We sent Marshall Bradshaw out to check on what bars near Fringe headquarters have the most to offer all you Fringe-goers.
Star & Shamrock Tavern & Deli
1341 H St NE
10% Off with your Fringe button
Right next to the Atlas Theater, Star & Shamrock is an H St classic, setting the bar for every other bar on this list. Its Irish/Jewish combination theme informs the deli sandwich menu, but isn’t excessive. It’s easy to forget the theme and just enjoy a restful drink under the glow of a mostly ignored sporting event on the TV above. Also, while supplies last, they’re offering a selection of summer craft beers for $5. That plus a 10% off discount with your Fringe button makes Star & Shamrock a strong first stop on your H St bar crawl.
H St Country Club
1335 H Street NE
Free round of mini-golf with 2017 Fringe Button
Right next door, H St Country Club is everything Star & Shamrock isn’t. First off, the place is huge, with a rooftop deck. Second, it makes its theme known, with skeeball and shuffleboard to boot. This is pretty much just a review of the mini-golf course, because obviously you’re going for the free mini-golf with your Fringe button. Unfortunately, that’s where the country club fell apart for me. Partially because of the absolutely maddening Lincoln Memorial-themed hole. Also, the fact that the only person of color depicted on the course is a short, fat, and dopey-looking metermaid. But mostly the thumb-sized cockroach I had to flick off my beer.
1351 H St NE
Compared to the faux-dive country-club-meets-carnival of H St Country Club, Maketto is sterile like a surgeon’s operating room. More café than bar, but it is also easily mistaken from the street as a clothing, furniture, and general hipster goods store. Whatever it is, it’s a great place to hammer out a review of a Fringe show while sipping on a sarsaparilla and munching on steamed bao. Okay, it’s the only place to get a sarsaparilla and bao.
Impala Cantina y Taqueria
1358 H St NE
Impala Cantina is a favorite of mine every December. Their patio hosts plenty of live events, but Krampusnacht takes the cake. It’s a very different kind of holiday celebration: a fundraiser for Santa’s Cause DC built around the demon Krampus, who spends Christmas whipping bad children and sometimes carrying them down to Hell. It’s German. There’s fire-breathing and a lot of leather. It’s also in winter, whereas my only trip during Fringe was during a heat advisory which made the patio feel like the surface of Venus. We stayed for about 5 minutes.
RedRocks Neapolitan Bistro
1348 H St NE
10% Off with your Fringe button
If you too are half-melted from sitting on Impala’s patio, RedRocks’s best quality is its air-conditioning. The chilling blast right as I oozed through the front door was like being kissed by God. Then, we waited. And waited. RedRocks is huge, but even at a fraction of capacity struggled to provide service. We spent a few minutes at Impala before giving up and leaving. We spent a half hour at RedRocks before giving up on ordering overpriced food and trying to leave. Then we waited for our checks.
1015 H St NE
Hardened into a happy iceblock by my long stay in RedRocks, I braved multiple blocks in the July heat to reach the promised land of the Haymaker. It’s a cozy little cocktail bar with a tasty menu and, at this point most importantly, lightning fast service. It took over when the Atlas Room closed, and seems to still be looking for clientele that didn’t show up for the last residents. Worth the walk, if you want to get away from the Fringe crowds.
Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar
1104 H St NE
The Fringiest bar on H St., Little Miss Whiskey’s must be seen to be believed. The glam goth upstairs dance floor, the two level garden out back… And the alcoholic slushie machines fully stocked with “The Awesomeness” behind both bars! There’s a DJ upstairs on the weekends, and it recently started taking credit cards. In all, Little Miss Whiskey’s is an absolute delight with only one big barrier: Its purple stairs out front mean this wonderland is not accessible to all.
The Queen Vic
1206 H St NE
10% Off with your Fringe button
Meandering back towards Fringe from Little Miss Whiskey’s will bring you past two very thematic bars. First, the Queen Vic, an exceedingly British pub, in all the best ways. The walls are covered with all the British accoutrement one would expect, but it goes all the way to the core of the business: The Queen Vic is an official Liverpool Football Club bar, and the menu boasts they are open for every game, no matter the time zone differences. The Queen Vic also puts a dent to the stereotype that British cooking is awful with large portions of delicious British standards. There’s even a “tuck shop” of British imports to take home, like Ribena and Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate. A must-visit for any Anglophile.
1208 H St NE
On the other side of the Atlantic but sharing a wall on H St, Kitty’s Saloon rebukes the Queen Vic with a decidedly Texas theme. Compared to the crowded British folksiness all over the Queen Vic’s walls, Kitty’s Saloon feels like drinking in someone’s mostly empty shed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bottles of PBR and Shiner Bock are cheap, and there’s good bourbon selection. Even when the guest bartender’s punk rock seemed to break the theme, the gestalt still feels thoroughly welcoming. At least until the air-conditioning ducts started dripping down our necks. So, maybe the shed aesthetic is hit-or-miss.
1234 H St NE
We end, as many bar crawls on H St probably have, at possibly the last true dive on H Street. Stickers all but black-out the front window. The bathroom door is busted. There’s a vending machine for pork rinds. A bartender asked one of us to get up so he could use their seat as a stool to grab more booze from on top of a refrigerator. We shared our booth with a skeleton in a hockey jersey and a plastic Santa (Sadly, no Krampus). Head’s up, the credit card stickers on the door are a lie. They are cash only. Or rather, they probably are cash only, but definitely cash only if you’ve pissed off the bartender. Not advisable. The Pug is an excellent conclusion once a few of the other bars on this list have gotten you in the mood for that deep dive.