BlackFinn, website, Facebook, Twitter, 1620 I St. NW, 202-429-4350, opens at 11a everyday, HH 4-7p weekdays, est. 2009 [Yelp, WaPo, Tripadvisor]

Unlike most non-lounge/club bars in downtown DC (which really doesn’t exist as a neighborhood, but it’s roughly between 11th and 21st streets between E and L Streets for the purposes of Barredindc), BlackFinn draws a solid crowd for both weekday happy hour and on weekend nights. This faintly upscale standard spot, which has other locations in Bethesda and elsewhere around the country, opened in fall 2009.

Decent-sized patio (see pic above) fronts the traffic of I Street, though you can spot the greenery of Farragut Square catty-corner. Somewhat bizarre revolving doors allows you entry into the bar, which splits into three areas: one long bar on the right with high table tops and several booths (see below pic), a fairly small dining area on the left which is inevitably empty on weekends and late nights, and another bar in the back where tables are often pushed to the side for a dance floor on weekends (see pic further below).  Lots of brown wood in this spot.

Front bar area at Blackfinn
Front bar area at Blackfinn

With a number of tvs, this is a decent spot to get away from the office to watch a mid-day soccer match or conference basketball game, though not the best place on weekends, (despite being my alma mater UVa’s DC watch location) especially late evenings when they switch to the DJ and clear out tables for dancing and meat marketing. The bargoers on weekends are decidedly different than the rest of the week, a surprisingly attractive rowdyish crowd (with your fair share of VA folks since it’s so close to the Orange/Blue Line) that makes the place feel like a less-crowded SOTW or Madhatter.

Back bar area at BlackFinn
Back bar area at BlackFinn

There’s nothing particularly unique (remember it’s part of a chain) about this bar itself, but I do give them points for having Dogfish Head and DC Brau on tap.

Barred in DC Rating: 3/5


Chi-Cha Lounge

Chi-Cha Lounge, web site, Facebook, Twitter1624 U St. NW, 202-234-8400, opens at 5p everyday, HH 5-7p M-F, est. 1997 [Yelp, WaPo]

Small hookah bar/lounge with lots of couches, $8 beers, and a dress code.  If you like that sort of thing, you might like it. I don’t. Have been here twice as it was a block away from my old home, but not since 2008. Latin-themed, opened in 1997. Right next to a Barred in DC favorite, Stetson’s-these two bars could not be more different.

Barred in DC Rating: 1.5/5


The Board Room DC

The Board Room DC, website, Facebook, 1737 Connecticut Ave. NW (Conn. and R/S St. NW, near 20th & S), 202-518-7666, opens at 4p (weekdays) noon (weekends), HH 4-7p (weekdays) noon-7p (weekends), est. 2012 [Yelp, WaPo]

Board Room
Board Room

The newest spot from the folks who brought you other game bars like Bedrock Billiards, Rocket Bar, Buffalo Billiards, and Atomic Billiards, this north Dupont spot is my favorite new bar in the city.  Not someone to frequent same bar or restaurant too many times, I’ve ended up here for drinks 4 times in the last month.

Back Upstairs Bar

I was initially very skeptical of the conceit of this spot (reflected in its name): a bar that specializes in board games? I’ve generally held the belief that any bar where folks feel comfortable bringing board games is generally a lame spot (the now-shuttered Leopold’s in Ann Arbor was the first place I noticed this).  But this place does it right, with tons of unique and not-so-unique games (Jenga and UNO are two games I’ve played so far) that you can pay $1-$5 to play (some of the more unique expensive games require you to provide your license; if you don’t want to pay, you can always bring in your own game); even the décor and bartops feature board game themes.   The solid beer list ($5.50-7) along with some fancy-ish $8-9 cocktails (get the Orange Crush) that are made strong keep this bar much livelier than you would expect.

Free Game of Hangman

Like many bars in the vicinity, Board Room is fairly narrow, yet deep spot; recommend going past the long bar in the first floor (with some tables in the back) to go upstairs.  The bar upstairs is much smaller, but I haven’t had much trouble getting drinks from the friendly bartenders and tables always seem to open up after a bit.  One weekends this place gets crowded well before 9PM and stays that way till 12:30am at least, but it’s never unbearably stuffed and folks are friendly and often trade games with other groups when they want to switch it up  One quibble: it would be nice if the bouncer/keeper of the board games had some knowledge of the games that are peddled.  All in all, a fun place to go all week long.

Barred in DC Rating: 4.5/5



Non-Irish Bars – Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in DC

I’ve already outlined what’s going on at DC Irish bars, if you want to avoid ridiculous crowds this Sunday, one alternative (to staying at home and watching a marathon of House Hunters, not that there is anything wrong with that) is to go to a non-Irish bar. This post highlights some of the better non-Irish bar St. Paddy’s Day options in DC:

Jack Rose

One of my favorite DC bars is opening its rooftop (hopefully enclosed) at Noon Sunday for an “All Day Irish Happy Hour.” $5 Guinness and Harpoon Celtic Red Ale, $5-6 punches and Irish whiskeys, $5 “Leprechaun wings, $7 corn beef & cabbage-topped dog, & $9 black Irish burger. Sister bars Bourbon (AdMo and Glover Park) have similar specials and open a half-hour earlier at 11:30a.

Meridian Pint

This Columbia Heights beer bar is partnering with Great Lakes Brewing Co out of Cleveland. Opening at 10a, they’ll have $5 Alchemy Hour Double IPA, Conway’s Irish Ale, and Dortmunder Gold drafts.


This neighborhood spot in Logan Circle will have 4 Irish Car bombs for $24 and Irish coffees for $4 once it opens at 11a.

51st State

Foggy Bottom spot has $3 green beer & car bombs from noon to 2p, $4 baby Guinness shooters &Harpoon Celtic Red ale from 2-4p, and $4 Shamrock shots & $5 pints of Guinness from 4-6p.

P.J. Clarke’s

NY outpost downtown opens at 11a with a big blowout. $4 Guinness, Jameson and Bushmills. Skins cheerleaders

The Mighty Pint

The old Madhatter’s location on M Street will have a celebration both days: $3 Guinness & Miller Lites 9a-noon, $7 jameson shots & $10 car bombs 7p-9p, along with random giveaways all day.

St. Patrick’s Day – 2013

With St. Paddy’s Day (“Sorry if I offended anyone”) upcoming, and unlike most years, I’m actually in town since the first weekend of March Madness doesn’t coincide this year (I’ve actually never been in DC the weekend of March Madness since I moved here 6 years ago, streak continues next week), I thought I’d post a detailed overview of what the DC Irish bars are doing for the second-biggest drinking day of the year (second-biggest amateur hour day too).  Not surprisingly, the Great Fritz Hahn (nod to Dave McKenna here) of the Post’s Going Out Gurus stole my thunder with this comprehensive post (Eater DC also had a good roundup here). You should read those articles, but if you don’t, I’ve summarized the DC bars it lists (and added the rest of the DC Irish bars not listed and some other good spots).  With the holiday on a Sunday this year, lot of people are hosting parties on both days. Also noted: as much as I (and probably you) hate covers, places with no covers will likely be the most slammed and crowded.

Kitty O’Shea’s

  • Opens at 10a Sat/Sun;
  • No cover
  • $1 jello shots/$1 house shots/$5 half pitchers of green beer/$5 Smithwick’s, Guinness, & Harp/$4 PBR tallboys
  • $5 burgers/footlongs

Cleveland Park
Nanny O’Brien’s

  • Opens at 10a Sun, live music after noon
  • $10 cover (possibly not until after noon)
  • $1 green/orange jello shooters

Woodley Park
Murphy’s of DC

  • Opens at 10a Sun, live music after 2p
  • No cover ($5 according to Eater)

Adams Morgan
The Blaguard

  • Opens at 10a Sat/Sun
  • No cover
  • Irish music all day

Dupont Circle
James Hoban’s

  • Opens at 8a Sun, live music after Noon
  • No cover

Irish Whiskey

  • Opens at 9a Sat/Sun
  • No cover
  • Random giveaways & entertainment all day
  • $3 beer bottles from 9a-Noon


  • Opens at Noon

U Street

  • Opens at 11a Sun
  • $5 cover
  • Live music and entertainment, free t-shirts to first 300 folks

Foggy Bottom
McFadden’s (Technically an Irish bar)

  • Opens at 8a Sun
  • No cover
  • Random entertainment all day
  • Free drinks 8a-9a, $1 drinks 9a-10a, $2 drinks 10a-11a, $3 drinks 11a-Noon

Chinatown/Penn Quarter

  • Opens at 7a Sun (alcohol at 8a), music at 2p & 7p
  • $10 cover after Noon

Irish Channel

  • Opens at 8a Sun
  • Bus transport available to St. Patty’s Day parade
  • two tented bars outside

Capitol Hill/Union Station
The Dubliner (Obama stopped by for Guinness last year)

  • Opens at 10a Sun.
  • $10 Cover
  • live music all day on 2 stages, 6 bars

Kelly’s Irish Times

  • Opens at 10a Sun.

Eastern Market
Molly Malone’s

  • Opens at 9a Sun
  • progressive specials on Irish beer from 9a-11a

H Street
Star & Shamrock

  • Opens at 11a Sun
  • dancers and live music all day

Kangaroo Boxing Club

Kangaroo Boxing ClubwebsiteFacebookTwitter3410 11th St. NW (11th & Park), 202-405-4522, opens at 5p (weekdays) 10a (weekends), HH 5-6:30p (M-F), 11p-close (Sun-Thurs)est. 2012 [YelpWaPo]

Cool, tiny bar/barbeque joint on 11th Street in Columbia Heights. Owned by a couple guys who also own the PORC barbeque food truck, this bar is just really just two small rooms with one bar and a maybe 10 tables, definitely different than the narrow, long-typical DC bar.  This is a Michigan Wolverine bar, owing to the roots of the owners. Hipstery with a good beer and cocktail list. Along with next-door neighbor Meridian Pint, KBC was my favorite spot on the Columbia Heights bar crawl I planned and hosted back in early January 2013 (more details about good crawls/pub tours in future posts). Definitely will come back next time I’m in the neighborhood, which admittedly isn’t that often, and will try the pulled pork, one of my favorite foods.

Barred in DC Rating: 4/5

My Brother’s Place

My Brother’s PlacewebsiteFacebookTwitter237 2nd St. NW (2nd & C), 202-347-1350, opens at 11a (weekdays) noon (weekends), HH 4-8p (M-F) 10p-close (Th-Fri) 12-9p (Sat) $15 all you can drink 9p-1a (Sat), est. 1980 [Yelp, WaPoTripadvisor]

This hilarious dive on a random dead-endish block near the Capitol off Constitution Ave.  (right behind the Department of Labor), MBP is legendary (“FAMOUS & DANGEROUS” according to its Twitter page) for its $15 all-you-can-drink Saturday nights (rails from 9p-midnight, and beers & wines from 9p-1a).  This has been often the site of DC Sports Nexus’s birthday party (I stole these pics on this post from his 2011 birthday party Facebook album), even though we’ve been at least 5 years older than the normal clientele, which appears to be mostly Catholic U undergrads and other cheapskates.  The first floor of this spot has a room with a bar and a decent amount of space; in the front there is an enclosed patio where folks often set up beer pong or flip-cup (there are a few tables out front if the weather is nice). I haven’t spent much time upstairs, but they’ve had a random Latino dance party when I’ve gone.

As you can see, women dancing on the bar
As you can see, women dancing on the bar

We’ve always gotten good service because, unlike most of the people who frequent this place, we actually tip for each drink we get.  There are usually a few girls dancing on the bar (photo above) here as the night goes on.  Opened back in 1980, MBP is worth going at least once with a big group on a Saturday if you want to get drunk for cheap in a real collegey dive bar in the middle of relatively nowhere in NW DC.

The bar at MBP - remember to tip
The bar at MBP – remember to tip

Barred in DC rating: 3/5