Dan's Café

Dive Bar
Dan's Café Built into a flat, square building with no exterior windows or lights, the most prominent evidence of the dive hiding behind the boarded-up façade of Dan's Café is the string of rowdy frat boys usually careening out its door... Washington, DC United States 38.920113 -77.041498
4.04 9
Dan's Café - Dive Bar in Washington, DC.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Built into a flat, square building with no exterior windows or lights, the most prominent evidence of the dive hiding behind the boarded-up façade of Dan’s Café is the string of rowdy frat boys usually careening out its... ... read full review

  • Metro:

    Red Line: Woodley Park- Zoo/Adams Morgan

  • Phone:

    202–265–0299

  • Hours:

    Tu–Th 7pm–2am, F–Sa 7pm–3am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Dan's Café Review

The Scene

Built into a flat, square building with no exterior windows or lights, the most prominent evidence of the dive hiding behind the boarded-up façade of Dan's Café is the string of rowdy frat boys usually careening out its door...

Built into a flat, square building with no exterior windows or lights, the most prominent evidence of the dive hiding behind the boarded-up façade of Dan’s Café is the string of rowdy frat boys usually careening out its door.

A dozen shelves of booze stacked behind the sticky bar glitter like lost treasure, drawing a crowd of college grads gearing up for a bleary-eyed night of hard liquor doled out in Dan’s special style – tall glasses, a bucket of ice, and a mixer ready for DIY drinks.

Old-school neon signs, slowly dying plants, and drink prices scribbled on a piece of paper and nailed to the wall make up most of the décor, but after a few shots served in condiment squeeze bottles that could drop a small elephant, no one is really looking at the furniture.

When not crowded around the electric fans trying to catch a breeze when the air conditioner-free bar heats up, those budget-conscious partiers still standing can try and find entertainment on the probably broken pool table or at the old jukebox that boasts music from an era when compact discs were a radical technological achievement.

With a maximum capacity of about sixty and a reputation for being a small and gritty pre-game dive, Dan’s Café fills up early on Friday and Saturday nights as guys with an agenda stop in for a quickie before stumbling to another neighborhood locale.

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Tip from Lucas:

If you’re looking for a cheap place to start off the night, this is it. One squeeze bottle can dispense about fourteen shots, which pretty much makes that $1 per shot. You just can’t find those prices anywhere else in the city.

  • Crowd

    Budget-conscious young professionals, recent college grads, and pre-game partiers, early 20s to early30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Jukebox featuring hits from the 90s and before. Pool table.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    No food. Cash only.

  • Prices

    Beer $3–$4, mixed drinks $5–$13, squeeze bottle shots $12–$23 w/$5 deposit, chasers and mixers $1.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Casual: jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sandals.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for a good pre-game crowd.

  • Close By

    Bedrock Billiards (1841 Columbia Road NW) has seven pool tables, Skeeball, and Happy Hour deals every night of the week.

Dan's Café User Reviews

Average rating:
You don't come here for the comfy chairs
Taylor R. Jun 6, 2013
So you want to get drunk in Adam's Morgan you say? Saunter into Dan's cafe and pull up a rickety bar stool close to the bar with a friend or two. Ignore the smell and take in the sounds. The juke box flips through a stellar collection of oldies and classic rock while not totally drowning out the hilarious and bizarre conversations around you. DO: -Get a squirt bottle. Don't be an amateur. Ask for a Rum and Pineapple and you'll be amazed that your $20 dollars has been exchanged for three shot glasses, a squirt bottle filled nearly to the brim with Rum, and small can of Pineapple juice. From there, you slam shooters down the hatch and invariably strike up conversations with those sitting around you. The entire atmosphere swirls into, "I'll show mine if you show me yours," as groups surrounding you exchange shots with one another and seemingly all somehow get along. When you're finished, bring your bottle back towards the far side of the bar and exchange your squirt bottle for a $5 deposit that you can either put towards the tip or the next round of shooters. Make nice with the bartender and be sure to tip. This man is a mix between Oscar the grouch and Samuel Jackson from Die Hard: With a Vengeance. Much to our amusement, I've seen this man crack up an entire bar by slinging insults towards annoying drunk blonde girls expecting to get faster service if they flop boobs half out across the bar. It truly is a treat to watch. DO NOT: Forget to bring cash. This is a cash only bar and the closest ATM is inside spaghetti garden. This charming whole in the wall has been in business since 1965 and I'm not sure they've cleaned the bathrooms once since that time, but that's not what this place is about. It's about having fun and slamming a few squirt bottles down to create a story at your next stop down the road. The business model is simple, "What are you drinking?" Don't over think it, have fun!
Things Can Get A Little Weird...
Dustin P. Feb 11, 2013
Dan's Cafe didn't invent the dive bar, but they have surely capitalized on the best way to serve the college crowd. Located in Adams Morgan, this bar is anything but elegant. Upon entering the sullenly white building, you become aware that this is not your average Friday night watering hole. The overcrowded bar is jam-packed with customers waiting to get their hands on Dan's Cafe most endearing commodity -- the squeeze bottle. Instead of the traditional delivery method, this dive has opted to serve their mixed drinks in a more sensible manner. Whatever your mixed drink is, they will serve it to you in a good old fashion ketchup bottle. Be warned, the bartender has a heavy hand. You will literally spend the night squirting yourself and friends shots, eventually leading to an all-out squirt battle in which you give up on the shot glass and begin squirting the high- powered drink straight into your mouth. The tricky part is making sure you leave while you can still walk. The bar is equipped with seating around the bar, and tables and booths on the main floor. However, during the busy hours you will most likely have to squeeze to find a place to sit. If you are looking for something to do while you drink there is a pool table and a jukebox. Good luck getting on the pool table, and the jukebox only works some of the time. Overall, Dan's Cafe is great place to start your night. It is a simple, no BS- type of place that will make you laugh when you realize how ridiculous the concept is. * This bar is cash only and does not serve food, so come prepared in both respects. Females, I would advise you not use the restrooms in the this joint!
Ketchup Bottles!
Steven W. Jan 23, 2013
At Dan's Cafe they serve ketchup bottles full of liquor. If you need me to tell you anything else about this place, you probably shouldn't be going there. And to be honest, there isn't a whole lot else to tell. The outside looks like a crack den, and the inside smells like cheap whiskey. There is a pool table that has been covered every time I have ever been there, as well as booths that are never available. The floor is constantly sticky from patrons squirting liquor everywhere, and there is a jukebox in the corner that may or may not play music. If you are a guy, the bartenders will heckle you until you start hitting on someone, If there is any reason to go here that doesn't involve getting irresponsibly drunk, then I can't think of it. Did I mention they serve liquor in ketchup bottles? No? Well they do. For about 20 dollars they will give you your favorite mixed drink in a squeezie and as many glasses as you want. Pour shots for your friends, pour shots for strangers, walk around jabbing your bottle at random faces until they open their mouths and take a swig. Condiments have never been so much fun.
For A Good Time Just Squeeze...
Lauren Z. Oct 17, 2012
Conspicuously understated and nestled between the bright lively hotspots of Adams Morgan's 18th Street, Dan's Cafe is the epitome of a dive bar. Like a modern speakeasy, its unmark facade (which is actually reminiscent of a condemned building) both masks and showcases it's interior: a cramped rundown room that serves as the perfect space to over-imbibe with your closest comrades. You'd completely miss this tiny gem unless you've been told about its dingy majesty or you happen to spot the large gentleman sitting outside and feel brave enough to ask him if he's dealing drugs or if he's the bouncer to the establishment behind him. Once inside you must navigate yourself between the hot sweaty masses, but as soon as you make it to the bar... order a squeeze bottle full of your choice of alcohol and base beverage. Yes, they're expensive (a Redbull-Vodka sets you back $21... and its cash ONLY), but they poor in an entire mini-bottle of liquor. So, unless your liver is as seasoned as a WWII sailor's, that 's about all the $ you'll have to spend for the night. Other recommendations when in Dan's: 1) Try to snag a booth 2) Avoid the bathroom for as long as possible (I.E.: you're drunk enough not to care how disgusting it is) 3) BRING ENOUGH CASH... I found myself making an ATM stop. 4) Go with good friends (not new ones)
Dingy, Divey, and Drunk
Danny M. Sep 6, 2012
To put it simply, Dan’s Café is a dive bar where people’s sole reason for coming here is to get trashed. This is a place to come and drink liquor…it may not be very refined liquor…but the crowd here does not seem to care one bit. Located toward the bottom of the stretch of 18th Street in Adams Morgan, it’s a great spot to start your night before you bar hop up the street and eventually make your way to a Jumbo Slice. Just be prepared to sweat here…there’s no air conditioning, the place gets packed, and you will likely be drinking a lot of liquor…which means you’ll probably be pretty messy for your next stop of the night so plan accordingly.
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