Here is a guide to the area around Capital One Arena for restaurants and bars before and after Wizards games (or Caps games, Mystics games, Valor games, or concerts). These recommendations were made on a special episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast. The full episode can be found below.
The quotes in this guide are from Jose Andrés, a world-renowned chef with restaurants in the area, Washington City Paper food editor Laura Hayes and yours truly, a sports reporter who spends a lot of his time at Capital One Arena... and bars.
Drink before the game
City Tap House of D.C. - 901 9th St. NW
Hayes: "Really relaxed. They have a bunch of flat screens in case there is a good game on... they have a good happy hour before weekday games... really comfortable environment with reasonable prices and it's walkable to the arena."
Daikaya - 705 6th St. NW
Andrés: "Katsuya Fukushima, who used to be a team member of mine, we worked many years together. Finally, when he moved away from D.C. and he came back, he opened Daikaya, which has some of the best ramen anywhere in the country. Then he opened Izakaya and Bantam King."
Nice place to get a drink and impress someone
Denson Liquor Bar - 600 F St. NW
Hayes: "Hard to find... so it's never crowded down there. It's really dark and kind of sultry with a beautiful design to it. The cocktails are usually dominated by the brown liquor classic cocktails... they have higher-end snacks."
Red Apron/The Partisan - 709 D. St. NW
Andrés: "They do amazing hot dogs to amazing burgers to amazing cocktails to amazing beer."
Hayes: "It's a really good time. Lots of good sour bears. It's a great hang."
Nice dinner for a date
Succotash - 915 F St. NW
Hayes: "A mix of southern cuisine... and then some touches from [the chef's] Korean heritage... it's southern food, but not like you know it. There's some cool twists."
Zaytinya - 701 9th St. NW
Andrés: "Zaytinya is an homage to Greece, to Turkey and to Lebanon... Mr. Ted Leonsis, I know, loves the place because he has a Greek background himself... it has become a favorite of Washingtonians."
China Chilcano - 418 7th St. NW
Andrés: "This one is my love for everything Asian and everything Latin... This is one of the most amazing melting pots. You can find Chinese, Japanese, and Peruvian cooking all in one country. Right here, I wanted to bring that story to everybody in Washington."
Best place to go out after a game and get hammered
Jackpot - 726 7th St. NW
Hayes: "It's good before and after games. No frills. You're not going to be packed in there like sardines. They have a really good beer selection... it's laid back, with cheap beer and you can still hear each other."
Irish Channel - 500 H St. NW
Hughes: "A favorite of sportswriters. Live music, open late with a late night menu (important)."
Free State - 501b G St. NW
Hayes: "They have $10-12 cocktails. It's very relaxed. They have the orange crush, the signature cocktail of the Eastern Shore. They have a huge slate of local beers."
On Rye - 740 6th St. NW
Hayes: "It's a new Jewish deli that opened on sixth street. It's extremely close."
Chinese food in Chinatown
Full Kee - 509 H St. NW
Hayes: "It's reliable. I spend most of my time interviewing chefs and whenever I ask what their dirty little secret is, they say Full Kee."
Cava - 707 H St. NW
Hayes: "I still can't get enough of it... you can usually get in and out there very fast. I personally love the lamb sliders."
Honeygrow - 716 7th St. NW
Hayes: "It's more healthy. You can build your own salad or stir fry noodles."
Grand Trunk - 641 Indiana Ave. NW
Hayes: "They stick two patties that are spiced with ginger, cumin, green chiles, onion and cilantro and they put them inside some grilled naan. Then, it's smeared with some kind of an amazing sauce and it comes with dippers like a creamy yogurt sauce and tamarind. It's just a messy, messy good time."
The Smith - 901 F St. NW
Hayes: "They have a nice, big, fat burger deluxe for $17 that is just loaded with everything you can imagine."
Red Apron/The Partisan - 709 D. St. NW
Hughes: "Burgers are awesome. Beers are awesome. Awesome."
Graffiato - 707 6th St. NW
Hayes: "It's a Mike Isabella restaurant and he spent a lot of time growing up on the Jersey Shore. So, he has a Jersey Shore pizza that has fried calamari on top with tomato, provolone and then this really zesty cherry pepper aioli. It's not your normal margherita or pepperoni, but they have some really good pizza that they're cranking out there."
Best family spot
Nando's Peri-Peri - 819 7th St. NW
Hayes: "They have five different options for kid's meals. They have grilled chicken strips, grilled cheese; they all come with a side... everything a kid would like."