We’ve all been there: It’s a workday, you’ve just spent four hours in a meeting with absolutely no productive results, and you and your coworkers are staring at each other, glassy-eyed, telepathically communicating over the cubicle walls your serious need for a beer. That’s right: It’s happy-hour time. The after-work happy hour holds a special place in everybody’s heart. You don’t need fancy, you don’t need a lot of atmosphere, you don’t need a fruit-flavored martini. You just need a spot to loosen your tie (or take off your heels and switch into sneakers) and toss back a few. Here are our favorites. Have more suggestions? Leave ’em in the comments.
For the Google map of our favorite after-work happy hour bars, click here.
For more happy-hour picks, try out our Happy Hour Finder, where you can find hundreds of happy-hour specials in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Buffalo Billiards may not be the most original bar in the world, but it’s got several factors going for it to make it a great after-work destination: location, 30 pool tables, and most important, lots of space for those times when you and a large group of people are going out. Happy hour is from 4 to 8 on weekdays, with prices on beers $1 off. Mondays feature half-price quesadillas. So grab your coworkers and a couch or two, and settle in for a couple of hours.
Buffalo Billiards, 1330 19th St., NW; 202-331-7665. Closest Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
Capital City Brewing Company
This chain of brew pubs has one of the most reliable after-work happy hours around. Every day from 4 to 7, its good selection of draft beers is $2.50 each, while everything on the appetizer menu is half-price.
Capital City Brewing Company
1100 New York Ave., NW, 202-628-2222 (closest Metro stop: Metro Center); 2 Massachusetts Ave., NE; 202-842-2337 (closest Metro stop: Union Station); 2700 S. Quincy St., Arlington; 703-578-3888.
After a fire ripped through this popular Hill bar in August 2005, it reopened with a fresher look, the same quirky political posters, and the same good happy-hour deals. Suit- and khaki-clad Hill staffers talk politics and sip on $2.50 beers and $3.50 rail drinks.
Capitol Lounge, 231 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-547-2098. Closest Metro stop: Capitol South.
Heading into happy hour hungry after work? The downtown Chef Geoff’s, three blocks from the White House, is the place to go. The $5 burgers are served with a heaping helping of shoestring fries. And the beer? Oh, Lord, the beer. The dark-wood-paneled bar tosses out this heavenly thing called a Supermug: 34 ounces of beer for $7.95 from an excellent array of beers on tap. If you’re less thirsty, long-necked beers (I usually go for the Shiner) are $2.95.
Chef Geoff’s, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-464-4461. Closest Metro stops: Metro Center and Federal Triangle.
Ella’s Wood-Fired Pizza
The free happy-hour pizzas are no more, but this Gallery Place bar and restaurant is still a cozy place to belly up and get a cheap glass of sangría or beer. From 4 to 7, you can get $5 small thin-crust pizzas, $15 carafes of sangría, and $1 off all beers on tap (Dogfish, Allagash, and more).
Ella’s Wood-Fired Pizza, 901 F St., NW; 202-638-3434. Closet Metro stop: Gallery Place-Chinatown.
You may want to stay far away from the Exchange on the weekend, when it turns into a refuge for college students looking for an evening of Budweiser and Jim Beam. But head to this laid-back saloon after work on weekdays for the 5-to-7 happy-hour specials, which vary by the day. Try $8 pitchers of domestic beer on Mondays or $2.50 Bud drafts throughout the week. There’s darts and pool to entertain you as well.
The Exchange, 1719 G St., NW; 202-393-4690. Closest Metro stop: Farragut West.
Head to Fast Eddie’s on Thursdays if you’re a K Street office dweller. From 3 to 8, it offers domestic bottled beers for just $1—so there’s no better place to go to get your Miller Lite fix. If you’re looking for a little after-hours activity, play Buck Hunter or pool upstairs. Or, uh, you can always head to Archibald’s, the gentleman’s club next to Fast Eddie’s. But I recommend sticking to the Miller Lite. Several of them.
Fast Eddie’s, 1520 K St., NW; 202-638-6800. Closest Metro stop: McPherson Square.
The Front Page
We can’t forget the Front Page, can we? It may not be the most interesting or upscale place you’ll come across, but its Thursday happy hour is legendary and very, very popular. You’ll get $2 Coronas and Miller Lites, plus three tacos from the taco bar for $1 from 5 to 7. The rest of the week, you can enjoy $2.75 glasses of wine, drafts, and rail drinks.
The Front Page, 1333 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-296-6500. Closest Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
McCormick & Schmick’s
K Street denizens looking for something a bit more upscale than Fast Eddie’s may want to head to the long, glossy wood bar at seafood spot McCormick & Schmick’s. You don’t come here for the drink specials but for the cheap bar food. When you buy two drinks between 3:30 and 6:30, you get access to the $1.95-to-$3.95 bar menu, featuring oyster shooters, mussels, burgers, and more.
McCormick & Schmick’s, 1652 K St., NW; 202-861-2233. Closest Metro stops: Farragut North and Farragut West.
With its basement location, grottolike walls, poor lighting, and green carpeting coming up at the seams, Recessions isn’t the most stylish spot in town. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s all about what this place does have: awesome after-work beer specials. From 5 to 7, you can get massive “King Kong” 26-ounce draft beers. With its L Street location, it’s also central to many of the offices and law firms that make up the so-called Golden Triangle, so you can be sure you’ll be sharing your evening with fellow office drones.
Recessions, 1823 L St., NW; 202-296-6686. Closest Metro stops: Farragut North and Farragut West.
Rock Bottom Brewery
If your office is in Arlington, your best bet for an after-work happy hour is on hump day. Wednesdays, take your coworkers and head to Ballston Common Mall’s Rock Bottom Brewery, which serves $1 beers until 9 PM. Just a tip: Duck out of work early if possible, because after 6 it can be tough to get in past the crowds.
Rock Bottom Brewery, 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-516-7688. Closest Metro stop: Ballston.
For more Washingtonian.com nightlife and bar guides, click here.