News & Politics

Bargain Happy Hours in DC, Virginia & Maryland

Washingtonian interns scoured DC, Virginia, and Maryland looking for bars with the best cheap burgers, bites, and booze.

Our favorite places.

THE BARKING DOG, 4723 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-654-0022; Appetizers like coconut chicken tenders and spinach-and-artichoke dip are $6 at this friendly tavern. Selected pints are $3, rail drinks and wine $3. Happy hours: Monday – Friday 3 to 7.

Our pick: coconut chicken tenders.

BISTRO BISTRO, 4021 S. 28th St., Arlington; 703-379-0300; We felt as though we were the only people who didn't know the waitstaff or the patrons, but Bistro Bistro's friendly atmosphere and great half-price appetizers, like the smoked-chicken quesadilla, made us feel at home. Miller Lite and Bud Light are $1.99, seasonals $2.99. Happy hours: Monday through Saturday 3 to 7 PM.

Our pick: Jamaican-jerk-chicken spring rolls ($3.50). Ask for teriyaki sauce.

CAFE CITRON, 1343 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-530-8844; For a tropical-flavored happy hour try the Tasters menu ($3 to $7.50) at this Dupont hot spot. The fried plantains and fried Sonso cheese patties are delicious. Fruity drinks like mojitos ($4) and tropical rum lemonade ($4), and bottled beers like Corona ($3) and Portuguese Sagres ($3) are discounted. Happy hours: Monday through Saturday, 4 to 7 PM. You can also get drink specials Monday through Wednesday from 8 to 10 PM.

Our pick: Bolivian potato cakes stuffed with beef and cheese ($5.95).

CHADWICKS, 203 S. Strand St., Alexandria, 703-836-4442; also in Georgetown; This Old Town pub offers $3 bar food and $2 domestics and rail drinks. On Monday, the bar sweetens the deal with half-price burgers; on Thursday, it's "fire and ice"–35-cent hot wings and $2.95 Molson Ice. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 PM.

Our pick: country-fried chicken tenders with house-made honey-dijon and barbecue sauces ($3).

DIVINO LOUNGE, 7345-B Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 240-497-0300; The only thing interns love more than cheap food is free food. At this trendy, dimly lit lounge–which is on The Washingtonian's Very Best Restaurant list–we enjoyed free Argentinien tapas: sausage, chicken croquettes, olives, and mushrooms. (The four mini-dishes change daily.) Rail drinks, martinis, and beers are half price. Happy hours: Wednesday through Friday 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Our pick: mushrooms in white-wine sauce.

FACCIA LUNA, 2909 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-276-3099; also in Alexandria; It's technically not a happy hour, but the Monday-night special at the Arlington location is one of the best deals in town. Two people can feast on house salads or an appetizer such as a goat-cheese napoleon or tomato bruschetta, a pizza with two toppings, and two glasses of house wine for $22.22. Specials offered Mondays 5 to 11 PM.

Our pick: mozzarella and red peppers drizzled in olive oil.

GRILLFISH, 1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-331-7310; Domestic bottled beers, select glasses of wine, and appetizers such as buffalo shrimp and steamed mussels are half price. Cocktails such as the "Kokonut Kamikaze," a blend of coconut rum, sour mix, and pineapple juice, are $4. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 PM, Saturday & Sunday 5 to 7 PM.

Our pick: mixed grill of shrimp, swordfish, salmon, and a scallop.

HERITAGE INDIA BRASSERIE, 1337 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-331-1414. Dishes from the small-plates menu–inspired by Indian street food–are a steal at half price ($2.50 to $3.50). The classy, low-key bar is a nice break from the wilder Dupont bar scene. Domestic beers are $2.75, imports $3.75, martinis $4.50 and rail drinks $4.75. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 5 to 7 PM (food) 4.30 to 7.30 PM (drinks).

Our pick: the "frankie"–grilled chicken rolled in flatbread and cheese ($3.50).

MCCORMICK & SCHMICK'S, 7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-961-2626; also in Chinatown, downtown DC, Tysons Corner, and Reston; Because McCormick & Schmick's is on the ground floor of a Bethesda high-rise, much of its clientele comes after work from the building's upper floors. The bar, which is separate from the dining room, has a $1.95 appetizer menu that includes tasty burgers, wings, quesadillas, oysters, and mussels. There is a two-beverage minimum for the special, but it's worth it. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 3:30 to 6:30 PM and Monday through Thursday 9:30 to 11.

Our pick: steamed mussels in wine and garlic broth ($1.95).

TUNNICLIFFS TAVERN, 222 Seventh St., SE; 202-544-5680; You'll find specials every weeknight here. Monday, they have Wine Night, with any two entrees you get a bottle of wine for half price. Tuesday Lasagna Night, enjoy lasagna with a side of house salad and a glass of wine for $14. Friday all appetizers are half price. Get a Bud Light for $2. Between 11 PM and 1 AM there is a Late Night Menu with burgers and salads for half price and pizzas $7. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 7 to 11 PM.

WHITLOW'S ON WILSON, 2854 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-9693; Whitlow's fantastic apps–like peel-and-eat shrimp and spinach-and-artichoke dip–and good drink specials make it a favorite. Get there early–you can't sit at a table unless you're ordering dinner, and bar stools fill up. You can feast on half-price burgers all day Monday. Mug night Thursday from 4 to 9 PM,  buy a Mug ($5) and refill with the beer of the night ($1.50). On Friday from 4 to 8, appetizers such as cheese fries are $2 off. Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 8 PM drafts are $2.50.

Our pick: spinach-and-artichoke dip with pita chips ($5.95 on Friday).

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.