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Free Food (or close to it) in the DC area

I have done some research recently for a friend (you know who you are) and I decided that a compiled list from multiple sources, could be very handy for some. So here it is…

Capitol Hill
1. Hawk and Dove
The way to an intern’s heart is through free food. The Hawk and Dove is the free-nosh capital of Capitol Hill, with a daily spread of complimentary snacks between 4 and 7. On Monday, it’s grilled cheese. On Friday, there’s a taco bar. In between, you’ll find wings, popcorn shrimp and other bar treats. Wash them down with $2 domestic drafts, $2.50 rail drinks or the $3.50 pint of the night, which is usually something better than Coors Light.

2. Tortilla Coast located: 400 1st Street, SE
Popular with Republican staffers and just steps from the Capitol South Metro station, Tortilla Coast’s large bar area is usually more crowded than tables in the restaurant. Beer specials rotate nightly — $2.75 Dos Equis on Monday, $3.25 Mexican beers on Thursday — but the key is that all deals run from 5 until close, which is perfect for nights when you’re not ready to go home at 7 p.m. or times when you’re stuck in the office later than usual. Early in the week, there are savings on both Tex-Mex food and beer: 50-cent tacos washed down with $2.75 Bud on Tuesday, 10-cent wings paired with $2.75 Miller Lite on Wednesday. Saturday’s combination night offers all the week’s deals during one overheated happy hour.

3. The Pour House
location: 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
The Pour House is a flatscreen-filled sports bar is a destination for the Hill’s kickballers, softball teams and bocce players. Daily deals include $5 appetizers and $3 beers from 4 to 7, but all-night specials offer reasons to hang out longer. On Thursday, for example, Budweiser and Bud Light bottles are $1 from 4 to 6 and $2 after; Wednesday is $5 burger night (with $12 margarita pitchers); and Friday’s happy hour is extended until 9.

4. Union Pub Formally, The Red River Grill, located at 201 Massachusetts Ave NE
Settle onto the covered patio with your friends and hang out for a few hours, because if there’s a bar on the Hill with more drink specials than Union Pub, I’ve yet to stumble across it. The key is that every day is markedly different. Wacky Wednesday has been a mainstay for years, with $1.50 Budweiser and Bud Light bottles and $5 Gold Margaritas offered all night. On Freaky Friday, the deals switch every few hours, so keep an eye on your watch: Rail drinks are $2.50 from 5 to 7, frozen cocktails are $5 from 5 to 8, pitchers of house ale are $10 from 7 on, fruity Orange Whip cocktails are $4 after 8, rail drinks are $3.50 from 9 until midnight, and the house sangria is $6 a glass from 5 p.m. until it runs out.

5. My Brother’s Place 237 2nd St NW, Washington, DC
Forget the weekday grind — My Brother’s Place really revs up on weekends. The divey bar begins hopping on Friday nights with beat-the-clock specials: domestic drafts cost 75 cents at 4 p.m. and prices rise 25 cents an hour until 9, which sets the mood for a night of dancing to a DJ. Saturday kicks off with a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament from 4 to 9, but the big deal is the $15 all-you-can-drink draft beer from 9 to 1. (Rail drinks are included for the first hour.) There’s plenty more where that came from: Ladies get $1 drinks on Monday from 9 to 11, and Thursday’s College Night means $2.50 domestic beers from 8 to close.

Dupont Circle

6. Lucky Bar (South Dupont) 1221 Connecticut Ave NW # 1221
Anywhere else, a weekday happy hour that runs from 3 to 8 would be extraordinary, with drafts starting at $2.50 and rail drinks for a buck more. At Lucky Bar, though, it’s overshadowed by the legendary “Do the Deuce” Thursday night, where Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select and basic rail drinks like vodka-and-tonic are $2 from 3 until close. Bike messengers rub shoulders with interns, and young professionals in office attire get down with hipsters on the dance floor. On Monday nights there are salsa lessons, Tuesday and Wednesday, there are food specials — half-price burgers and 25-cent wings — paired with $3 pints of Yuengling.

7. The Front Page (South Dupont) 1333 New Hampshire Ave
It’s pretty much a given that D.C. interns will hit the Front Page at least one Thursday this summer: The lure of $2 Coronas, $3 margaritas and a $1-per-plate taco bar is just too much to resist. The drink specials begin at 5 and run all night; tacos are available from 5 to 7. This joint has been voted one of the best happy hours in the city!

8. The Fox & Hounds (South Dupont) 1537 17th St NW
The patio at the Fox & Hounds is the best people-watching spot in Dupont Circle, so arrive early if you want a seat. Still, with some of the strongest drinks in D.C. offered for $3.59 every weekday between 4:30 and 6:30, you won’t complain too much about being stuck inside; here, the bartenders’ idea of a gin and tonic is a glass full of gin served with a mini-bottle of tonic on the side. Want something with lower octane? Bud, Bud Light, Yuengling and Miller Lite are $3.50 each.


9. Recessions
Hidden in a hotel basement — you have to pass conference rooms on your way to the bar — Recessions makes up for its lack of atmosphere with some of the best drink prices in town. From 5 to 8, oversized “King Kong” drafts, served in frosty 32-ounce mugs, are $3, as are the strong rail drinks. Appetizer plates are $3 each; the kitchen specializes in deep-fried snacks like onion rings, mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders.

10. Porter’s Dining Saloon
With plenty of bars around 19th and M to lure the after-work crowd — Rumors, Madhatter, Sign of the Whale — I’m more likely to head for Porter’s Dining Saloon, a three-story pub with $2 Miller Lites and $3 rail drinks from 4 to 7 on weekdays. Not wildly different from its neighbors, I know, but the walled patio is comfortable, and happy hour keeps going well after some of the neighbors: all-night specials at Porter’s include $3 Miller Lites until close on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and $3 Coronas on Wednesday.

11. Chef Geoff’s
Happy Hour brings $5 burgers, $8 personal pizzas and $7.95 draft beers — but that’s not just any beer, it’s a 34-ounce supermug. Offered all day on Monday and Tuesday and from 3 to 7 the rest of the week, it’s a beacon for office workers and American University students. (As great as happy hour is, don’t overlook the prix-fixe Sunset Special: a three-course dinner for less than $20, offered between 4 and 6:30.)

12. Cafe Asia
Famous for its bargain-basement sushi happy hour — $1-a-piece nigiri, $2 Kirin drafts, discounted maki rolls — Cafe Asia’s small, L-shaped bar area quickly becomes packed. Its saving grace is that it runs until 7:30, so stragglers can often find a seat. (If you sit in the more spacious and modern dining room, the specials don’t apply.) These deals are also offered at the Cafe Asia in Rosslyn.

13. Restaurant K
If your date (or your older co-workers) won’t be impressed by how many $2 beers and rail liquor shots you can slam back, take them to Restaurant K, where you won’t have to spend too much to enjoy happy hour. Yuengling drafts for $4.95 are not a deal by any stretch of the imagination, but the delicious house-infused cocktails — think grapefruit or prickly pear tequila, pineapple or pair vodka — are $5.95 between 3 and 7, along with a rotating selection of red and white wines. All items on the bar menu have a few bucks knocked off, too: A black angus burger is $5.95, as is a a bubbling bowl of queso fundido for sharing, but the best are bite-sized beef hot dog pieces, fried in jalapeno batter and served with dipping mustard for $3.95.

Penn Quarter

14. La Tasca
The bar at the Spanish restaurant turns into a fiesta at happy hour with specials on sangria ($3.50 a glass, $15 a pitcher), wine ($3.50 a glass, $15 a bottle), draft beer ($3.50 for any of the 10 taps), and margaritas ($5 a glass, $14 for a sampler flight). A selection of tapas, including fried eggplant, Spanish meatballs and calamari — are $2.50 a plate. On Friday, there’s free paella.

U Street

15. Nellie’s Sports Bar
Though it’s been billed as D.C.’s first gay sports bar, Nellie’s draws a remarkable neighborhood mix: black and white, straight and gay, casual and sharply dressed. There are numerous TVs and a large rooftop deck. Happy hour at Nellie’s runs on a beat-the-clock system: $1 Miller Lite, house beers and rail drinks from 5 to 6, with prices increasing $1 per hour until 8. At that point, it’s better to just order the ongoing summer special: an iced-down bucket of five beers (Michelob Ultra, Budweiser or Bud Light) for $11.95.

16. Polly’s Cafe
One of the coziest, friendliest spots on U Street is this tiny cash-only restaurant and bar. Happy hour, offered on weekdays between 4 and 7, is kinder to your wallet than most of its neighbors: Your four choices, all priced at $2, are Budweiser drafts, Miller Lite bottles, PBR cans or any rail drink. With the money you save on booze, you can afford to slip another buck into the jukebox.

Foggy Bottom

17. McFadden’s
From Guitar Hero competitions to mechanical bull riding to “Trailer Park Tuesdays,” there’s always something going on at McFadden’s, a crowded two-level pub-with-a-dance floor, and it usually involves getting liquored up on the cheap. Tuesday, for example: $2 drinks from 4 to 7, $1 drinks from 7 to 9 if you have a college ID, $1 domestic beers and $5 Jager bombs from 8 to close, and $1 taco plates from 9 to 11. Thursday also has $2 drinks until 7, an optional $10 open bar from 6 to 8, $2 Coronas from 8 to close and $3 Captain Morgan drinks and $4 Jose Cuervo shots from 8 to midnight. Get the picture?

18. Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy
Tonic’s business has grown by leaps and bounds since it landed a liquor license in January, and really, how could it not? Located on the campus of George Washington University, the three-level bar has become a favorite of students and nearby office workers. From 5 to 7 on weekdays, the bar offers 50-cent wings (the best in the neighborhood) and half-price beers, so you’ll pay $2.25 for a pint of Yuengling or Red Hook or $3 for Guinness or Hoegaarden.


19. Caddies on Cordell
The two-level outdoor space at Caddies is as impressive as the golf memorabilia covering the walls inside. Golden Tee is big, of course, but so are the happy hour deals. Miller Lite, Yuengling and Budweiser are $2 on Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 7, domestic beers are $2 or $3 on Wednesday — both at happy hour and at the DJ-fueled ’80s night, which begins at 8 — and buckets of beer are $10 (domestic) and $15 (import) on Thursdays.

20. Rock Bottom Brewery

Rock Bottom brewer Geoff Lively has racked up some impressive awards during his tenure in Bethesda, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for his Raccoon Red. Find out why on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday when the bar runs its popular Happy Hour and a Half with $1.50 pints of its house-made beers from 5:30 to 7. On Wednesday and Sunday, purchase a special logoed pint glass for $4.95 (which includes the first beer) and get $2 refills for the rest of your visit. Check their website to See Multiple locations, such as Ballston Mall in Arlington, VA.


21. Caribbean Breeze
The best thing about happy hour at this lively Ballston restaurant isn’t the $2.99 Mexican beers, the $2.99 empanadas, quesadillas, wings or other appetizers, or that the neighborhood’s tastiest mojitos are $5. It’s that servers are willing to give you happy hour prices if you sit on the lovely shaded patio instead of at the attractive cherry bar.

22. Rock Bottom Brewery
On Wednesdays, the line to get into Rock Bottom Brewery winds through Ballston Common Mall, past the flower shop, the vitamin store — almost to Starbucks. You may have to wait 30 minutes to get in if you arrive after 6. Why? $1.50 house-brewed beers from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Great deal and lively scene. Other highlights include $2.50 pints on Monday between 4 and 9, and the “buy a glass, drink cheap beer” promotion on Friday: Purchase a 23-ounce glass with a Rock Bottom logo on it for $5.95 (including the first beer) and refills are $3 until 9, and $4 after.

23. The Front Page
Located just across the street from Rock Bottom, the Front Page’s extended happy hour (4 to 9 p.m.) includes $1 Miller High Life drafts, $2 Budweiser and Miller Lite drafts, $2.50 Sam Adams beers, $2.75 rail drinks and $3.50 glasses of wine, plus half-price appetizers. On Wednesday, burgers are half price, and on Thursday, there’s a free taco bar from 5 to 7.

24. Whitlow’s on Wilson
Offering one of the longest and latest happy hours in Clarendon, all draft beers at Whitlow’s are $2.50 between 4 and 8, Tuesday through Friday. On Wednesday, glasses of wine are half-price from 4 to 9. Thursday is mug night: Buy a $5 mug and refills of draft beer are $1.50. Don’t forget that Monday nights are burger nights!

25. Piola
It’s a wonder that Piola turns a profit. Every weekday, happy hour runs from 4:30 to 8 and includes $3 beers, $4 glasses of wine and $5 cocktails, plus servers wandering through the bar area offering free pizza. Free. Pizza. Between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, pair any pizza with any beer for $12. Sundays are all-you-can-eat pizza night, and anyone with a student ID gets 20 percent off their meals between 3 and 5 p.m. and again from 10 to close.

Also with multiple locations:
Don’t forget about Chili’s. They offer free wings and chips and salsa during weeknight happy hours (3-7 p.m.)
Rock Bottom Brewery
La Tasca

Happy Hours for the Hungry

Restaurant K’s entrees hover in the $20s, but during happy hour, a selection of the Southern/Southwestern-inspired apps are available for $4 to $6. Burgers, hot-dog bites and chili cheese fries make up the menu, but the smoky, creamy, cheesy vat of “piggy” clam dip is an especially good choice.

Most interns are priced out of Hill favorite Johnny’s Half Shell, but from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, small plates are well within reason. Mini-burgers and mini Asian tuna sandwiches are $2.50. Fried oysters and gumbo are $6 each. They also have really good pickles!

Wings, fried shrimp, sliders and oyster shooters are among the treats on the K Street McCormick and Schmick’s happy hour menu. Dishes range between $2 and $5. Find these prices between 3:30 and 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and again between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
Nigiri pieces are $1.50 at both Cafe Asia locations from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Wash the raw fish down with half-price sake and $2.50 draft beers.

At the Dupont location of Heritage India, samosas, pakora and Indian street-food treats are half price between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on weeknights.
Burgers in Hotel Helix’s swinging-60s lounge (and on the patio) are half price from 5 to 7 p.m. everyday.

Piola’s happy hour is known for its tasty free snacks, but that’s not the only opporunity to score a deal at this Rosslyn pizza shop. With a valid ID, students can get 20 percent off their meals between 3 and 5 p.m. and after 10 p.m. Also after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Piola offers a $12 pizza-and-a-beer deal — any beer, any pizza.

The Big Hunt, a divey Dupont bar, isn’t known for fine cuisine, but a large beer selection and food deals make it an attractive bet during the early part of the week. Food specials kick in once happy hour wraps up at 7 p.m. On Mondays, pizza is half price; burgers are half off on Wednesday. On Tuesdays, wings are 15 cents a piece.

At nearby Lucky Bar, you’ll find one of the best deals, around. Wing lovers can get 25 wings on Tuesdays and half-price burgers on Wednesdays from 5 to 11 p.m.

Restaurants Within Reason

On the Hill, there’s simply no better lunch under $5 than tacos at Tacqueria Nationale. (Same building as Johnny’s Half Shell on the Hill). Fresh ingredients make them sing.

D.C. institution Ben’s Chili Bowl is a must-try for anyone who lives here. Score a chili half-smoke and a thick shake for under $8.

The subdued Talay Thai restaurant provides a welcome respite after a long couple of happy hours at Tortilla Coast. Pad thai and other mainstay dishes are available for under $10. To sample as many tastes as possible, split the appetizer sampler platter with friends.

Rice has an upscale restaurant’s feel with a cheap restaurant’s prices. The dimly lit romantic space is perfect for a date night on a budget, since most of the entrees are about $13. You can’t make reservations here, but it’s worth the wait.
Grilled cheese and burgers are some of the specialities at subterranean Polly’s Cafe. Brunch is served all week here, and the specialities include eight different eggs benedict offerings and $3 spicy bloody marys.
Neighboring pasta shop Pasta Mia gets a lot of attention, but you’ll find better service and big bowls of pasta under $13 at Adams Morgan’s San Marco.
In downtown, you can’t go wrong with the tandoori chicken tikka sandwich at the Naan and Beyond locations.
La Loma’s Mexican dishes aren’t mind-blowing, but, in the summer, the patio is a great spot to enjoy a filling $10 taco platter, boozy margaritas and free chips and salsa.

ALSO SEE: http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/diningguides/2788.html

For Good Bargains:
THE BARKING DOG, 4723 Elm St., Bethesda, MD; 301-654-0022; thebarkingdogonline.com Appetizers like coconut chicken tenders and spinach-and-artichoke dip are $6 at this friendly tavern. Selected pints are $3, rail drinks and wine $3. Happy hours: Monday – Friday 3 to 7.

For super duper yummy coconut chicken tenders.
BISTRO BISTRO, 4021 S. 28th St., Arlington; 703-379-0300; bistro-bistro.com We felt as though we were the only people who didn’t know the waitstaff or the patrons, but Bistro Bistro’s friendly atmosphere and great half-price appetizers, like the smoked-chicken quesadilla, made us feel at home. Miller Lite and Bud Light are $1.99, seasonals $2.99. Happy hours: Monday through Saturday 3 to 7 PM.

For Yummy Jamaican-jerk-chicken spring rolls ($3.50). Ask for teriyaki sauce.
CAFE CITRON, 1343 Connecticut Ave., Dupont Cicle (South); 202-530-8844; cafecitrondc.com For a tropical-flavored happy hour try the Tasters menu ($3 to $7.50) at this Dupont hot spot. The fried plantains and fried Sonso cheese patties are delicious. Fruity drinks like mojitos ($4) and tropical rum lemonade ($4), and bottled beers like Corona ($3) and Portuguese Sagres ($3) are discounted. Happy hours: Monday through Saturday, 4 to 7 PM. You can also get drink specials Monday through Wednesday from 8 to 10 PM.
Our pick: Bolivian potato cakes stuffed with beef and cheese ($5.95).

CHADWICKS, 203 S. Strand St., Old Town, Alexandria, 703-836-4442; also in Georgetown; chadwicksrestaurants.com. This Old Town pub offers $3 bar food and $2 domestics and rail drinks. On Monday, the bar sweetens the deal with half-price burgers; on Thursday, it’s “fire and ice”–35-cent hot wings and $2.95 Molson Ice. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 PM.
Our pick: country-fried chicken tenders with house-made honey-dijon and barbecue sauces ($3).

DIVINO LOUNGE, 7345-B Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 240-497-0300; divinolounge.com. The only thing interns love more than cheap food is free food. At this trendy, dimly lit lounge–which is on The Washingtonian’s Very Best Restaurant list–we enjoyed free Argentinien tapas: sausage, chicken croquettes, olives, and mushrooms. (The four mini-dishes change daily.) Rail drinks, martinis, and beers are half price. Happy hours: Wednesday through Friday 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

FACCIA LUNA, 2909 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-276-3099; also in Alexandria; faccialuna.com. It’s technically not a happy hour, but the Monday-night special at the Arlington location is one of the best deals in town. Two people can feast on house salads or an appetizer such as a goat-cheese napoleon or tomato bruschetta, a pizza with two toppings, and two glasses of house wine for $22.22. Specials offered Mondays 5 to 11 PM.

GRILLFISH, 1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-331-7310; grillfishdc.com. Domestic bottled beers, select glasses of wine, and appetizers such as buffalo shrimp and steamed mussels are half price. Cocktails such as the “Kokonut Kamikaze,” a blend of coconut rum, sour mix, and pineapple juice, are $4. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 PM, Saturday & Sunday 5 to 7 PM.

HERITAGE INDIA BRASSERIE, 1337 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-331-1414. Dishes from the small-plates menu–inspired by Indian street food–are a steal at half price ($2.50 to $3.50). The classy, low-key bar is a nice break from the wilder Dupont bar scene. Domestic beers are $2.75, imports $3.75, martinis $4.50 and rail drinks $4.75. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 5 to 7 PM (food) 4.30 to 7.30 PM (drinks).

MCCORMICK & SCHMICK’S, 7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-961-2626; also in Chinatown, downtown DC, Tysons Corner, and Reston; mccormickandschmicks.com Because McCormick & Schmick’s is on the ground floor of a Bethesda high-rise, much of its clientele comes after work from the building’s upper floors. The bar, which is separate from the dining room, has a $1.95 appetizer menu that includes tasty burgers, wings, quesadillas, oysters, and mussels. There is a two-beverage minimum for the special, but it’s worth it. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 3:30 to 6:30 PM and Monday through Thursday 9:30 to 11.

TUNNICLIFFS TAVERN, 222 Seventh St., SE; 202-544-5680; tunnicliffstaverndc.com You’ll find specials every weeknight here. Monday, they have Wine Night, with any two entrees you get a bottle of wine for half price. Tuesday Lasagna Night, enjoy lasagna with a side of house salad and a glass of wine for $14. Friday all appetizers are half price. Get a Bud Light for $2. Between 11 PM and 1 AM there is a Late Night Menu with burgers and salads for half price and pizzas $7. Happy hours: Monday through Friday 7 to 11 PM.

WHITLOW’S ON WILSON, (Also mentioned above) 2854 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-9693; whitlows.com Whitlow’s fantastic apps–like peel-and-eat shrimp and spinach-and-artichoke dip–and good drink specials make it a favorite. Get there early–you can’t sit at a table unless you’re ordering dinner, and bar stools fill up. You can feast on half-price burgers all day Monday. Mug night Thursday from 4 to 9 PM, buy a Mug ($5) and refill with the beer of the night ($1.50). On Friday from 4 to 8, appetizers such as cheese fries are $2 off. Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 8 PM drafts are $2.50.
Our pick: spinach-and-artichoke dip with pita chips ($5.95 on Friday).


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