The Wharf offers some of the area’s best dining — Del Mar topped Tom Sietsema’s Fall Dining Guide — but prices can be as high as the quality. If you’re looking for a place to meet friends for a snack and a discounted drink before ice skating or seeing a concert, try one of these happy hours.
Nick Stefanelli’s three-story cafe/market/restaurant/bar is garnering solid reviews, and its happy hour is a pleasant surprise, even if it’s offered on the early side. Take a seat at the bar or a table in the cafe between 4 and 6 p.m. on weeknights, and you’ll be offered a plate of free food, including a thick piece of focaccia (the restaurant calls it “Roman pizza”), a slice of mortadella and a bowl of olives drenched in oil. You’re not going to fill up on the snacks, but they do make a delightful accompaniment to the $8 Officina Spritz — a smooth, carbonated take on the Aperol Spritz that uses sauvignon blanc instead of prosecco — or a choice of $7 Italian red and white wines, including a featured Lambrusco. 1120 Maine Ave. SW.
This colorful new rum distillery and tiki destination, run by local bartending legend Todd Thrasher, has bars on multiple levels, including a rooftop opening in the spring. For now, it’s offering two happy hours. The first, available Monday through Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., includes $4 daiquiris made with the house Thrasher’s Rum, $4 beers, $5 wine and $9 frozen drinks, plus $3 steamed buns and $7 wings or tots. The daily late-night menu, which begins at 11 p.m., sticks with $4 beers but adds $5 cocktails made with Thrasher’s Rum, $7 frozen drinks and $10 flatbreads.
The daily “After Party” happy hour provides a $3 shot of Thrasher’s Rum for anyone with a ticket stub from any Wharf music venue (the Anthem, Pearl Street Warehouse, Union Stage) the same night. That’s enough to make it your last port of call for the night. 1130 Maine Ave. SW.
Washington’s second Rappahannock Oyster Bar, which opened at the end of November, is a gorgeous glass-walled dining room inside a 1912 oyster shed. While there are more than three times as many seats outside as inside, it’s worth a visit at happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, to indulge in Rappahannock’s signature briney or buttery oysters, which are $1.25 instead of the usual $2.50, and a selection of $4 beer and wine. 1150 Maine Ave. SW.
While it’s best known for the cozy basement concert space, Union Stage has a small street-level bar that deserves to be known as a destination in its own right. The beer list is solid, with taps from Ocelot, Oliver and other local craft breweries. The thin-crust pizzas — sorry, “Jersey-style bar pies” — are perfect bar food, especially the “Hot and Sweet,” topped with sopressata, peppers, multiple cheeses and a drizzle of honey. Pair a personal-size “half pizza” with the house IPA or Pilsener, made by Vienna’s Caboose Brewing, for $10 every day between 5 and 7 p.m. 740 Water St. SW.
Happy hour at this branch of Hank’s Oyster Bar isn’t wildly different from its other locations in the District or Alexandria: $1.50 oysters and $5 beer, rail drinks, red/white/sparkling wines and a punch or cocktail of the day. The only letdown is the food: Oysters and chips and onion dip are the only choices on the menu. Still, happy hour runs every day from 4 to 7 p.m., and given the setting, $14 isn’t bad for a half-dozen local oysters and a glass of the Hank’s Hops ale, brewed by Ivy City’s Atlas Brew Works, or the house pinot grigio. 701 Wharf St. SW.