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Washington DC Travel and Tourist Information

All About Washington - DC Bars
By Ryan Bifulco

Welcome to the Nation’s capitol! Yes, folks talk politics in this town like the rest of us talk about our sport’s teams. But they aren’t really that bad - the D.C. folk really do know how to loosen up those ties. D.C. is a town that loves its Happy Hour – a time when you can catch up with friends or meet new ones.

We saw you smuggle your after-work change of clothes into your cubicle so that you’re ready for the 5 o’clock bell. Go ahead, leave your car in the office garage – you can always cab it home or Metro it back to work the next morning.

Like most cities, Washington, D.C. is a collection of smaller neighborhoods (there are 14 of them), each having its own flavor and charm. Architecture and attitude changes from one block to the other, creating a cultural patchwork that can be fascinating for locals and tourists alike. The city has plenty of energy from all the politics, government, and colleges in town. From the Vietnamese places in Arlington, V.A. to the charming brownstones of Georgetown; from the urban feel of the Connecticut Corridor near Woodley Park and Cleveland Park to the alternative minded Dupont Circle, each area in this city offers up something unique.

One of our favorite things to do in D.C. is to just waste the day or night away on the Mall. But remember, this is not the shopping type. It’s the Quad or grassy park in between all the cool national monuments and museums in the heart of the city. The Smithsonian museums are free and allow you to explore art, history, space, and much more. You also feel the National pride as you stroll thru the Mall. So, even if you hated science class, you’ll still have fun whispering inside the Capitol rotunda. While in the area, you must stop by the Spy Museum - with all its interesting tidbits about the real James Bonds. Just try to remember your alias as you navigate thru the interactive maze of espionage. And, make a reservation since the lines are known to get a bit out of hand.

Worked up an appetite seeing all those landmarks in our nation's capitol? When you’ve had your fill of historical lessons and facts that you’ve forgotten since the 6th grade, it’s time to get your groove on. Here then are our journeyPod Picks for wining and dining your own party (political or not), while in D.C.:

Bars & Nightlife

Eighteenth Street Lounge (Dupont Circle) – ESL is simply the best lounge in DC - no matter how hard everyone else tries! With its own record label and a hipper-than-thou attitude, ESL is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Of course there is no name on the door and a pretty strict door policy (if you don’t look the part, you don’t get in). Looking pretty sparse from the outside (in an old townhouse sitting above a Mattress Discounters store), you’ll be surrounded by superb music, candles galore and a first-class crowd once inside. While weekends are always packed, special nights are Wednesdays and Thursdays when live music is playing. At 1212 18th St NW (at Connecticut Ave. NW).

MCCXXIII (Dupont) – This place (which most fondly refer to as “12-23”) has really stood the test of time and has never lacked panache! 1223 with its roman numerals, 3 levels of bars and 2 dance floors, has brought in practically every famous clubber or beautiful person in the DC area at one time or another. Radiating pulsating beats and satisfying those who value a venue with a hip dress code, a strict bouncer and a tight velvet rope, 1223 is more than just a trendy watering hole. It exudes an exclusive and elite vibe that encourages flirtation and the unlimited consumption of champagne and caviar. The music ranges from ultra-progressive rock and international house to hip-hop and R&B. The big night here is Spank on Thursdays. 1223 Connecticut Ave NW (near 18th St. NW).

Chi-Cha Lounge (U Street Corridor) – Everyone flocks to this DC nightspot. The theme here is Latino and very sexy – the walls are filled with colorful paintings, the lighting is low and the music is a sultry mix of cocktail jazz and electronica. After you enter and sink into the plush velvet couches, you can order one of Chi-Cha’s popular tapas dishes and signature red or white chi-cha cocktail (a mouth-watering mix of juices, cinnamon, cane sugar and a secret ingredient nobody can seem to figure out). Chi-Cha also seems to be one of the few places in town that you can order your own hookah pipe. Located at 1624 U St. NW (near New Hampshire Ave. NW).

Eyebar (Downtown) – Surrounded by office buildings swarming with hip young things, this lounge and DJ stomping ground, located on I (a.k.a. “Eye” Street), is in the perfect spot to make a killing! With few other clubs in the vicinity, almost daily drinks specials and a roster of trendsetting and fashionista regulars – this place is a hit (on weekdays and weekends). Eyebar is filled with modern furnishings, house and trance music, a sexy ambiance and a full bar. They do enforce a strict dress code policy: no sneakers, flip flops, hats, tank tops, athletic wear, shorts, ripped, worn out or baggy jeans. Eyebar can be found at 1716 I St NW (at 17th St. NW).

Dragonfly (Downtown) – Yet another nightlife destination that raises the “hip” quotient in DC! The moment you step into this restaurant/club destination you’ll feel as if you've been transported into the pages of 'Wallpaper' magazine or even possibly, the Howard Johnson in '2001: A Space Odyssey.' Furnished in white and chrome, Dragonfly oozes hip-ness with its drum and bass sounds and the animime films projected onto the walls. A modernist's dream, Dragonfly is surprisingly welcoming (considering the tight velvet rope in some of the city’s other hotspots). For this reason, you’ll find that the clientele ranges from hipster urbanites to the khaki-clad suburbanites, all getting loaded on the same sake Dragonfly serves. If your palette needs feeding, the sushi here is amazing (reservations are highly recommended). At 1215 Connecticut Ave NW (near M St. NW).

Kstreet (Downtown) – Looking for something extravagant and upscale? Kstreet lounge is your answer! A relatively new bar that was part of an effort to make DC “more like NY” –it’s very heavily promoted with special nights, guest lists, private tables anyone can reserve ahead and innumerable celebrity sightings. The high-tech minimalist space, with its futuristic feel is thoroughly wired – with 22 high-performance cameras for web casting parties, rows of plasma TVs and flat screen monitors built into block-style laminate tables. The place draws a heavy international crowd and different nights bring different people. It’s also open late on weekends (filling up mostly after midnight) and definitely a place to check out. Find it at 1301 K St NW (bet. 13th and 14th Sts. NW).

Topaz Bar (Downtown) – It’s not often that a hotel bar is known for its “hip and trendy” factor, but the lounge at the Topaz Hotel definitely changes all of that. Here you’ll find sapphire velvet benches sunken into the walls, zebra print seating cubes and leopard-print carpets. The décor at Topaz Bar is as eclectic as the crowds it draws. Most times, you’ll find hotels guest, area workers and DC hipsters sipping on signature cocktails like the Blue Nirvana, Enlightment, Mind Soother and Guru’s Pleasure. The nearly-hidden back room inside the bar also features a dance floor, and if you’re lucky – a DJ will arrive any minute, to enhance the mood! The Topaz Hotel is located at 1733 N Street NW (bet. 17th and 18th Sts.).

Play Lounge (Dupont) – A place where rules are made to be broken, Play Lounge can be found among the stretch of other hot nightspots along Connecticut Ave. Though it’s unmarked, most know exactly where to find it. This one-room lounge sizzles with energy from the sexy and energetic crowds that pack it inside. The contemporary minimalist décor includes cube-style ottomans and low banquettes – making everything eye level. While the DJ’s here spin hip-hop, retro, 80’s and fun – everyone who’s anyone lets loose by dancing on the tables tops or carving out space between the bodies. And if you’re really daring, you may even find yourself taking a turn on the stripper pole! Play Lounge can be found at 1219 Connecticut Ave. (at 18th St. NW).

Café Citron (Dupont Circle) – Feeling like a little salsa and mojitos to fill up your day? Check out this bar/restaurant with a Latin edge that delivers some of the best mojitos and caipirinhas in the area. If you don’t come here to eat, the upstairs is definitely the place to be – allowing you to check out the entire scene and supporting your people-watching habit. Every night is a good night here, and most end up with crowds of Latins and latin-loving peeps dancing on every available surface, including the booth seats. The small dance floor on the main floor need not stop you, the mojitos and latin music are enough to get you moving wherever you stand. At 1343 Connecticut Ave. NW (bet. 18th and 19th Sts.)

Ozio’s Restaurant/Lounge (Downtown) – At first glance, Ozio’s looks like a small restaurant judging from its mere two outdoor tables. But, on the plush velvet couches, you can order one of Ozio’s popular tapas dishes and enjoy some people watching. Boys be warned: there’s a $20 cover charge for you on Saturday nights. At 1813 M Street NW (near 18th St. NW)

Degrees Bar & Lounge (Georgetown) – Situated in the lobby level of the Ritz-Carlton, this bar and lounge has been designed to capture the history and the mood of this historic incinerator building - with its exposed brick walls dating back to the 30’s, black slate floors and the 175-foot tall brick smokestack cylinder that serves as the hotel’s centerpiece. Degrees features a classic cocktail menu that includes the hotel’s signature Fahrenheit Five martini and the Zentini that swaps sake for vodka and produces a less-fruity version of the Cosmo (that even the men are willing to order at the bar). The hotel is located at 3100 South St. NW (at 31st St. NW).

Sesto Senso (Dupont Circle) – This nightclub in the funky Dupont Circle (located at 1214 18th St. NW, at Connecticut Ave.) is the place to see-and-be-seen. Those wanting to dance can satisfy their cravings at Sesto Senso where DJs spin a creative blend of pop and Middle Eastern/European house music. This place isn’t just a dance club, however. Sesto Senso serves great Italian fare (mainly pizza and pasts dishes) before 11 p.m. And, if you’re coming for the food – don’t pass on the dessert! Their Tiramisu is a must.

Helix Lounge (restaurant and bar/lounge) – Just steps away from the lobby of Hotel Helix, locals and visitors alike are drawn to the look n’ feel of this lounge – an interactive social zone that tickles all your senses. Inside the place, the mood changes every few hours, choreographed by a sophisticated lighting system. No matter what night of the week, stylish 30-something guests take seat at the stools and gaze out at the crowd (filled with babes and business types) lounging on comfy plush sofas throughout the open space. Try a Sidecar drink with a Grand Marnier twist or the BBQ vodka martini mixed with smoky Scotch. Helix Lounge is located at 1430 Rhode Island Ave NW (at Rhode Island Ave., NW).

journeyPod.com is the only place you need to visit for information on the trendiest bars and restaurants, the most luxurious hotels, and the most exclusive parties and shops for discriminating travelers. Visit journeyPod.com for the lowdown on where to go in Atlanta, New York, Miami, LA and other major cities around the world, and listing to our monthly travel podcast for the best in upscale travel and entertainment. If you like the finer things in life, journey to journeyPod.com!

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