In a contradiction that makes sense only for dive bars, Dan’s Café looks perpetually closed in a way that can only be a good omen for the quality found within. The prices are a little higher than they once were and the neighborhood is certainly a bit more upscale than years past, but Dan’s Café still strikes a legit claim to Washington DC dive bar status.
Dating back to the 1940s and founded by a man named, you guessed it, Dan, the dive bar was purchased in 1965 by Clinnie Dickens who operated Dan’s Café until his death in 2021 passed ownership to son Tracy. The signature feature here is the alcohol delivery system, a series of condiment-style squeeze bottle filled with whatever concoction is requested and provided along with a set of shot glasses.
The space is dark, hot and caked with a few decades worth of pre-smoking ban cigarette smoke, creating an entirely unique experience in a part of Washington DC populated with more “sophisticated’ and less authentic options nearby. Take note, while the bar was once open every day, hours are now restricted to Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.