Ah, Le Bar, elle est si belle .
Ah, Le Bar, elle est si belle .
Firefly is a restaurant first – the Hotel Madera’s restaurant, to be precise – but we’re not listing it for those merits. We can say it’s one of the coolest bars in Dupont, decked out with its surreal, magically happy ‘firefly trees,’ all candle-lit and reminiscent of childhood summer evenings, and romantic as hell to boot. The cocktail menu is a glorious thing.
The Hamilton is a newcomer to the scene and it’s working hard to be all things to all people. Upstairs it’s a power-player restaurant, all dark wood and pork chops and silver pots of coffee. The space is so vast you almost don’t see the mahogany-paneled bar tapping 20 craft beers.
With shows almost every night of the week, Iota is the best venue for live music in Clarendon’s music strip. Bands span genres; folk, reggae, traditional Irish and Southern rock are all distinct possibilities. Tickets are available at the door only (no advance sales) and this place packs ‘em in (the seating is first come, first served).
The Left Bank is a hip, modern lounge with stark-white walls and orange chairs and booths. It’s the perfect dark cave in which to escape a hot summer afternoon’s mounting heat. The prime location, smack in the middle of 18th St, is perfect for people-watching from open windows if the place is quiet; which often is not the case.
The sky terrace of POV, which sits atop the W Hotel Washington, is one of the best spots to watch the sunset on a hot summer night. From the rooftop the entire city stretches out in front of you, and the panoramic view is nothing short of spectacular.
On a steamy summer night, Sequoia’s patio is the spot to be. Plop down on a plastic chair on its cascading terrace overlooking the Potomac and check out the rich people messing around in boats. Or fight your way through the throng at the bar, grab an overpriced Corona, then start flirting and talking politics with the hottie of your choice.
DC9 is as intimate as DC’s big-name venues get, and about as divey as well. Not that we’re complaining; there’s always a good edge on in this spot. Up-and-coming local bands, with an emphasis on indie rockers, play most nights of the week; when the live music finishes (often around 11pm) DJs keep the place spinning until about 3am.
Chandeliers, velvet sofas, antique wallpaper and a ridiculously good-looking, dance-loving crowd adorn this multi-floored mansion. The DJs here – spinning funk, soul and Brazilian beats – are phenomenal, which is not surprising given Eric Hilton (of Thievery Corporation) is co-owner.
We mainly come to Reef for the roof, which is heavenly on hot capital nights, but somehow, everyone always ends up in the aquarium-studded main lounge. That's probably because the roof of the Reef, despite (or because of) it being an amazing space, is often too crowded to really enjoy, at least on weekends.
This Greenwich Village–style place is a coffeehouse by day, cushy bar bordering on lounge by night. The couches, armchairs and bookshelves, and the light flooding through street-side windows, lure patrons so faithful they probably should pay rent.
The low-hanging fruit is literal at Fruit Bat, in the baskets that dangle over the bar. It’s also what goes into the eclectic, fruit-filled cocktails. Barkeeps squeeze a wild array of juices – persimmon, papaya and ginger-apple cider, to name a few. After your drink has been boozeified, take it to the condiment station to sweeten or spice some more.
La Maison is otherwise known as the French Embassy. The beating heart of Gallic DC occupies eight elegantly landscaped acres, anchored by the marble, modernesque embassy itself. Countless cultural activities pop off here every week; check the website for listings.
The Hilton this hotel ain’t, unless the Hilton went to hell and came back on a screaming motorcycle while wailing on guitars made of fire. Right; that’s a tad hyperbolic, but this is a great, grotty spot to catch rockin’ live sets from the likes of Thurston Moore, Mudhoney and the Vivian Girls.
The funny thing about Halo is it looks like it should be a total den of douche-baggery, what with its super-sleek spaceship-style furniture and Euro I’m-too-cool-for-school vibe, but then you go inside and it’s a totally friendly, even laid-back gay bar. The crowd is older and accommodating, and generally a joy to be around.
RFD – the initials stand for ‘Real Food and Drink,’ although the food is just greasy bar fare – has one of the most extensive beer menus in town.
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