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 2018 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.
- 1405 T St NW
From Least Douchey Bars in DC: There’s a lot going on at Colada Shop. It’s a cute cafe. It’s an excellent Cuban lunch spot. And it also churns out drinks so good it feels like you could actually be in Cuba. The tiny spot is always jam packed with people, but the extensive patio helps (if you’re able to actually grab a seat). Drink-wise, you can’t go wrong with a Daiquiri, a Piña Colada or a Cuba Libre, but our all time favorite is the Hotel Nacional. Made with a mix of white rum, dark rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice and a dash of lime apricot puree, I know this sounds like a drink that could punch you in the face with sugar, but trust me when I say it’s a delightfully fruity and boozy cocktail. Like a mini vacation in your mouth. Food-wise, you’d be dumb not to get a Cuban. Made with both the traditional ham and pork (there’s also a vegetarian version with mushrooms and cauliflower), it’s everything you want in a sandwich. Get a few mushroom croquetas on the side and and you’re good to go. All that’s left is to stumble one door down to Ice Cream Jubilee and gorge yourself on some local ice cream.
- 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.
- 1330 5th St NE
From Least Douchey Bars in DC: D.C.’s first (and only) rum distillery shouldn’t just be your go to place to pick up a bottle, it’s also a fantastic spot to drink near Union Market and worthy of a trip to NoMa in its own right. With its tall ceilings and long bar (that’s covered in carvings of ye olde sea monsters), it’s a comfortable place to hang out in on a summer night. Even though the main liquor available is their white and spiced rum, the bar menu has an eclectic mix of drinks. From negronis, to rickeys to sazeracs, there’s something for every kind of drinker. Next time you decide to get dinner at Union Market, make sure to grab a nightcap right next door.
- 1800 14th St NW
From our review: Lukas B. Smith’s newest incarnation does drinks quickly. He’s spent months developing ways to make his cocktails easy to serve via tap and/or slushie machine. It’s the least amount of time you can wait for a well balanced cocktail, with consistency with each pour. But even though they’re excellent (and even better during happy hour), you’re probably going to be visiting Destination Wedding for its theme.
- 3221 Mt Pleasant St NW
From Least Douchey Bars in DC: Is Mount Pleasant the least douchey neighborhood in D.C.? Probably. So, it makes sense that the nicest food establishment in the neighborhood is the home of the least douchey fancy-ish bar to open in the city of late. Everything about Elle is smart, sane and well done – the food is somehow both exciting and comforting, the drinks get served in perfect glasses at perfect temperatures, and the bar staff is lovely whether you’re just sitting down while you wait for a friend, or pulling a chair up for a full meal. It feels like a neighborhood bar should feel – welcoming and well worth leaving your living room for, while not compromising any of the comforts.
- 2012 9th St NW
- 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.
- 1401 Okie St NE
From our review: Classics like the French 75 and Bees Knees are done right, but house inventions like the moodily named When Solace Comes First (made with rum, curacao, pineapple, lime and the Dutch made Boomsma) also manage to impress. The light (and bright) drinks pair well with our surprise amuse-bouche, a dollop of fried cod, a sliver of a fingerling potato chip and a smear of tartar sauce that evokes an entire meal of fish and chips.
- 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.
- 3418 11th Street NW
From Least Douchey Bars in DC: Mount Pleasant may be the most non-douchey neighborhood in D.C. but the strip of bars and restaurants from Monroe St NW to Kenyon St NW gives it a run for its money. One of the newer additions is Maple. It’s mostly a restaurant, but there is a very small bar that can seat a few (like, fewer than 10), but since it has a bar we’re find adding it to this list. This is a date spot and if you’re not sure if you like your date, maybe just have a glass of wine and the bar and figure that out.
- 1336 9th St NW
From Least Douchey Bars in DC: Brent Kroll has spent years curating the wine lists at some of of favorite fancy establishments (Iron Gate, Adour – RIP, etc). And while we love his wine knowledge, we were additionally excited, that for his solo effort he chose to put that knowledge into practice at a decidedly down-to-earth destination. Maxwell’s motto is “Anything but Pinot Grigio” but that’s sort of where the pretense ends: the staff wears t-shirts, the by-the-glass (and half glass, and half bottle and bottle) selection is plentiful and seasonally adjusted, and everyone is VERY NICE TO YOU. Always. This is the wine bar D.C. deserved and finally got: an opportunity to not drink canned beer for your 9:30 Club or DC9 outing, and still feel (mostly) rock’n’roll about it.
- 1317 14th Street NW
The key to having the best time at Pappe is to order everything you possibly can off of the food menu… Then order a Cardamom Gimlet. That’s it. Enjoy.
- 1823 L Street NW
From our review: Pisco y Nazca passed the only test that matters. It pleased our Peruvian photographer. I am not the expert in Peruvian food. He is. I asked him questions about the piscos and ceviche and everything else. They passed his test. I’ll be back. He will too.
- 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.
- 926-928 U St NW
From Least Douchey Bars in DC: We know this place can get crowded on the weekends, but you have to respect a place that tries to keep their prices down in a neighborhood where almost everyone else is fine with jacking them sky high. Service Bar might be difficult to squeeze into on a Saturday night and it might be loud as hell after a 9:30 Club show, but where else can I get a delicious Old Fashioned or a refreshing Mint Julep for $7 on U Street? That alone would seal the deal for me, but it’s staff at Service Bar that really solidified its position on this list. No matter how slammed they are, no matter how many $7 drinks you’re ordering, the bartenders at Service Bar make each and every drink with care. It doesn’t matter how deep in the weeds they are, you’re getting a damn good drink and that should be celebrated.
- 1250 5th Street NE
Part lounge, part secret society club room and part surreal steak house, St. Anselm is hard to characterize. It feels fancy and casual. Its menu is meat heavy, yet it features one of the best vegetarian appetizers I had last year (pimento cheese, baby). And its bar, while a little on the small size, is jam packed with all of the wine, sherry and madeira you could ever want. Theres also classic cocktails and beer, if that’s your poison, but go willing to explore. You’ll have more fun that way.
- 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.