Get a Clue: Trivia Nights and Pub Quizzes in Washington

By: Alejandro Salinas, Jesseka Kadylak

A great way to test your intellect and pop-culture savviness while out drinking with friends, trivia nights are popping up all over town. From a Jeopardy-inspired game in a Herndon tavern to the “pub quiz” common in Irish bars, these are some of our favorite picks.

A few months ago, we came up with what we thought was a pretty comprehensive guide to the best trivia nights in the area. You flooded the comments section and proved us wrong. Now, as we revise and update our roundup, we want your input. Know of a great spot we overlooked? Leave your suggestions in our comments section.


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DC

The Argonaut. “Booze Clues,” as this H Street bar has dubbed its trivia, kicks off Wednesday's at 8 PM in its upstairs area. The game consists of eight rounds, and team sizes vary. Prizes include $50 and $25 gift certificates for first and second place, respectively, as well as other fun gifts for the team that places last and those with the best names.

Bedrock Billiards. Trivia nights start at 8 PM every Sunday with a $50 gift certificate for the winning team.

DC Improv. Happy Hour Trivia takes place once a month (usually the first Wednesday) in the comedy lounge before the evening act, starting at 7. The lounge seats only 55, so arrive early to secure a spot. First prize is tickets to the next trivia night and show, second place is $10 off the bar tab, and third is $5. All three winners enjoy a free basket of chips and salsa. Trivia participants get reserved seating in the main showroom for the evening performance.

Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant. Held Monday at 8 and known as Pub Quiz, trivia at Fadó consists of seven rounds of questions, including a picture-identification round that often involves movie stars and other celebrities. In what manager Ciara O’Neill describes as a decidedly less competitive atmosphere than other trivia spots, teams can vary from one person to ten or more people. Gift certificates are awarded to winning teams.

Ireland’s Four Fields. With no emcee calling out questions over the microphone, trivia at this local Irish hangout is a little different. Every Wednesday night, owner Frank Hughes moonlights as pub-quiz master, distributing a 70-question handout that must be completed by participants in less than 90 minutes. Prizes include a $50 gift certificate for the winner and a free round of drinks for the runner-up. Pub Quiz starts at 9, but according to Hughes, those looking for comfortable seating should get there by 8:30.

Looking Glass Lounge. The spot once known as Temperance Hall hosts trivia night every Thursday at 8. The event is quite popular among patrons of the bar and neighbors in the area, so get there early.

Nanny O’Briens. Win money towards a bar tab Tuesdays at 8. Arrive early —seating fills up fast.

Nellie’s Sports Bar. Smart Ass!, this U Street bar’s version of trivia takes place every Wednesday at 8, and a second round starts at 9. Prizes include $30 off of the winning team’s tab and $20 and $10 off for the runners-up. The game consists of three rounds of six questions each plus a special round .

Note: Pour House trivia is still on hiatus. We regret the error.

The Pour House. Tuesday trivia nights here are an event—and with good reason: Neal Racioppo and Rebecca Scott emcee the game with equal amounts of charm and sass, humorously chiding and often egging on the smart-ass Hill crowd. Trivia starts at 7, but seating is limited as early as 6. There are two games per night, each consisting of two rounds, as well as a short halftime game. All trivia rounds have ten questions, which cover everything from John Grisham novels to Yasser Arafat to “octagon” references in the movie Anchorman. Hilarious team names, most of which are taken from the day’s headlines, are encouraged and often rewarded with prizes. Top teams are awarded $30, $20, and $10 bar-tab discounts per game; while there are no food specials, pitchers of Bud and Miller Light go for $10.

Solly’s. Hosted by the Washington Irish Rugby Football Club, trivia nights at Solly’s are held every first and third Wednesday of the month. The game consists of four rounds with one speed round. There are five questions per round.

Ventnor Sports Café. Don’t let the bar’s name fool you—trivia here isn’t exclusively sports-oriented. Owner and emcee Scott Auslander downloads questions from an online trivia site (nofrigginclue.com) and puts together a handout structured into eight rounds of ten questions each. There’s a multiple-choice round, an audio round—a crowd favorite—and a final, extra-tough question known as the “pub stumper.” Service is amiable, and the crowd is composed of regulars and newcomers alike. There are no size restrictions for teams, but a two-drink minimum is required to participate. Trivia night, Tuesdays at 9, takes place only in the main room, so seating can be a problem for latecomers.

Wonderland Ballroom. You can spot scenesters, locals, and Wonkette staffers alike at Wonderland’s Monday trivia. Ten rounds of ten questions each are read by one, two, or even three emcees. Half the fun of trivia at Wonderland is getting to host the event—anyone interested can sign up. Hosts get $25 in beer and food per person. Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles are available for $3, and prizes include $100, $20, and $10 bar-tab discounts. No more than five members per team. Trivia, held in the bar’s upstairs area, usually runs from 7:30 to 10, but good luck trying to find a table after 6.

Maryland

Flanagan’s Harp and Fiddle. Flanagan’s hosts quiz night every Monday from 8 to 10. The event is free to enter, and the bar awards three prizes each night.

JJ Muldoon’s. Trivia night is every Friday at 7:30. Prizes of $20, $15, and $10 toward the bar tab are awarded to the three top teams.

McGinty’s Public House. Eric hosts Monday from 7 to 9. First, second, and third prizes are $35, $25, and $15 gift certificates. McGinty’s even awards one lucky loser with a $15 gift certificate. There are also chances to win shirts, hats, and other prizes while enjoying Sam Adams beer specials.

Saphire Cafe. Trivia at this Bethesda spot happens every Wednesday night at 7:30. Drink and food specials include $1.75 Miller Lite Drafts and half-price burgers.

Virginia

Bailey’s Pub. Brainstormer Pub Quiz takes place Thursdays at 9.

Ireland’s Four Courts. Teams of no more than four members participate in seven rounds of ten questions, which include picture identification and matchup. Starting at 7:30 and often going later than 10, Pub Quiz at Four Courts has the added bonus of a food special: Burgers are half price ($5.95) on Mondays. Prizes for winners include $100 and $50 gift certificates for the winning team and runner-up.

Ireland’s Four Provinces. Hosted by emcee Amy Smith—who prepares the questions—Wednesday trivia at this bar has been running for seven years. A handout with 30 questions, including one Irish-related query, is given out by Smith at 9, with an hour allotted for responses. With as many as 60 teams participating, team size is restricted to two to five members. Each week’s winners go on to a tournament of champions (the next is September 16), for which Four Provinces closes its dining room. Trophies are handed out to the winners of a 200-question challenge. “During this competition, you can hear a pin drop,” says bar manager Colm Dillon.

Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern. Alex Trebek, eat your heart out. With beer and food thrown in, these days the best Jeopardy matches are held at Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern every Tuesday night. “JOTTeopardy” starts at 7 with a series of elimination rounds from which three finalists are selected. Once the pool is narrowed, emcee and bar owner Jimmy Cirrito takes the stage and a board with different categories is brought out. Finalists then duke it out for gift certificates and the chance to advance to a monthly championship round.

Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub. Tuesday trivia at Murphy’s doesn’t start until around 8:15, but with prizes including baseball tickets, free wings, and a percentage marked off your bill—not to mention the lure of half-price burgers—bartender Sam Pallo suggests getting there by 7:30. Questions are read over a microphone by an emcee; teams of about four people play ten rounds.

O’Connell’s Restaurant. Brainstormer Pub Quiz is hosted Wednesdays at 7. Participants can enjoy food specials to gain the brain power needed to win.

O’Sullivans Irish Pub. Wednesday trivia starts at 8:30 and runs past 10. The game is structured in four rounds—two are general questions, one is about movie quotes, and the last is a musical round. Emcee Paddy Doody takes the stage for the musical round, singing five songs from which he then draws a series of related questions. Drink and food specials include $2 Bud Lights and fish and chips for $5.50 from 4:30 to 8:30.

Whitlow’s on Wilson. Pub Quiz takes place Sunday nights at 8. Teams consist of no fewer than two and no more than five people and the first place winner takes home a prize.

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