’s visit to Washington, DC (Part 1)

A visit to Washington, DC is always a good time.  Specifically for bars, there is probably not another city in the U.S. other than New York that, over the past decade, has seen more new bars (and neighborhoods) become open for bar hopping.  On a per capita basis, Washington DC is fast becoming a rival for pub crawls vs. NYC pub crawls.  What follows is part one of two nights.  This night involves some old-time Washington establishments in the downtown section of the District, centered around the White House.  Out on the town with an expert of the Washington, DC bar scene, here’s what transpired:

7:35pm – Off the Record.  A bar in the basement of the Hay-Adams hotel across Lafayette Park from the North entrance of the White House, Off the Record is a must visit for all.  An octagonal shaped bar fills the center of a loungey area that is filled with political art (mostly cartoons and caricatures).   This place is frequented by Journalists and Staffers.

8:10pm – Le Bar. A hotel bar on the first floor of the Sofitel at the northwest corner of H and 15th street.  The half-oval bar and a mostly loungey feel to this spot make it another must stop after touring the area around the White House.  The floor to ceiling windows provide the venue with a lot of natural light during the day.  The outdoor seating area in good weather adds a nice touch.

8:45pm – POV (aka, Point of View).  Since this is a rooftop of the W Hotel (fka, the Washington Hotel), in a city like Washington, the name has double meaning.  During this visit, the Arkansas Congressional delegation was having a private reception, so the entire bar was not accessible.  However, the view is arguably the best that Washington bars have to offer.  The foreground includes the Treasury Department Building and the White House.  To the southwest stand the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.  Various sections of Arlington, VA provide the backdrop in the distance.

9:20pm – Laughing Man Tavern – The first venue on our tour that was not a hotel bar, but just a few blocks from POV, this spot is a solid happy hour place with 16 beers on tap.  A semi-sports bar with 2 levels and 10 TVs.

10pm – Black Finn – This is a large, upscale sports bar near 17th and I streets. It has many Old Washington pictures and some NYC pictures on the walls.  The beer selection includes 12 taps, but nothing too hard to find.  But there are some local bottled craft brews available.  The space has two bar areas and is arguably one of the best sports bars in the District.  On the weekends, the back bar area transforms into a dance floor with a DJ.

10:40pm – The Exchange – This bar near 17th and G Streets is sort of in a no-man’s land part of the District.  Close enough to the White House to be considered downtown, but just east of George Washington University, so it could also be part of Foggy Bottom, the bar was renovated a few years ago and has a large eating area.  It has 24 beers on tap, several of which are hard to find.

I hope you enjoyed this first of two posts of’s visit to Washington.  Please share your comments.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Check back soon for part 2.

One thought on “’s visit to Washington, DC (Part 1)

  1. Great review. I would add that with the demise of The Mayflower Town and Country (where Governor Spitzer was having a cocktail before his infamous liaison), Off The Record becomes the last real, original old school DC bar, along with the bar at the Willard. It’s always had the low profile (literally) and the location, and the real deal crowd, but the Mayflower was more popular, more well known, located in a more convenient area, and had the famous 101 Martini menu.

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