The Shaw district, with a rich and notable African American history, has controversially revitalized itself in recent years, becoming a residential area with large rehabbed Victorian houses and now a large dining and nightlife scene, especially popular with the millennial generation. Read on for our guide to the ten best bars in Shaw, Washington D.C.
Thally serves modern American cuisine with an outstanding rotating list of wines and craft beers. The cozy 14-seat bar hosts 10 craft beers on draft, two ciders on tap and a few by the bottle, and they also serve 24 wines by the glass with a rotating menu that switches out six wines per week. House-made sodas and cocktails are mixed with house-made syrups, and the menu includes drinks like the ‘rosemary Bulleit’ made with Bulleit bourbon, colin blanc, Luxardo maraschino and house-made ginger soda, which is heavenly; as is the ‘B. Sams’ cocktail with soho lychee, house-made sour, sloe gin and lychee puree. They also have a 70-seat dining room where you can grab beers and a couple of small plates or try out their menu of hearty dinners or light salads and soups.
Seafood and cocktails dominate this industrial chic bar Eat the Rich. On the menu are classic cocktails, slush cocktails and their signature pitchers like the idiosyncratic ‘beer n’ clam,’ using house-made clamato juice mixed with Natty Boh. You can also get something more refined like the Buck Hunter with bourbon, house ginger syrup, and sarsaparilla bitters. The oyster shooters are fun to try, and you’ll come across names like the ‘Bye, Felicia’ made with Barcat oyster, mystery liquor and celery shrub. If you’re in the mood for regular beer, they have a nice selection of national craft brews from the likes of Dogfish Head and Brewer’s Art.
Right Proper is a ‘yeast-forward’ brewery, sourcing several different types of yeast for their craft brews. Cultivating their own house strains of yeast and using a wide range of fermentation techniques, Right Proper produces some unique flavors. They serve eight rotating taps brewed in house and a variety of local drafts, and almost all of Right Proper’s beer are able to go in growlers. Pair it with one of their comfort foods that has a Southern influence. A crowd favorite is the chicken sandwich and the 8-hour lamb grilled cheese. The industrial chic bar with rustic accents elevates the experience.
Cocktails and ramen might seem like an odd duo, but Chaplin’s has made an art out of the 1920s themed Japanese cocktail bar. The decor is a modern interpretation of Tokyo, Japan during the silent film era. Chef Myto Htun serves classic ramen and 1920s cocktails with modern interpretations on craft cocktails and beer. Look out for some good deals at Happy Hour. Their cocktails ‘a dog’s life’ with Irish whiskey, apple brandy, golden apple honey, walnut and prosecco and the ‘pilgrim’ go well with those ramen bowls as well.
Dacha Beer Garden is a hip alfresco-style spot with a covered bar area. The courtyard, filled with picnic tables, umbrellas and some plant décor, plays host to nights of drinking beer in tall boot glasses. There are a slew of German, American and Belgian craft beers on tap with meads, ciders and even wines. Also offered are German-style bar bites like pretzels, spicy thuringer (pork), and kartoffellpuffer, which is two crispy gluten-free potato pancakes. It’s great for groups, and Dacha is dog and family friendly. Kids enjoy their outdoor garden as well.
Southern Efficiency pays homage to the JFK quote that DC is a place of ‘southern efficiency and northern charm’. This place caters to the feeling of a lazy Sunday afternoon with bourbons and bluegrass playing. The bar specializes in a curated mix of eclectic and Southern whiskeys and off-the-beaten-track Southern recipes. Try their whiskey-focused cocktail menu, including classic cocktails alongside ones on tap like the smoked cola and white whiskey, which pairs well with that pimento cheese and hopping’ john.
Knowledgeable bartenders and modern industrial flair make for a excellent experience at Mockingbird Hill. This bar highlights the wonders of sherry and paired small plates, especially Spanish and American ham. The menu features fino sherry that is bottled directly from the cask, the extinct sherry style of ‘fino amontillado’ with more flor and barrel aging resulting in rich undertones. There are also sweet desert sherrys and flight selections categorized by style of sherry or fermentation process, and be sure to check out their ‘sherry-goes-tiki’ cocktails. The small tapas are a perfect way to share while learning about bringing out the complexities in the sherries.
A & D Bar is a hip bar with great cocktails and a relaxed, industrial chic charm. Check out their featured concoctions: you can find creatively crafted cocktails like an earl grey infused vodka or a Moscow mule with fresh mango nectar, and on their menu they have fun snack items like gummy bears. Happy hour from 5PM-7PM includes $8 cocktails, beers on draft, and $5 house wine. It’s great for an alternative, low-key atmosphere with some class.
If you’re looking for whiskey and finely crafted cocktails, Lost & Found is a neighborhood bar with decent selection, as they have over 17 taps and a small list of house cocktails. Take a look at their extensive selection of 30 ryes and bourbons as well. The vibe is relaxed with friendly bartenders, and inside you’ll find records and old photos throughout the walls. Note: there are two different bars, with an entrance with records players in the window on 9th St and another in the alley out back back. Throughout the week you can find specials like happy hour with $2 off drafts and live music.
All Souls is quickly becoming one of the up-and-coming bars in the city, thanks to its carefully crafted cocktails and use of experimental flavors (they had a sparkling rose cocktail with a shot of Maker’s Mark) and a beer list with around five beer bottles and cans as well as four drafts. Although they offer a generally simple menu, the drinks here are made strong and flavorful. The only food served here is $3 olives, cheese and pecan biscuits. Try to go on the weekdays when it’s not crowded; this unassuming bar is a great place for small gatherings with cocktail mixes you won’t always find anywhere else.