News & Politics

The Best Bars in Washington: Washingtonian’s Nightlife Package

PX, a speakeasy-style bar in Old Town Alexandria, specializes in inventive cocktails. Photograph by Matthew Worden.

Outsiders sometimes sell Washington’s nightlife short, calling our bars unexciting and maligning our crowds as nothing but ambitious suits.

Cut to President Obama’s arrival in January, and Washington is suddenly cool, its restaurants and bars described as pulsing with energy and full of diversity.

Washingtonians know that the city’s transformation has been anything but sudden. The H Street corridor in Northeast DC has been blossoming for the past three years, the wine-bar craze started in late 2007, and the area’s nightlife has been abuzz with creativity for some time—it just took the outsiders a while to catch up.

In the following pages, we celebrate Washington’s thriving going-out scene as it continues to push forward—recession be damned. By the time you read this, Room 11, a wine bar in DC’s Columbia Heights, will be open (or very close to it) and nightlife guru Joe Englert’s much-anticipated H Street Country Club—a bar with a mini-golf course—will be the latest addition to the oddball bars in that part of the city.

Will some omissions provoke debate? You bet. But we’re confident our list comprises the most essential Washington bars.

Happy reading—and drink up! 

—Alejandro Salinas

The Best Bars in Washington

Nightlife Guides: Dancing, Music, Happy Hours, and More

Happy Hour Finder

Chat With Four Great Bartenders

Video Cocktail Recipes

Give Us Your Bar Feedback

Readers’ Favorite Happy Hours, Margaritas, and More

Our March Nightlife Issue, On Stands Now