News & Politics

Best Bars for Groups in Washington

These nightspots can accommodate your friends, and everyone will usually get his or her own seat

Twentysomethings flock to Spider Kelly's in Clarendon to play billiards, shuffleboard, and arcade games. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Whoever said “The more the merrier” probably never tried getting a table at a Washington bar on a weekend night. We’ve all been there: You stroll into a local watering hole with a group of friends, then walk right back out when you realize the only way to fit is three people to a stool.

These bars can accommodate your crowd, and everyone will usually get his or her own seat.

Mad Fox Brewing Company
444 W. Broad St., Suite 1, Falls Church; 703-942-6840
Mad Fox Brewing Company’s expansive pub room has a 63-foot bar and enough seating for 130 people. Not surprising, considering it needs all that space to house massive 15-barrel beer tanks holding the bar’s delicious house-brewed drafts.

2321 18th St., NW, 202-332-0800; 2348 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-625-7770
Take a group to Bourbon and be treated to a special series of tastings of the eponymous liquor as your own private bartender teaches everyone the fine points of the scotch-versus-rye debate. Call a couple of days in advance to secure a spot.

Spider Kelly’s
3181 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-312-8888
Call ahead to reserve a table at Biergarten Haus, where outdoor picnic-table-style seating can reach a capacity of 250. The spacious patio is meant to be enjoyed with a crowd—German beers come in liters, and Bavarian pretzel rolls arrive in baskets to share. Reservations can be made before 7 on weekends; otherwise, prepare for a wait.

Blackfinn and Rock Bottom in Bethesda
4901 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-951-5681; 900 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-1311
In Maryland, check out Blackfinn, where there’s a bar on each of the three levels, ensuring plenty of breathing room. Also in Bethesda, Rock Bottom has both an upstairs and a downstairs bar, and it hosts monthly tapping parties where its in-house microbrewery releases a new seasonal beer.

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Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.