Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Bonchon
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
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1. Stanton & Greene 319 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

The Green Burger at this Hill hotspot serves as the great equalizer. That’s because everyone from senators to staffers are reduced to hungry, messy toddlers when they take on the towering stack of two bacon infused patties, smoked Gouda, bacon aioli, (more!) bacon, and onion rings. Come up for air between bites to reflect on the science-defying fact that 319 Pennsylvania Ave used to be Pour House. Now it’s a cocktail bar with a classic feel of a bygone era. Erik Holzherr -- who is behind reliable watering holes like Church & State and Wisdom -- did the drinks. Try them in the first floor bistro area or the lofty, beautifully lit second floor.

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2. The Alex 1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, 20007 (Georgetown)

Tucked into The Graham Hotel in Georgetown is a "steampunk"-inspired space that asks if you’re feeling luxurious today. That’s because 36 Scotches are begging to be sipped, and the cocktails deliver an uppercut to sobriety. The Graham, for example, combines rye infused with coco nibs, Bonal, agave nectar, lemon juice, and walnut bitters. Whiskey flights, like a Glenlivet vertical, are also available at The Alex. Rely on bar bites like truffle fries and sliders to keep you upright.

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3. Bonchon Chicken 1015 Half St SE, Washington, 20003 (Navy Yardnear Se)

Double-fried Korean chicken wings replace Cracker Jack as the most craved baseball snack thanks to this Bonchon location just blocks from Nationals Park. Along with drums, wings, and strips, order the bulgogi sliders and salmon-avocado balls at the Busan import with locations in six countries. Ice-cold beer from both far-off lands and here at home will tame your mouth after a trip aboard the spicy-hot-garlic wing-train. Bonchon is open for lunch Monday-Friday (plus game days) and dinner seven nights a week. Expect to be envious of others’ patio seats.

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4. Stella Barra Pizzeria 11825 Grand Park Ave, Bethesda, MD 20852 (Bethesda)

What happens when a chef who previously cooked at Michelin star restaurants decides to toss dough instead? Pizza fireworks. Jeff Mahin’s white and red pies are perfection, especially the one with butternut squash, candied bacon, and Fresno chilies. You’ll feel more like you’re in a rich California dude’s man-cave than a pizza parlor, thanks to the leather chesterfields, mounted hipster bicycle, and handsome wood-meets-metal style. Given this vibe, order something with rye like the "New York Sour" or "Doctor’s Orders #2."

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5. Orange Anchor 3050 K St NW, Washington, 20007

Orange Anchor’s Anchor Dog uses a bun to bring surf and turf straight to your lips in what could be the most bougie boardwalk snack of all time: an all-beef hot dog wrapped in bacon with mustard crab salad and crispy shallots. However, the caviar tacos and duck confit corn dogs also compete at this waterfront rum restaurant. The rum is best enjoyed in a mean daiquiri that also includes a pour of Prosecco. OA serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, and will even bring Solo cups, bags of ice, and boxed-up meals to docked party boats full of yahoos yelling "I am the captain now." Pro tip: ask about the koozie rewards program.

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6. Kapnos Taverna 4000 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203 (Arlington)

Yes, you should go to Kapnos Taverna even if you live within walking distance of Mike Isabella’s original Greek outpost, Kapnos, on 14th St. That’s because there’s a raw bar cranking out seafood towers that would make beachy Nantucket restaurants feel silly. Taylor Bay scallops, king crab, king salmon tartare, oysters, and marinated mussels all make an appearance alongside house-made condiments like harissa hot sauce and tomato-ouzo cocktail sauce.

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7. Purple Patch 3155 Mount Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010 (Mt Pleasant)

Purple Patch, a Filipino-American restaurant in the former Tonic space, features a classy upstairs dining room that is fully date-night appropriate, along with a sporty-meets-sloppy downstairs area for basement-bar loyalists -- though the fare is fare is hardly "bar food." The place serves large-format dishes, like whole fried snapper escabeche and chopped pork shoulder over jasmine rice along, made for sharing, in addition to a variety of small plates, and a substantial weekend brunch (the bacon infused Bloody Mary is a must-have). The cocktails are tasty and cleverly crafted to pair well with the menu's selection of complex eats, while the warm-wooded expansive dining room is as relaxed as it is upscale.

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8. Station Kitchen & Cocktails 2015 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

This lobby bar and restaurant inside the Embassy Row Hotel is all about bottled cocktails and bar bites like Korean caveman pops, mushroom arancini, and even pizza bagels! Much like the jingle, you can visit Station Kitchen & Cocktails anytime (in the morning, in the evening, and at supper time!).

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9. Mason Social 728 North Henry St, Alexandria, VA 22314 (Alexandria)

If trendy Edison light bulbs are an indication of a restaurant with promise, then Mason Social is GTG. Sure there’s a dining room in the back, but where you want to post up is at the bar, where you can hang with bar man Tony Burke as he makes you a twist on a classic cocktail. The Parker Gray -- with Earl Grey-infused rye, vermouth, and bitters -- is the neighborhood restaurant’s signature drink. The bar menu stars everything from a bone marrow butter-laced burger and BBQ pork sandwich, to more uppity scallop pasta or rockfish with fennel and winter citrus salad.

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10. China Chilcano 418 7th St NW, Washington, 20004 (Penn Quarter)

José Andrés' Penn Quarter restaurant boasts a menu with Peruvian, Chinese, and Japanese influences, and a number of delicious cocktails and desserts.

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11. Highline RxR 2100 Crystal Dr, Arlington, VA 22202 (Crystal City)

If you’ve ever had a good time at Penn Social, you’re going to like Highline RXR from the same folks. Its mammoth size, high ceilings, draft list, and versatility make it a great addition to Northern Virginia. Sports fans dig the six projector screens that drop down for games; telecommuters can get work done thanks to Zeke’s Coffee on draft and a strong Wi-Fi signal; and the al fresco-obsessed will go wild when the giant windows open up, creating a giant porch feel. Settle in for a beer, board game, and an intense eating session involving bacon nuts, mac & cheese poppers, and dirty corn on the cob.

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12. SER 1110 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22203 (Ballston)

The first thing this Spanish restaurant wants you know is that it's not a tapas bar. While there are small plates like croquetas and breath-destroying gambas al ajillo, the focus is on actual entrees. Alums of Taberna del Alabardero cook up paella, a catch of the day, braised pork cheeks, and other main dishes. None compare to the cochinillo, or roast suckling pig, which can feed two-three people. The skin crackles like a thunderstorm and Navarra potatoes soak up the jus for you. You’re drinking Sherry cocktails or Mahou on draft. SER serves lunch and dinner seven days a week.

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13. Sotto 1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Something about Sotto’s sleek setting makes it the bar equivalent of baby-making music. The nightly (actual) live music, ranging from jazz to reggae, doesn't hurt either. Find the basement bar under Ghibellina. It’s from the same owners, but you won’t find pizza. Instead, you’re pairing craft cocktails with sausage samplers, beef brisket, pork ribs, and pretzel monkey bread served with apple mustard. Four of the bar’s signature drinks are half-off during happy hour, like the Ed Ellington with Scotch, Lillet Rose, cranberry, and orange. Sotto is open Tuesday-Saturday.

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