The best way to start an evening is always with booze and delicious food. Looking beyond Nooshi and Los Cuates (which if you haven’t checked out yet, you’re doing GW wrong), D.C. has a plethora of restaurants and bars offering artisanal cocktails, dim sum, beer and much more on a college-friendly budget during happy hour. Check out the best happy hour food and drink specials around the city:

Ping Pong Dim Sum

Named best happy hour and cocktail menu in D.C. by the Washington Post Express is reason enough to walk up to Dupont Circle and enter this sleek, dark and modern dim sum place. Little carts being wheeled around is a thing of the past at Ping Pong, where diners check off which little steamed parcels of deliciousness they want to nosh on.

From 4-7 PM the five dollar cocktail and dim sum menu rules with standouts like the lychee rose martini, which comes with a real dried rose on top or the lemongrass and lime cocktail that refreshes and intoxicates. $4 hoi sin duck bao sliders are perfect complements to the drinks, as are the steamed sesame beef and sweet chili meatballs that give traditional meatballs a run for their money.

Dim Sum has transitioned from brunch to happy hour, and the transition is more than welcomed.

happy hour

Photo by Annabel Epstein

El Chucho

Margaritas? On tap? El Chucho brought together the best of both worlds, and makes it even better by throwing in half price tacos during their happy hour from 4 – 6:30 PM.

 The El Codo on tap combines silver tequila, triple sec, and lime juice to hit the perfect medium between sweet and tart for $4.50. For an extra burst of flavor, opt for the chili lime salt on the rim. For $2.50 the al pastor, pollo, and calabacita tacos are great for getting a taste of the famed Mexican street food.

Try a traditional Mexican street style corn on the cob which comes with grated parmesan and spices. 

happy hour

Photograph By Elizabeth Kennedy

Sushi Taro

One of the best sushi places in D.C. also has one of the best happy hours in D.C.: From 5:30 – 7 PM all sushi and an extensive list of sake, wine and beer are half off at the bar. Perfect for catching up with a friend or a first date, the intimate atmosphere and fresh sushi make for a great meal that doesn’t break the bank.

Photo by Annie Eng


Hailing from Treviso, Italy, Piola continues the Italian tradition of serving complimentary finger foods such as bruschetta, small pizzas, olives, cheeses, and tastes of risotto along with $3 Peroni drafts, $4 glasses of house wine, and $5 specialty drinks such as sangria, bellinis, and Negronis during happy hour.

The pizzas are also worth venturing to 14th St for, with an extensive menu that covers every Italian classic and new, innovative pies such as the carbonara pizza which puts the classic pasta dish on a crust. Stop by the 29th of every month for unlimited gnocchi, the ultimate in Italian comfort food of potato dumplings.

Photo courtesy of Piola

Smoke and Barrel

At Smoke and Barrel, the three B’s are taken very seriously: Beer, BBQ, and Bourbon. Happy hour from 5-7 PM includes 4 drafts for $4 each, plus occasional cask and other draft specials, one $5 whiskey and one $9 whiskey.

In addition to the booze, every Monday night is wings night, and a giant plate of smoked chicken wings is only $5 until 11 PM. Vegan/vegetarian night is also on Monday night, so carnivores and herbivores alike can chow down happily.

Taco Tuesdays gets a Southern spin, with $5 for 3 tacos and a side such as collard greens or jalapeno cheddar grits. Every Wednesday, all drafts are 1/2 price during happy hour which includes over 20 different varieties on tap, ranging from hard cider to chocolate stout and DC Brau.

Photo courtesy of Smoke and Barrell

For more great happy hours around D.C., check out this article by Thrillist or this guide by the Washington Post.