Best place to pretend you’re drinking after the apocalypse
25 Potomac Ave. SE
At the beer garden known as Bardo, it’s easy to imagine that you’re toasting the crumbling remains of a once-great civilization. Perhaps that’s due to the chain-link fence protecting Bardo’s 2 acres of dusty ground and whichever of its 40-plus beers are brewing in the tanks behind the bar. Or maybe it’s the fact that the whole place is strewn with apparently salvaged furniture, including sun-bleached Eames-style chairs, and plush couches that don’t seem to belong outside. Even the metal garbage cans seem built for post-apocalyptic bonfires beneath the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. So head on over to the reclaimed wood bar, where in the not-too-distant future we’ll be trading cigarettes for potable water and IPAs and trying not to make eye contact with the roving gangs of bureaucrats who went feral when the federal government fell. They want to challenge you to cornhole, and we hear they play for keeps. Sadie Dingfelder
Best bar to unexpectedly make friends
2002 Fenwick St. NE
There’s something about Big Chief, the cavernous New Orleans-themed bar in Ivy City. Maybe it’s that the warehouse-like space is so massive (7,000 square feet!) that it rarely feels annoyingly crowded. Maybe it’s the cheap tallboys — or the fact that most people come in having already imbibed at one of Ivy City’s distilleries. Whatever the case, if you start playing one of the games at Big Chief’s back bar, you WILL make friends. This is no place for quiet conversation or avoiding eye contact with other patrons — this place is for arguing loudly over the rules of pingpong with a total stranger. You’ll likely get challenged playing a giant version of Connect Four while you’re there (please don’t play against me; I will absolutely lose). Once, an absolute angel tried to help me hold up a basketball player-size Jenga tower when I was nearing defeat. You can keep your $14-a-cocktail spots — I’d rather have a place that applauds when a giant Jenga tower comes crashing down around me. Lori McCue
Best brewery worth escaping D.C. for
Ocelot Brewing Company
23600 Overland Drive, No. 180, Sterling, Va.
On a recent Friday afternoon before a concert at Jiffy Lube Live, I stopped at Ocelot, which makes some of my favorite beer in the region. I don’t get out to the brewery very often because it’s near Dulles International Airport, and from my apartment in Shaw, that might as well be Dallas. But that day, there was something tranquil and relaxing about sitting on the modest patio and drinking a flight of music-referencing IPAs (the brewery specializes in a wide range of hoppy beers — my favorite style — and rarely brews the same one twice). It’s probably because going to Ocelot feels like an escape from the city. Located in a nondescript office park, Ocelot’s brewery is just a big open space with board games, a cool mural, a beautifully decorated chalkboard menu and live music on most weekends. By the time we left and I grabbed a bottle of beer to go, I had convinced myself that living in the Virginia suburbs wouldn’t so bad if it meant I would be closer to Ocelot. Rudi Greenberg
Best bar that also shows movies
Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema
807 V St. NW
Landmark’s theater at the Atlantic Plumbing building in Shaw allows you to pick your seats when you buy your tickets, so there’s no need to rush to the theater — but you’ll still want to get there early. The bar up front is a place where you could easily find yourself spending a whole night — or at least an hour to pregame your movie. Snag one of the insanely comfortable leather lounge chairs or grab a seat at the wide bar, which offers a nice beer list, wine and mixed drinks. (Movie-themed cocktails are a corny idea, but just trust me and order the vodka and ginger-heavy I’ll Have What She’s Having.) And unlike other Landmark Theatre locations, this one doesn’t just trade in Independent Spirit Award nominees: They tend to keep at least one film in rotation that goes down better with a few cocktails. I’ll never regret seeing “Bad Moms” while several gin and tonics in. L.M.
Best place to take a Tinder date
725 T St. NW
Attention, aspiring Tinder matches: No matter how many photos of you holding a fish I see on your profile, if you propose a date at All Souls, I will at least consider going. Can you blame me? The cozy Shaw bar has a loaded jukebox (if you play Ryan Adams, I’ll prepare to be bored) and a menu stacked with $5-$6 bottles of beer, $9 cocktails and everything in between. (If you try to explain craft beer to me, I will fake an emergency.) Should the date go south (and with all those fishing photos, it’s likely), I won’t even be mad; I’ll just sidle up to the nicest bartenders in town and get my usual, the bar’s self-titled drink: a Maker’s Mark bourbon served neat alongside a glass of sparkling rosé. Who needs a date, anyway? L.M.
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