All photos by Stephanie Rudig
All photos by Stephanie Rudig

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Plenty of bars and restaurants put out a pumpkin bucket or some low-rent spiderwebs to get in the Halloween spirit, but imbibers who wait all year for the haunting season may desire a stiffer sidecar of scary. These District bars keep it creepy 24/7, 365.

Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club

There are lots of treats to be found at this hole in the wall, including portraits of masked villains, macabre mirrors, and skulls and bones on every conceivable surface. Creepiest of all is the red lighting that saturates the space, re-creating the feel of one of Carrie’s murder sequences.

1103 Bladensburg Road NE

Espita Mezcaleria

Diners at Espita look death in the face—literally. A wall-sized skeleton mural by Oaxacan street artist Yescka greets visitors right at the front door. Up the fall factor by ordering the “Oaxacan Firing Squad” cocktail, made with an autumnal grenadine and smoky mezcal.

1250 9th St. NW

The Tune Inn

The Tune Inn seems to take most of its decorating cues from the proverbial cabin in the woods of horror lore, which is part of its unique charm. The place oozes Halloween vibes, from the taxidermied animal heads to the surly old-timers sitting at the bar. Turns out the place is littered with demons—the personal kind that grizzled Hill staffers carry with them.

331 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

The Big Hunt

The main floor is part spooky, park kooky. The wall hangings include hunting trophy heads of former presidents, as well as a (presumably) life-sized dragon. Those who dare can venture into the basement, where they’ll be greeted with a scene that could be an actual portal to hell thanks to the painted flames and red velvet curtains.

1345 Connecticut Ave. NW

Bardo Brewpub

The brewpub features a giant Day of the Dead skull made of discarded beer cans. And on a chilly autumn night there may be a big bonfire raging, perfect for gathering around to tell ghost stories.

1200 Bladensburg Road NE

Off the Record 

A classy vampire would probably feel at home in this stately bar where the walls are outfitted in blood red and the furniture leans a little Gothic. Tucked away in the basement, the bar also has some ornamental gargoyles and out-of-place buddhas scattered among its notorious political cartoons.

800 16th St. NW