Washington DC
Washington DC

Featured Washington D.C. Bars


The nightlife scene of Washington DC has ebbed and flowed in the past few years. After sadly seeing some very lackluster points, many of the locals and club owners decided that they needed to reinvigorate the city with an earth-shaking addition of everything from electro parties for gay and lesbian scenesters to high end lounges that serve champagne and martinis long into the evening. The result of this uprising has been an incredible jolt of life into DC and all of its tourists and residents. One of the things that makes Washington DC so unique is the seemingly odd blend of stylish, cutting-edge culture and stuffy politicians. While this may not sound appealing at first, the nightlife scene of DC has a personality unlike any other in the country. After all, politicians arenít super-human, and we all know that they like to party every once in a while; so, itís fair to say that the uncommon sight of a senator getting drunk in a bar would be hysterical.
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Bar Pilar

1833 14th St., NW Washington DC; Tel. + 1 202.265.1754
There is no denying the old world appeal of Bar Pilar. Squeezed in among a growing number of new businesses along 14th Street, this bar and restaurant stands out for its distinctly rustic European feel. Out front, steps lead down from the street to a simple black and white sign above the wooden door. Inside, things get richer with jewel tones, brick walls and dark wood floors. Tables crowd the narrow, intimate space, laden with the scent of wood-grilled dishes made from local, organic ingredients. The place fills up quickly on weekend nights, but during the week, Bar Pilar is a romantic escape from the bustle outside. To accompany an ice cold pint of imported Icelandic Viking beer, or a local Clipper City brew, try one of Chef Barton Seaver's Italian influenced small plates. The menu changes daily, and includes pastry chef Lizzy Evelyn's signature, delectable three-bite desserts, like the popular Honey Goat Cheesecake.

Columbia Station

2325 18th St., NW Washington DC; Tel + 1 202.462.6040
Away from the jazz buzz of the newly resurging U Street is another option with a quietly jovial atmosphere. Columbia Station almost looks like an old train station from the outside, with lovingly worn in wood and windows that give passersby a view of the show. Every night of the week around 10 p.m., catch free jazz and blues performances by local musicians like the Bruce Robinson Quartet. The place is spacious, but cozily lit by candles on the bar and slightly dingy rectangular lamps dangling gingerly from the black ceiling. Large mirrors etched with intricate designs line the wall opposite the bar, giving the room an antique feel. The walls inside Columbia Station are a rosy, mauve tone, accented with set of brocade curtains and a sculpture of melded jazz instruments at the back of the room, completing the "kick off your shoes and stay a while" attitude. This friendly, welcoming vibe is prevalent even in the menu, which includes the ever down to earth meatloaf, plus pasta, seafood and Cajun dishes. The bar stays open until 6 am on weekends, making it the perfect place to unwind before heading home at the end of a long night.

Soussi

2228 18th St., NW Washington DC; Tel. + 1 202.299.9314
Hookahs mellow the air inside Soussi, a bar with two small but vibrant floors and a restaurant with an intriguing Mediterranean menu. In warmer weather, patrons pack sidewalk and rooftop tables to people watch along 18th street leading up into the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood. When colder days and nights arrive, Soussi turns down the lights, and turns on Moroccan lanterns and tabletop candles to evoke a sultry mood. On the first floor, a counter along the large front window offers an excellent view of the street. Around the bar, quiet conversations draw on and on as the bartender pours drinks before a backdrop of brick, decorated with work by local artists. Though the decor is eclectic, Soussi maintains a familiar, comfortable atmosphere, offering half-price drinks daily from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The menu's varied small plates, including a tempting Grilled Merquez with Mixed Greens and Cumin Vinaigrette, are the perfect complement to any drink.

Stetson's Famous Bar and Grill

1610 U St., NW Washington DC; Tel. + 1 202.667.6295
Slim are the chances of a real cowboy strutting into Stetson's, but this bar and grill does have an air of rebellious swagger. Beneath a floor of beat-up black and white tile, teetering wooden tables seat groups small and large. More patrons take seats at stools encircling the long, surprisingly un-sticky bar to down cheap pints or pitchers with the always friendly bartender. Plenty of sports fans also pack Stetson's, hollering and fist-pumping at one of four TVs, including a monstrous flat screen. Cigarette smoke and the spicy scent of hot wings ($.25 each on Wednesdays and Sundays) cloud the air, completing a perfect picture of dive bar culture. But Stetson's spacious interior, which includes an upstairs room with pool, darts and a second bar, makes the place a comfortable alternative to many of its counterparts. Factor in a stellar late night menu that includes way above average burgers, piles of nachos and crunchy Southwest Rolls, and it's a formula for success. Stetson's only downside may be the blaring TVs, which can make conversation tough. Fortunately, the cheap beers make everyone's voice a bit louder and prouder as the night wears on.
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—Washington DC bars reviews by Sarah Amandolare & Garrett Wheeler