The Best Bars to Hit if You’re Single in DC
Grab a drink and scope out your next situationship.
If you’re thinking of heading out tonight in pursuit of finding love, or possibly someone to text with back and forth until the conversation eventually dies out, you’re in luck. We’ve got the perfect spots to visit when you’re ready to put down that phone, give your thumbs a rest, and head out with your friends for an old-fashioned night of dating safari. Whether you’re the kind of person who prefers a laidback dive bar or a place to dance the night away, we’ve got you covered with this list of the best single bars in the city.
Le Mont Royal
This brand new addition to Adams Morgan’s iconic 18th Street stretch is the hottest party in town, complete with a killer wine list and glittering disco ball. Put your name down to play pool, or head downstairs to grab drinks, dance, and meet someone new. If a meet cute isn’t in the cards that night, make yourself feel better with an order of poutine.
American Ice Company
This is the place to grab a beverage and loosen up for the night before catching a show across the way at the 9:30 Club. But it also makes for a great place to mingle the night way. Passing by it on the street it looks pretty nondescript, but a flash of your ID and you’re in a hip, industrial bar with a large front patio and plenty of dating prospects. Come for a late dinner of barbecue brisket or wings and stay all night for the vibes and seasonal beer list. Or you could just grab some PBR tallboys—no one will judge.
Bring some friends with gossip with while you wait in the line snaking around the corner of this self-described British restaurant and pub, where supposedly you can actually eat dinner instead of just tossing back shots at midnight on a Friday. Who knew? Regardless, it’s a great place known for mingling and the occasional bout of dancing. The bar has three floors to explore, and we suggest grabbing a Moscow Mule with a side shot on the first floor, then heading up to the second floor to dance, and reserving the rooftop for when you need some air (probably almost immediately).
This hidden neighborhood watering hole and urban backyard feels less like a bar and more like a fun house party—the perfect setting for a potential meet cute. Adult juice boxes (AKA boozy Capri-Suns) are a must-try, and pair well with their picnic-inspired fare if you’re hungry. During warmer months, their spacious back deck is the place to be.
Dan’s Cafe is the diviest of dive bars with a young and rowdy crowd. It’s perhaps best known for its empty condiment squeeze bottles that you can pay a $5 deposit to get filled up with your liquor of choice. Have a ball squirting said liquor into your friends’ mouths (or perhaps the mouth of a new lover?) before stumbling out to sing karaoke next door at Muzette.
A beer-lover’s paradise, Franklin Hall is an enormous venue with taps to spare. Located in the historic Manhattan Laundry Building, the beer hall prides itself on drawing big crowds—especially once the weekend rolls around. Ample communal seating is the ideal setting for joining groups together or meeting fun new people, and Franklin Hall’s recent renovation means even more beer, televisions, bathrooms and pool tables. In other words: plenty of room for activities.
Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar
If you’re tired of $15 fancy cocktails and are looking to get away from pretentious crowds, head over to Little Miss Whiskey’s on H Street, a self-described “lousy bar for rotten people” for a whiskey soda and some hip hop-fueled dancing with zero judgment. To find it, just follow the violet glow (you’ll see what we mean) and venture into this quirky joint to knock back a few rounds and get sweaty on its second story dance floor, usually helmed by a DJ.
Are you on the hunt for your hipster, craft-beer-wielding soulmate? Look no further than popular neighborhood bar Red Derby, where funky decor and an open rooftop serve as the perfect backdrop for your next 500 Days of Summer love story. Also helping to set the mood are a selection of board games and American comfort food classics for when you get the drunchies, like sweet potato fries and grilled cheese.
You may miss Trade if you’re passing by it on bustling 14th Street, where it’s tucked in amidst a slew of other popular bars, like Kingfisher and Black Whiskey. Walk into the beloved gay bar and you’ll find a small and usually packed watering hole where the vibe is very much subject to change depending on who is in attendance. Besides, the backyard patio is probably where you’ll end up. Try to arrive before 10 pm, the cut off for Huge Happy Hour, which means that you get a large version of your regular vodka soda for the same price, with beer and wine for only $5.
Continuing the theme on this list of quirky, dive-y bars, at Showtime Lounge be sure to bring cash if you want to spend the night sipping Natty Boh and cheap bourbon. After getting your first round, head over to the jukebox where you can queue up a few of your favorites while surveying the scene to see who shares the same taste in music as you. Didn’t make it over here on a Friday or Saturday? Don’t despair, come on Sunday night when the bar hosts a weekly show by Granny & The Boys, Showtime’s famous funky house band helmed by an amazing 86-year-old grandmother.
The Wonderland Ballroom
Known for its Annual Sundress Fest that’s currently in its 15th year, during which absolutely anyone wearing a sundress can enjoy an all-day happy hour, The Wonderland Ballroom is a DC mainstay. Prepare to be greeted first by a large outdoor patio, and then by the strong scent of draft beer that’ll hit you as you walk through the door of this kitschy-yet-rowdy spot. Wonderland is also known for its beer selection, so grab one at the bar downstairs before heading up to the second floor for a night of dancing. You could even come back the next morning for an epic patio brunch with your new beau when you’re both hungover. How romantic.
If you’re tired of the regular bar scene and looking for something different to try this weekend, Wunder Garten is a great place to start. This sprawling outdoor beer garden is constantly putting on fun events, from seasonal celebrations to themed dance parties. Looking for an easy way to meet someone new here? Just bring your dog—it’s totally pooch friendly.