Smith Point

Smith PointwebsiteFacebookTwitter1338 Wisconsin Ave. NW (at O St. NW), 202-333-9003, open 10:30a-3p Fri-Sat, est. 2000 [Yelp, Complex City Guide, Washington City Paper]

Possibly the most infamous bar in DC (surpassing even McFadden’s), Smith Point is the closest thing to a UVa frat party in DC.  Opened way up Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown back in 2000, Smith Point had its heyday during the Bush years, but still serves as a fun, yet douchey late night spot in Georgetown (I’ve never been there before 1am, and I don’t think it opens before 10:30p).  Technically, Smith Point is a club with members, so I’ve only been able to get in as a guest of a friend who was a member when he lived nearby (with a steep $10-20 cover due to the many guests he would bring in). Guests (maybe everyone) must enter on an unmarked gate (usually with a line, see picture below) on O Street, which leads into an long, narrowish patio area.  Once you’ve gone through the patio area, you’ll enter onto the dark, sticky frat party dance floor, with the bar in the back.

The entertaining, drunk, and exceedingly preppy crowd drinks vodka tonics and Jack/cokes and bottles of Bud Light (don’t think there’s anything on raft); even the Bush twins and other famous Republicans were apparently frequent guests back in the 2000s, but no longer.  My friend no longer lives in Georgetown so not sure if I’ll ever make it back here, but you can’t consider yourself a DC bar expert without spending 1:30-3am on a Saturday night (followed by the Five Guys catty corner across Wisconsin Ave.) at Smith Point.

Barred in DC Rating: 2.5/5


Darlington House – Cantina Pub

Darlington House – Cantina Pub, website, Facebook, Twitter, 1610 20th St. NW (20th and Q), 202-332-3722, opens at 4p (weekdays) 11:30a (weekends), HH 4-7p weekdays, est. 2009 [Yelp]
Darlington House - Cantina Pub

Just north of the Dupont Circle North/Q Street entrance, this basement bar-known as Cantina Pub, though I’ve never heard anyone call it anything except Darlington House-opened up in the old Childe Harold space (which apparently the Boss Bruce Springsteen played at in the 70s) in spring 2009.  This fairly small, low-ceiling’d bar below the much nicer restaurant upstairs, isn’t quite a dive, but is a decent, fun spot to stop by for happy hour and can be surprisingly lively late (though never crowded) on a weekend if you’re in north Dupont.

Front area of bar
Front area of bar

Once you walk in the entrance a few steps down from 20th Street, you’re right in the bar, with the sole, long bar to the left with a few table tops and bar stools on the right.  The place opens up slightly in the back with a few tables for sitting maybe 20 people.  Throughout the inside is one of my opposite-pet-peeves, exposed brick.

Back area of bar
Back area of bar

The beers on tap are nothing to write home/prison about, but there is a decent cocktail and TV situation slong with a covered patio upfront can also fit around 20 people that is good for people watching. Because of the layout, you have to actually walk on the sidewalk to get to the patio; it feels weird to take a beer from the bar (or vice versa), but no one has seemed to mind-yet.

Barred in DC Rating: 3.5/5



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