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Washington, D.C.’s Finest Bars: Where to Drink in the District

A photo of Red logo
by Christabel Lobo
Updated June 10, 2022

With over 170 nations represented in just 68 square miles, the District serves as a captivating destination for diners looking to sample flavors from across the globe—drinks included. As the city’s culinary scene thrives and expands, choosing where to grab a drink has never been so much fun.

From unmarked doors that lead to stylish, subterranean social clubs to rooftop lounges with specialty cocktails and unmatched monument views, here are some of Washington, D.C.’s best bars.

A photo of Smoke and Mirrors - DC restaurant
4.2 (688)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
Navy Yard
About the restaurant

Set on the 11th floor of the AC Hotel Washington DC, Smoke and Mirrors is one of Navy Yard’s newest rooftop lounges, focusing on high-quality handcrafted cocktails. A peaty glass of boulevardier uses 16-year-old single malt scotch, while the lounge’s titular cocktail, which also features a single malt, shakes things up by adding French liqueur, a wine-based aperitif, and bitters. The outdoor patio here, which opened in February, is one of the best in the district, with fire pits, a retractable canopy, and unobstructed U.S. Capitol views.

Top review
Dined 6 days ago
Great laidback atmosphere. Patio is beautiful with couches, pillows and fire pits. Server was friendly and attentive. Beef short ribs were delicious!
A photo of Bar Chinois restaurant
4.7 (516)
$30 and under
About the restaurant

Adding to D.C.’s ever-growing list of MICHELIN guide restaurants is Bar Chinois, a modern industrial-chic spot that opened in 2021. Step into the neon-lit dining room and order several plates of dim sum to share—the Singaporean fried fish, fried chive dumplings, and pork belly bao are not to be missed. The beverage program, helmed by Margaux Donati and Jacob Simpson, focuses on French-inspired cocktails such as the Kir Royale and a twist on the Vieux Carré, crafted with rye, cognac, and a locally-sourced Sichuan pepper amaro. Happy hour, which runs Tuesday to Saturday from 5 pm to 7 pm, features dollar dumplings and half-priced cocktails.

Top review
Dined 1 day ago
Food was AMAZING!! My husband and I went for brunch. We had the bottomless drinks and ordered some appetizers and small plates. My husband ordered beer and I got mimosas. Mimosas r the better value. They filled my glass constantly and gave methe juices to mix for my refills. We ordered crab ragoon, red chili wontons, gyoza, pork belly bao, and breakfast fried rice. All were delicious! Service was good too. Everyone was very attentive.
A photo of The Arsenal at Bluejacket restaurant
4.6 (1053)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Navy Yard
About the restaurant

Housed in one of Navy Yard’s historic buildings, this laid-back microbrewery has brewed one-of-a-kind ales and lagers since 2013. As a popular hangout for Washington Nationals supporters, the on-site restaurant features a menu full of seasonal pub fare. Fan favorites, such as the tots and chicken wings—best dunked in one of D.C.’s most iconic condiments, mambo sauce, a bolder take on barbecue sauce—are carefully selected to align with the rotating selection of unique beers available on tap.

Top review
Dined on Apr 10, 2024
We added 4-6 people to our party at the last minute; all went well. Everything was good!
A photo of Tabard Inn restaurant
4.6 (3566)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Dupont Circle
About the restaurant

Stop by for a drink at the Tabard Inn’s lounge, and you’ll be transported back to the property’s 20th century heyday when it served as a gathering place for the district’s crème de la crème. Antique embellishments and distinctive works of art set the tone for romantic date nights. Diners can also expect live jazz every Sunday and Monday from 6 pm to 8:30 pm—it’s considered the city’s longest-running jazz show—as they sip on house-made manhattans and citrus-forward martinis.

Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 3 days ago
Great breakfast! Comfortable and intimate. Feels like eating in a home. Great service. Have returned every time I visit DC! Love this place!
A photo of Salazar DC restaurant
4.7 (31)
$30 and under
Logan Circle
About the restaurant

Housed in the heart of Logan Circle’s famed 14th Street drag is Salazar, an 8,000-square-foot oasis serving Tex-Mex cuisine, tequila, and a spirited time. Diners can choose from four bars spread out over three levels, including an all-weather rooftop section and a moody cellar that comes alive with the sounds of Latin music on weekends. Salazar, which takes its neon “drink tequila daily” sign quite seriously, has over 50 different types of the Mexican liquor to choose from, along with $4 tacos on Tuesdays—plus bottomless margarita weekend brunches.

Top review
Dined on Feb 25, 2024
Thomas was a great server and bartender! I will come back.
A photo of Morris restaurant
4.7 (114)
$31 to $50
Cocktail Bar
Mount Vernon
About the restaurant

Specialty cocktails reign supreme at this playful bar, nestled inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Co-founded by D.C.-based restaurateur and Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn, this creative spot is nothing short of Instagram-worthy, thanks to its pastel-blue walls, retro-themed seats, and a hand-painted cherry blossom mural. A tropical-themed menu is served on the bar’s colorful outdoor patio; pours range from strawberry daiquiris to riffs on the piña colada, made with extra dry rum, pineapple, coconut, and lime.

Top review
Dined on Jan 5, 2024
Lot's of room, quiet and very friendly bartenders. Great spot
A photo of Ciel Social Club restaurant
0 (0)
$50 and over
Tapas / Small Plates
Mount Vernon Square
About the restaurant

From its vantage point atop the AC Hotel Convention Center, the 3,200-square-foot penthouse lounge Ciel Social Club is all about unforgettable district views. The wraparound terrace at this chic spot means diners can see both the U.S. Capitol dome and the Washington Monument in one fell swoop. Sip on seasonal cocktails such as the Amarga Caliente—it’s made with tequila, mango, pineapple, lime, and habanero—while sampling Mediterranean-inspired small plates such as the yogurt-marinated lemon chicken in a piquant tomato sauce.

A photo of Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge restaurant
4.4 (1564)
$30 and under
About the restaurant

Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge brings the best of the Iberian Peninsula to Georgetown’s iconic M Street. Striking damask walls, intimate dining alcoves filled with bullfighting decor, and a quaint outdoor patio complete with a tiled fountain, charm diners at this romantic Spanish spot. Happy hour runs every Sunday to Friday from 4 pm to 7 pm featuring $3 pintxos and $18 sangria pitchers.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
Our reservations at noon, so for overall was very quiet very peaceful. The food was phenomenal. Highly recommend trying this place next time I visit DC i would definitely go again.
A photo of Flight Wine Bar restaurant
$31 to $50
Penn Quarter
About the restaurant

Opened in 2014 by sommeliers and first-time restaurateurs, Swati Bose and Kabir Amir, Flight Wine Bar received rave reviews from local critics and diners eager to try its selection of wines from lesser-known vintner regions such as Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans. Today, the expertly curated wine menu has blossomed to include over 600 bottles, more than 30 by-the-glass options, and 22 flights. Featuring three oak-aged red wine pours, the “I Like Oak and I Cannot Lie” is a great starting point for budding oenophiles, earning it a much deserved “Outstanding Wine Program” place on the 2020 James Beard Awards semi finalist list.

Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined on Dec 13, 2023
The experience here is always wonderfully satisfying. The owners are a true team of professionals. I love this place.
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