Mug Shots: Happy Hour’s Even Happier When You Drink Outdoors

Posted April 14, 2010 at 4:12pm

The end of recess means that staffers are once again stuck toiling away in dark offices. While it’s hard to get outside during business hours, there’s no excuse not to grab a sidewalk table and crack open a beer or dig into a steaming bowl of mussels at the end of a long day. Capitol Hill is home to a host of bars and restaurants that offer outdoor seating in addition to budget-friendly prices.

[IMGCAP(1)]Cava Mezze (527 Eighth St. SE), the Greek eatery located on Barrack’s Row, offers ample outdoor seating. Not only does the restaurant have sidewalk tables, but it also boasts a second-story rooftop. Happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Specials include $4 beer and wine, $5 margaritas and selected small plates for $3. In addition to the daily specials, bottles of wine are half-price on Mondays.

Down the street from Cava Mezze is Belga Café (514 Eighth St. SE). Chef Bart Vandaele’s Belgian haven offers sidewalk seating and a beer list to die for. In fact, the list is presented to diners in a 25-page binder, which also contains a lengthy wine list and solid selection of cocktails. On weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. draft beers are half-price and several dishes — including cheese croquettes — are $6 each. Customers can also enjoy food from the regular menu such as moules frites and Flemish beef stew to accompany their libations.

Granville Moore’s (1238 H St. NE), the other Belgian gastropub on the Hill, offers a patio off the back of the restaurant where diners can relax. The restaurant is known for Executive Chef Teddy Folkman’s signature blue cheese mussels, which are offered for just $10 from 5 to 7 p.m. on Mondays.

On the other side of the Hill, old standbys such as the Capitol Lounge (229 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) and Hawk ‘n’ Dove (329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) offer sidewalk seating and great specials. Cap Lounge offers a variety of food deals every night, including a half-price pizza menu on Mondays and 25-cent wings on Tuesdays. On weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. the bar offers $1 off on beer, wine and cocktails. Over at Hawk ‘n’ Dove, you can sip on $2 domestic bottles and $2 rail drinks from 4 to 7 p.m. on weeknights.

For a more upscale Hill experience, pay a visit to Sonoma (223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). The restaurant and wine bar offers a handful of sidewalk tables that are ideal for lunch, dinner or a glass of wine from the well-stocked cellar. A trip to Sonoma won’t break the bank, with wines by the glass starting at $6. Bottles are a bit pricier, but there are a few priced in the $20 range and even a chardonnay that goes for as little as $22.

Hill bars aren’t the only ones that offer outdoor seating. The Occidental (1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW), located a stone’s throw away from the White House, offers happy hour on the patio from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Select beers and wines are sold for $4 and $5, respectively, while certain rail cocktails are $6. The patio also features a special menu featuring such light options as tomato and caprese salad in addition to more substantial dishes such as grilled Shenandoah loin of lamb. A selection of seasonal cocktails are also offered on the patio, including the Pennsylvania Avenue Punch, a mix of rum, Chambord and fruit juices.

Over on U Street, Vinoteca Wine Bar & Bistro (1940 11th St. NW), located in a converted row house, offers ample sidewalk seating. The real deal here is the happy hour, when 20 wines by the glass are sold for $5. Happy hour is only served at the bar, but Vinoteca offers seven different flights of wine ranging in price from $14 to $24. With fun names like Bubble Bath — an all-sparkling flight — and Greek Threesome — a trio of wines from Greece — the flights explore a variety of grapes and styles.