A Guide to DC’s Best Late-Night Eats, From Bartenders, Promoters and Nightlife Photographers

The pandemic forced many spots to close, but an after-midnight revival is now underway

They didn't just recommend pizza (but yes, of course, there's also pizza).

By Brandon Charles

Where’s the best place to eat in Washington, D.C. after a shift, a show or a late-night party? 

Nobody knows better than the city’s bartenders, concert promoters, nightlife photographers and other night owls. The pandemic certainly took its toll on all-night operations, but a change is underway, and there are more options than you might think. 

Below, some top recommendations for where late-night workers eat after a shift.

Lolo, Bartender at DC9 in Shaw 

Beloved music venue and bar DC9 is centrally located when it comes to D.C. nightlife. Off the corner of 9th and U Street NW, it borders two of the city’s most popular neighborhoods and lies in proximity to some of the best Ethiopian food around. Which leads us to our first pick. 

“I love to get a couple folks together and go get Ethiopian food if it is an early night, usually Dukem [open until 11 p.m.]. For late nights, we all head to All Souls and they let us bring in pizzas.” 

Josh, Bar Owner at Ivy and Coney in Shaw

If you don’t get your fill of hot dogs and Italian beef at Ivy and Coney, you still have some nearby options. 

Pizza D’oro [take out available Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m.], El Chucho [open until midnight Friday and Saturday], corner stores (specifically the 7-Eleven a few blocks up 7th, and the 13th and Park market) and 4 a.m. karaoke bars in Chinatown.”

Dario, Bartender at The Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights 

One of D.C.’s best neighborhood bars Sunday through Thursday and a very different place Friday and Saturday nights (when it transforms into a sweaty, sweaty club full of young folks you won’t find there other nights of the week), Wonderland has a full menu. But when not behind the bar, you’ll find their bartenders down the street at a previously mentioned spot. 

“If I finish early at Wonderland, I’ll go to El Chucho.”

Andrew, Bartender at Hotbed in Adams Morgan

D.C.’s newest comedy club is centrally located on a street busy every night of the week. There’s no shortage of late-night jumbo slices available on 18th, but one has been recommended by multiple staff members. 

Andy’s Pizza if they’re still open [until 2 a.m. Friday, 3 a.m. Saturdays]. I get two slices of white and squeeze a lemon wedge on there.”

Allison, Bartender at Electric Cool-Aid in Shaw

Traveling home in every direction a few miles from Electric Cool-Aid will lead you to bartender Allison’s picks for classic late-night food throughout D.C. 

“Lots of pizza and Chinese food. Kouzina Angelinas Pizzeria [open until 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays] off U Street, New Big Wong [open until 3 a.m.] in Chinatown, and Annie’s Paramount Steak House [open until midnight Fridays and Saturdays] in Dupont Circle. And if I’m downtown I’ll get that tower of seafood at Old Ebbitt Grill [open until 2 a.m]. “

Armando, Nightlife Photographer

Shooting at venues like 9:30 Club, the Lincoln Theatre and DC9 brings photographer Armando to a centrally located former and future (?) late-night option. 

“After a night of partying or just being out on U Street, The Greek Spot, on 11th Street NW, always provides the perfect late-night food option. Pre-pandemic, I’ve definitely ended there at 2 a.m., always to be welcomed by their fun staff, who made the most delicious chicken souvlaki platter. They changed their hours during COVID to adjust to the decrease of customers [now open until 9:30 p.m.], but as D.C. seems to be back, as well as traffic, it wouldn’t surprise me [if they go] back to their very late hours. Other favorites on their menu are their vegetarian gyro platter, for those trying to aim for a healthier option, as well as their French fries with their special Greek Spot sauce — which is to die for, especially late at night. In all, Greek Spot provides a better and more value-for-your-buck option than the ubiquitous jumbo slice.”

Lindsay, Music Promoter

Working at venues throughout the city, music promoter Lindsay is a de facto tour guide of where to eat post-show in and around D.C. 

“If going home to H Street I’ll hit up Pie Shop [open until midnight Friday and Saturday]. After a show at 9:30 Club, I’ll get Swachos at American Ice Company [open until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday] or Taqueria Xochi [open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday]. After a show or game at Capital One Arena I’ll go to Clyde’s [open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday]. I love Clyde’s. A go-to spot for many friends is Wiseguy [open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays]. After a show at MGM National Harbor, Shake Shack [open until 1 a.m.] is the best option. After a show at Warner Theatre, I’ll get the late-night sushi happy hour at The Hamilton [open until 2 a.m.], I just don’t think too hard about it. Finally, regardless of the show, if I’m drunk enough to think it’s a good idea I’ll get Duccini’s [open until 4 a.m.].”