Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes

Where: Cuba Libre, 801 9th St. NW; (202) 408-1600;

Hours: 4-7 p.m. Sunday-Friday

Drink specials: $5-$6 Caipirinha and Cuba Libre (rum, coke, and lime) cocktails; $4 select wines and sangrias; and $3.50 select beers

Food specials: $4-$6 tapas bites including a Cuban-style shrimp cocktail, ceviche, a skirt steak slider, chicharrones, yucca fries, chicken croquetas, and blistered Padrón peppers 

Pros: The music and not-so-swaying fake palm trees take you on a post-work vacation, but you’re not here for the ambience. You’re here for the exceptionally cheap food and drink, including a zippy $5 guava Caipirinha and creamy, crispy chicken croquetas served with roasted Cachucha peppers aioli. But the best part about Cuba Libre’s happy hour is that it’s great for groups. Commiserating co-workers or celebrating friends can order any seven tapas bites from the happy hour menu for $35. 

Cons: The vibe is a bit ho-hum. A few high-top tables are full of patrons sadly sipping sangria while typing on their laptops. Staggered duos fill the bar, talking business in hushed voices as if they’re still on the clock. It’s up to you to bring the party. Also, check your bill. A bartender rang up a $5 guava drink for $6 instead.