Washington DC Dive Bar Guide

A City That Desperately Needs A Drink

Few cities need a drink quite like Washington DC, the patchwork of dive bars throughout the city a required respite from the very real – everything – going on throughout the district. And while a dive bar can’t solve all of the day’s problems, a PBR and a shot certainly won’t add to the troubles.

It is impossible to discuss Washington DC dive bars without first mentioning Dan’s Cafe, a building that looks like it might have been condemned few years ago that serves its drinks in a squeeze bottle with accompanying shot glass. That’s right, no matter the order, the concoction is poured into a condiment-style bottle to be dispensed at the customer’s leisure. Prices have increased over the years and some debate exists over whether this dive has been overrun by experience-seeking hipsters, but Dan’s Café cannot be missed.

In the great dive bar tradition of contradictory naming conventions, The Raven Grill holds the city’s oldest liquor license and despite its name serves no food. Opened in 1935, the selection here is limited even by dive bar standards, no draft beer available and no soda gun behind the bar. H Street’s The Pug shares a similar sensibility (no ‘bomb’ shots allowed) but pairs traditional dive bar features like a small space and cramped quarters with a few non-standard offerings as well (like the upscale ramen joint that serves food here).

Washington DC’s dense network of streets offers countless chances for a tucked-away dive bar to pop up during a tour of any of the city’s neighborhoods. And in this case, the huge disparity in those neighborhoods creates unique offerings based on the micro-community served.

Washington DC Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Adams Morgan

Dan's Café

2315 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
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Adams Morgan

Madam's Organ

2461 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
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Capitol Hill

Trusty's Full Serve

1420 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20003
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Columbia Heights

The Wonderland Ballroom

1101 Kenyon St NW
Washington, DC 20010
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Edgewood

The Dew Drop Inn

2801 8th St NE
Washington, DC 20017
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H Street

The Pug

1234 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
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Mt. Pleasant

Raven Grill

3125 Mt Pleasant St NW #101
Washington, DC 20010
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Silver Spring

Quarry House Tavern

8401 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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Other Dive Bar Options

Atomic Billiards

3427 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
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Ivy and Coney

1537 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
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Jackie Lee's

116 Kennedy St NW
Washington, DC 20011
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Jackpot

726 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
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Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club

1103 Bladensburg Rd NE
Washington, DC 20002
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Kelly's Irish Times

14 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001
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Last Call Bar

1301-A 4th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
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Lyman's Tavern

3720 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20011
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Marshall's Bar

2524 L St NW
Washington, DC 20037
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Red Derby

3718 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
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Rock It Grill

1319 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
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Showtime Lounge

113 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
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Solly's Tavern

1942 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
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Town Hall Liquor

8135 Baltimore Ave
College Park, MD 20740
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Tune Inn

331 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20003
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What Did We Miss?

14 + 4 =

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