DC is one of the most expensive cities in America. Lucky for you, DC is also one of the most happy hour-friendly cities in America. Every night of the week, even Saturday, you can find really great drink and food specials. These are our picks for the best way to imbibe at a high level and a low price point. From neighborhood gems to Michelin Guide-approved destinations, there’s always a good (and affordable) reason to go out.
This rock-and-roll burger joint is popular almost every night of the week, but their Monday night burger deal keeps them busy. Throw in the 5 to 7 p.m. half-off drafts specials (including wine on tap), and it’s easily the best Monday night deal.
If you prefer Brookland to Petworth, their sister bar and restaurant The Runaway offers the same deal. The reason why Slash Run gets the pick over The Runaway is the beer selection is superior. Also, the Ramones mural on the side of Slash Run is slightly better than the Joan Jett painting on the front of The Runaway.
The Shaw bar is popular with the 20- and 30-something, new-to-the-district, plays-in-an-after-work-recreation-league set, as well as DC lifers and Chicago and Detroit transplants. Their Tuesday $5 Italian beef sandwiches make them an obvious early week destination for former Chicagoans and devoted fans of The Bear. That’s in addition to their regular 5 to 6 p.m. happy hour offerings (an Old Style or Old Tymes and a Chicago- or Coney-style hot dog for $6) and regular 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. late-night happy hour ($1 off drafts, $1 shots of Malort).
Derby could have made the list for any of their midweek specials, but they win Wednesday because it’s Paul Rudd Nigt — because Paul Rudd drank there once, and who doesn’t love Paul Rudd? The special is $3 High Life, $5 bubbly and half-price sides. Derby is already very affordable, and so is next door neighbor Lyman’s Tavern — so if you can’t get a table at Derby, you have options. If they’re packed, walk two doors south of Derby to Mezcalero Cocina Mexicana. If they’re busy, walk two doors down to Taqueria Habanero (the first of our Michelin Guide-approved recommendations). If they’re also packed, walk one door down to the extremely affordable Toro Bar. Man, the 3700 block of 14th Street NW has some pretty great spots.
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The recipient of Michelin Guide Plates in 2021 and 2022, The Imperial is definitely on the higher end of our happy hour picks. The Adams Morgan destination restaurant offers multiple spaces, and their Thursday night happy hour (“Up Top, Down Low”) leans into the layout. But that doesn’t matter to you. What matters is its half-off all cocktails on the menu on the roof from 5 to 10 p.m..
Because we promised food specials as part of this, we’ll pick next door neighbor, The Blaguard. The well-loved neighborhood bar offers $6 totchos (tater tot nachos, for the uninitiated) on Thursday nights. Get your dive bar food at one location and your fancy cocktails next door. Make it an upstairs/downstairs kind of night.
This Hemingway-inspired restaurant offers a very solid happy hour Wednesday through Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., with food and drink specials at the bar. But it gets our Friday pick for their extra “late night” (10 p.m. to close) special on Hemingway Daiquiris. Think of it as a good place to begin and end your night in a bustling neighborhood.
Downtown spots could use some love on the weekends, so it’s one of the better neighborhoods to explore if you’re looking for a deal. The excellent Succotash has a massive happy hour menu every Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., ideal for pre-gaming before a game or concert at Capital One Arena or a post-museum visit at the National Portrait Gallery.
The backyard of Lulu’s Winegarden is one of the most picturesque in DC — a fact referenced by their Golden Hour Happy Hour. With extra long hours on Sunday, enjoy discounted small bites, cocktails and glasses of wine throughout the restaurant (in other words, you don’t have to be outside to take advantage of the Golden Hour).
Another excellent option is the Thirsty Crow, with an all-day Sunday happy hour. Tons of bars have pretty good Sunday specials during the NFL season, but few places offer critically-acclaimed Malaysian food while you watch America’s favorite sport.
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