Washington DC
Washington DC

Capitol Hill Bars & Clubs

A strange nexus of politics and booze, Capitol Hill is the place where many of history’s influential moments have unfolded over pitchers of beer or martini lunches. In pubs and taverns that neighbor the congressional hallways where the country’s business is done, every type of crowd can be seen intermingling long into the night. Capitol Hill is a unique neighborhood rich with 19th Century charm and a lingering taste of military and political history. Stunning and unique rowhouses form almost a continuous wall down many of the streets, broken only by the occasional intersection and bar, allowing for everything to be ideally within walking distance from everything else. The two main corridors where the bulk of nightlife is found are Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row. These lively commercial districts are filled with more than enough bars for every taste, as well as a variety of restaurants with incredible cocktail lists.
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410 First Street, SE, Washington DC; Tel. 202.543.5005
This Washington, D.C., bar has been serving the members of the House of Representatives and all their friends since 1980. Tasty burgers and friendly service make this a popular neighborhood bar, as well as an approved destination for hungry politicians looking for a quick power lunch. The tavern's name comes from President Theodore Roosevelt, the nation's 26th Commander-in-Chief and one of America's most colorful politicians. When faced with frustrations or absurd situations, Roosevelt would exclaim "Bullfeathers!" More familiar bull-related profanities were unacceptable in proper company, he said. This legendary Washington, D.C., bar's stated goal is to "take some of the edge off, take some of the ‘Bullfeathers' out of life and put a little more fun back in." A 40-foot bar hosts a bargain happy hour from 5-8pm nightly.

Capitol Lounge

231 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington DC; Tel. 202.547.2098
A locally famous bar, the Capitol Lounge burned down in 2005 but is now back, bigger than ever. Two floors, flat-screen TVs and a couple pool tables make this Washington, D.C., bar a political hotspot and a favorite among younger workers and interns on Capitol Hill. The tavern is loud and crowded on weekends, so don't count on having a quiet conversation or speedy service during peak hours. Monday through Friday, the bar boasts $3 Bud and Bud Light bottles and $4 well drinks. The Washington, D.C., bar is also home to some of the best bar food on Capitol Hill—from burgers and fries to salads and pizza. Mondays feature half-price pizza, Tuesdays are home to $0.10 wings and Wednesdays' special is $0.25 tacos.

Hawk N' Dove

329 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC; Tel. 202.543.3300
Capitol Hill and the Hawk 'n' Dove go hand-in-hand. This restaurant and bar is where staffers—both Democrat and Republican—gather to gripe about their bosses, the bar's proprietors say. But the trash talk is never by name—the etiquette is to refer to "my member," in case others are eavesdropping. The six-room bar provides plenty of options—room for a post-softball gathering, a quick drink or an almost-quiet conversation in front of the hearth. Sandwiches and burgers are available "mercifully late," until 1 a.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends.

Lounge 201

201 Massachusetts Ave., NE, Washington DC; Tel. 202.544.5201
Hip and ultra-suave, this Washington, D.C., bar on Capitol Hill is the place to go if you're feeling James Bond cool after a day of work. Closed on weekends, Lounge 201 offers a sexy atmosphere and impressive cocktails prepared by an expert staff. But being fashionable always has a price; expect to pay in the double digits for a generous 10 oz. martini. Featuring two swank bars, two pool tables and ample lounge space, the Washington, D.C., lounge is a perfectly refined setting to discuss politics or your weekend round of golf. On Mondays, enjoy $3 Bud and Bud Light and half-price flatbread pizzas, and on Tuesdays, stop by for creatively named half-price martinis like the Watermelon Flirt, Sublime Pie and Malaysian Midnight.

The Pour House

319 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington DC; Tel. 202.546.1001
A Washington, D.C., neighborhood sports bar that was once dedicated to the Pittsburgh Steelers, The Pour House has recently changed ownership, and though still a sports bar, the hardcore Steeler emphasis has since dissipated. Now the tavern boasts dozens of TVs throughout its three levels, and an awkward tiki-bar in the lower level has been replaced by a more comfortable, classic sports bar setting. The upper level martini lounge, known as the "Top of the Hill," is still a popular place to watch Steelers games, and Tuesday nights feature drink specials and the fast-paced trivia game Quizzo.

Tortilla Coast

400 First Street, SE, Washington DC; Tel. 202.546.6768
A popular GOP staff hangout located just feet away from the House of Representatives, this Washington, D.C., bar and grill has been serving mouth-watering Tex Mex and frozen margarita pitchers since 1988. Zesty south-of-the-border dining and a full bar make Tortilla Coast a great place to spice up your day. The menu features items from fajitas and tacos to chile con queso, a cheesily delightful dish served on the side of most of the restaurant's entrees. The Coast is also home to a $5.99 "Enchilada Night" on Mondays and a $6.99 "Burrito Night" on Tuesdays. Wash down your meal with one of the Washington, D.C., bar's several special frozen margaritas (topped with sangria, midori or chambord) or enjoy the patriotic "Stars & Stripes" margarita—a standard swirl margarita with a splash of Blue Curacao.
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—Washington DC bar and club reviews by Garrett Wheeler