks are spot on, though the food is under seasoned and kind of boring, so this isn’t a dinner spot unless you simply can’t fathom chicken tender and fries in the arena. There’s an entrance to Capital One right across the sidewalk so you can indulge until the very last minute.
Whether your Capital One Arena event is a date or a friends’ night out, L’Ardente’s spacious Italian restaurant and lounge serves up great pasta and pizza. Inhale the smell of charred meat coming off the grill in the open kitchen at the East End spot, where there’s also a wood-fire pizza oven. Italian pop music plays loudly alongside the chatter in the dining room—so loud that you might have to yell to talk to your tablemates. But the zucca, served with a spicy ragu sauce, is a dish that will make this your go-to Italian spot near the arena.