13 Great Happy Hour Options for $10 or Less

Counting down deals from a Hamilton to free.

Happy hour deals from $10 to free, like gratis slices of pizza while drinking $4 beers at Piola. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Between knocking off work early and needing to get outside (or cool off) with a cold beer, summer in Washington is high season for happy hours. Looking to save some money? Below you’ll find a number of options for $10 and under—everything from swanky martinis and freshly shucked oysters to dollar brews and free food. 

$10 mussels and fries at St. Arnold’s

1827 Jefferson Pl., NW; 3433 Connecticut Ave., NW

Some of the tastier pots of mussels in town for a Hamilton? We’re in, especially for the house special simmered in beer, garlic, and duck fat. Look for the deal all night long—alongside half-price half liters of beer—at the Cleveland Park location on Monday, and again from 9 to 11 on Wednesday and Sunday. The Dupont location serves the moules Monday through Friday 3:30 to 6:30. 

$9.50 Tanqueray gin martinis or Maker’s Mark Manhattans at Vidalia

1990 M St., NW

Keep it classy with one of the best cocktail happy hours in town. The pours are generous, and the white-tablecloth setting is swanky, so take a date and impress him/her on the cheap. You’ll also find discounts on Southern bites such as $4.50 rock-shrimp hushpuppies and $3.50 duck confit deviled eggs. 

$9 pizzas and supermugs at Chef Geoff’s

Locations in DC, Tysons Corner, and Rockville 

Chef Geoff’s happy hours fall under the category of oldies but great-ies. Look for a bountiful menu of specials at all four locations (here’s an example from downtown DC). Times and deals vary slightly, but all offer $8.95 pizzas and “supermugs” (almost a liter) of craft brews throughout the day Monday and Tuesday, and from 3 to 7 Thursday and Friday.

$7.75 barbecue shrimp and grits at Johnny’s Half Shell

400 N. Capitol St., NW

Head to this Capitol Hill institution for the weekday happy hour menu, which includes a number of food and drink options. Our order: barbecue shrimp with Asiago cheese grits, and a $9 margarita if we’re splurging. 

$6 bubbly and oysters at Republic

6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park 

Drop in for $1 Chesapeake oysters and $5 bubbly among the many happy hour deals from 3 to 7 Monday through Friday. If you’re in the area and looking for bivalves, Jackie’s (8081 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring) serves $5 glasses of cava and $1 oysters Tuesday evening throughout the summer.

$5 plates of tacos, wings, and whiskey at Smoke & Barrel

2471 18th St., NW 

You’ll find a lively crowd at this Adams Morgan ’cue and whiskey spot, taking advantage of two nights of specials: platters of smoked wings on Mondays until 11, and three tacos plus a side on Tuesdays until 9. Try the tangy “Buffalo blue” wings cloaked in sauce and cheese, and barbecue pork tacos. To pair with your snacks is $5 select whiskey (Monday through Friday 5 to 7). An unusual twist: Both the bird and tacos can be made vegan, so yes, chicken-less wings exist. 

$4 dumplings and sojutinis at Mandu

1805 18th St., NW; 453 K St., NW

The namesake mandu are some of the best things on the menu at the sister Korean spots; six steamed or pan-fried dumplings stuffed with shrimp, beef, pork, or veggies. You can wash them down with $4 sojutinis and liquor drinks daily 4 to 7, as well as late night at the K Street location. 

$3 bison sloppy Joe sliders and shots of Overholt Rye at Cashion’s

1819 Columbia Rd., NW 

Skip the jumbo slice and head to Cashion’s for the revival of its “after dark” menu, which runs from 11 to 1 on Friday and Saturday evenings. You’ll find $3 to $5 eats such as an Italian hero or the chef’s riff on a sloppy Joe, plus $3 shots of whiskey. Note there is also a regular early evening happy hour.

2-for-1 drinks at DC Reynolds

3628 Georgia Ave., NW 

Happy hour is a buy one, get one free affair at this Petworth spot, which includes any and all drinks—even the fancy ones. A spacious outdoor patio only sweetens the deal, which runs Monday through Friday 5 to 9.

$1 oysters at Mussel Bar 

7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 800 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington

Get more dollar bivalves at Mussel Bar in Bethesda and Arlington. The deal runs all day Monday in Maryland (as well as daily 4 to 6), and every Tuesday in Virginia. 

$1 beer at the Red Derby 

3718 14th St. NW

This Columbia Heights cash-only bar is no-frills, which is why we love it. Hit the roof deck for $1 Natty Boh, Stroh’s, and Budweiser ponies on weekdays from 5 to 8. All beers are a buck off, so you can get fancy with a $4 hefeweizen. 

½ off bubbly and cocktails at Red Light 

1401 R St., NW

Both pre-dinner and night owl crowds find deals at this new 14th Street drink and dessert bar. The bar offers 50 percent discounts on beers, wines by the glass, bubbly, and specialty cocktails on weekdays from 4 to 7, and again from 11 to last call Sunday through Wednesday. 

Free appetizers at Piola 

2208 14th St., NW; 1550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Drinkers can eat for free on weekdays from 4:30 to 7:30 at Piola’s 14th Street and Arlington locations. Sip discounted drinks including $4 beers, $5 wines, and $6 cocktails while servers pass around gratis platters of thin-crust pizza, bruschetta, meatballs, and more. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.