By Jeff Dufour - 03/02/06 12:00 AM EST
Which happy hours on and off the Hill are the happiest? Depends on your taste, intentions and budget. Whether you want to grab a quick cocktail without sacrificing your Metro fare, enjoy a round of beers and burgers with friends or sample those specialty martinis that have always intrigued you, there’s a happy hour to be had.
If that money you earned mowing lawns last summer isn’t taking you as far as you’d hoped, there are still a few places where you don’t have to choose between food and beer.
At the Hawk ’n’ Dove (329 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., (202) 543-3300), domestic bottles go for $1.95 from 5 to 7 p.m. Rail drinks are only a nickel more.
My Brother’s Place (237 2nd St. N.W., (202) 347-1350), on the short stretch of 2nd Street around the corner from Charlie Palmer’s, serves $1.50 bottles of beer on Thursdays and half-price burgers on Mondays.
On Thursdays, it might also be worth the trip downtown. The Front Page (1333 New Hampshire Ave. N.W., (202) 296-6500, www.frontpagerestaurant.com) serves $2 Corona and Miller Lite bottles, along with a taco bar. Down the street, Lucky Bar (1221 Connecticut Ave. N.W., (202) 331-3733) rolls out its Two Dollar Bud Night.
FOR STAFF ASSISTANTS
Your cup runneth over at this price point: reasonable, but not rock bottom.
At the Pour House (319 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., (202) 546-1001), arriving between 5 and 7 p.m. gets you $2.50 house amber and $3 rail drinks. On Wednesdays, throw half-price burgers into the mix.
At Banana Caf� on Barracks Row (500 8th St. S.E., (202) 543-5906) all margaritas, rail drinks and domestic beers drop to $2.50 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Capitol City Brewing Co. (2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., (202) 842-BEER, and 1100 New York Ave. N.W., (202) 628-2222) pours its house-made specialty beers for $2.50 from 4 to 7 p.m. and cuts the price of its appetizers in half at the bar. For night owls, the deal repeats from 10 p.m. to closing.
Things get a little more complicated at the Union Pub (201 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., (202) 546-7200), where there’s a Chinese menu of different deals, depending on the night of the week. For instance, Mondays bring half-price burgers and $2 domestic pints; Thursdays it’s $50 Heineken mini kegs (for your group, not for yourself).
Ditto at House-side standby Bullfeathers (410 1st St. S.E., (202) 543-5005), where you’ll find everything from $3 Captain and Cokes on Tuesdays to $3.50 black and tans on Fridays. Mondays feature half-price burgers.
Back downtown, the pop-art Helix Lounge near Logan Circle (1430 Rhode Island Ave. N.W., (202) 462-9001) serves half-price beers and burgers from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
Since Signatures and its popular half-price sushi night closed last year, raw-fish fans have been bereft of good deals after work. They may want to trek downtown to Caf� Asia (1720 I St. N.W., (202) 659-2696), which slices $1 nigiri and discount rolls to go along with $2 draft beers from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza (901 F St. N.W., (202) 638-3434) fires out free pies for the hungry happy-hour crowd about once every 15 minutes. Draft beer and sangria run $3 from 4 to 8 p.m.
The Big Hunt (1345 Connecticut Ave. N.W., (202) 785-2333) has one of the largest selections of draft beers in the city. From 4 to 7 p.m., they’re all at least a dollar off and Bud pints drop to $2.50. Rail drinks are $3. You might also find deals on bar food, depending on what night you visit.
FOR CHIEFS OF STAFF
For those with more upscale choices or who have more upscale wallets, cocktail and food deals abound if you know where to look.
Tapatinis (711 8th St. S.E., (202) 546/8272, www.tapatinis.com) on Barracks Row has a new drink special every night, but the real draw is the open bar on Fridays. For $25 it’s all you can drink.
At Lounge 201 (201 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., (202) 544-5201) you have to do your drinking early in the week to get a deal. Tuesdays bring half-price martinis; Wednesdays, half-price wine.
McCormick and Schmick’s (901 F St. N.W., (202) 639-9330, and 1652 K St. N.W., (202) 861-2233; www.mccormickandschmicks.com) offers cheeseburgers, mussels and crab dip on its $1.95 happy-hour menu. Caveat: you have to order at least two drinks to qualify, which will set you back at least five bucks apiece.
From 4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 2 to 6 on Friday, Finn macCool’s (713 8th St. S.E., (202) 547-7100) pours $3 domestic pints, $4.50 premium pints (including the hard-to-find Beamish stout) and $2.75 rail drinks. There’s a different Irish food special each night from Monday to Thursday as well.
The swanky lounges of Topaz Bar (1733 N St. N.W., (202) 393-3000) and Bar Rouge (1315 16th St. N.W., (202) 232-8000) provide a chic vibe and plenty of quiet nooks and crannies in their happy hours, from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Helix shakes $5 Blue Nirvanas (its specialty martinis), and Asian beers are $3.
Rouge serves $5 Stella Artois beers and specialty margaritas. Both lounges serve discounted appetizers as well.
Let’s be honest: Most lobbyists aren’t looking to pinch pennies, especially when their firm is picking up the tab.
But for the frugal few, there’s Morton’s of Chicago (3251 Prospect St. N.W., (202) 342-6258, and 1050 Connecticut Ave. N.W., (202) 955-5997) who has the best happy-hour nosh around: free tenderloin steak sandwiches at the bar from 5 to 7 p.m. You might still pay a bundle for your martini — but not on Mondays. For early-week drinkers, bartenders shake $4 birdbaths.
On Monday through Friday, downtown power spot the Oceanaire Seafood Room (1201 F St. N.W., (202) 347-2277, www.theoceanaire.com) drops the price of its raw bar. From 3 to 6 p.m., oysters and shrimp are half price.
David Greggory (2030 M St. N.W., (202) 872-8700) pours Smirnoff vodka drinks and martinis for $5, microbrew drafts for $4.25 and wines by the glass for $4.75 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and until 10 on Tuesdays. Chef Greggory Hill also serves some serious bar food for five bucks, including smoked chicken empanadas, fried calamari and his signature pizza.
The Wined Down happy hour at Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave. N.W., (202) 861-1310) is for the grape enthusiast. Each day, chef-sommelier John Wabeck offers a white and a red — usually interesting finds from far-flung places — by the glass. Prices vary, but the cost is usually reasonable.
Finally, Circle Bistro (1 Washington Circle N.W., (202) 293-5390, circlebistro.com) checks in with an “Extended Happy Hour” from 5 to 8 p.m., which includes $5 specialty martinis and half-price on select beer and wine.