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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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Quarry House Tavern

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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.

Red Derby

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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.

Looking Glass Lounge

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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.

The Dew Drop Inn

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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.

Dan's Cafe

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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.

Showtime Lounge

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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.

The Fox and Hounds Lounge

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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.

Ivy and Coney

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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.

Stan's DC Restaurant

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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.

Vienna Inn

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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.

The Bottom Line

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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

The Pug

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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

Union Pub

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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.

Galaxy Hut

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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.

JV's Restaurant

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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.

Quarry House Tavern

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.

Red Derby

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.

Looking Glass Lounge

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.

The Dew Drop Inn

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.

Dan's Cafe

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.

Showtime Lounge

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.

The Fox and Hounds Lounge

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.

Ivy and Coney

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.

Stan's DC Restaurant

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.

Vienna Inn

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.

The Bottom Line

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

The Pug

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

Union Pub

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.

Galaxy Hut

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.

JV's Restaurant

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.

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