Where are the best bars to hear music in Washington? Beyond venues such as the Black Cat and Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington’s bars offers a wide array of intimate stages to hear bands and DJs. We also slipped in a few of our favorite jukeboxes. Here are our picks:
18th Street Lounge
This lounge, co-owned by Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation, hosts a reggae night with Rockas International on Wednesday. On Thursday, the bossa nova group Soul Brazil performs.
Every second Wednesday is bring-your-own-iPod night in this bar’s basement, where patrons take turns playing their own 12-minute playlists. On the third Thursday of the month, DJ Neville Chamberlain spins Brazilian music and the bar offers $4 Peroni and $5 Caipirinha specials.
This Adams Morgan destination is one of the few jazz bars in DC outside the U Street corridor. The bar, which maintains a more laid-back vibe than its 18th Street neighbors, offers nightly live music without a cover.
Comet Ping Pong
Cleveland Park’s neighborhood pizza joint and bar books local rock and folk acts most weekends. Vandaveer and Revival of the Federal Reserve have performed here.
2315 18th St., NW; 202-265-9241
The jukebox at this dive is worth a few dollars for its time-capsule-like selection of pop artists, including Paula Abdul and Meat Loaf.
This Del Ray restaurant hosts folk and rock acts every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. There’s also a Sunday bluegrass brunch with live music.
Local bands play Sunday and Monday at this small neighborhood dive in Clarendon. There’s a $5 cover from 9 to 11 on live-music nights, when a variety of punk and indie-rock groups perform.
New Vegas Lounge
1415 P St., NW; 202-483-3971
The dance floor is never crowded at this Logan Circle bar, but the music—courtesy of the Out of Town Blues Band—is always top-notch. Expect renditions of Motown and funk favorites and anything by James Brown.
2337 18th St., NW; 202-483-1200
Tired of all the songs on your iPod? This bar’s jukebox offers everything from classic Beatles and David Bowie to more eclectic selections like My Bloody Valentine and Animal Collective.
Quarry House Tavern
8401 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-587-8350
Bands set up in the back room of Silver Spring’s 70-year-old basement dive several times a week when there’s a $5 cover. The bar recently hosted JP McDermott and Western Bop.
This U Street neighborhood bar has a small stage upstairs where bands drop in once a week. There’s usually a $5 cover, and an open-mike night is every Tuesday at 8.
7250 Columbia Pike, Annandale; 703-658-0928
Annandale’s classic roadhouse and biker bar hosts rockabilly, blues, and rock groups Wednesday through Sunday.
Fill your pockets with change before heading to this Adams Morgan bar. Its jukebox—filled with picks including Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, and a few DC-area bands—is considered the best in the city.