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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 05/23/2008

Interns' Guide: 25 Happy Hours Every Intern Should Know

By Fritz Hahn

Can you think of a better way to turn 21 than with cheap beers and free snacks at the Hawk and Dove? (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post)

Cheap beers and bar food are an intern's lifeblood, whether for nourishment or socializing. There are hundreds of bars and restaurants with happy hour specials in the Washington area, but the 25 that follow have proved especially popular and useful over the years.

Capitol Hill | Dupont Circle | Downtown | Penn Quarter | U Street | Foggy Bottom | Bethesda | Arlington

Capitol Hill

1. Hawk and Dove
The way to an intern's heart is through free food. The Hawk and Dove is the free-nosh capital of Capitol Hill, with a daily spread of complimentary snacks between 4 and 7. On Monday, it's grilled cheese. On Friday, there's a taco bar. In between, you'll find wings, popcorn shrimp and other bar treats. Wash them down with $2 domestic drafts, $2.50 rail drinks or the $3.50 pint of the night, which is usually something better than Coors Light.

2. Tortilla Coast
Popular with Republican staffers and just steps from the Capitol South Metro station, Tortilla Coast's large bar area is usually more crowded than tables in the restaurant. Beer specials rotate nightly -- $2.75 Dos Equis on Monday, $3.25 Mexican beers on Thursday -- but the key is that all deals run from 5 until close, which is perfect for nights when you're not ready to go home at 7 p.m. or times when you're stuck in the office later than usual. Early in the week, there are savings on both Tex-Mex food and beer: 50-cent tacos washed down with $2.75 Bud on Tuesday, 10-cent wings paired with $2.75 Miller Lite on Wednesday. Saturday's combination night offers all the week's deals during one overheated happy hour.

3. The Pour House
This flatscreen-filled sports bar is a destination for the Hill's kickballers, softball teams and bocce players. Daily deals include $5 appetizers and $3 beers from 4 to 7, but all-night specials offer reasons to hang out longer. On Thursday, for example, Budweiser and Bud Light bottles are $1 from 4 to 6 and $2 after; Wednesday is $5 burger night (with $12 margarita pitchers); and Friday's happy hour is extended until 9.

4. Union Pub
Settle onto the covered patio with your friends and hang out for a few hours, because if there's a bar on the Hill with more drink specials than Union Pub, I've yet to stumble across it. The key is that every day is markedly different. Wacky Wednesday has been a mainstay for years, with $1.50 Budweiser and Bud Light bottles and $5 Gold Margaritas offered all night. On Freaky Friday, the deals switch every few hours, so keep an eye on your watch: Rail drinks are $2.50 from 5 to 7, frozen cocktails are $5 from 5 to 8, pitchers of house ale are $10 from 7 on, fruity Orange Whip cocktails are $4 after 8, rail drinks are $3.50 from 9 until midnight, and the house sangria is $6 a glass from 5 p.m. until it runs out.

5. My Brother's Place
Forget the weekday grind -- My Brother's Place really revs up on weekends. The divey bar begins hopping on Friday nights with beat-the-clock specials: domestic drafts cost 75 cents at 4 p.m. and prices rise 25 cents an hour until 9, which sets the mood for a night of dancing to a DJ. Saturday kicks off with a Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament from 4 to 9, but the big deal is the $15 all-you-can-drink draft beer from 9 to 1. (Rail drinks are included for the first hour.) There's plenty more where that came from: Ladies get $1 drinks on Monday from 9 to 11, and Thursday's College Night means $2.50 domestic beers from 8 to close.

Dupont Circle

6. Lucky Bar
Anywhere else, a weekday happy hour that runs from 3 to 8 would be extraordinary, with drafts starting at $2.50 and rail drinks for a buck more. At Lucky Bar, though, it's overshadowed by the legendary "Do the Deuce" Thursday night, where Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select and basic rail drinks like vodka-and-tonic are $2 from 3 until close. Bike messengers rub shoulders with interns, and young professionals in office attire get down with hipsters on the dance floor. On Tuesday and Wednesday, there are food specials -- half-price burgers and 25-cent wings -- paired with $3 pints of Yuengling.

7. The Front Page
It's pretty much a given that D.C. interns will hit the Front Page at least one Thursday this summer: The lure of $2 Coronas, $3 margaritas and a $1-per-plate taco bar is just too much to resist. The drink specials begin at 5 and run all night; tacos are available from 5 to 7.

8. The Fox & Hounds
The patio at the Fox & Hounds is the best people-watching spot in Dupont Circle, so arrive early if you want a seat. Still, with some of the strongest drinks in D.C. offered for $3.59 every weekday between 4:30 and 6:30, you won't complain too much about being stuck inside; here, the bartenders' idea of a gin and tonic is a glass full of gin served with a mini-bottle of tonic on the side. Want something with lower octane? Bud, Bud Light, Yuengling and Miller Lite are $3.50 each.


9. Recessions
Hidden in a hotel basement -- you have to pass conference rooms on your way to the bar -- Recessions makes up for its lack of atmosphere with some of the best drink prices in town. From 5 to 8, oversized "King Kong" drafts, served in frosty 32-ounce mugs, are $3, as are the strong rail drinks. Appetizer plates are $3 each; the kitchen specializes in deep-fried snacks like onion rings, mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders.

10. Porter's Dining Saloon
With plenty of bars around 19th and M to lure the after-work crowd -- Rumors, Madhatter, Sign of the Whale -- I'm more likely to head for Porter's Dining Saloon, a three-story pub with $2 Miller Lites and $3 rail drinks from 4 to 7 on weekdays. Not wildly different from its neighbors, I know, but the walled patio is comfortable, and happy hour keeps going well after some of the neighbors: all-night specials at Porter's include $3 Miller Lites until close on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and $3 Coronas on Wednesday.

11. Chef Geoff's
Happy Hour brings $5 burgers, $8 personal pizzas and $7.95 draft beers -- but that's not just any beer, it's a 34-ounce supermug. Offered all day on Monday and Tuesday and from 3 to 7 the rest of the week, it's a beacon for office workers and American University students. (As great as happy hour is, don't overlook the prix-fixe Sunset Special: a three-course dinner for less than $20, offered between 4 and 6:30.)

12. Cafe Asia
Famous for its bargain-basement sushi happy hour -- $1-a-piece nigiri, $2 Kirin drafts, discounted maki rolls -- Cafe Asia's small, L-shaped bar area quickly becomes packed. Its saving grace is that it runs until 7:30, so stragglers can often find a seat. (If you sit in the more spacious and modern dining room, the specials don't apply.) These deals are also offered at the Cafe Asia in Rosslyn.

13. Restaurant K
If your date (or your older co-workers) won't be impressed by how many $2 beers and rail liquor shots you can slam back, take them to Restaurant K, where you won't have to spend too much to enjoy happy hour. Yuengling drafts for $4.95 are not a deal by any stretch of the imagination, but the delicious house-infused cocktails -- think grapefruit or prickly pear tequila, pineapple or pair vodka -- are $5.95 between 3 and 7, along with a rotating selection of red and white wines. All items on the bar menu have a few bucks knocked off, too: A black angus burger is $5.95, as is a a bubbling bowl of queso fundido for sharing, but the best are bite-sized beef hot dog pieces, fried in jalapeno batter and served with dipping mustard for $3.95.

Penn Quarter

14. La Tasca
The bar at the Spanish restaurant turns into a fiesta at happy hour with specials on sangria ($3.50 a glass, $15 a pitcher), wine ($3.50 a glass, $15 a bottle), draft beer ($3.50 for any of the 10 taps), and margaritas ($5 a glass, $14 for a sampler flight). A selection of tapas, including fried eggplant, Spanish meatballs and calamari -- are $2.50 a plate. On Friday, there's free paella.

U Street

15. Nellie's Sports Bar
Though it's been billed as D.C.'s first gay sports bar, Nellie's draws a remarkable neighborhood mix: black and white, straight and gay, casual and sharply dressed. There are numerous TVs and a large rooftop deck. Happy hour at Nellie's runs on a beat-the-clock system: $1 Miller Lite, house beers and rail drinks from 5 to 6, with prices increasing $1 per hour until 8. At that point, it's better to just order the ongoing summer special: an iced-down bucket of five beers (Michelob Ultra, Budweiser or Bud Light) for $11.95.

16. Polly's Cafe
One of the coziest, friendliest spots on U Street is this tiny cash-only restaurant and bar. Happy hour, offered on weekdays between 4 and 7, is kinder to your wallet than most of its neighbors: Your four choices, all priced at $2, are Budweiser drafts, Miller Lite bottles, PBR cans or any rail drink. With the money you save on booze, you can afford to slip another buck into the jukebox.

Foggy Bottom

17. McFadden's
From Guitar Hero competitions to mechanical bull riding to "Trailer Park Tuesdays," there's always something going on at McFadden's, a crowded two-level pub-with-a-dance floor, and it usually involves getting liquored up on the cheap. Tuesday, for example: $2 drinks from 4 to 7, $1 drinks from 7 to 9 if you have a college ID, $1 domestic beers and $5 Jager bombs from 8 to close, and $1 taco plates from 9 to 11. Thursday also has $2 drinks until 7, an optional $10 open bar from 6 to 8, $2 Coronas from 8 to close and $3 Captain Morgan drinks and $4 Jose Cuervo shots from 8 to midnight. Get the picture?

18. Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy
Tonic's business has grown by leaps and bounds since it landed a liquor license in January, and really, how could it not? Located on the campus of George Washington University, the three-level bar has become a favorite of students and nearby office workers. From 5 to 7 on weekdays, the bar offers 50-cent wings (the best in the neighborhood) and half-price beers, so you'll pay $2.25 for a pint of Yuengling or Red Hook or $3 for Guinness or Hoegaarden.


19. Caddies on Cordell
The two-level outdoor space at Caddies is as impressive as the golf memorabilia covering the walls inside. Golden Tee is big, of course, but so are the happy hour deals. Miller Lite, Yuengling and Budweiser are $2 on Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 7, domestic beers are $2 or $3 on Wednesday -- both at happy hour and at the DJ-fueled '80s night, which begins at 8 -- and buckets of beer are $10 (domestic) and $15 (import) on Thursdays.

20. Rock Bottom Brewery
Rock Bottom brewer Geoff Lively has racked up some impressive awards during his tenure in Bethesda, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for his Raccoon Red. Find out why on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday when the bar runs its popular Happy Hour and a Half with $1.50 pints of its house-made beers from 5:30 to 7. On Wednesday and Sunday, purchase a special logoed pint glass for $4.95 (which includes the first beer) and get $2 refills for the rest of your visit.


21. Caribbean Breeze
The best thing about happy hour at this lively Ballston restaurant isn't the $2.99 Mexican beers, the $2.99 empanadas, quesadillas, wings or other appetizers, or that the neighborhood's tastiest mojitos are $5. It's that servers are willing to give you happy hour prices if you sit on the lovely shaded patio instead of at the attractive cherry bar.

22. Rock Bottom Brewery
On Wednesdays, the line to get into Rock Bottom Brewery winds through Ballston Common Mall, past the flower shop, the vitamin store -- almost to Starbucks. You may have to wait 30 minutes to get in if you arrive after 6. Why? $1.50 house-brewed beers from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Great deal and lively scene. Other highlights include $2.50 pints on Monday between 4 and 9, and the "buy a glass, drink cheap beer" promotion on Friday: Purchase a 23-ounce glass with a Rock Bottom logo on it for $5.95 (including the first beer) and refills are $3 until 9, and $4 after.

23. The Front Page
Located just across the street from Rock Bottom, the Front Page's extended happy hour (4 to 9 p.m.) includes $1 Miller High Life drafts, $2 Budweiser and Miller Lite drafts, $2.50 Sam Adams beers, $2.75 rail drinks and $3.50 glasses of wine, plus half-price appetizers. On Wednesday, burgers are half price, and on Thursday, there's a free taco bar from 5 to 7.

24. Whitlow's on Wilson
Offering one of the longest and latest happy hours in Clarendon, all draft beers at Whitlow's are $2.50 between 4 and 8, Tuesday through Friday. On Wednesday, glasses of wine are half-price from 4 to 9. Thursday is mug night: Buy a $5 mug and refills of draft beer are $1.50.

25. Piola
It's a wonder that Piola turns a profit. Every weekday, happy hour runs from 4:30 to 8 and includes $3 beers, $4 glasses of wine and $5 cocktails, plus servers wandering through the bar area offering free pizza. Free. Pizza. Between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, pair any pizza with any beer for $12. Sundays are all-you-can-eat pizza night, and anyone with a student ID gets 20 percent off their meals between 3 and 5 p.m. and again from 10 to close.

-- Fritz Hahn

By Fritz Hahn  | May 23, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Interns' Guide  
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I've always been able to get the happy hour prices at Cafe Asia in DC without sitting at the bar.

At the Rosslyn Cafe Asia you have to sit in the bar area, but there are a number of tables (about a dozen) that are open seating in that area and the bar is pretty big. The Rosslyn location also offers more beers at the happy hour price (including Sam and Sam Seasonal) and a variety of $3 appetizers.

And the best part of Cafe Asia's happy hour is they also have it on Saturday!

Posted by: cafe asia fan | May 23, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

dude, you totally oversell Piola. Their drinks are tiny, $5 is no bargain on a dixie cup sized capiroska. And good luck actually getting your hands on some of that free pizza, they pass it out to the euro-trash regulars first. and the beer selection sucks, there is no draft at all.

Posted by: Pizza eater | May 27, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Vie De France
Capital Gallery
600 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20024
Free food with a drink at Happy Hour

Posted by: David H | May 27, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

La Tasca's sangria pitchers go a long way, especially on a empty stomach -- which you should seek to maintain given that La Tasca's food is utterly terrible.

Grab a small burrito at California Tortilla ($4 or 5) a few doors down instead.

Posted by: Jeff K | May 28, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: VERY excited | May 29, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

What about Old Town Alexandria?

Posted by: Simone | May 29, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

You all forgot Georgetown!

Mien U's $1 Tempura, 1/2 price burger nights at Thirds, Mr. Smith's, and Clydes. Study Snacks at the Tombs, Early Bird Special at Bistro Francais. Come on, now! :-)

Posted by: Amanda | May 29, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Rock Bottom's happy hour in Ballston is $1.10 a beer inside and $1 outside. You get more of a selection of beers inside that the two you get outside on the patio.

Posted by: Ballstonian | May 30, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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