It’s inarguable that DC is full of incredible cocktail spots, some of the newest and coolest breweries, countless savor worthy wine bars, and plenty of dance floors. Perhaps the most underrated nook of our bustling nightlife scene is of course: the dive bar. When you’re looking for a place that feels like home (and comes with a PBR), these are the few roughs amongst diamonds that made our top 7 list of very best.
If you’ve walked down Admo’s 18th Street in the light of day, you didn’t notice Dan’s Cafe. This abandoned looking teal building with the broken window blinds serves liquor in ketchup bottles. It’s their version of ‘self-serve’ and yes, it’s lit. And yes, it’s a DC rite of passage to put a (cash only) deposit on a bottle and squirt the night away.
Velvet Lounge just never gets old- and that’s probably why you’ve seen the line wrap around the block on U street. When the U scene gets a little too glam, Velvet is a great come-as-you-are bar. If the sticker covered filmy window didn’t give enough insight as to what lies within, don’t take our word for it. Step inside and dance alongside some incredible live music acts and hundreds of your closest, sweating friends.
1831 is a dive by the theory of relativity; compared to the gaggle of clubs surrounding Dupont Circle. But this is probably the least divey of dive bars on this list. 1831 earns some street cred for its location, literally underground and it’s habit of serving $2 natty lights during what seems like an endless happy hour. This is a prime spot when the weather gets icky and hunkering down with a bucket of cheap beer seems like the only solution.
The Big Hunt
Funky? Low-key? FULLY LOADED FRENCH FRIES?! The Big Hunt has got it all and comes with an iconic weird safari theme! This Dupont and Farragut Adjacent spot boasts the cheapest drinks around the circle and by far the most original branding. Check out their comedy nights or come during slower hours to enjoy skeeball machines and dart boards.
The “pro” list here is endless; not only do patrons at Red Derby enjoy a laid back atmosphere and a comfortable rooftop, but the beer + shot deal menu selection is diverse and affordable. This 14th street dive IS possible to find, as long as you follow 14th street all the way to petworth! (or try metroing to petworth station for easier access – it’s just two blocks away!)
Kelly’s Irish Times
Would it be a dive bar list without mention of an irish pub? Three little words for this NoMa gem: Big. Buck. Hunter. And when you get tired of that (which you wont), the beer deals are pretty great too.
Ivy and Coney
There may be only one spot in DC where you can pair a true Chicago hot dog with and Old Style (especially for under $5). When summer rolls around, the back patio is a great spot. Chicago and Detroit based beers and brats not your thing? Ivy and Coney will serve you almost anything through their liquor locker program. Buy a locker and you gain access to thousands of labels at industry rates for private use- straight from your bartender to your glass.
Don’t be afraid to try something new this weekend when it comes to where to order your drink and be sure to leave us a comment or tag us using #FrayLife or #DCFray so we can join in on the action!
Looking to start drinking a little earlier in the day? There’s a classy way to do it with these Bloody Mary Brunches!