by Lauren Sloat - 260 Reviews - 86 List
Seemingly overnight, H Street bars have become the hottest nightlife destination for Washingtonians in search of something beyond D.C.'s ubiquitous bros and preppy blondes. A spot for true locals, H Street and its gritty, campy feel attract the devastatingly hip. From a 300-person beer garden complete with live accordion music to 1950s-style burlesque dancers and a museum of oddities, these H Street bars are unlike anywhere else in the district. (Pictured: The H Street Country Club)
Updated: August 18, 2010
One of the biggest stars of the H Street bar scene, Biergarten Haus is a campy homage to Germany and a hopping but laid-back setting for a beer. Beyond the cuckoo clocks and mounted animal heads indoors is the monstrous beer garden, where equally large liters of German beers are served alongside lederhosen-wearing accordion players.
Most H Street bars have a shtick, but Sova remains a more low-key, romantic hideaway. The daytime espresso bar turns down the lights at night, when the upstairs space becomes illuminated with candlelight and locals settle in to catch lounge-y DJs and local singer-songwriters in the cozy, hip space.
With its sparkling cash register and vintage rock posters, this H Street bar is a feast for the senses. A standout bottled beer selection anchors the parade of dance-worthy DJ nights: 70s and 80s alternative music on Wednesdays, old school funk on Fridays. Trivia night and Kostume Karaoke are popular, as are Tuesday whiskey specials.
You'll get a sports bar vibe at this Jewish deli and Irish pub hybrid. Order a He'brew Ale to go with that deli sandwich or matzo ball soup, or go Irish with whiskey. Either way, come back on the 17th of every month, when Star and Shamrock celebrates St. Patrick's Day with specials and giveaways.
An H Street institution, the Rock and Roll Hotel draws crowds for its live rock performances downstairs and its DJs upstairs. You'll find local and touring indie acts here, and be sure to check out the themed "hotel" rooms (like the Sid and Nancy suite) upstairs.
Named after the toy section of a general store that existed in the area prior to the 1960s riots, this retro-feeling bar, with its Jetsons-like turquoise countertops and neon rocket, is bit removed from the concentration of bars near 12th Street NE but is worth a visit for its fun cocktail selection. The free H Street shuttle stops near here, too.
The Pug is a true local dive. Though its name--short for Pugilist--my invoke a boxing theme, this isn't a themed place (besides a pair of boxing gloves slung behind the bar) so much as a popular, slightly grungy spot for cheap beers and colorful neighborhood residents. Free cheeseballs make it a hit too.
This small venue features little-known rock acts on its second floor (for a cover) and offers food (catered by The Argonaut) and obscure beers downstairs, where the bar's New Orleans inspiration shines through: It was named after the 1830 Stendhal novel and is covered in framed photographs of New Orleans folk.
Whoever thought that drunk people and golf clubs were a good combination ? was right. In addition to games such as shuffleboard and Skee-Ball, this bar features a nine-hole miniature golf course (all D.C.-themed) upstairs, where servers will take--and deliver--drink orders right on the course.