Washingtonian Recommends: Restaurants and Bars Around Capital One Arena

Places to eat and drink before or after a concert or game.

The dining room at the Smith. Photograph by Scott Suchman
Washingtonian Recommends

Our Washingtonian Recommends lists bring you the best places to eat, drink, and be entertained—all selected by Washingtonian editors.

Capital One Arena is in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood, home to many great restaurants. But not all are suited for the lively Wizards, Caps, and concert crowds. These are a few of our favorite pre- and post-game options both in and around the Capital One Arena (formerly known as the Verizon Center).


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Ramen at Bantam King. Photograph courtesy of Bantam King Facebook.

Daikaya and Bantam King
705 Sixth St., NW; 501 G St., NW

These sister ramen shops can get packed, but it’s worth angling for a stool at either to slurp delicious noodle soups. Daikaya offers a small menu with Sapporo-style ramen, while upstairs, a dimly-lit izakaya is the place for cocktails and small plates. Bantam specializes in chicken two ways: fried and in rich soups.

Capital One Arena, Concourse Level 100, Section 117

Momofuku creator David Chang brought the concession version of his fast food concept to the arena last year. Want to sample the spicy fried-chicken sandwiches and jalapeño fries? Get in line. 

Hill Country
410 Seventh St., NW

Barbecue, brews, and margaritas are the order at this Texas-themed ‘cue spot, which boasts a large bar area and space for live music. Look for daily specials like pitchers of Shiner draft beer.

480 Seventh St., NW

José Andrés’s Spanish restaurant is still going strong after 25 years. The menu continues to evolve, but the classics are still delicious–don’t miss the creamy chicken croquetas served in a resin shoe.

Lucky Buns
Capital One Arena, Concourse Level 100, Section 120

The original Adams Morgan burger joint slings some of the city’s best patties and fried-chicken sandwiches. At their arena stall, find its Bogan Bun, a burger with bacon-XO jam, pickled red onions, special sauce, and gouda; the classic Lucky Bun cheeseburger; the Hot Tiger Bun, a spicy fried-chicken sandwich with pickles and Chinese mustard; and chips with curry sauce.

713 H St., NW

Tavern standbys get an upscale gloss at this three-level restaurant. The cocktails are easy-drinking, the tasty bistro burger is gilded with creamy comeback sauce, and the pizzas emerge from a brick oven. Big booths (and ample crayons) make it a favorite for families with kids.

Pi Pizzeria
910 F St., NW

The St. Louis-based Pi chain specializes in deep-dish, a woefully underrepresented style in these parts. The crust is more crunchy than bready, thanks to a cornmeal-dusted base, and the whole thing is saved from being just another cheesy carb bomb by a thick layer of extra-tangy, extra-chunky tomato sauce.

Red Apron and The Partisan
709 D St., NW

Looking for a satisfying bite on the run? The butchery/sandwich counter Red Apron dishes up eats like “porkstrami” sandwiches and beef-fat fries, which you can take to-go. The adjoining sit-down restaurant, the Partisan, serves meaty share plates, big and small. (We are fans of the rotisserie-fried chicken.)

The Smith
901 F St., NW

This penny-tiled dining room, a New York export, has a something-for-everyone menu that’s especially strong with bar snacks. A mess of freshly fried potato chips are doused in warm blue cheese, while butternut squash rings and calamari are expertly fried.

Taco Bamba
777 I St., NW

Victor Albisu has turned part of his former steakhouse Del Campo into a branch of his popular taqueria chainlet. Go for crispy sopes topped with al pastor pork, or the arabe taco holding grilled chicken, mint, and spicy yogurt.

Wiseguy Pizza
300 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Miss NYC pizza? This slice shop is about as close as you’ll get in these parts. There are plenty of clever riffs—a chicken tikka masala pizza, a penne a la vodka pizza—but we’re partial to the simple grandma pie, a thick, puffy square arrayed with mozzarella and fresh basil.  


A beer flight at City Tap House. Photograph courtesy of City Tap House.

City Tap House
901 Ninth St., NW

Beer fans can get their fill at this craft brewhouse, which also serves a late-night menu until 1 on Fridays and Saturdays with stomach-padding options like pizzas and wings.

Clyde’s Gallery Place
707 Seventh St., NW

The happy hour deals at Clyde’s are some of the best around–and include evening and late-night discounts, including half-off raw bar items like oysters, mixed drinks, wine, and whiskey.

627 H St., NW

The Hilton brothers’ three-story dining and drinking venue at the Pod DC hotel offers a lil’ something Southern for every taste (and almost every hour): the first-floor diner, serving biscuits and boozy shakes from morning to around midnight; subterranean whiskey and moonshine bar for evening entertainment; and rooftop Crimson View for catching the sunset over cocktails and oysters.

Denson Liquor Bar
600 F St., NW

If you want to escape the rowdy Verizon Center scene for a date-night drink, this cozy subterranean bar does the trick. The theme nods to the 1920s with Art Deco decor and classic cocktails such as Sazeracs, Aviations, and Hemingway daiquiris. There’s also a small, eclectic menu of snacks.

777 Sixth St., NW

This 60-seat wine bar features tons of themed flights and by-the-glass selections, along with a shortlist of snacks, like burrata with brown-butter vinaigrette or tuna crudo with coconut.

Free State
501 G St., NW

This mid-Atlantic-themed bar sits just under Bantam King. Pre-game the Delaware beach way, with orange crushes and Fisher’s popcorn.

Iron Horse Tap Room
507 Seventh St., NW

Head to Iron Horse for fun and games (shuffle board, Skee-ball). A no-frills happy hour runs daily until 8 PM, and includes $5 wines, mixed drinks, and $2 off draft beers.

Penn Commons
700 Sixth St., NW

Hungry after the big event? Hit this Passion Food Hospitality spot for its 9 PM happy hour. Five bucks gets you plates like barbecue-chicken spring rolls, gingery potstickers, and Baja-style fish tacos.

Rocket Bar
714 Seventh St., NW

If watching a game makes you want to play games, this subterranean watering hole is a good spot. Players can pick between pool, shuffleboard, darts, and more.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

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.