12 of DC’s Top Sports Bars for Watching the Big Game
Where to post up for March Madness and game days all year long.
Washington, DC is an unexpected sports city. The District may be better known for dueling parties in the political circus, but recent championship trophies by the Nationals, Capitals, and Mystics have ignited the passions of fans, giving new life to game days, no matter the season. Even the middling Wizards and the perpetual question of our NFL team’s name (which was finally minted the Washington Commanders), sports fan in DC have plenty to watch and talk about.
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. So here are the best sports bars in and around the District to hunker down in on game day.
This American-themed pub offers a comfortable place to watch a game without being awash in memorabilia and jerseys. Multiple bars in thespace are outfitted with TVs, and 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 a fried oyster po boy 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. But groups shouldn’t have trouble finding territory at one of the long communal tables or pods of leather couches.
Dirty Water Sports Bar
Some may say that Boston sports fans, raucous as they can be, are best confined to cheer from their own dedicated location. Enter Dirty Water Sports Bar. It’s decked out with memorabilia of the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins as a beacon to all the displaced New Englanders in the District. All that’s left to do is grab a Sam Adams and crank The Dropkick Murphys. New Yorkers, you’ve been warned.
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. 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.
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. Buffalo teams are heavily represented here, so expect to encounter the Bills Mafia during NFL Sundays.
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. Elbow room can be tight, so don’t count on getting seats for big groups.
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 (varieties include vegan mushroom, steak, and Buffalo shrimp) to quesadillas and nachos. 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.
Penn Social is so much more than just a sports bar. For starters, it’s a huge venue, with projector screens and TVs situated throughout its two floors. Pick from more than two dozen draft beers at the downstairs bar, which is also outfitted with Skee-Ball, shuffleboard, foosball, and more. Upstairs, enjoy the seasonal patio and comfortable tables and couches for smaller groups. It’s a popular spot during NFL and college football games, as well as for gathering before or after events at nearby Capital One Arena.
Pitchers offers a welcoming space for the gay community (or anyone, for that matter) 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 to catering to queer women looking to kick back in a safe and fun environment.
Followers of the Chicago Bears 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 has made Walter’s 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 for $20. Planners will appreciate the bar’s online listing of what’s playing during the week.