The Super Bowl is this Sunday. This day is known as ‘Super Bowl Sunday.’ Though the day is known for football, you may not want to watch football in a bar. That’s understandable. You deserve another option.
This list doesn’t include venues or art spaces. We love 9:30 Club and The Howard, but they’re not bars, they’re venues that happen to have bars. We love Little Miss Whiskey’s and while they don’t have televisions, they do have a projector and play New Orleans Saints games, so they’re off the list. Without further adieu, your 2016 list of Best Bars Without TV In D.C.
If you would rather stay at home and watch the game, consider checking out our Cheap Beer Taste Test.
- 1314 9th St NW
If you want to hang out in Shaw and near our office, head to A&D. We included A&D in our Least Douchey Bars In D.C. 2013 edition because it’s relaxing, calm and fancy but not too fancy. It’s a good place to drink and act like a non-sports fan adult.
- 725 T Street NW
All Souls bills itself as a ‘corner bar.’ Technically, that’s true. It’s on a corner and it is a bar. It is not a corner bar. It’s a dark cocktail bar ideal for conversations with one other person. If you’re looking for a pleasant Sunday evening date spot, this is for you.
- 1811 14th St NW
If you’re a punk rocker that does not care about Fantasy Football, Black Cat is open. The Red Room is a bastion of no team sports (billiards is a sport played by individuals who sometimes happen to be on teams). It’s the only bar located in/next door to a venue that is on the list. We would have loved to include Satellite Room and DC9, but those pesky screens sometimes feature images of men playing with balls. The Black Cat does not care about men playing with balls. The Black Cat, specifically the Red Room, cares about people that love punk music, post punk music and other things with punk in the description (check out the jukebox), tall boys of PBR and shots of whiskey. Also, bring cash. Cash only.
- 1346 T St NW
Go because it’s just off 14th and it’s small and cute and they have the best bartender in D.C.
- 2801 8th St NE
The Dew Drop Inn manages to do what most bars cannot, it is never (and I mean never) too crowded. There is always a great balance between having enough people to make friends and being able to comfortably and without hassle find a seat at the bar and chat.
- 1839 7th St NW
If you’re a seafood, this restaurant/bar is great, ideally if you’re a supporter of fine cocktails. This is the first of three Derek Brown and Angie Salame entries on this round-up, the duo are making it easy to avoid sports on 7th Street.
- 1819 14th St NW
If you’re a fan of bottomless brunches and want to spend next Sunday wasting away in Margaritaville but can’t stand the idea of going somewhere named after a Jimmy Buffet song, head to 14th.
- 1250 9th St NW
Espita Mezcaleria has the best mezcal selection in the city but that doesn’t make it great. What made it land on this list is Beverage Director Megan Barnes. She’s a knowledgeable and approachable expert on a liquor that’s in vogue and not well known. With her, Espita Mezcaleria becomes a place to learn while getting happy drunk.
- 1610 14th St NW
One of the best happy hours in D.C., this large bar/restaurant may be better on weeknights during happy hour, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good for the big game. Sit at the bar. Get a pie. Be happy. Our one complaint is happy hour, especially on the weekends, needs to expand to at least the tables in the front. The past few weeks have been way too packed with way too many open tables because very few people are in the restaurant/bar at 4 p.m. and want dinner or lunch. They want pizza and happy hour drinks.
- 2009 14th St NW
If you hate, hate, hate all things sport, go to the darkest bar in D.C. Dark, intimate, no place for large groups to scream and/or shout, no light beer spelled ‘lite’ and fancy cocktails.
- 1924 8th St. NW
I don’t know who decided grocery stores should start serving craft beer, but whoever it is I want to kiss them on the face. Glen’s is one of the best places in the city to try out new brews. Their draft list is small, but well curated, constantly changing, and cheap as fuck.
- 1369 New York Ave NE
While the only liquor they’ve released is their Civic vodka, they’ve focused on churning out very simple and very good vodka based drinks. Their Moscow Mule is a crowd favorite, and though they’ve deviated from the traditional recipe when it comes to the garnish (candied ginger) everything else about it is as clean and elegant as it gets. It doesn’t hurt that the bar is very small, beautiful, and features some lovely floor to ceiling windows.
- 1345 S St NW
Tucked away by Garden’s City’s beer bonanza, in a barely marked door it is a quiet, lovely, quality place to, you know, just hang out and enjoy a quality cocktail delivered RIGHT TO YOUR TABLE. Which is something we, as a city, need to start appreciating more.
- 3720 14th St NW
When compiling these lists the first thought is to include Red Derby. The no frills, low key bar does have a TV. Yelp says it does not. It does. It’s in the back room. Lyman’s, next door to Red Derby, does not have a television. It does have pinball machines and a great jukebox and free popcorn.
- 1539 7th St NW
The Passenger is dead, long live the Passenger.
- 201 Upshur St NW
This is the kind of place you go to when you can’t be in a rustic inspired, tasting menu centric restaurant one second longer. The draft lines are plentiful, the burgers are so big and juicy they melt in your mouth, and the staff are very nice.
Suns has the biggest screen of any bar on this list, but it will not be playing the football game on Sunday, so you’re safe.
- 2017 14th St NW
A few doors down from The Gibson, Quarter+Glory is the happier, brighter version of the 14th St. mainstay. Both establishments serve well executed drinks in the $12 to $14 range. Q+C lets in light. The Gibson does not. Q+C has a happy hour. The Gibson does not. Q+C has signage. The Gibson does not. Q+C has high ceilings. The Gibson does not.
- 1905 9th St NW
If you like what we like, you’ll want to spend most of your off nights at 1905. The home of our Beaujolais Nouveau party is the home of some BYT staff’s birthday parties and anniversary parties and fun life parties and more. We love this place. We love the darkness of the second floor bar and the brightness of the third floor roof deck. We love the drinks and the food and we love our annual wine party. We love being able to hide from other parties at 1905.
- 515 15th St NW
If you like views of things you can see in ‘real life’ instead of via a screen, the rooftop bar of the W is great. Even if you have an office building Mall view, it’s going to be too cold to enjoy being outside. Be almost-inside across the street from the White House.
- 624 T St NW
This made our Least Douchey Bars of 2015 roundup with conditions. It can get loud and cramped and it can feel like a bunch of bros are watching a game. So don’t go on the weekends between 8 p.m. and close. The rest of the time is fine.
- 3234 11th St NW
If you’re in the mood for red and white, go to 11th. The home of wine and drinking and fire and patios and adult conversation, Room 11 caters to people that like to converse instead of pound things.
- 501 Florida Ave NW
There’s a good reason it’s on our Least Douchey Bars of 2015 roundup. The Royal may be the last likely place on this list where you’ll hear about the Super Bowl. Go for the drinks, stay for the grilled squid.
- 1205 U St NW
If you need a classic bar, go to The Saloon. When we compiled our first Least Douchey Bars In D.C. feature The Saloon made the list. When I asked Facebook what bars I should in this roundup, The Saloon had the most votes. When I visited D.C. for the first time and I wanted a ‘real’ bar, I went to The Saloon. This U Street tavern features beer and wooden tables and that’s about it. It shouldn’t be there and thank god it is.
- 1841 7th St NW
If you’re looking for a bright space on 7th, the final entry from Derek Brown and Angie Salame is now open. The place has over 30 different types of bourbons so I’m a fan.
- 1101 Kenyon St NW
If you’re in need of recovery from a place you might have visited the night before, this Columbia Heights anchor is the problem and solution. The Wonderland is a weekend destination for people that like to dance and rub on each other and give the place a bad name. I know this. I do a show there. But it’s not like that all the time. Trust me. It’s a place I wouldn’t recommend from 10pm to close on Friday and Saturday night. Every other time, it’s a delight. The staff is great, the music, both via iPod and regular like Ian Walters, is well suited for drinking and there are multiple vegetarian options for non-meat eaters. If you drank too much on Saturday, consume a high calorie brunch on Sunday morning, go home, sleep and head back for a football-less Sunday evening.
Bonus Option: If you’re closer to Brookland than Columbia Heights, consider not watching the game at The Wonderland owners’ other bar, The Dew Drop Inn. They made our Least Douchey Bars in 2015 roundup.