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2017 by Kaylee Dugan, Svetlana Legetic & Brandon Wetherbee, Shout-outs to Shauna, Stephanie and Logan who helped with the 2012 and 2013 lists

We ran our first Least Douchey Bars in D.C. list in 2012. It was done in response to COMPLEX’s The 25 Douchiest Bars in DC which we felt was, “For the most part an inoffensive, agreeable list that inspired little but reaffirmation of stereotypes: Adams Morgan is a shithouse zoo, Georgetown is too preppy and too Republican, and oh-yeah-screw-hipsters.” We felt it was better to focus on the miracle of positive thinking (how about that? ON THE INTERNET?) and asked:

So what makes a non-douchey bar? Ones that don’t sponsor 7 kickball teams or have an iPod port in place of a DJ, ones that DO have staff that are chill and rarely on edge or too affected with enthusiasm. ‘The less remixed top 40 the better’ is a maxim passed down from the time of my great, great, great grandfather.

Everyone has their own idea of a douchestination, no doubt with terms narrower than our own. And no matter what bars we came up with, I’m sure there would be at least five eager volunteers to tell us why we’re wrong. Hell, some of these bars are douchey depending on the time.

Good news is we have some SOLID additions to the 2012 LIST and the 2013 LIST  and 2014 LIST and 2015 LIST and 2016 LIST which we discuss further below, meaning your realms of non-douchebaggery are forever expanding, plus scroll to the bottom of the list for the ALL-STAR ALUMS and obviously, comment with your favorites. Without further ado, here are our picks for the 17 newest least douchey drinking destinations in D.C.

ANXO Cidery at Kennedy Street

We loved this place when we first visited at the end of May. Everything you need to know about it is from our First Look:

You’re in the right place. Your phone is correct. Google Maps did not direct you to the wrong location.

ANXO Cidery at Kennedy Street is east of 16th Street Heights, northwest of Fort Totten, in Brightwood Park. It’s in the middle of a mixed business and residential street. It has a comfortable, neighborhood-y vibe. You enter through the alley. Your views to the outside are backs of houses. It feels like more Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine than Washington, D.C.

ANXO Preview-30


This comes with qualifiers. Sit at the bar. The bar is not douchey. The Tiki drinks and divisive menu (we had good experiences, the people around us did not) are the same regardless of your location. Sit at the bar because it’s the least douchey part of this brand new bar (but maybe restaurant?) on 12th and U St NW. It has a slightly confusing layout since there’s no hostess but there are tables. And waiters. So are you supposed to just sit and wait for a waitress? If you do have a waitress, is it OK to walk around like it’s a regular bar? These are issues that are easily resolved by a hostess or guidance for the bouncer. It’ll lead to a better experience for everyone. The reason it’s on this list is because the drinks are great, the setting is unlike any other in D.C. (there are Tiki pop ups and seasonal menus but this is the first dedicated Tiki bar that you could realistically re-enact the scene where Rob Lowe offers Wayne and Garth $5,000 to own Wayne’s World) and if you sit at the bar, it’s not at all douchey.

Colada Shop

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.

The Commodore

The Commodore bills itself as a five start dive. That’s not quite correct. It’s not a dive. They $6 special for a pint of American beer and a shot of the bartenders choosing (we got Four Roses). This special should be a requirement for every bar. The tap handle for the cheap American beer features a flag, an eagle and stars. On our most recent visit, all of our glassware was promotional items (Record Store Day pint glass, Jameson shot glasses). The bartender wore a very worn in Chicago White Sox cap. In a city of with a lot of frills, no frills bars are rare. This gem at 1100 P St NW can and should be cloned in every neighborhood in D.C. It’s not a dive bar. It’s not dirty. It’s just a neighborhood bar.

Cotton & Reed

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.

Crimson Diner in the Pod Hotel

We did not think this would make the list. It’s difficult to imagine a Chinatown hotel bar as a comfortable spot to grab a beer, but this micro hotel (the rooms are small, not the hotel) has a very nice, very clean, very long bar that’s great for a private conversation in an otherwise loud area. The hotel is opening a giant whiskey themed basement ball this fall. It sounds like it’ll attract real big douches. Hopefully the first floor bar stays douche free.

POD Hotel First Look-9

Dan’s Cafe

A true dive, Dan’s Cafe appears closed. It’s always appeared closed. It’s hot and falling apart and is it open? It looks closed. It’s not a secret bar. There’s no password. But there’s no clear signage. Anyway, if you enjoy actual dives, and drinking out of plastic condiment bottles, you can find no better place than this Adams Morgan institution. FYI, it’s cash only. Like a real dive bar.

District Distilling Co.

Their location alone should make it douchey. Perched right on the corner of of U Street and 14th, it should always be packed to the brim with drunkards, and yet, District Distilling is a little oasis. It has everything we want in a bar, lots of space, great drinks with local ingredients, excellent food and a good happy hour to boot. In fact, the $5 happy hour chicken biscuit may be one of the best happy hour deals in D.C…. although the $3 sliders are killer too. If we could move in here and just live in a perpetual state of happy hour, we’d do it in a heartbeat. Bury me with that chicken biscuit and I’d die a happy woman.

Free State

We’re recommending on weeknights. We’ve had mixed experiences at the Chinatown bar. On the weeknights we’ve enjoyed it, there was no event at the Verizon Center. That may affect the clientele. Regardless, this mid-Atlantic bar (they serve beer and liquor from mid-Atlantic states) is a nice basement bar somewhere hidden in an area that could use some more quiet.

The Good Silver

It’s hard for me to love The Good Silver. It’s not the bar’s fault. The bar hasn’t done anything wrong. On the contrary, I had delightful drinks and good service and a really delicious burger there, but it’s not KBC. Maybe it’s my fear of change. Or maybe my good memories of KBC are clouding my judgement, but did that little corner of 11th really need a cocktail bar? With Room 11 right around the corner? With The Coupe right across the street? I understand that area also has its fill of beer focused bars (Meridian Pint, Wonderland, etc.), but KBC had something special going on and I will mourn its loss forever. Okay. Now that I’ve finished pouring out my heart and soul, I can honestly say The Good Silver is a cute bar. The renovation was smart. Making the bar bigger was a good idea and knocking down some of those walls was an even better one. Their cheeseburger was excellent (it might even be better than The Coupe’s burger) and the drinks were great for summer. The house-made shrubs were tart, lovely and paired well with the sweeter cocktail ingredients. It’s a shame I can’t love this bar without morning what it used to be, but I’ll definitely be back for that burger.

Hill Prince

The team behind DGS and Whaley’s made a move into their fourth D.C. quadrant earlier this year with this perfectly lit, casual bar on H Street NE. No cocktail is over $10 (hell, no glass of wine is over $10), the beers and whiskey selection is nice (and there is a rotating beer/whiskey combo on offer) and the service is helpful but not obtrusive. It is the kind of bar that sort of stopped opening (existing?) in D.C. a few years ago when themes and ridiculous garnishes took over, which is a shame. No gimmicks, just a place to hang out with your friends or in a low stress date setting. Let’s reach hands across the city and make this place very popular so they open variations in other neighborhoods too.

Hill Prince-18

Jug & Table

A horrible name for a nice win bar. The first floor of Roofers Union is not really Roofers Union. That’s a very good thing. Same staff as Roofers (their staff is nice, regardless of rooftop, Roofers or wine bar) in a much more comfortable atmosphere. Due to its location, Roofers Union was always going to attract douchey people. Since their opening, it’s only gotten worse. We’ve qualified their inclusion on this list by saying to avoid the roof. Not we’re saying avoid the roof and the second floor. Even on weeknights, it gets douchey. Jug & Table, the most douchey sounding name on this lists, manages to attract not douches.

Roofers Union 03


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.

Reliable Tavern

There are plenty of unpretentious drinking spots on Georgia Avenue, but when it comes to good bars, we’re definitely a more the merrier type. Reliable Tavern doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you step in, it’s clear that this bar is exactly what it claims to be. The Texas tavern has a solid menu of beers and cocktails, not to mention a summer wine list that goes above and beyond what you’d expect. Their food is all in collaboration with Republic Kolache’s, so you can expect a diverse menu of sweet and savory pastries as well as bar snacks like guacamole and queso. I was here for less than an hour, and the laid back vibe already has me sold. If you need a place to cool off and hide away from the world during this fake autumn, Reliable Tavern has you covered.

Service Bar

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.

Union Drinkery

The very definition of a no frills bar, Union Drinkery is a black box. They’ve got a rotating cocktail, beer and wine menu. They’ve got food from Small Fry and Sundevich. That’s it. If you’re looking for a low key place to grab a drink, whether you’re alone or with a friend, this is the spot. It’s the minimalist cousin of our maximalist pop-up bars. Delete your Instagram, or even better, leave your phone at home. Union Drinkery isn’t here to be social media fodder, it’s just a place to get a drink.

The Midlands*

This is a complicated addition. For the first time in the history of Least Douchey Bars, we’ve been bowled over and completely charmed by a bar that doesn’t fit the parameters of the list, but we feel obligated to include it anyway. I mean this with no malice and absolutely all the love in my heart, but The Midlands is the best douchey bar in D.C. This is the spot you can take your basic friends, your sports bro family members and your weird coworker with horrible taste in music. They’ll all feel comfortable here and so will you. The patio is so large and comfortable that even when there’s a crowd it’s not hard to carve out some space for yourself. The beer list is good, but you can also be a total mess and drink three huge steins and then puke in the corner (don’t actually do this, I am 100% joking). The music is bad, but the volume is low enough that you can ignore it. Yeah, you’ll leave smelling like a meat smoker (because there is a meat smoker), but smelling like delicious smoked meats is kind of cool right? They even have some real vegetarian options. Help, I’ve fallen in love with a (kind of) douchey bar and I can’t get up.


RIP: Argonaut, Blackbyrd, Cashion’s Eat Place, HOGO, Red Palace, Stetson’s and Toledo Lounge, Mockingbird Hill / Eat The Rich / Southern Efficiency Trifecta (currently the most successful rotating pop up bar in the country

ALSO, please feel free to dig into us in the comments and inform us of all the bars WE MISSED. 2017 edition will be here super soon.


Behold our list of least douchey bars to watch football  and our list of best bars WITHOUT TV. We’re never not looking out for you.