If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Washington guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Washington for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like Bullfeathers of Capitol Hill to busy places like Hawk 'n Dove that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Downtown area? No fear - we share all the facts!

10 Duffy's Irish Restaurant and Pub
The neighborhood's best bet for a pint with fish and chips, this modernized pub sports cr�me-colored walls lined with attractive framed prints. Patrons munch on traditional Irish pub grub while watching sports on the overhead TVs. Happy hour, featuring $2-4 drinks and $6 meals, is an additional drawing card. (202-265-3413)

9 Dubliner
Probably the city's favorite Irish pub, this long-standing institution has a legion of faithful followers. Part of the reason they return to the cozy restaurant, with its dark wood and stained glass, is the live Irish music and energetic atmosphere. The other is the food, which couples Irish and American tastes. The busy place also pours a good pint of Guinness, and two bars mean that even when happy hour's in full swing, you won't have to wait too long for a drink. An outdoor patio, diverse crowds, and that terrific live music just multiply the already-strong appeal. (202-737-3773)

8 Hawk 'n Dove
The Hawk 'n Dove is packed with political memorabilia; campaign materials, photos and clippings adorn the interior. The bar tends to attract an older, well-dressed Capitol Hill crowd, and the pool table and fireplace encourage casual conversation. Of course, you don't want to miss happy hour, when the place is packed with Capitol Hill staffers feasting on a buffet of free food. METRO: Capitol South/Eastern Market (202-543-3300)

7 Brickskeller Saloon
Brickskeller is most famous for its collection of different beers. With more than 1000 different brands, you can expand your tastes, trying out beers from all over the world. From lightest ale to boldest lager, they have something to suit every taste. The ambience is fun and relaxed, attracting a slightly older crowd. Good snacks and sandwiches are available as well. METRO: Dupont Circle (202-293-1885)

6 IndeBleu
Posh IndeBlue wins high marks from scenesters for the bold Franco-Indian fare served in its restaurant. Downstairs is a suave lounge where the well-heeled clientele settle into sexy furniture and enjoy Beluga caviar and foie gras along with their glass of pinot or an expertly-mixed cocktail. Wednesday through Saturday nights, the lounge also hosts some of the capital city's top DJs, who add to the cosmopolitan atmosphere with their hand-picked selections of world beats. Neat to note: IndeBlue's cocktail menu is designed to resemble a Metro map. METRO: Gallery Place/Chinatown (202-333-2538)

5 Halo
The creative brain trust behind this stylish watering hole, which occupies a former auto glass store, was intent on giving DC's gay community a trendy-yet-comfortable hangout -- a gathering place designed along the lines of the fashionable lounges found in boutique hotels. Halo's clean white walls, low-key attitude and no-smoking policy make it a heavenly place to relax with friends over a mojito or chocolate-strawberry martini, prompting critics and regulars to offer up a collective "Kudos!" METRO: U Street (202-797-9730)

4 Wonderland Ballroom
While Columbia Heights can't really compete with Georgetown or Adams-Morgan as one of DC's cooler districts to hang out in after the sun goes down, it does boast a few noteworthy oases. Leading the way is this friendly corner bar, where the young and fashionable from all over the city stop by to mingle with the neighborhood crowd, enjoy a tasty brat or kielbasa, listen to live music and drink a Yuengling or two. The bar's eclectic decor includes a table-top version of Ms. Pac-Man and walls decorated with vintage record sleeves. METRO: Columbia Heights (202-232-5263)

3 Café Saint-Ex & Gate 54
Everybody's welcome at this cozy 14th Street bistro-bar, where folks gather at the close of the work day to enjoy each other's company, the European-style atmosphere and terrific prices on everything from a glass of Stella Artois to a bottle of 2003 Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz. Another feather in Saint-Ex's cap is its menu, which features striped bass with lemon pesto and a BLT made with fried green tomatoes. Downstairs is Gate 54, a hangar-inspired lounge that's a comfortable place for listening to DJ-spun tunes and conversing with the lovely clientele. METRO: U Street (202-265-7839)

2 The Red and Black Bar
Distressed wood floors, a red pressed-tin ceiling, walls covered with black doors and framed vintage photographs adorn the interior of this New Orleans-themed watering hole. A limited menu offers Cajun country essentials -- gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. Live bands entertain several nights a week. (202-399-3201)

1 Bullfeathers of Capitol Hill
Bullfeathers gets its name from Teddy Roosevelt's favorite expression and is a polite version of that other "bull" expletive. During the day, you'll find politicians from Capitol Hill flocking to this bar, where they down juicy burgers and watch news programs on the overhead TVs. In the evenings, a younger crowd gathers for hours of rowdy socializing. Pop music plays in the background, happy hour offers good prices on beer, and Mondays feature half-price burgers. METRO: Capitol South (202-543-5005)

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Maps and Directions

Duffy's Irish Restaurant and Pub 10Best List Arrow
Type: Pub
Neighborhood: U STREET
Dubliner 10Best List Arrow
Type: Hotel Bar, Live Music, Pub
IndeBleu 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Late Night / After Hours, Lounge
Halo 10Best List Arrow
Type: Lounge
Neighborhood: Logan Circle
Wonderland Ballroom 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar