This is where Eddie Vedder comes to drink when he’s in town, maybe because this bar embodies grunge — not the music, necessarily, but that special sticky blend on a vinyl booth that comes from years of spilled cocktails and beer.
Music, however, is a key part of why The Raven is the best dive bar in D.C. — the jukebox is truly one-of-a-kind, filled with everything from Toto to David Bowie to The Sex Pistols. It’s less curated than a hipster bar and more unique than one of those internet-sourced jukeboxes.
Who goes there? The better question is: Who doesn’t? But it depends on the time of day or night. There are the daytime drinkers who may resemble the cast of Simpsons cartoon characters hanging out at Moe’s, but by night the crowd runs the gamut, from the skinny-jean set to those dressed to party.
"Fancy cocktails" at The Raven consist of two ingredients — the liquor and the mixer — and you’re not bound to find anything more exotic than a rum and Coke there. Again, this is a PBR palace, but you can find a well-poured Guinness and a few craft brands like Magic Hat. D.C. is not known for cost-effectiveness, but The Raven is where to go when you’re on a budget; PBRs start at $3 and rail drinks are about $4-5. The small bar fills up pretty quickly, so go late or early to roost in one of the booths. Some stools at the bar suffice, and when it gets busy, a lively crowd gathers around the bar.
A handful of nicer places exist in Mount Pleasant and there are friendlier places pretty much everywhere, but none are as authentic as this bar — it belongs on a tour of “real” D.C. that includes a stop at Florida Avenue Grill, Eastern Market, and Ben’s Chili Bowl.