I’ve been to a lot of major cities in the country and I grew up in New York City. But no location has ever beaten DC in terms of happy hours.
I like to joke that DC is where everyone starts drinking at 5pm so they can be in bed by 9. In New York on the other hand, I’m now shocked when my friends ask to go out and then tell me to head to the bar around 10pm. But… but… that’s after bed time!
There are a few phenomenons that make the happy hours so great.
One is that the DC metro area is a drinking city that is also flooded with locations to drink at. So competition is high and they need to attract your business.
But that doesn’t explain the cheap food as much.
Virginia has a lot of strange laws. You can’t advertise happy hours in certain ways. Or talk about alcohol outside of the building during certain hours. And the rules change so much, honestly, I can never keep up with the rules.
One law they have is that you can only operate restaurants, not bars. And as part of that, you need to sell a certain amount of volume of food.
So there’s a lot of amazing food happy hours in Virginia. This law is probably responsible for things like restaurants that only sell grilled cheese.
Since DC is so close, my guess is the trend of so many good food happy hours moved over, either because of people’s expectations or to compete with Virginia.
For finding these happy hours in the DC metro area, I recommend the Happy Hour Anywhere app.
With it, I’ve found happy hours here on off hours and even on weekends. It uses your GPS location and tells you how far away different restaurants are.
I also recommend the DC Happy Hours website, though I do find the app easier to use. (The neighborhoods confuse me sometimes–a restaurant could be .1 miles away but technically in another neighborhood so it takes some hunting around).
Either way, whenever you visit the DC area, take advantage of one of the great happy hours we have here!