Best Secret Bars In DC

July 12, 2012 6:00 AM

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Tired of the overcrowded DC bar scene? Believe it or not, DC is home to a few secret bars, many of which are situated in non-descript buildings among many popular DC destinations. While a password is not required for entry, you may want to keep who you tell about these spots to an exclusive group of your closest friends.
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The Gibson
2009 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-2156

From its commonplace facade to its non-descript website, the Gibson oozes secrecy. The bar is lowly-lit, mostly by candlelight, the music is played softly and, unlike other DC bars, the Gibson employs a no-standing policy, meaning there will never be more than 48 people in the bar at one time. Also, unlike other DC bars, seating at the bar is restricted to two hour time blocks. Reservations are encouraged, however walk-ins are also permitted. Should there be no space available upon your arrival, the doorman will take down your cell phone number and send you a text when a spot becomes available. Once you get the text, you have 15 minutes to make it back before your spot goes to someone else. The bar also features a backyard, tree-covered patio.

nightlife music secret bars columbia room Best Secret Bars In DC

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The Columbia Room
1021 7th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 393-0336

Although the Columbia Room has received numerous accolades from many prominent newspapers and magazines, the bar itself is shrouded in secrecy. In order to get to the Columbia Room, you must first go to a vibrant and bustling bar called the Passenger. Once inside, a surreptitious doorway will lead you to the Columbia Room, a cozy and private bar that features a seasoned mixologist who creates simply divine drinks. The Columbia Room holds up to 12 people at one time, creating a truly intimate experience. Tuesdays through Saturdays feature a drinking menu where guests enjoy three drinks (two of which are chosen by the mixologist) as well as a complementary appetizer at a set price.

Related: Best Bars with Bottle Service In D.C.

nightlife music secret bars px Best Secret Bars In DC

Photo Credit: PX via Facebook

728 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 706-0450

How do you spot this secret bar located on the bustling streets of Old Town Alexandria? It’s simple: look for a lit blue light or a pirate flag.  If you see one or the other, then the PX is open for business. Featuring gorgeous chandeliers, hardwood floors and elegant decor, the PX is like a 1920s speakeasy come to life. The bar also features freshly squeezed juices, handmade bitters like mint and kumquat, flavored ice, as well as truly unique concoctions such as Peaches and Herb and the Plight of the Honey Bee, a combination of Jim Beam, honey, honey syrup, honey vinegar and honey liquor. Ordering a drink at the PX is like watching a Broadway performer put on a show. Reservations are recommended, which can be made through the website.

nightlife music secret bars la Best Secret Bars In DC

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LA Bar and Grill
2530 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204
(703) 685-1560

Prefer to hang out at a secret bar that’s more casual than pretentious? Located in the backside of a stretch of buildings, LA (which really stands for Lower Arlington) Bar and Grill features reasonably priced drinks, traditional bar fare and an easy-going regular crowd. Catch the game on half a dozen flat screen televisions and enjoy daily food and drink specials, like all-you-can-eat buffalo wings for $5. LA Bar and Grill also features arcade games and special events such as trivia night, live music, a weekly dart league and karaoke. There’s no need to dress to impress here. Casual dress as well as walk-ins are more than welcome.

Related: Best Karaoke Bars in the DC Area

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The Owl Bar
1 East Chase St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 347-0888

Although not terribly secretive, the Owl Bar has an extensive history of being the place to be during the Prohibition era. Aptly name after an owl that was placed outside the bar, patrons in the know knew that when the owl’s eyes blinked, it meant that alcohol and other sinful adventures were available on the premises. Today, the Owl Bar features a fire brick oven, beautiful stained glass windows and a vintage, old-fashioned vibe. The Owl Bar offers draft and bottle beers, wines and a variety of specialty cocktails. Enjoy delectable meals, such as Bang Bang Shrimp and Anastasia Pasta, which features grilled chicken, button mushrooms, bacon, spinach, red onion and feta cheese in a light parmesan sauce.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at

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