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Where to Find Government Shutdown Specials for Furloughed Employees

The latest options for free fried chicken sandwiches and coffee

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The Wharf’s Brighton bar is discounting food orders by 10 percent for government workers.
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

A slew of bars and restaurants are doing their best to accommodate federal workers going without pay during the partial government shutdown soon entering its third week.

Because some of those 800,000 workers without paychecks now lack the disposable income to go out and eat, many restaurants are also offering discounts to help keep their own businesses busy.

Brightwood’s BBQ Bus expects sales to slip 20 to 50 percent when its food truck returns curbside next week, says co-founder Che Ruddell-Tabisola, who’s already dropped upcoming local food orders from local Landover, Maryland bakery Gold Crust. Restaurants tied to the Smithsonian, like Hirshhorn’s Dolcezza and the African American Museum’s Sweet Home Cafe, have been forced to close altogether.

Here’s a growing list of up-to-date specials:

Atlas Brew Works

2052 West Virginia Avenue NE

A newly created fund lets donors choose how many beers they would like to pour into the pool (1, 2, or 6 at $7.50 per beer). As long as there’s money in the fund, furloughed workers can step into participating local breweries like Atlas and DC Brau for a free brew.


5830 Georgia Avenue NW

The barbecue operation, founded by a former government contractor, slashes 25 percent off the entire menu for affected federal employees and contractors.

Baked by Yael

3000 Connecticut Avenue NW

Federal workers and contractors get free coffee, cake pops, and bakery classes. Zoo workers nearby get complimentary bagels and bites.

Bar Deco and Fish Market

717 6th Street NW / 105 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia

Find $8 signature Manhattans and 20 percent off the entire check (excluding alcohol).

Bread Furst

4434 Connecticut Avenue NW

The award-winning bakery is sharing its employee discount with those affected by the shutdown caused by “Presidential intransigence,” according to a sign Tom Sietsema spotted at the door.

Broccoli Bar

1817 7th Street NW

&pizza’s new bar in Shaw is teaming up with José Andrés, offering hot meals daily to affected employees from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, Broccoli City and Live Nation Urban are offering up to two tickets to Broccoli City Weekend 2019 for furloughed employees.

The &pizza enterprise has donated 20,000 pies to furloughed workers since the shutdown started.
&pizza/official photo

The Brighton

949 Wharf Street SW

The Wharf bar will slash 10 percent off food tabs for people sporting a federal ID.

Brookland’s Finest

3126 12th Street NE

Federal employees are eligible for happy hour pricing at any time of the day.


1847 7th Street NW

The Shaw tea shop, which is expanding to Brookland soon, is offering free tonic shots to government employees to help alleviate stress. There’s the Holy Trinity with Eleuthero root and Chill Out with passion flower herb and Albizia bark.

Capitol Lounge

The Capitol Hill haunt was one of the first to react to government dollars going dry, running $5 themed drink specials since day one of the shutdown in December.


425 7th Street NW

The “Hard Times Cocktail” ($6) and happy hour menu are offered all day at the bar for the duration of the shutdown. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily, show a government ID and get an order of meatball sliders on the house.

Carmine’s will offer a complementary family supper for furloughed federal government workers and their families at the Penn Quarter location on Sunday, January 27. Seating will be limited for the two services at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.: call 202-737-7770 to make a reservation or chat in person with the host staff. The family-style meal will include garlic bread, chicken parmigiana over linguini, penne ala vodka, sautéed broccoli, and a large banana split. Proof of federal employment is required for at least one family member.

Catch 22

The new seafood restaurant will slice 15 percent off the final bill for all federal workers during the shutdown (except during happy hour).

City Tap Penn Quarter

The sports bar rolled out an extended daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the shutdown with select $5 draft beers, $6 house wine, and $7 beer and shot combos.

City Winery in Ivy City

1350 Okie Street NE

Government workers get $1 glasses of City Winery’s label on tap.

Charlie Palmer Steak

101 Constitution Avenue NW

The Capitol Hill steakhouse is serving a free fried chicken sandwich to those with a government ID. Need a drink and more calories? Add a Blue Point Toasted Lager with fries for $12. Valid as long as the shutdown lingers for lunch guests at the bar only.


1443 P Street NW

Bottomless Mondays are now a thing every day of the work week, which means endless mimosas and Bloody Marys for $15.

DC Brau

3178 Bladensburg Road NE

The tasting room (closed Monday to Wednesday) is matching discounts to the amount of days the partial shutdown lingers in the new year. Because Thursday, January 10, would be the 20th day of the shutdown, furloughed workers will receive 20 percent off on-site or to-go purchases at the Northeast brewery.

DC Reynolds

3628 Georgia Avenue NW

A sandwich and non-alcoholic beverage costs $6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.

District Doughnut

Multiple locations

Federal workers going without pay don’t have to cough up anything for coffee at the donut chain.

Ejji Ramen

7101 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, Maryland

The ramen shop inside Westfield Montgomery Mall is handing a free rice bowl to government workers.

Espita Mezcaleria

1250 9th Street NW

Shaw’s Oaxacan oasis, which debuts its new casual lunch counter on Tuesday, January 8, is serving half-priced margaritas to furloughed workers.


818 Connecticut Avenue NW

Chef Todd Gray’s upscale eatery is offering 20 percent off the check to government workers with a valid ID.

The Fairmont

2401 M Street NW

Because the zoo and its panda cam are currently shut down, the Fairmont created a new $10 “Panda Cam” cocktail, made with White Chocolate Godiva, Malibu Rum, and half and half, rimmed with chocolate crumbs and drizzled with Hershey’s Chocolate syrup.


1730 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

On Thursday, January 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests will get a free grilled cheese and tomato soup. And four of its specialty cocktails will be $5 starting at 4 p.m. every night (all night) until further notice.


Multiple locations

All four D.C. locations are handing a free 12-ounce caffeinated beverage of any type — including lattes and cappuccinos — to government employees with IDs.

El Centro D.F.

Multiple locations

Richard Sandoval’s Mexican chain is offering free guacamole or a house margarita to government workers still waiting for a paycheck.


Multiple locations

The oyster bar’s trio of D.C. locations is offering all-day oyster happy hour at the bar, while its Hank’s Pasta Bar in Old Town is running all-day happy hour at the bar.

Junction Bakery & Bistro

1718, 1508 Mt Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia

Guests with a valid federal government ID can perk up with a free 12-ounce cup of drip coffee at the Del Ray bakery and café.


751 Wharf Street SW

It’s happy hour all day at the Wharf’s Filipino, Korean, and Thai playground (11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.). The $5 lineup includes Kloud lager beer, Filipino marinated mussels, garlic fried rice, and $7 bites include chicken satay and grilled ribeye skewers.


1517 Connecticut Avenue NW

The cafe offers a free dessert or appetizer to those with a government ID on week days.

La Côte d’Or

6876 Lee Highway, Arlington, Virginia

The French restaurant is offering furloughed workers a three-course dinner for $22.

Little Havana

3704 14th Street NW

Show your government ID and get half off all drinks every day until the shutdown is over at the colorful Cuban respite.

Lucky Buns

2000 18th Street NW

The Adams Morgan burger bar is offering a free beer, appetizer, or dessert to any worker with a federal ID.

Meatball Shop

1720 14th Street NW

The NYC import is cutting prices in half on draft beer, house wine, and well cocktails, as well as serving 50 cent mini buffalo chicken balls, for all, all day long until the government shut down is over.

Milk Bar

Multiple locations

The dessert bar’s government shutdown special is a complimentary coffee beverage or soft serve at all area locations.

Milk Bar/official photo

Modern Market Eatery

Multiple locations

Every Friday through Sunday during the shutdown period, get a free grain bowl from 5 p.m. to close.

Morris American Bar

1020 7th Street NW

The craft cocktail bar is slinging $6 Old Fashioneds for the duration of the shutdown:


All D.C. locations

Free pies for federal employees between 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the shutdown.

Ornery Beer Company

3950 University Dr., Suite 209, Fairfax, Va.

Federal employees and a guest can enjoy a meal costing 25 percent less than normal.

Pennsylvania 6

1350 Eye Street NW

Happy hour is even longer, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. while the shutdown lingers with $5 mixed drinks, draft beer, and house wine.

Pizzeria Paradiso

Multiple locations

Federal contractors and employees can get two appetizers and a large pizza for $30 at all locations at any time of day until the shutdown ceases.

Punch Bowl Social

4238 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia

Starting Friday, January 11. Punch Bowl Social’s Arlington location is offering a 25 percent discount on all food, beverages, and games (including happy hour, brunch and specials) to any federal government employee with an ID.


1200 16th Street NW

The government shutdown means $2 fries at the historic Jefferson Hotel bar.

Quill/official photo

Ri Ra Georgetown

3125 M Street NW

The Irish eatery is handing a free sheperds pie to affected government workers with an ID.


606 Florida Avenue NW

El Techo’s winter pop-up, Selva, is running a “#NachoWall” special: guests with a valid federal government ID will receive a free heaping plate of chicken, rib, OG, or veggie nachos with any purchase of $10 or more between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday to Thursday while the shutdown lingers.


1205 11th Street NW

Federal workers can get one free happy hour menu item with the purchase of any wine, beer, cocktail, or Georgian soft drink. Happy hour is also extended during the shutdown, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.


Multiple locations

From Friday, January 11, to Sunday, January 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., all area salad shops will cover dinner via free signature salads to those with a government ID.

The Queen Vic

1206 H Street NE

Federal employees get an 18-percent discount on tabs.

Schlow Restaurant Group

Multiple locations

Each Michael Schlow restaurant created a special drink tied to the shutdown, and the first glass is free for government employees with ID. There’s an “overflowing” prosecco at Alta Strada DC; rum punch at Tico; a glass of sake at Nama; a warm “Mulling With You” winter cocktail at The Riggsby; and Casolare’s play on a White Russian, called “Treason To Believe,” with Russian Imperial Vodka donated by Lanterna. The drinks are also $5 for all.

Ted’s Bulletin

Multiple locations

The chain will offer happy hour pricing on draft beer, wine, and cocktails all day, Monday to Friday.

Taco Bamba

777 I Street NW

The Chinatown location is offering one free traditional taco to furloughed workers.

Tandoori Nights

10312 Willard Way in Courthouse Plaza, Fairfax, Va.

The Indian and Nepalese restaurant owned by immigrants is offering free dine-in buffet lunches until Friday, January 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to those toting their federal ID (soft drinks and alcoholic beverages aren’t included).


Chef Jose Andres is giving affected workers with a valid U.S. government ID free sandwiches from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at his D.C. restaurants until the furlough ends.

Toki Underground

1234 H Street NE

The longtime ramen bar is offering a free “Off the Wall” cocktail, with food purchase, for all federal employees. The drink features vodka, grapefruit, simple syrup, and bitter orange.

Whole Foods

Area locations are hosting a community spaghetti dinners on Tuesday, January 15, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.