D.C. bars bounced back to full capacity and otherwise pre-pandemic norms well over a year ago. Throughout the public health crisis, new bars have continued to open, invigorating the District’s drinking scene with rooftop spaces, sidewalk patios, and exciting new options for happy hour and light bites. This map includes 13 bars that have opened in the past six months. For a list of essential bars, go here.Read More
The 13 Hottest New Bars in D.C., September 2022
Fresh destinations for all-local beers, reality TV show cocktails, espresso martinis galore, and more
The historic watering hole that debuted in downtown D.C. around the end of World War II before eventually moving to Clarendon and closing last summer resurfaced inside city limits in August. Now called Whitlow’s DC, the relocated neighborhood hangout slides into the space formerly occupied by Echo Park and makes good use of its two wood-paneled bars and airy patio out back. A draft beer list makes lots of room for locals, joined by fresh-squeezed crushes, espresso martinis, and $10 whiskey “Shaw’t and a beer” combo. Weekday happy hour also runs later than most (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) with $5 beers and rail drinks and $8 draft cocktails.
Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar
Restaurateur Daniel Kramer’s anticipated nautical venture, situated on a prime parcel at U and Vermont streets NW, brings the Bay to D.C. with steamed and seasoned Maryland blue crabs dumped on brown paper-topped tables. A casual drinking station lined with white swivel stools and dockside decor like life rafts and buoys strives to look and taste like a Maryland beach bar. Bright blue plastic cups are the vessels for fresh-squeezed orange (or grapefruit) crushes, palomas, a watermelon gin Rickey, Red Bull mule, and all-DMV draft beers. Patrons can book a table for up to eight on Resy.
butter me up
The all-day breakfast offshoot of HalfSmoke, Andre McCain’s Shaw bar known for over-the-top sausages and diner fare, moved into the former home to Taqueria Nacional last month. Opening drinks includes Veuve Clicquot mimosas, bloody marys, Irish coffees, and espresso martinis to go along with a list of coffees, fresh juices, smoothies, and teas from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Aslin Beer Company
The cult-favorite Virginia brewery kicked open the sleek wooden gates to its Logan Circle hangout over Independence Day weekend. The 211-seat taproom, beer garden, and coffee shop atop a former fueling station pours more than 20 Aslin drafts, like the “Volcano Sauce” sour ale or “No Backsies” Hefeweizen, along with Virginia-made Blüm wines. There’s also a chance to try batches exclusively made at the D.C. Aslin location via its one-barrel brewing system. Aslin’s psychedelic aesthetic translates to decor touches like neon signage, bright blue stools and seating, and a tile-covered bar. A Bun’d Up food truck sits on-site.
Eighteenth Street Lounge
The legendary Dupont Circle nightclub that closed during the pandemic after 25 years in business reopened in a new Northwest neighborhood last weekend. ESL’s two-level, 5,000-square-foot comeback in Shaw is about half the size of the dearly missed original. Similarities include an airy rooftop deck, full-service bars on each level, and the ability to host multiple live acts at once. Notable differences include a first-ever food program and earlier hours on weekends starting at 2 p.m. Happy hour from (Tuesday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) includes deals like half-off bottles of wine on Tuesdays or $10 margaritas and $2 off DC Brau Seltzer on Thursdays.
Clubhouse: Coffee & Cocktails
D.C. hospitality group Tin Shop flipped its subterranean Georgetown hangout Church Hall into Clubhouse, a polished new attraction for local and hard-to-find beers, natural wines, cocktails by a Barrel alum, small plates, and 12-inch pies from an Italian-born pizzaiolo. The renovated, 9,000-square-foot setup with three bars across two floors also offers happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Morning hours kick off Thursday, August 25, with coffee, croissants, and avocado toast. Tin Shop also runs Franklin Hall, Penn Social, Slice & Pie, Lucy on 14th Street NW, Astro Beer Hall, and TallBoy.
Roving food truck Rebel Taco unveiled its long-awaited K Street NW outpost last month. The 1,600-square-foot, graffiti-soaked space features a leaf-lined patio bar out front, fast-casual ordering counter upon entry, and tequila library up top. The location debuts lamb birria and cactus tacos on corn or flour tortillas, plus a selection of fresh and frozen margaritas and happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Another location just opened in Brambleton, Virginia this month.
The Little Grand
All Souls, Shaw’s corner industry hangout for alcohol (but no food) since 2013 switches things up at its cozy new Atlas District sibling with the addition of sourdough-based pizza. The Little Grand debuted in July with a familiar list of local beers, eclectic wines, and classic cocktails like a Manhattan, daiquiri, Negroni, and martini. The partners tapped NYC vet pizzaiolo Bobby Hellen to help construct New York-ish”-style round and square “Sicilian-ish” opening pies. Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight (closed Tuesday and Wednesday), with food available until as late as 10 p.m.
Jon Taffer, the boisterous reality TV host of the Bar Rescue makeover show, made his flashy D.C. debut in August. Anchored by a big bar lined in comfy yellow seats, the Penn Quarter tavern serves beers in ice-cold glasses and a catch-all cocktail list that integrates lots of dehydrated fruits and fun accents (think: a tiny mermaid marker dangling off a tropical Blue Mist). A section of “As Seen on Bar Rescue” drinks include a citrusy Rockaway Resilience pulled from his rehabbed menu at Queens’s Bungalow Bar. An affordable $20 “Taffer’s Tasters” board lets patrons sample its four most popular cocktails at once.
The Bar-ista at Urban Roast
Penn Quarter’s buzzy, all-day cafe Urban Roast carved out room up front for a sultry, magenta-lit bar dedicated to creative coffee cocktails. Dressed in dark reptilian wallpaper and a canopy of white roses, the stylish setup sends out espresso martinis (or flights) in various flavors, along with Colombian coffee-infused twists on classics like a cold brew Old Fashioned featuring a caffeinated ice cube, whiskey chai, caramel dolce White Russian, mocha-meets-margarita, and hot or cold Irish coffee. The Urban Roast team will add a surprise new whiskey bar right above in the coming weeks.
Beuchert’s Saloon’s irreverent sandwich pop-up graduated to permanent Capitol Hill digs in May, and the bar program went live in late June. The star of the show is boozy punches on draft (poured by the glass or pitcher), joined by “shaken and stirred” cocktails like the “Gin and Juiced” built with Snoop Dogg’s Indoggo strawberry gin. A “three-round” Fight Club happy hour includes $7 beer-and-shot combos, free industry pours, and $2 off beers (weekdays from noon to 2 p.m.; 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and 11 p.m. to midnight). The playful, 60-seat party pad is filled with tiki lanterns, a DJ booth, a Street Fighter arcade game, and a pop art portrait of Danny Devito.
The taco-and-tequila bar in West Hollywood and Miami unveiled its massive Navy Yard outpost in June. Around since 1999, the flashy chain’s first-ever D.C. location opens with eight types of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, churros, and four types of margaritas by the glass or pitcher. D.C. also has its own taco to try: a lamb barbacoa variety with roasted beets, goat cheese, pepita, and gremolata on a corn tortilla. The 236-seat space offers 72-seat wraparound patio with happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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Chicken + Whiskey
The popular South American rotisserie shop and whiskey bar on 14th Street NW since 2017 added a bigger, follow-up location right next to Nationals Park in late July. Star Latin chef and partner Enrique Limardo (Seven Reasons, Immigrant Food, Imperfecto) designs a menu full of slow-roasted chickens and Venezuelan arepas to go along with 99 domestic and international whiskeys. Debut bar snacks in Navy Yard include Tajin-spiced wings, churro doughnuts, arepitas, and pulled chicken wrapped in a nacho cheese-crusted flour tortilla. Passion berry-infused Chacho made on-site builds a “Kool-Aid Caliente” with tequila and blue curacao. Weekday happy hour (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and all day Monday) features 25 percent-off whiskeys, $8 Old Fashioneds, and $9 Toki highballs.