Food & Drink

These are DC's Bad Decision Bars

Published On 01/08/2014 Published On 01/08/2014

The Bad Decision Bar: where one little drink leads to one little ride home on the Metro where you sleep past your stop only to awaken with four texts from "Skintern Blonde" and two different stains on your shirt you can't identify. Here are a dozen of DC's finest (or worst?) examples...


Foggy Bottom
Dance on bar, ride on the bull, crush someone at mini bocce (shots!), grind on a co-worker (more shots that won't go down nearly as well as the first ones). McFadden's is an Irish amusement park attracting a well-balanced mix of college students and adult rec league participants who think they are still in college. Their WTF Tuesdays generally lead to "Why Are There 30 Leprechauns Attacking My Skull With Sledgehammers" Wednesdays.

Dupont Circle
Not just a Fleetwood Mac album anymore! It's also where you can find yourself sucking down Long Islands as the bride-to-be from a bachelorette party (there will be at least three occurring) tells you that you have kind eyes and she's not sure about this whole marriage thing. A bathroom sign astutely advises "If you left your drink on the table, buy a new one when you go back." Careful out there!

Niall McGinty

Madam's Organ
Adams Morgan
A blurry photo in front of the most instagrammed rack in DC is a fine way to let the world know you've spent the evening "where the beautiful people go to get ugly", though after enough half-price beers, its possible that lady you were smashing faces with after your triumphant off-key rendition of "Jesse's Girl" was more of the "where the dubiously attractive go to reap the benefits of cheap drinks and dim lighting" variety. 

Café Saint-Ex (Downstairs, Obvs)
U Street
A dark, sweaty basement den of questionable choices stands in stark contrast to the tasty fare being eaten above by attractive locals in nice sweaters who actually have their lives together. It's kind of a heaven and hell thing. A loyal patron says, “I’ve never NOT made out with a girl there, but don’t quote me on that." Whoops.

Paul Morigi

Smith Point
This faux-nautical yacht-y club is the perfect place to find yourself slapped with a lawsuit because the guy with the popped collar and salmon pants who picked a fight with you, claiming that you spilled beer on his Sperrys, turns out to be some trustafarian with a "III" after his name. Fun fact: getting sloppy here Thursday-Saturday is known as the trifecta. Fun fact #2: the Bush twins were big fans. Completion of a Bush twin trifecta cannot be confirmed.

Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar
H Street
Here you’ll find Zoe Barnes wannabees drinking Hill Kool-Aid known as “Awesomeness” that contributes to a floor stickier than ZBT’s basement. There's black lighting and a decided New Orleans vibe, but don't be a creeper and show up with beads. Instead, show some skin and EARN those beads.

Sign of the Whale

Sign of the Whale
Dupont Circle
Nine dollar cocktail pitchers? Hordes of people who have had enough cocktail pitchers to make belting out some Chumbawamba seem like a good idea? A particularly treacherous staircase? A stone's throw from a lap dance at Camelot? What could go wrong?

Public Bar
Dupont Circle
Wait, why is that shirtless guy doing pushups? Is that bachelor party having a pull-up contest on the rafters? This place has more excess testosterone than Alex Rodriguez posing for a centaur painting, and that's not even factoring for when it's UFC Fight Night. Oh, and it's the go-to Raiders viewing bar, renowned for their measured reactions to their steadily competitive football team. So yeah, it's pretty chill.

Jay Snap | LaDexon Phtographie

Café Asia
Cheap sushi slingers by day, sh*t show club by night. But what happens in between? Post-happy hour hook-ups in coed bathrooms initiated by $4 sake. Come midnight, this is a champagne-straight-from-the-bottle, occasional-foam-party kind of place that involves TSA-style frisking to enter. And to think you just wanted some California rolls!

Local 16
U Street
Here you’ll find girls in "Virginia is for Lovers" tanks arm-wrestling while charged up on RB&Vs and plenty of cheap beer. When you inevitably get rejected by one such tank-topped lady, just channel your anguish into  singing "Like A Prayer" like no one can hear you. But they can. They all can.

Tatiana Salas Inostroza

Lucky Bar
Dupont Circle
Last night's a little hazy. You think you ended up at Lucky Bar, but you aren't sure. You vaguely recall nearly getting into it with some Jersey Shore types for staring at one of their girlfriends (which you were, but whatever) then trying to hide out with some soccer hooligans who you couldn't understand but they kept feeding you whiskey shots so it must have been okay? Ah ha -- you took a selfie in front of the "hot nuts" machine. Yep, you were at Lucky Bar.

Wonderland Ballroom
Columbia Heights
Everyone's body is a wonderland on the most grope-tastic dance floor in DC. That shower you take the next morning might wash all that stranger sweat off of you, but it won't clean up the loss of your dignity. Yeah, you know what you did.

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1. Cafe Asia 1720 I St NW, Washington, DC 20006 (Downtown)

Cafe Asia is serving up cheap sushi during the day, transitioning (via a $4 sake happy hour) into a bottle-service-and-foam-party kind of spot by night.

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2. Sign of the Whale 1825 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Sign of the Whale is your home for nine dollar cocktail pitchers, killer happy hours, and a Sunday brunch with $10 bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys.

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3. Madam's Organ 2461 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

This rowdy four-floor D.C. bar maintains the motto, "Where the Beautiful People Go to Get Ugly" -- locals will tell you that the statement holds. Known for the throngs of lively college kids stumbling in and out of its entryways until 3 am, this Adams Morgan spot is a fantastically irreverent crowd favorite. The bar has everything from a year-round roof deck, to live music, trivia, and "Drunkeoke" (it's exactly what you think). Stationed right in the heart of trendy Adams Morgan, Madam's serves a number of sandwiches and bar snacks, along with a full list of soul food entrees -- but it seems that drinking is the preferred means of consumption. The house cocktail menu is impressive, and upon request, the bartenders will top any drink off with a shot of red bull. So, whether searching for soul food and live blues, or 22-year-olds taking tequila shots while belting Christina Aguilera songs, Madam's Organ is certainly the place.

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4. Rumors 1900 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Rumors is a great spot for many occasions -- come to grab a bite and a beer while you watch the game, sit down for a lobster or steak dinner at an awesome price, or stick around for drinks and dancing on the weekend when the place turns into a party!

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5. Cafe Saint-Ex 1847 14th Street NW , Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

Named for aviator/ author of The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Cafe Saint-Ex also holds a dual identity. Upstairs is a classy cafe where you can enjoy delicious offerings like Sriracha Chicken Liver Mousse or Slow Roasted Pork Belly, while downstairs a dance party awaits your full-stomached dancing (wait 30 minutes!).

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6. Smith Point 1338 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007 (Georgetown)

With somewhat of a reputation for a preppy contingent, Smith Point will please anyone who's looking for a fun time -- with mixed drinks served in big plastic cups, an awesome courtyard, and a continuous sweaty dance party.

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7. Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar 1104 H St NE, Washington, 20002 (H Street Ne)

Bathed in the violet glow of black lights and serving up an adult slushy called "Awesomeness", Little Miss Whiskey's is a New Orleans-themed haunt with a sticky floor and a good heart. Keep it a little more relaxed downstairs or head up a floor to a DJ-fueled dance party.

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8. Public Bar 1214 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Public Bar is the place you can go to catch hard-to-find sporting events on TV -- with a screen built into individual booths you can choose what you want to watch. Sip on some cheap beers, snack on some delicious wings, and watch the downstairs areas turn into a big dance party as the night wears on. If that's not your scene, head right upstairs and enjoy the all-weather roof deck.

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9. Local 16 1602 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

A sweet rooftop, a $20 bottomless brunch (unlimited mimosas, bellinis, and bloody Marys), and awesome dance parties make Local 16 a smart call at any time of day.

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10. Lucky Bar 1221 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

A great bar to watch football (meaning soccer) or football (meaning football) or whatever sport you like (so long as it's not too busy) on one of their 22 screens while sipping on a reasonably priced brew or enjoying some standard pub fare.

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11. The Wonderland Ballroom 1101 Kenyon St NW, Washington, DC 20010 (Columbia Heights)

The Wonderland Ballroom does a little of everything -- they have killer brunch and dinner menus stacked with awesomeness like Mac 'n Cheese Pancakes and fried pickles, they've got a great beer selection, a trivia night on Mondays, and their dance floor is renowned for it's reliably high and positive energy.

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12. McFadden's 2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037 (West End)

Not too far down the road from The White House, McFadden's is in the perfect location to hold specials like WTF Tuesdays ($1 cans, $2 drafts, and $5 bombs). Come in any day for cheap drinks, some dancing, and a good time.



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