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Nellie's Sports Bar with Projector Screen for Football Games in Washington DC In The Great Wide Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

Nellie`s Sports Bar

We happened upon Nellie’s while looking for a place to watch a football game with good deals on beer, and we were pleasantly surprised that this gay sports bar ended up being our favorite bar in Washington, D.C.


Where is Nellie’s Sports Bar?

Nellie’s is located on the historic U Street of Washington, D.C., which their tourism board says “was once truly the heart of Black culture in America, attracting locals and visitors for an unparalleled music and nightlife scene.” It was also sometimes referred to as “Black Broadway” because it’s where African Americans would gather for live entertainment. Jazz pianist Duke Ellington, who composed “It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)”, was born in this neighborhood. It’s now a funky neighborhood FULL of bars, restaurants, and clubs, and is still one of the liveliest places to be for nightlife in the city.

The building Nellie’s is in used to be the photography studio of Addison Scurlock, who took portraits of the African American elite in the space from 1911 until his death in 1964. You wouldn’t guess it walking into the bar now, but you can still spot some of his photos on the walls. The physical address is 900 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Nellie’s is named for the owner’s great and great-great grandmother, who were both considered ‘nellies’ in their home state of Kansas. A ‘nelly’ is a silly person without a care in the world.

How to Get to Nellie’s Sports Bar

The Washington, D.C. rail line, WMATA, has their Green and Yellow subway line running underneath Nellie’s. The closest stops are the U Street stop, which is 2 blocks away, and the Shaw-Howard University Station, which is 3 blocks away. Either is about a 5 minute walk. The Green and Yellow lines also have stops immediately north and south of the National Mall, less than a 10-minute ride from U Street. There is ample street parking and parking garages too, if you would prefer to drive, but we prefer to use public transportation whenever possible.

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Our Experience

We’d spent a couple of days in Washington, D.C., exploring the National Mall and Arlington Cemetery, when we decided to watch Adam’s alma mater, the University of Iowa, play Penn State in their football game that afternoon. We’d already walked by Nellie’s a couple of times since it was close to our hostel in the U Street District, so we opted to stop there to watch the game.

Walking in, it was relatively empty, but were greeted warmly by a bubbly server named Elan, who told us to sit where we liked. There were a ton of TVs in the first room and it became apparent to Elan that the game we were looking for wasn’t being shown on any of those TVs. After inquiring which game we wanted, he said he’d put it on the big screen and we looked around, confused as to which one the ‘big screen’ was. From behind us, we suddenly heard a whirring sound and ‘lo and behold, a giant projection screen slowly trundled down. We felt like VIPs!

The decor was phenomenal, and it being the Halloween season, included a scorched doll pinned to a dart board & a bat being “hit” by a tennis racket pinned to the wall. We really appreciated the sense of humor. There were also a number of signs and decorations pointing towards what was obvious upon entering Nellie’s: it’s a gay sports bar.

Yes, you read that right, Nellie’s is first and foremost a gay sports bar, dispelling the general notion that gay men and women don’t enjoy sports.

We ordered a bucket of beer, which was on a special for game day, as we knew the game was going to take a while, but they also offer beer by the pint, bottle, or can, plus a full bar with specialty cocktails. As the game progressed, more and more fans showed up and the bar became quite busy. We ordered food: wings with bourbon whiskey sauce for Phoebe and a burger and fries for Adam. The food was quite tasty; the wings were better than most other sports bars we’ve been to. Most of their menu is pretty typical bar food, with a number of starters like nachos and jalapeno poppers, plus sandwiches, burgers, a couple salads, and a few desserts.

Nellie's Sports Bar Burger Washington DC U Street In The Great Wide Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

At one point, we looked over and Elan (our server) was literally hanging out the window by his waist shouting at people walking by to come get a $1 Jello shot. Adam got very excited about this, not having had a dollar shot in a long time, so we both decided to partake and found out that they are STRONG with Absolut flavored vodka. The welcoming nature of the bar made it easy to want to have a good time.

(According to their website, the Jello shots are $3 now, but they also offer alcoholic ice pops and slushies!)

They’re quite famous for their Drag Brunch, with two shows on Saturday and Sunday that include an all-you-can-eat buffet, plus your first mimosa or bloody mary free. Unfortunately, we weren’t aware of Nellie’s Drag Brunch until it was over. Next time!

Nellie’s has some sort of event happening every night too. Their current schedule includes free poker on Mondays, drag bingo followed by karaoke on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays, and rotating events on Thursdays, which could be anything from a board game night to a live DJ dance party. You can expect live DJ’s for late night every Friday and Saturday as well as in the early evening on Sundays too. They do special events as well, like celebrating National Coming Out Day, the start of the NFL season, and throwing a huge watch party for the Super Bowl and Oscars. You can see the full list of upcoming events on their website.

Now that we know about everything going on at Nellie’s, I think we’ll make it a point to stop in every time we’re in Washington, D.C.

Funny Halloween Decoration Ideas Baby Doll on Dart Board Nellie's Sports Bar Review In The Great Wide Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

Reservations at Nellie’s Sports Bar

There are no reservations during their regular business hours, but you will need to purchase a ticket in advance for Nellie’s Drag Brunch, either through their website or through their Eventbrite page.

They’re only open in the evenings Monday-Friday, but all day on Saturdays and Sundays. Check this page on their website for their upcoming events.

In The Great Wide Travel Blogger Adam Excited for Jello Shots at Nellie's Gay Sports Bar in Washington DC

Our Verdict

We had a surprisingly good time at Nellie’s, given that we were obviously out-of-towners just looking for a place to watch a football game. The atmosphere was one of welcoming everyone who wants to just be themself and lent itself to everyone having a great time. If you’re in D.C. and want to have fun, Nellie’s is the place to be!

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Quick Reference Guide



900 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001 Located in the historic U Street District

How to Get There

The Green/Yellow line runs under Nellie’s. It’s between the U Street Station and the Shaw-Howard University Station. There is also ample street parking.

Time Commitment

You could stop in here just for a quick beer and a bite to eat, but this place is meant to hang out for hours on end, enjoying buckets of beer with friends while watching sports or dancing the night away!


Beer: $5 - $7, but they also offer specials on buckets some days.

Cocktail specials: $10 - $20

Food: Starters are $8 - $10, burgers & other mains are $12-$15

Reservation Info

No reservation during regular business hours and events, but advanced tickets are required for Drag Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays

Our Verdict

An incredibly welcoming place that will guarantee to bring you some fun, even if you’re not a big sports fan!

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In The Great Wide Travel Blogger Adam Neubauer


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