No one wants to host a big meal the night before Thanksgiving, but you may already have a house full of guests who need to be fed and entertained. That plus the fact that most people have the next day off combines to make the Wednesday before Thanksgiving one of the busiest nights of the year for the bar and restaurant industry. If you find yourself in Washington, DC this year the night before Turkey Day, you’ll have plenty of choices for where to kick off the holiday season. From sports bar to dance hall, the District has you covered. Need inspiration? Here’s where Uber riders enjoyed Thanksgiving Eve last year.
Washington, DC bars to visit on Thanksgiving Eve
1. Town Hall
If you’re looking to carve out a couple of hours for old friends before the family time begins, Town Hall is the perfect spot to meet up. The friendly neighborhood tavern has a variety of craft beers on tap, a menu that has all the pub favorites covered, and TVs that allow you to keep an eye on the game. On Wednesdays, happy hour prices are good until last call, so you can make a night of it without breaking the bank.
Where: 2340 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC
Tapas might be the perfect Thanksgiving Eve meal. The small, shareable bites won’t leave you overly full, and the Spanish dishes aren’t likely to make an appearance in the next day’s feast. Barcelona Wine Bar has all of the classic tapas like bacon-wrapped dates, patatas bravas, and albondigas, as well as a variety of paellas that are made to share. Its wine list features close to 400 selections, so you’ll have plenty of choices for your first toast of the holiday season.
Where: 1622 14th St NW, Washington, DC
3. The Brixton
With three levels and four bars, the Brixton is a kind of supersize British pub. The first level has a pretty typical bar/restaurant atmosphere that’s ideal for grabbing a bite with a friend or two. If you’re in the mood to bust a move, head to the second floor where you’ll find a DJ and a (usually packed) dance floor. Continue up to the rooftop bar for great views of the city skyline. Thanks to its three distinct sections, the Brixton may be the ideal destination for a big group with varied interests, a.k.a. your whole extended family.
Where: 901 U St NW, Washington, DC
For better or worse, going home for the holidays can make us feel like kids again, and Spider Kelly’s is a great place to really embrace that vibe. SK’s is a neighborhood bar packed full of fun and games. Once you’ve got your drink in hand, you can play pool or shuffleboard, shoot darts, challenge a friend to air hockey, or stake out a spot in front of one of the throwback arcade games that line the bar. When you’ve worked up an appetite, go ahead and stay on theme with an order of tater tots and chicken tenders.
Where: 3181 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
Trivia kicks off at 7pm on Wednesdays at Whitlow’s, so why not get a little friendly competition going? The cousins can challenge the aunts and uncles; low scoring team is responsible for Thanksgiving cleanup. Get there a little early to take advantage of the rooftop tiki bar where happy hour lasts until 7pm. If you want to grab another mai tai after trivia, you’re in luck—the plentiful rooftop heaters will fend off the autumn chill.
Where: 2854 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
While Nellie’s is known for its weekend drag brunch, this gay sports bar is a solid bet for weeknight fun as well. There are tons of TVs to appease those who want to watch the game, and the dartboards on the rooftop deck will keep the non-sports fans entertained all night. Nellie’s sweet potato fries are some of the best in the city, so make sure you get a side to go with their legendary chicken fingers.
Where: 900 U St NW, Washington, DC
7. Tommy Joe’s
For those on the Maryland side of the District, Tommy Joe’s is your go-to spot for brews and sports. There are 18 TVs on the main level and 11 more in the rooftop bar, so you’ll be able to keep an eye on the game from just about any seat in the house. Your out-of-town guests will likely want to sample some of that famous Maryland crab while they’re visiting, and Tommy Joe’s has a number of options that fit the bill. Its crab cakes are a Bethesda tradition, and the crab roll delivers with a healthy portion of crabmeat and a few shakes of Old Bay.
Where: 7940 Norfolk Ave, Bethesda, MD
If you want to impress your whiskey-loving out-of-town guests, treat them to a Thanksgiving Eve celebration at Jack Rose Dining Saloon. This hip, whiskey-focused saloon in Adams Morgan is also a great place to get into a festive mood as you sip your drinks by the fire in its glass-enclosed Balcony Room. With over 2,500 bottles of whiskey on site, Jack Rose is definitely devoted to the spirit, but if that’s not your thing, don’t despair. It also received a restaurant industry award this year for its incredible beer program.
Where: 2007 18th St NW, Washington, DC
Whether you’re looking to dance until dawn or just catch up with an old friend over a drink or two, there’s a spot in DC to welcome you with open arms this Thanksgiving Eve.