Food & Drink

Embrace Your Inner Cheapskate with Free Snacks at These DC Bars

Some people are cheap. Some people are so cheap, they’ll listen to their stomach growl for hours as they helplessly search Google for happy hour food deals. It me. If that also sounds like you, you’re in luck. There are tons of bars in Washington DC where you don’t have to spend an extra dime to settle down with a snack to pair with your drink during happy hour (or any time of the day). Here are the best bars in the District for delicious, free food.

Jackpot

Penn Quarter
The Snack: Popcorn
Sure it’s the classic free snack at bars and chain restaurants, but it fits the vibe at this no-frills beer bar. Plus, during their happy hour -- which lasts four hours -- you’ll score $2 off drafts and $5 rail drinks.

Kingfisher

Logan Circle
The Snack: Popcorn
Skip the nearby U Street haunts. This underground bar has everything you need for a chill night: Self-proclaimed terrible movies, several beer-and-shot combos, and, of course, unlimited popcorn all night long.

Lyman’s Tavern

Columbia Heights
The Snack: Dressed-up popcorn
With old pinball machines lined up side-by-side, stuffed animal heads adorning the wall, and PBR as far as the eye can see, this place screams dive. But where it gets relatively fancy is free popcorn dressed up with toppings like Sriracha and jalapeño butter. Not so bad!

astoria goldfish
Courtesy of Mayra Garcia

Astoria

Dupont Circle
The snack: Goldfish
Astoria’s menu is simple: High-quality, classic cocktails and Sichuan plates. All for $14 each. One thing that’s not on the menu? The baby bowl of Goldfish crackers you’ll get to munch on before you dig into bigger and better things.

Hank’s Oyster Bar (or Hank’s Cocktail Bar)

Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, Navy Yard, Old Town
The Snack: Goldfish
When you belly up to the bar at any Hank’s location, you know you’re in for serious cocktails and at least a dozen oysters. But whether or not you opt for the latter, you’ll get a taste of seafood in the form of these cheesy, salty crackers.

The Pug

H Street Corridor
The Snack: Cheeseballs
Do you ever wonder who buys those gigantic plastic tubs of cheeseballs at the grocery store? Well, it’s the owners of The Pug. They may be single-handedly keeping the cheeseball industry afloat, and we’re not mad about it.

Mission

Dupont Circle, Navy Yard
The Snack: Chips and salsa
Don’t overlook your favorite Mexican spots when in search of free snacks. But beware: Some of DC’s most popular locales charge a few bucks for chips and salsa. Mission still offers chips and two types of salsa free of charge, plus it has several food deals on the happy hour menu.

Mezcalero

Columbia Heights
The Snack: Chips and salsa
At this homey spot run by a brother and sister duo hailing from Mexico City, they’ll bring out house-made tortilla chips and a sampling of salsas to enjoy alongside the vast selection of mezcal and tequila they keep in stock.

El Centro DF

Georgetown, 14th Street
The Snack: Chips and salsa
This spot’s tasty tableside guac is extra (you’ve seen the memes, you know that). But El Centro DF serves chips and salsa to scarf down with your margarita or as an appetizer to their extensive offerings.

Ivy and Coney peanuts
Courtesy of Ivy and Coney

Ivy and Coney

Shaw
The Snack: Peanuts
A sports bar loyal to Chicago and Detroit wouldn’t leave you without something to snack on while you toss back an ice-cold Stroh’s or scarf down a Chicago dog. Bonus points for letting patrons toss the shells on the floor.

Pizzeria Paradiso

Dupont Circle, Georgetown
The Snack: Olives
Sometimes a free snack at the bar means ordering a dirty martini and crossing your fingers that the bartender hooks you up with a triple spear. Other times, you go to Pizzeria Paradiso and they have you covered with a bowl of mixed olives that you don’t have to fish out of your drink.

Quill

Downtown
The Snack: Mixed nuts and olives
So here’s the thing: The cocktails at The Quill aren’t cheap. I’m talking $19 or $25 a pop. But it miiiiight be worth it for the mixed nuts and olives that are served on the house.

BLT Steak

Downtown
The Snack: Spiced nuts (and maybe popovers and pate!)
Grabbing a drink at BLT Steak means you can feast on fancy spiced nuts at the bar. If you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash and have dinner, the restaurant gives out fluffy popovers and chicken-liver pate to kick off each meal.

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Liz Provencher is an editorial assistant at Thrillist and a former DC dweller. She clearly will never turn down a free snack. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.