When: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
The scene: Lulu’s new “Golden Hour” offerings come with pop tunes, warm hues, wicker and lots of greenery at this summery, bohemian spot just blocks from the hubbub of 14th Street. Lulu’s offers several dining options: an outdoor ivy-lined patio, a casual street-side outdoor patio, an indoor dining room with tables and a bar, and an outdoor backyard with tables and a bar. All outdoor seating is partially tented. Aim for a spot in the intimate backyard, complete with hanging string lighting, plants, flowers, and seats backed by a fountain. You can make reservations (and specify which seating area you prefer), but you should be able to walk most days. There are only roving waiters – you can order via QR code or at the inside bar.
Offers : Food options range from $7 to $11, and the choices are well-suited for sharing with a date: the creamy white queso has a hint of heat and pairs well with crispy tostadas, while the avocado Caesar and lime has pepper and sliced avocado topped with parmesan cheese. and can easily be made vegan. Wines are served by the glass for $9 or by the bottle for $35. The options are varied, ranging from champagne to white blends from the Rhône to chardonnay.
Lulu’s Winegarden, 1940 11th St. NW. luluswinegarden.com.
When: 4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The scene: The happy hour menu is wonderfully long at this Japanese restaurant right next to the Dupont Circle subway station. Inside you’ll find a mix of booths, high tops and bar seating, and outside there are tables with cherry red chairs tucked near the restaurant as well as tables lined with hedges on the Q and 19th streets – which are well suited for a date. Rakuya takes reservations for all of its seating options during happy hour, but most days you can walk in for a seat. Be sure to only order what you can eat – wrapping up your leftovers from happy hour is not allowed.
Offers : Nigiri and sushi rolls are a bargain at $6-$11. There are many nigiri and sushi options, from the spicy tuna roll to the madai snapper nigiri, and each is beautifully presented. Highlights of the small plate section include tasty and sticky yakitori chicken and crispy fried shishito peppers. Four Japanese beers are offered, plus a rotating draft beer ($4 to $8). Go for the light, not-too-sweet Hokkaido Yuzu Lager or a 20-ounce Kirin Ichiban. Cold and hot sake options cost between $8 and $12 by the glass, or between $16 and $23 a bottle if you want to impress your date. Cocktails ($8-$11) include plum wine, fruit, and spirits.
Rakuya, 1900 Q St. NW. rakuyarestaurant.com.
Chicken Momo and Grill (Navy Yard)
When: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The scene: A short walk from the Waterfront subway station, this restaurant focused on Korean fried chicken is a good option if your date is a Capitol Hill employee or works near the Southwest Waterfront. Records line the wall, Golden Age jazz tunes hum, and hanging fluorescent and purple neon lights contrast with the modern mixed-wood and black decor. Seating is indoors only but has several options: half booths, window bar seating, classic tables and bar seating. Happy hour deals are offered at all seats. You can reserve a table, but you should be able to come in to snag an open table or a bar seat.
Offers : $6 appetizers (go for the steamed vegetable ravioli and edamame); $5 draft beers (choose from Kirin Ichiban, Heavy Seas’ Loose Cannon IPA, Stella Artois, or Sam Adams’ Boston Lager), served in chilled tankard steins; and $7 glasses of wine (chardonnay or cabernet). Korean fried chicken isn’t part of happy hour, but you and your date should still order a plate of crispy, tangy wings.
Momo Chicken and Grill, 1001 Fourth St. SW. us.momo.com. (Momo’s Bethesda location has a different menu for happy hour.)
When: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The scene: The downtown Officina cafe, which reopened in March, is a convenient pick for those working near K Street in a suit. The “Aperitivo” happy hour at this chic Italian spot starts with olives and house fries and features generous portions of food and quality drinks. Appetizer offerings are served throughout the restaurant: the indoor dining room that extends to the street-side outdoor patio, and the lower-level bar and table seating. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for a classy, quieter place where you can really get to know your date. If you stay until happy hour closes, your table will qualify for a free homemade pastry. Walk-ins are welcome (you should be able to snag a table), but they also accept reservations.
Offers : This is a place for carb lovers (not the lactose intolerant). Spuntini appetizers are $2-$3 each: Cheese-crusted arancini house melted risotto with veal, provolone, and peas, while perfectly charred golden crostini sourdough slices accompany dip options ( fluffy whipped ricotta, topped with herbs and a good sprinkle of peppercorns, is the star). Roman pizza is the heartiest of the food offerings; try the salsiccia for a welcome riff on the pepperoni pizza. Specials on wine, cocktails and beer range from $6 to $9. The offers rotate, but they are always all Italian. The well-balanced Aperol Spritz is a gorgeous shade of mandarin orange, and the Sant’Antimo Rosso Collosorbo is a good blend of dry red wine. Peroni is the only special beer ($6).
Cafe Officina, 1615 L St. NW. officinadc.com. (Officina’s locations in Georgetown and Wharf offer different happy hour menus.)
When: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. Night openings: Monday and Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight.
The scene: This lively and bustling restaurant on 14th Street serves dishes inspired by Vietnamese street food. Specialties are served at the upper-level indoor-outdoor bar and surrounding tables, as well as all outdoor seating, including the outdoor patio, tables near the restaurant, and 14th Street tables. You can make reservations just for tables around the upper-level bar, but if the weather is nice outside, the best place for a date is the plant-lined outdoor patio. If you or your date have a schedule better suited for a moonlit encounter, specials are also available late at night.
Offers : If you and your date are hungry, opt for a meat or vegetable sampling tower ($30.50) and split it. Each round offers a handful of dishes spanning the menu – including dumplings, bao rolls, vegetables and beef jerky. If you’re looking for dishes to share, order the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, which are crispy to the touch and dressed in a subtly spiced nuoc cham dressing, or the fluffy stuffed banh bao buns and tangy steamed dumplings from the bites menu ( $4.50 – $7.50). The signature cocktails ($8) taste like a tropical vacation with hints of guava, dragon fruit, and mango, and the Saigon Sparkler dragon fruit stands out with its fuchsia hue. The $9 “Patio Season Spritz” options, called tropical vodka sodas by bartenders, feature Gray Goose. There are also $8 “theo mua” sweet and fruity seasonal daiquiri options, like the refreshing watermelon Thai basil. All wines by the glass are $2 off. Singha, a Thai lager, is on tap for $5, and bottles and cans range from $7 to $8.50.
Doi Moi, 1800 14th St. NW. doimoidc.com.
Ted’s Newsletter (American parliament)
When to stop: 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The scene: While this DC’s comfort food mainstay might not be the first place you think of for happy hour, Ted’s is perfect for a healthy date. The environment is complete with wooden booths, padded seats, upbeat Motown music, and an old black-and-white movie projected onto a wall. Ted’s serves twists on classic American bites and cocktails, such as bacon cheeseburger empanadas and the Oldest Fashioned, as well as wine and draft beer for its happy hour. Offers are served at all seats and you can make reservations.
Offers : The food offerings, which range from $6 to $7, are small plates ideal for sharing. Parm hand-breaded chicken sliders are a fun nod to the Italian classic, Reuben tacos pair sauerkraut and chipotle Thousand Island dressing, and you can’t go wrong with the crispy-crunchy fried pickles. Draft beers are a bargain at $3 – take your pick from Green City Double Dry Hopped IPA or Narragansett from Other Half Brewing. All signature cocktails are $7 – try the spicy Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita or the Rites Of Spring #11 topped with lemon. Wines by the glass are $5.
Ted’s Bulletin, 505 Eighth Street SE. tedsbulletin.com. (The happy hour menu varies slightly at other Ted’s Bulletin locations on 14th Street and in Gaithersburg, Fairfax, Reston and Arlington.)