The Michelin Guide just announced its newest D.C. additions. Now, you may be under the impression that critically acclaimed restaurants like these don’t offer happy hours. You’d be wrong. More than a dozen Bib Gourmand and one-star restaurants do — and below, you’ll find our favorites, proving it is possible to do some fine dining out in D.C., without spending a fine-dining amount of money.
The one-star Japanese/Spanish restaurant offers happy hour at the bar everyday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with sub-$10 patatas bravas, turnips with kabosu crème fraiche and a “featured yakitori.” That’s perfect because who wants to spend more time downtown after work?
724 9th Street NW (map)
The Ellē “un”-happy hour (their term, not ours) may be the best happy hour on this list solely based on location. Of all the neighborhoods in which these restaurants are located, Mount Pleasant is the one you’d want to be in at all times. Restaurants like Bib Gourmand-status Ellē make the already well-rounded neighborhood — with an independent movie theater, classic dive bar, cookbook store (yes, a bookstore that specializes in cookbooks) and punk rock library — even better. Stop in from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the un-happy hour for $8 cocktails (like the T.B.D., with cachaça, basil and lime) and beef short rib croquettes, and stick around for their award-winning dinners. Why can’t every neighborhood have an Ellē?
3221 Mt Pleasant Street NW (map)
Our Top DC Happy Hours for Every Night of the WeekWhere to eat and drink on the cheap, from dive bars to Michelin faves
The José Andrés Restaurants don’t need to do happy hour. Maybe that’s why they’re so good. Of their three Bib Gourmand restaurants in Penn Quarter that offer it, we’re going to begin with Oyamel: Any time the weather is remotely nice, their margaritas taste even better. The location is the most friendly, probably because they’re on the corner and the sun seems to shine through the entire place. If they’re too packed for Hora Feliz from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., just walk across the street to Jaleo for Sangria Hour, or their neighbor, China Chilcano, for Pisco Hour. It is possible to do a fancy happy hour bar crawl.
As this is an oyster palace, you’re going to want to order the local oysters. The 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. early-start hours on Friday make this a great, Bin Gourmand-endorsed way to start the weekend — maybe with the half-price “Chef’s Choice of Local Oysters,” for $1.40 per oyster (minimum 12) or a pound of Addie’s Mussels for $11. Who works after 3 p.m. on Friday? Actually, the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday happy hour might be better. A slightly calmer, non-Friday-night 14th Street is better for hanging out for hours while enjoying oysters.
1612 14th Street NW (map)
Another quite shareable, Bib Gourmand-status happy hour offering, Sfoglina’s $12 rosemary focaccia is great for groups — consider the Mussels + Pepperonata, with Calabrian aioli, lemon and basil — and the $7 pours of wine are good for you. Available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at their downtown and Rosslyn locations Monday through Saturday, and at Van Ness from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
This is a unique happy hour, offered at all three Bib Gourmand-certified locations: $25 for a drink, eight-inch margherita pizza, homemade chips, an arancino and a mozzarella in carrozza. You’re not going to be hungry after this one. Additional drinks are also only $5, so you might not need any more drinks after this one.
Our final Bib Gourmand winner. Try the chopped cheeseburger fries ($9) or zucchini fries with sriracha aioli, garlic and Parmesan ($7) Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and tell me this diner is like any other diner. Also on the happy hour menu: $7 wine by the glass and a two-item $8 cocktail list: the Diner Mule (with vodka, “Diner Citrus” and ginger beer) and the Wine Cooler (rosé, stone fruit, grapefruit and a spirit blend).
1207 9th Street NW (map)
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