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.