We scoured DC, Virginia, and Maryland looking for bars with the best cheap burgers, bites, and booze. Here are some of our favorite spots. Where do you head to get happy hour snacks on the cheap? Let us know in the comments.
THE BARKING DOG, 4723 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-654-0022; thebarkingdogonline.com. Appetizers like buffalo shrimp and spinach-and-artichoke dip run between $4 and $14 at this friendly tavern—but during happy hour, they're a dollar off. The discount also applies to all draft and bottled beers, rail drinks, and glasses of house wines. Happy hours: Monday – Friday 3 to 7.
BISTRO BISTRO, 4021 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-379-0300; bistro-bistro.com. 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. Rail drinks are $3.50, domestic beers $1.99, and premium drafts $2.99. On Tuesdays, martinis are half-price, and Thursdays, domestic bottles are $1. Happy hours: Monday through Saturday 3 to 7 PM.
Our pick: Jamaican-jerk-chicken spring rolls ($3.95). Ask for teriyaki sauce.
CAFE CITRON, 1343 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-530-8844; cafecitrondc.com. Check out this Dupont Circle hotspot for a tropical-flavored happy hour. The fried plantains and mini crab cakes 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 Friday, 5 to 7 PM.
Our pick: Bolivian potato cakes stuffed with beef and cheese ($6.95).
CHADWICKS, 203 S. Strand St., Alexandria, 703-836-4442; also in Georgetown; chadwicksrestaurants.com. This Old Town pub offers $4 appetizers, $3 rail drinks and house wine, and $2.50 bottled domestic beers. 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 ($4 during happy hours).
DIVINO LOUNGE, 7345-B Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 240-497-0300; divinolounge.com. At this trendy, dimly lit lounge, we enjoyed half-price Argentinean tapas: sausage, chicken croquettes, olives, and mushrooms. 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 ($3 during happy hours).
FACCIA LUNA, 2909 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-276-3099; also in Alexandria; faccialuna.com. 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 grilled eggplant with mozzarella and marinara or tomato bruschetta, a pizza with two toppings, and two glasses of house wine for $24.24. On Tuesday night, enjoy half off on a featured wine. Specials offered from 5 to 10:30 PM.
Our pick: mozzarella and tomato with fresh basil.
GRILLFISH, 1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-331-7310; grillfishdc.com. Domestic bottled and draft 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 $2.50, imports $3.50, martinis $4.50, mojitos $6 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; mccormickandschmicks.com. 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 spinach and artichoke dip mussels. There is a $2.95 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: oyster shooters.
TUNNICLIFFS TAVERN, 222 Seventh St., SE; 202-544-5680; tunnicliffstaverndc.com. You'll find specials almost 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 selected 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 4 to 7 PM.
WHITLOW'S ON WILSON, 2854 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-9693; whitlows.com. 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 is 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 7 8 PM selected drafts are $2.50. Wednesdays, drink half-price wine from 4 to 9 PM.
Our pick: spinach-and-artichoke dip with pita chips ($5.95 on Friday).