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Photograph: Flickr/Keith IveyLocal 16

The best singles bars in DC

Hooking up is hard to do—unless you know where to go. Read on for the best singles bars in DC.

Written by
Rina Rapuano
&
Holley Simmons
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It’s not easy being single in a type-A, workaholic city like Washington DC. But people who work hard tend to play hard, and there are plenty of singles bars in DC where hanging out with friends often leads to catching the eye of a cutie. These cocktail bars and restaurants—many of which are in party-friendly neighborhoods like Adams Morgan, U Street and H Street—offer up just the right sexy vibe, cheap drinks and diverse crowds that greatly increase your chance of making a connection. Who knows? Maybe this will be the one. Now go get 'em, tiger.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in DC

Best singles bars in DC

So many people have connected at Marvin that the restaurant ran a "We Met at Marvin" campaign a few years ago, inviting folks who met there to share their stories—and the stories poured in. The spark usually ignites upstairs, where a DJ and party vibe create just the right cauldron to cook up a hook-up. Downstairs, with its cozy, romantic and chic decor, is the perfect place if you want to take the rendezvous to the next level—a first date. Candlelight, live music and craft cocktails also make it a natural choice for an anniversary. Just saying. 

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Northwest
  • price 1 of 4

This cash-only dive modeled after a living room tends to get sweaty. You can blame that on a free jukebox full of long forgotten 1950s soul songs and Showtime’s house band, Granny and the Boys (a quintet led by a woman in her 80s). If you haven’t already guessed it, this place is quirky. A $5 Natty Boh/shot special will give you the courage to ask someone to dance. Things typically don’t kick off until 11pm or later, so plan on this being your final destination for the night.

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Nellie's Sports Bar
  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • U Street Corridor
  • price 1 of 4

So many people get lucky at Nellie’s it may as well be built on a patch of four-leaf clovers. The beloved gay bar has prime real estate at the corner of 9th and U and is known to attract a fun-loving crowd with its popular roof deck. Smart Ass trivia on Wednesday nights and a popular drag brunch on Saturday and Sunday up the excitement levels. There are 25 TVs and two projectors if you’re actually there for the sports. Your team may lose, but you’re guaranteed to score.

Looking to meet your next travel buddy with benefits? International and worldly types are drawn to this outstanding cocktail bar laced with influences from the Middle East and revered by regulars for its friendly service and welcoming vibe. If you’re lucky, there will be live music upstairs so you can check out your new crush’s dance moves and use it as an excuse to get handsy. 

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  • Bars
  • price 1 of 4

Step one: Say something clever to the cutie at the bar, perhaps about their excellent choice of booze. Step two: Offer to buy another round. Step three: Invite them to a game of Ping-Pong upstairs. Once you’ve charmed them—and let them win—ask for the digits. Colony Club offers plenty of drink specials during happy hour (Tuesday–Saturday, 5–7pm), which will aid your mingling. On Thursdays you'll also find conversational meet-ups in foreign languages like Spanish, French and Japanese followed by live jazz. What better way to meet someone than bumbling your way through a shared passion for Japanese?

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

If you’re looking for a suit-and-tie, expense-account crowd, this scene-y bar and restaurant near the White House fits the bill. It’s the third spin-off of the legendary restaurant in Miami Beach that got its humble start on a front porch in 1931. Here, the interior of the former bank is dialed up to match the opulent menu of seafood towers, $79 porterhouse and signature stone crabs. Slide into one of the supper-club-inspired curved banquettes to see and be seen, or plant yourself at the expansive bar. Happy hour runs from 2:30–6:30pm daily.

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  • Bars
  • Adams Morgan
  • price 1 of 4

The mural of a busty redhead spilling out of her dress says it all: You can let loose at Madam’s Organ. This Adams Morgan institution has five bars within four levels (the second floor bar is known as the “pick-up joint”) and features live music every night of the week. Dancing on tables is not out of the ordinary, and half-price beer and wine during happy hour serves as conversation lubrication (a phrase we shall never repeat). Bonus points if you pick up a redhead, since gingers get half-price beer, wine and rail drinks at all times. 

“Mind if I sit here?” could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. The spacious patio at this neighborhood bar from the Hilton Brothers (El Rey, the Gibson, The Brixton) is full of picnic tables, so group-mingling is likely. Beer is usually American-made and always served in Mason jars. It’s a stone’s throw away from 9:30 Club, so expect a hip, music-loving crowd. 

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  • Bars
  • price 2 of 4

This bar from the team behind Penn Social draws huge crowds due to its size and prime location where 14th Street and Florida Avenue converge. Couches and fireplaces encourage canoodling, while communal seating encourages conversation. Named in honor of Benjamin Franklin—a known beer lover—you can bet that the suds are on point. If you get hungry, there’s also a great bar menu, though you'll want to hold off on the Frito pie if you plan on making out.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown
  • price 4 of 4

Sip on a fancy cocktail while taking in some of the best views of the White House at this swanky rooftop bar. You’ll want to dress to impress in order to fit in, and there’s a good chance you’ll encounter a line outside. That’s okay: Use it to your advantage and scope out potential dates. Spring for bottle service if you’d like the entire place to know you’re a high roller, or wander the periphery of the terrace for some free conversation.

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • U Street Corridor
  • price 2 of 4

At the heart of the 14th Street action lies Saint-Ex, one of the first bars to put the neighborhood on the map. The dance parties downstairs are legendary, so make sure you head down after grabbing a stiff cocktail. Dark lighting, great music and a cozy setting mean you’ll want to stay a while. But just in case, its prime location makes bar hopping a breeze if you want to keep the fun times rolling somewhere else nearby.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • U Street Corridor
  • price 2 of 4

This fun house, which has been open for over a decade, is located in the epicenter of DC’s sizzling U Street Corridor. There are multiple rooms to explore—including a lounge, a pub bar, a dining room and a covered, heated roof deck—meaning excitement awaits you at every turn. Head to the lounge if you’re looking for a dance partner. The cocktail list is on the shorter side, but your bartender has probably heard it all. Feel free to make a special request.

Hit the town in Washington DC

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