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Interior of a bar lined with vintage prints
Looking Glass Lounge in Petworth.
Looking Glass Lounge/official photo

The 15 Most Lovable Dive Bars Around D.C.

Judgement-free drinking zones for a no-frills night out

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Looking Glass Lounge in Petworth.
| Looking Glass Lounge/official photo

The D.C. area is full of special places to eat and drink, but sometimes its something a little more low-key that’s on the itinerary.

The dive bars on this list cover a lot of bases, with some specializing in beers and shots and others specializing in vegan Americana. Some serve tots and one even has half price specials on oysters. Some have all-day happy hours or no happy hours at all, and a few have a cash-only policy. All are reliable, a little grungy, and definitely solid choices for an unpretentious evening out in the D.C. area.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Quarry House Tavern

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8401 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 844-5504
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Silver Spring’s basement bar stays grounded with plenty of whiskey and graffiti-laced bathrooms. The food menu tries hard to please with elote nachos; burgers topped with everything from fig jam and prosciutto to egg, jalapeño cream cheese, and maple mayo; and beer floats for dessert.

2. Red Derby

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3718 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 291-5000
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Dive bars have rooftops too, as seen in Red Derby’s breezy, all-weather deck for burgers or beer-and-shot combos (there’s an entire menu for beer-and-shot combos). The chill, 14th Street mainstay also runs “24/7” happy hour on $3.50 whiskey and tequila shots, and a $28 bots and tots combo includes a bottle of wine and a hot basket of tater tots.

3. Looking Glass Lounge

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3634 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 722-7669
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Lined with vintage lamps and stained glass windows, Petworth’s lived-in Looking Glass Lounge has a surprise downstairs bar that opens to a heated, wood-framed patio. Half-priced burgers on Wednesdays, trivia nights, and rare domestic brews are all part of the charm.

4. The Dew Drop Inn

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2801 8th St NE
Washington, DC 20017

Lovingly located under train tracks, Brookland’s stoned-framed tavern is a hyperlocal favorite for pickleback shots and canned beers. A casual kitchen sends out pulled pork sandwiches, chili, and all-beef hot dogs, but patrons are more than welcome to order in their own food. Stretch out the weekend on Sundays with a newly revived late-night happy hour at 10 p.m. The Northeast quadrant recently upped its dive bar game with the arrival of Last Call in Union Market district.

5. Dan's Cafe

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2315 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 265-0299

Adams Morgan’s cash-only fixture that lets customers mix their own drinks hasn’t messed with much since opening in 1965. Bartenders famously serve shots in squeeze bottles, and a DIY gin and tonic comes with a tall glass of gin, tiny tonic bottles, and ice bucket.

6. Showtime Lounge

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113 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

Bloomingdale’s pint-sized watering hole, named one of Esquire’s best bars in America, has a cash-only policy, $5 beer-and-a-shot combos, CD jukebox, and no shortage of National Bohemian.

7. The Fox and Hounds Lounge

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1533 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-6307
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Heat lamps keep the patio at this inexpensive 17th Street bar bustling all winter long. Inside, bartenders pour generous drinks in a cozy barroom lined with vinyl booths. Happy hour lands weeknights starting at 3 p.m. with half off fresh oysters, sliders, and nachos, plus plenty of drink specials.

8. Ivy and Coney

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1537 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 670-9489
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This unpretentious, cash-only bar is devoted to Chicago Bears and everything that comes with the city. Fill up on sausages, Detroit pizza, dogs, and beef sandwiches alongside cheap Midwestern beer and well drinks. Shots of Chicago’s love-to-hate novelty liquor Malort are just $1 after 11 p.m.

9. Stan's DC Restaurant

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1029 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-4488
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Downtown’s decades-old downstairs dive is known for its award-winning (baked or fried) wings with mumbo sauce, super strong well drinks, and under-$5 drafts at happy hour. The 9-to-5 neighborhood’s recently resurrected Post Pub is another solid pick.

10. Vienna Inn

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120 Maple Ave E
Vienna, VA 22180
(703) 938-9548
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Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.

11. The Bottom Line

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1716 I St NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 298-8488
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Established in 1979, this below ground, Dupont Circle dive bleeds strong for the Reds and Bengals. It opens by lunch each day with a fairly lengthy menu (for better or for worse), including seafood, wraps, tacos, burgers, and tots. Happy hour runs all day with$5 domestics, $7 house wines, and $5.50 rail drinks.

A burger at the bottom line.
The Bottom Line has a lengthy food menu.
Bottom Line/Facebook

12. The Pug

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1234 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002

Try clicking “specialty cocktails” on the website of this OG journalist bar, and you’ll be redirected to Cosmo. This no-frills dive has movie theater chairs lined up against a brick wall for seating, plus bar stools. Also from the same owners is the reliable watering hole Solly’s across town on U Street NW. The same strip is also home to industry go-to Sudhouse.

The menu on the wall at the Pug.
The Pug doesn’t serve specialty cocktails.
The Pug/Facebook

13. Union Pub

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201 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 546-7200
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Beers by the bucket and cheap tequila shots are the name of the game at Capitol Hill’s go-to hangout for politicos and sports fans. Soak up booze with a “drunk food” menu comprised of cheese curds, mini corn dogs, and chicken totchos. Daily specials include $6 Moscow mule Mondays. $18 Bud Light buckets on Wednesday, and $6 Bloody Marys or mimosas until 3 p.m. on weekends. A big patio out front is a plus.

14. Galaxy Hut

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2711 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 525-8646
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This longtime Clarendon bar might be the friendliest dive for vegans and vegetarians. A massive menu of vegan Americana snacks (smoky tempeh Reuben, tater tots with vegan queso, and a selection of vegan housemade burgers or impossible burgers) join old school video games at this tiny bar. Galaxy Hut opens daily at 5 p.m.

15. JV's Restaurant

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6666 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 241-9504
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This 75-year old Falls Church strip mall spot for blues music, country, classic rock, and even gospel keeps the kitchen fires burning until 1:30 a.m. with campy specials like liver and onions, pepper steak, and chili mac. Breakfast is available all day long on Sundays.

1. Quarry House Tavern

8401 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Silver Spring’s basement bar stays grounded with plenty of whiskey and graffiti-laced bathrooms. The food menu tries hard to please with elote nachos; burgers topped with everything from fig jam and prosciutto to egg, jalapeño cream cheese, and maple mayo; and beer floats for dessert.

8401 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20910

2. Red Derby

3718 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Dive bars have rooftops too, as seen in Red Derby’s breezy, all-weather deck for burgers or beer-and-shot combos (there’s an entire menu for beer-and-shot combos). The chill, 14th Street mainstay also runs “24/7” happy hour on $3.50 whiskey and tequila shots, and a $28 bots and tots combo includes a bottle of wine and a hot basket of tater tots.

3718 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

3. Looking Glass Lounge

3634 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010

Lined with vintage lamps and stained glass windows, Petworth’s lived-in Looking Glass Lounge has a surprise downstairs bar that opens to a heated, wood-framed patio. Half-priced burgers on Wednesdays, trivia nights, and rare domestic brews are all part of the charm.

3634 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20010

4. The Dew Drop Inn

2801 8th St NE, Washington, DC 20017

Lovingly located under train tracks, Brookland’s stoned-framed tavern is a hyperlocal favorite for pickleback shots and canned beers. A casual kitchen sends out pulled pork sandwiches, chili, and all-beef hot dogs, but patrons are more than welcome to order in their own food. Stretch out the weekend on Sundays with a newly revived late-night happy hour at 10 p.m. The Northeast quadrant recently upped its dive bar game with the arrival of Last Call in Union Market district.

2801 8th St NE
Washington, DC 20017

5. Dan's Cafe

2315 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Adams Morgan’s cash-only fixture that lets customers mix their own drinks hasn’t messed with much since opening in 1965. Bartenders famously serve shots in squeeze bottles, and a DIY gin and tonic comes with a tall glass of gin, tiny tonic bottles, and ice bucket.

2315 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

6. Showtime Lounge

113 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

Bloomingdale’s pint-sized watering hole, named one of Esquire’s best bars in America, has a cash-only policy, $5 beer-and-a-shot combos, CD jukebox, and no shortage of National Bohemian.

113 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

7. The Fox and Hounds Lounge

1533 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Heat lamps keep the patio at this inexpensive 17th Street bar bustling all winter long. Inside, bartenders pour generous drinks in a cozy barroom lined with vinyl booths. Happy hour lands weeknights starting at 3 p.m. with half off fresh oysters, sliders, and nachos, plus plenty of drink specials.

1533 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036

8. Ivy and Coney

1537 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

This unpretentious, cash-only bar is devoted to Chicago Bears and everything that comes with the city. Fill up on sausages, Detroit pizza, dogs, and beef sandwiches alongside cheap Midwestern beer and well drinks. Shots of Chicago’s love-to-hate novelty liquor Malort are just $1 after 11 p.m.

1537 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

9. Stan's DC Restaurant

1029 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

Downtown’s decades-old downstairs dive is known for its award-winning (baked or fried) wings with mumbo sauce, super strong well drinks, and under-$5 drafts at happy hour. The 9-to-5 neighborhood’s recently resurrected Post Pub is another solid pick.

1029 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

10. Vienna Inn

120 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA 22180

Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.

120 Maple Ave E
Vienna, VA 22180

11. The Bottom Line

1716 I St NW, Washington, DC 20006
A burger at the bottom line.
The Bottom Line has a lengthy food menu.
Bottom Line/Facebook

Established in 1979, this below ground, Dupont Circle dive bleeds strong for the Reds and Bengals. It opens by lunch each day with a fairly lengthy menu (for better or for worse), including seafood, wraps, tacos, burgers, and tots. Happy hour runs all day with$5 domestics, $7 house wines, and $5.50 rail drinks.

1716 I St NW
Washington, DC 20006

12. The Pug

1234 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
The menu on the wall at the Pug.
The Pug doesn’t serve specialty cocktails.
The Pug/Facebook

Try clicking “specialty cocktails” on the website of this OG journalist bar, and you’ll be redirected to Cosmo. This no-frills dive has movie theater chairs lined up against a brick wall for seating, plus bar stools. Also from the same owners is the reliable watering hole Solly’s across town on U Street NW. The same strip is also home to industry go-to Sudhouse.

1234 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002

13. Union Pub

201 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

Beers by the bucket and cheap tequila shots are the name of the game at Capitol Hill’s go-to hangout for politicos and sports fans. Soak up booze with a “drunk food” menu comprised of cheese curds, mini corn dogs, and chicken totchos. Daily specials include $6 Moscow mule Mondays. $18 Bud Light buckets on Wednesday, and $6 Bloody Marys or mimosas until 3 p.m. on weekends. A big patio out front is a plus.

201 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002

14. Galaxy Hut

2711 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

This longtime Clarendon bar might be the friendliest dive for vegans and vegetarians. A massive menu of vegan Americana snacks (smoky tempeh Reuben, tater tots with vegan queso, and a selection of vegan housemade burgers or impossible burgers) join old school video games at this tiny bar. Galaxy Hut opens daily at 5 p.m.

2711 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201

15. JV's Restaurant

6666 Arlington Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22042

This 75-year old Falls Church strip mall spot for blues music, country, classic rock, and even gospel keeps the kitchen fires burning until 1:30 a.m. with campy specials like liver and onions, pepper steak, and chili mac. Breakfast is available all day long on Sundays.

6666 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22042

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