The Exchange

Patio/Rooftop, Bar, Low-key

Editorial Review

Located just blocks from the White House, the Exchange draws a regular crowd of government types, journalists, office workers and interns for happy hour -- and more.

The Exchange -- which has been at its current location since 1973 -- is an unpretentious saloon, where dusty animal heads hang on the walls next to old advertisements and giant pieces of American currency. Most people congregate in the main bar, with its right-angle counter, pool table and dartboards. The jukebox is an eclectic mix. We've heard Eminem and the Charlie Daniels Band within the space of an hour.

Pass through a narrow dining room and you'll find a space with a giant projection television for showing sporting events and, once a year, the State of the Union address. In the summer, most customers choose to stay outside; the enormous sidewalk patio is a good place to have a frosty beer after work -- and there's always room for one more group of office mates or another kickball team.

Daily specials on beer and better-than-average bar food (half-price burgers, wings, crispy chicken, etc.) cater to the happy hour crowd, but there are folks at the bar at 10 p.m. with laminates discretely tucked into shirt pockets. With 13 beers on draft and an excellent, attentive staff, there's no reason to rush home.

-- Fritz Hahn