Washington has a thriving and varied bar scene. But just when you think you know all the hot spots, a fresh batch pops up. Some of the best and most popular bars in town are in hotels, including Off the Record at the Hay-Adams, Crimson at the Pod DC, the Top of the Gate at the Watergate, and the rooftop bars at any of the hotels at the Wharf. Here's a smattering of some favorites, old and new.
Cheap Eats: Happy Hours to Write Home About
Certain restaurants around town set out tasty bites during happy hour, either free or for an astonishingly low price. These Penn Quarter ones are particularly generous:
At cheery Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (www.centralmichelrichard.com; tel. 202/626-0015), not far from the White House, happy hour cocktails and wine are $8 each, beer is $5, and a selection of delicious French and American tastes are available for $5 to $12 each (most $5 or $6), from chicken nuggets to crab croquettes (Mon–Fri 5–7pm at the bar or in the lounge).
Cuba Libre, 801 9th St. NW, at H St. (www.cubalibrerestaurant.com/en/washington; tel. 202/408-1600), serves up an irresistible array of picada (bar bites), such as empanadas, fritters, sliders, and a cubano sandwich ($5 each). Drinks are a real deal: $3.50 beer, $4 wine or Sangria, $5 Cuban cocktails, either a Cuba Libre or a Caipirinha (Sun–Fri 4-7pm).
Finally, Oyamel, at 401 7th St. NW (www.oyamel.com; tel. 202/628-1005), has happy-hour specials featuring $7 margaritas, $5 Dos Equis or Tecate beer, and $6 glass of wine, and, for another $4 each, appetizers such as ceviche or two of Oyamel’s superb tacos (Sun–Fri 4–6pm).
And Now for Something Completely Different
Become part of the show at ARTECHOUSE (www.artechouse.com), a three-level, 15,000-square-foot funhouse that marries the arts and digital technology and sound and light and space and visuals to create an immersive multimedia experience. In one 2018 exhibit, for example, a person’s own movements—a swing of the arm, a twirl around the room—sent colorful images and designs skittering across the space. You really have to experience it for yourself. ARTECHOUSE is open during the day, but I recommend going at night, when visitors must be 21 or older and able to enjoy the bar serving augmented reality cocktails (at $8–$12 each, the cocktail is real but the computer-generated images floating above the rim of your glass are not!). ARTECHOUSE mounts about eight major installations a year, changing every 1 to 2 months. You’ll find it just southwest of the National Mall, at 1238 Maryland Ave. SW (12th St.). It's open daily 10am to 5pm and 5:30 to 11pm (tickets required: $15 general admission, $12 seniors, students, and military-ID holders, $8 children 12 and under; some shows require visitors to be older than 12).
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