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The best happy hour deals in DC

We’ve narrowed down the happiest of all DC happy hour specials to drink, eat and unwind on a budget

Photograph: Courtesy Pearl Dive
Pearl Dive

The only thing DC takes more seriously than its federal holidays are its happy hours. For those always on the hunt for the next cheap swill, we put together a list of our favorite happy hour discounts around town. Selections were based on quality and variety of offerings (you can keep your $1 Bud Light bucket, thankyouverymuch) as well as overall atmosphere of each wine, beer or cocktail bar. Picks range from the city’s hottest spots and Dupont Circle standards to lesser-travelled options, but what they all have in common are the makings of a fun night ahead.

The best happy hour deals in DC

Argonaut

Recommended

What: $3 wine, $10 bottles of wine and half-price drafts

When: Daily 5–7pm

Why we love it: This haunt on the outskirts of the bustling H Street corridor draws crowds for its weekday happy hours, but regulars will tell you that Tuesdays are the best night to go. That’s when the upstairs bar hosts a “science night” full of brainy experiments and trivia questions. Can’t make it? Not to worry: Get your fill of $0.33 wings and poker on Mondays or half-price burgers and bluegrass on Thursdays. During warmer months, pull up a chair on the patio for some serious hipster-watching.

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H Street Corridor

Pearl Dive

Recommended

What: $7 martinis, $5 glasses of wine, half-price beers and 2-for-1 oysters

When: Mon–Fri 4–7pm, plus Oyster Mania on Monday from 4pm–close

Why we love it: Restaurateur Jeff Black knows how to reel them in. During warmer months, the front patio of his maritime-chic eatery buzzes with martini guzzlers, while oyster fiends cozy up inside year round. Happy hour specials (available only at the bar, except on Mondays when they extend to the dining room) include 2-for-1 oysters, $10 po’boys (normally $15) and a pound of mussels for $9.

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Logan Circle

Bar Charley

What: Cocktails starting at $5, plus discounted food

When: Mon 5pm–12:30am, Tue–Thu 5–6:30pm, Fri 4–6:30pm

Why we love it: Bar Charley is generally known for serving stiff drinks with gentle price tags, making its happy hour a boozehound’s dream. The Dupont hang (from the owners of El Chucho, Sidebar and Quarry House) serves discounted drinks like $6 Sazeracs and Old Fashioneds and $5 Mai Tais. The sparse basement bar also serves better-than-the-average bar bites on the cheap, including Thai mussels with lemongrass and yellow fin tuna tacos for $7.

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Dupont Circle
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GBD

What: $3 wine, $5 craft beer and discounted food

When: Tue–Fri 4:30–7pm

Why we love it: Fried chicken. Donuts. $3 drinks. What’s not to shove in your face? Happy hour at GBD (short for Golden Brown Delicious) means spiked punch and wine for roughly the same price as a load of laundry. Daily-rotating snacks at the cheery bar-meets-bakery cost $5 or less and may include chicken tenders and fried mushrooms. Known to attract industry folk, GBD also hosts a late-night happy hour on Sundays for night owls with Monday off.

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Dupont Circle

Sushi Taro

What: Half-price sushi, wine and beer

When: Mon–Fri 5:30–7pm (bar only)

Why we love it: Known for its steep prices, Sushi Taro is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a deal. But every weekday, the Dupont sushi den slashes the cost of rolls, beer and wine by half. The offer is only available at the bar, which seats a whopping eleven. You may have a better chance of scoring a table at Little Serow—the no-reservation hotspot next door—than nabbing a stool, but it’s worth a shot.

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Dupont Circle

Stoney's on L

What: $4 drafts, wine and rail drinks; snacks starting at $5

When: Daily 5–7pm, 11pm–close

Why we love it: For those who don’t have the luxury of a 7pm quitting time, Stoney’s on L offers an additional happy hour from 11pm until close. Much like the ultra-popular Logan Circle location, the casual L Street outpost draws a loyal crowd, especially with deals like $4 drafts, wine and rail drinks, plus discounted snacks, including a $6 personal pizza and Stoney’s signature grilled cheese (one of the city’s best) for just $5.

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West End
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El Camino

What: $5 margaritas, Negra Modelo on draft, wine and rail drinks

When: Mon–Fri 5–7pm, 11:30pm–close

Why we love it: This Bloomingdale newcomer from the owner of 1905 was made to resemble a grungy apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Corrugated steel, cinder blocks and lighting fixtures made from chains set the scene for tacos that cost $2.50–$3.50 (whenever you order them). During happy hour, margaritas, draft Negra Modelo, wine and rail drinks cost just $5, and $3 buys you a Tecate tall boy. Save up your quarters for $1 chips and salsa.

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Northwest

Fiola

What: $7 cocktails, $6 wine, $5 snacks

When: Mon–Fri 4–7pm

Why we love it: Cocktails at Fabio Trabocchi’s upscale Italian restaurant usually cost between $12 and $18. But during weekday happy hour, Negronis, rye Manhattans and other strong classics are just $7. Select glasses of Prosecco, sauvignon blanc and rioja are $6; light bites like cured meats, cheese and calamari all are $5. Located steps from the National Mall, this sleek spot attracts DC’s signature suit-and-tie crowd.

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Penn Quarter

Boqueria

When: Mon–Fri 3–7pm, Sat–Sun 4–7pm

What: $4 draft beer and sherry, $5 sangria and bar bites

Why we love it: This Barcelona-inspired tapas bar is both spacious (bye, bye waiting for a drink) and full of energy (hello, attractive man with the loud laugh). Those qualities, plus solid happy hour deals, make Boqueria a natural meeting place for nearby office workers. In addition to $7 wine cocktails, the discounted menu includes $25 pitches of sangria and classic Mediterranean snacks like patatas bravas and a Spanish omelet. And for your hangover in the morning, keep in mind that Boqueria’s brunch is one of DC’s finest.

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Dupont Circle
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Ambar

What: $4 beer, wine, cocktails and food

When: Mon–Fri 4–7pm

Why we love it: Eat and drink like a king at this Balkan restaurant on Barracks Row from chef Richard Sandoval. Wood paneling lines the walls and dim lighting sets the mood for wine-fueled conversations about anything but work. Everything on the extensive happy hour menu is just $4, including margaritas, mojitos, soups, beef and pork kebabs with roasted pepper and cheese, and drunken mussels with garlic, capers, cream and crusty bread. 

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Capitol Hill

Daikaya (upstairs izakaya)

What: $3 Sapporo drafts; $6 wine, sake and shochu/beer combos; $8 cocktails

When: Mon–Fri 5–7pm

Why we love it: Located right above chef Katsuya Fukushima’s oft-lauded ramen shop is his trippy Japanese izakaya, filled with bright colors, roped-off nooks and vintage movie posters. During happy hour, take advantage of Asian-inspired sips on the cheap, as well as a rotating selection of $3 dishes. Cross your fingers and hope the grilled avocado is one of them, or just spring for the $6.50 stunner. 

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Chinatown

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