Party On: 15 Good Bars for Birthday Parties
So you’re one year older and one year wiser—that’s cause for celebration! Here are some of our favorite bars in Washington to celebrate birthdays.
Adams Mill Bar & Grill
The best party package at this no-frills Adams Morgan bar is the $25 all-you-can-drink deal, available for up to three hours. There’s no room-rental fee, and you have your choice of three party spaces: a first-floor bar that holds 100 people, a second-floor bar that holds 60, and a third-floor bar with room for 80. If all-you-can-drink isn’t your bag, you can make arrangements for happy-hour drink prices or food platters. Call 202-332-9577 to reserve a space.
Chi Cha Lounge
There are three semiprivate party spaces at this U Street Latin lounge that can accommodate groups of 20 to 100. Event planner Jessica Gibson will work with groups to meet their party needs and can design drink and food specials on a case-by-case basis (the availability of specials depends on the date and time of the party). There’s a rental fee—dependent on party size—that’s waived if enough food and beverages are consumed to cover costs. Contact Jessica at 703-225-8823 to design a party.
The 75-seat patio is the most popular place for parties at Clarendon Grill. The bar offers party platters—everything from pot stickers to meatballs to crabcakes—that serve groups of 15 to 50. Platters are priced from $35 to $90 each. The bar doesn’t offer drink specials for large groups, but you’re welcome to schedule your party during happy hour—weekdays from 4 to 8. Call Danny, Chris, Jeff, or Victor at 703-524-7455 to make party arrangements.
Eleventh Street Lounge
Private parties are hosted in the newly refurbished basement lounge of this Arlington restaurant and bar. It can accommodate up to 100 people. There’s no rental fee, but there’s a food-and-drink purchase minimum for using the space, which is determined by the day and time of the party. Here’s a tip: The purchase threshold is lower Sunday through Thursday nights, when the basement is normally closed. Call 703-351-1311 for more information.
There are “fiesta rooms” at the DC and Bethesda outposts of this local Mexican/Tex-Mex chain. The DC party room is suited for 50 to 150 people, while the Bethesda room holds 30 to 100. Guapo’s charges a per-person fee of $22.95 for a buffet spread of mix-and-match Mexican items (up to four), including fajitas, crispy tacos, quesadillas, plantains, salad. Drinks, coffee, and dessert are extra. For more information, call the DC restaurant at 202-686-3588 or Bethesda at 301-656-0888.
For the high-rolling birthday set, this Asian/Caribbean lounge offers VIP packages for 8, 12, and 30 people. Each comes with drink and food options, such as appetizer platters and premium bottles or a fully stocked miniature fridge, or you can customize your own menu. Packages range from $350 to $1,500 and do not include tax and gratuity. Guests must pay 50 percent of the package price in advance as a deposit. Call 202-332-2104 for more information.
You can party Moroccan style at this Dupont Circle lounge, where Moroccan music, wine and beer, decor, and belly dancers help set the mood. The private party room can hold up to 100 people, and the place charges a fixed per-person price (usually around $30) for food; drinks aren’t included. Pasha Lounge won’t do a cake, but you’re more than welcome to bring one. To make arrangements, call 202-775-1883.
There’s no private party room at this Silver Spring restaurant, but we couldn’t leave off a place where pirates sing a round of “Happy Birthday.” The biggest table in the place seats 14, but staff can configure the space to accommodate any size party. Along with a serenade, birthday boys and girls of all ages will get a slice of cake and a candle to blow out, but only adults will get a free shot called the Cannonball to wash it down. “We’ll tell you what’s in it after you drink it,” says the hostess. Call 301-588-9001 for reservations.
Guests with birthdays at this small downtown DC dive are treated to an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and a drink on the house. There’s no place to have a private party, but the owner says he can create a separate, semiprivate section for large groups. You can get the free dinner deal Monday through Thursday if you call ahead (202-296-6686) to make arrangements. Plus, the regular Friday karaoke makes a great addition to any birthday gathering—assuming your friends aren’t tone-deaf, that is.
This neighborhood dive, a favorite of Columbia Heights residents (we’re looking at you, Alejandro), isn’t big enough for private parties, but owner David Leventry says his bar is still a party spot. Here’s why: Call in advance and the cooks will bake you a birthday cake on the house. If you’ve got a large group in tow—say, 20 to 25 people—Leventry will give you drink or food specials (just be sure to make arrangements ahead of time). E-mail email@example.com or call 202-291-5000 to make birthday plans.
Rock & Roll Hotel
There’s no rental fee for the event spaces at this H Street, Northeast, music venue, but there are food-and-drink minimums for each room. The 75-person capacity Presidential Suite, which comes with a private bartender, has a $1,000 minimum, while the Honeymoon Suite and the Piano Cafe, which hold a maximum of 40 people each, are set at $500. For major blowouts, you can reserve the 300-person music hall, which comes with a $5,000 food-and-drink minimum. The place has full in-house catering and will customize food and drink menus for your party. Call 202-388-7625 to book.
Housed in an old brownstone crammed between downtown DC office buildings, Science Club offers party space for everything from small get togethers to full-on blowouts. The four-level bar has nooks and crannies to accommodate groups as small as a dozen and as large as 70. Owner Steve MacGuire charges a rental fee—anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on the party size, but he says he’ll work with any budget—which includes the cost of a DJ. You can also work with MacGuire to make custom drinks. “If you’re cheeky enough to ask, we’ll figure out what we can do,” he says. Call 202-775-0747 to make arrangements.
Bowling parties aren’t just for kids anymore: This bowling alley/restaurant/bar offers party packages with adults in mind. Each comes with two hours of unlimited bowling, shoe rental, food, and drinks. Packages range from the Super Bowl ($54.95 a person) to the Kingpin ($69.95 a person), and all have a 12-person minimum. Some of the food offerings are what you’d expect from a bowling alley—beer-battered onion rings and pizza—but there’s also more sophisticated fare, such as spinach-artichoke fondue, bruschetta, and crudités. If the canned packages aren’t appealing, you can design your own party with a range of catering options. Call 301-652-0955 for more information.
This Arlington restaurant/bar/lounge has two private party rooms, a wine room (for seated dinners of up to 18 people), and a lounge (for reception-style parties of up to 50 people). There’s no rental fee, and menus can be customized for each space. A 20-percent gratuity is included on the bill, and there’s a $150 fee if you cancel less than seven days in advance. The reservation is guaranteed with a credit card. Call Clare Parker at 703-447-1757 to book.
This Adams Morgan bar accommodates private parties of 15 to 200. Groups can enjoy the benefits of a private bar—smaller lines!—and extended happy-hour prices on drinks. There’s no room-rental fee—though for large parties, you’ll need to pay a security charge to cover the cost of extra bouncers—but you can add a food buffet for a per-person cost (determined by the number of guests). Call Tom Tom at 202-518-6667.
Whitlow’s on Wilson
Whitlow’s offers a robust catering menu of dips, platters, sandwiches, appetizers, entrées, and more for large gatherings. The bar has three party spaces available, both private and semiprivate, and lots of entertainment options, such as video bowling, trivia machines, and live entertainment. There’s a room-rental fee that’s determined by the number of guests in your party—Whitlow’s can accommodate parties of 20 to 200—but it’s waived if you meet a food-and-drink minimum (not including tax and gratuity). To make arrangements, contact the catering staff at 703-276-9693 or firstname.lastname@example.org.