12 of the Absolute Best Sports Bars in DC
From over-the-top viewing destinations to rowdy sports bars.
DC is an unexpected sports city. The District may be better known for dueling parties in the political ring, but recent championship trophies by the Nationals, Capitals, and Mystics have ignited the passions of fans, giving new life to game days during every season.
Finding a sports bar that aligns with your preferences is key. So whether you want a bar dedicated to your favorite team, a laid-back spot where local brews are flowing, or a rowdy dive bar to celebrate a win, DC has plenty of options. Here are the best sports bars in and around The District to catch all the action on game day.
Tom’s Watch Bar
This bar adjacent to Capital One Center offers 360-degree views, complete with personalized audio at every table and more than 120 high-definition screens. As the latest sports pub to enter Chinatown, it’s a safe bet for everything from games featuring international sports teams, as well as UFC and other hard-to-view special sporting events.
The enormous bar spans two levels, plus there are three oversized stadium screens with seating for more than 300. Tom's Watch Bar also features a Swing Suite powered by Topgolf. This state-of-the-art simulator bay features a variety of virtual games including golf, of course, plus hockey, baseball, football, soccer, and carnival games.
The Pug is a beloved neighborhood bar where the TV and sound are always turned on for local DC sports teams. It’s also a place that looks and feels like a second home for those that live on or near H Street. The charming dive’s character comes courtesy of kitschy DC decor, free cheese puffs, and an excellent selection of local craft beer.
This American-themed pub offers a comfortable place to watch a game without being awash in memorabilia and jerseys. The space’s multiple bars are outfitted with TVs, while certain booths offer good sightlines as well. Craft cocktails and local beers flow on tap, including an exclusive label from DC Brau. The kitchen turns out bar food including seafood dishes like fried oyster po boys and Cajun shrimp tacos. A late-night DJ keeps the party going until 3 am on weekends.
Astro Beer Hall
Fried chicken, doughnuts, and craft beer shine at this downtown hangout which some may recognize from its days at Mackey’s Public House. Soak up the brews with bar food like loaded tots and fried chicken combos, and when halftime hits, try your hand at one of the arcade games downstairs. There’s plenty of space to hang out at this two-level space, and the bar runs drink specials during weekday happy hour and Sunday brunch.
This subterranean hangout worships all things beer, board games, and sports. The cavernous spot is somewhat hidden, which can be good given the number of tourists that clog Wisconsin Avenue and the surrounding streets outside the bar. Despite the bustling locale, groups shouldn’t have trouble finding territory at one of the long communal tables or pods of leather couches.
First Down Sports Bar & Grill
Wings are the go-to order at this Arlington hang, with more than 40 flavors including mango habanero, garlic butter, and Korean-style barbecue on offer. The casual neighborhood bar keeps things low-key, making it a great spot for a relaxed watch party with friends with a few cold beers.
Grand Central Bar & Sportsbook
This Adams Morgan bar was the first in DC to operate its own sportsbook, allowing fans to bet on games as they unfold. Whether you choose to wager or not, Grand Central has you covered with classic American bar fare and daily discounts on beers, cocktails, and even Jell-O and Fireball shots.
Ivy and Coney
Cheap food and booze are two of the big selling points at this Detroit- and Chicago-themed haunt. A basic beer at this cash-only dive runs just a few bucks no matter what time you stop in, and shots of Malort are always in style. Ivy and Coney’s food sticks to its regional roots with a menu of Midwestern-inspired dogs and sausages.
Mission Navy Yard
From April to October, Mission Navy Yard hosts Nationals and DC United fans with draft margaritas, tall beers, and Mexican fare that ranges from tacos to quesadillas and nachos in varieties like vegan mushroom, steak, and Buffalo shrimp. Happy hour deals run daily and there’s a separate football menu for Saturday and Sunday games. The multiple bars are long and spacious, even on the most crowded afternoons. When baseball is out of season, fans gather for college sports and other must-watch events.
Pitchers offers a welcoming space for the LGBTQ community to root for their favorite team or unwind with a game of darts. Downstairs you’ll find A League of Her Own, a sports bar catering to queer women looking to kick back in a safe and fun environment.
Capitol Hill neighbors and politico-types flock to this no-frills Capitol Hill spot on weekends for all-day specials on beers, shots, and rail drinks. Brunch and discounted cocktails are served from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays as well, for those who prefer to get an early start on game-day drinks.
Walters Sports Bar
More than 30 TVs and a 220-inch 4k screen make Walters one of the more popular spots near Nationals Park. Try your hand at the self-pour beer wall or pick a signature cocktail like the frozen 8th Inning Painkiller or OC Orange Crush. Fill up with wings, burgers, sandwiches, or a hearty plate of steak frites or tuna poke. For weekend afternoon games, there’s a 90-minute bottomless drink package. Planners will appreciate the bar’s online listing of what’s playing during the week.
Tim Ebner is a food and travel writer based in Washington, D.C. and writes for Eater, Edible, Washington City Paper, and Forbes Travel, among others. He's from Maryland and has a weakness for Old Bay seasoning. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.