They’re grungy, run-down and even a little stinky. But that’s exactly why we love them. DC’s best dive bars are where folks head when they need to unwind and lose track of time. The following are some of our favorite watering holes (despite the fact that many of them only accept cash). True Washingtonians will agree.
The best dive bars in DC
Head to one of our favorite dive bars for a laid-back night of cheap drinks in an appealingly bare-bones setting
Best dive bars in DC
You’d walk right by this DJ-owned bar if it weren’t for the “thump thump” of the bass spilling onto the sidewalk. The free jukebox streams long-forgotten ’50s tunes, and on Sunday’s you’ll find Granny and the Boys, a funk band led by an 83-year-old woman. This place is admittedly quirky, but how can you argue with cans of Natty Boh and a shot of whiskey for $5 (cash only)?
There’s always something going on at Little Miss Whiskey’s, whether it’s a Game of Thrones screening, a pig roast on the patio, stand-up comedy or karaoke. The New Orleans Saints bar is the sister establishment to Jimmy Valentines, the hidden bar off of H Street where anything goes. The same attitude applies at Little Miss Whiskeys, where the Awesomeness (a dangerously strong alcoholic slushie) has fueled many late-night dance parties.
Red Derby has everything you want in a dive bar (cheap drinks, an unpretentious crowd) and then some (a covered roof with strung cafe lights, Jenga). The Columbia Heights bar hosts occasional community-oriented events, like fundraisers for local schools or Easter basket building for kids. But the main draw is the can-only beer list and $1 Natty Boh happy hour. Like most dives, Red Derby only takes cash, but there’s an ATM on the lower level.
This soulful standby on U Street is always good for a dance party. The floor gets crowded as the night goes on, so plan accordingly. (In other words, stand next to whomever you find the most attractive.) There’s a large outdoor patio in the back and often a new band to discover. To end on a high note, grab a slice of pizza from the truck that’s often parked out front before heading home.