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8 DC Bars Where You Can Watch the Presidential Debate

Head to one of these local watch parties if you want to make an evening out of Thursday's face-off.

Union Pub on Capitol Hill, which hosts State of the Union and presidential debate watch parties. Photograph courtesy of Union Pub.

It’s a presidential election year in DC, which means debate watch parties at local bars are back. Whether you want a like-minded crowd, drink specials, or an indoor/outdoor option, there’s a party for you in the DMV. Here are eight bars showing the first presidential debate, which starts at 9 PM Eastern time on Thursday, June 27.



1340 U St., NW

Head up to U Street, where Sudhouse is showing the debate with sound across two floors. They’ll also be doing happy hour all night, so enjoy drinks and food under $10 while you watch.


Old Ebbitt Grill/USA TODAY

675 15th St., NW

USA TODAY is hosting the debate, featuring a game of bingo, at Old Ebbitt Grill, fittingly next door to the White House. White House Editor Romina Ruiz-Goiriena will be there to discuss the debate, starting at 5:30 p.m.


Network for Progress/Virginia Blue Victory

Mission Navy Yard, 1221 Van St., SE

For a networking opportunity combined with a debate watch party, head to Mission Navy Yard, where Network for Progress and Virginia Blue Victory will host their Blue Drinks Presidential Debate Watch Party in the restaurant’s Plaza Bar on the first floor. It’s free as long as you register before 7 PM Thursday, which is also when the party starts. Come at 7 to mingle before the networking mixer kicks off at 8, and then settle in to watch the debate at 9.


Make All Votes Count DC

Busboys and Poets, all locations

No matter where you live, if you want an intellectually stimulating debate watch experience, go to one of Busboys and Poets’ locations. All of them will show the debate and serve drink specials, and there will be a post-debate discussion with former Ohio state senator Nina Turner at the 450 K Street, Northwest, location in Mount Vernon Square. The event goes from 9 to 11 PM at all locations. You don’t need tickets, but you can reserve a spot for free.


Shaw’s Tavern

520 Florida Ave., NW

You can sit indoors or outdoors at this spot in Shaw, where the debate will be shown with sound on two screens across two floors and a covered patio. Shaw’s will offer bottles of wine half-off all night. Seating starts at 7:30 PM and is first-come, first-serve for the bar, but reserve a table in advance if you want to guarantee one.


Union Pub

201 Massachusetts Ave., NE

For a quintessential DC experience, hit up Union Pub’s debate watch party on Capitol Hill, where you’ll likely be surrounded by Hill staffers. The pub will serve up a Red drink and a Blue drink at $6 each all night, and whichever drink gets more orders will be crowned the “winner” of the watch party. Union Pub will also serve $4 shots and $4-6 pints, with various other drink specials. No ticket or RSVP required, but seats will be first-come, first-serve. The party starts when the debate does, at 9, but guests are encouraged to show up early.


Red Derby

3718 14th St., NW

Maybe you’re interested in a place that has the option to either watch the debate or take a breather outside. You’ll find it at Red Derby in Petworth, which will show the debate indoors, but you can head up to the roof deck if you prefer to get some space. Also, get $3 PBR, $3.50 shots of house tequila or whiskey, and grilled cheese sandwiches half-price. No tickets required, just show up!

If you want to watch the debate in the privacy of your own home, it will be on CNN, ABC News, and Fox News, any CNN social media platform, and on the New York Times‘ website. You don’t have to be a subscriber or log in to watch.


3333 Georgia Ave., NW

This relaxed beer garden in Petworth will host a debate watch party starting at 9 PM. Beers will be $5 all night. If you want, show up at 6 to watch the Panama-US game.

Helen Huiskes
Editorial Fellow