Columbia Station. Jazz and blues fans can get a nightly fix at this music venue. Local musicians, such as the Bruce Robinson Quartet and Sahara, are featured regularly. The bar/restaurant’s subdued lighting and kitschy displays (think brass instruments as decor) create a homey and relaxed atmosphere. An all-American menu offers appetizers, burgers, and pasta.
DC Arts Center. Providing a venue for local visual and performance artists to showcase their work, DCAC prides itself on being Washington’s alternative gallery for emerging talent. It opened in the late 1980s with the (rent free!) acquisition of the second floors of two adjoining townhouses. The center eventually remodeled the space to form larger rooms for exhibits and created a theater in what used to be the garage. Today, the DC Arts Center offers hundreds of artist showcases and everything from one-act plays to standup comedy.
Peyote Karaoke Cafe. Peyote Karaoke Cafe is small and easy to miss. Located in the basement room beneath Roxanne, Spaghetti Garden, and the Brass Monkey, Peyote is open for karaoke Thursday through Saturday. It attracts diverse patrons who assemble to sing their hearts out in front of friends and like-minded strangers. Tunes such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Piano Man” are favorites.
Soussi. For those in search of a relaxing evening surrounded by cushions, fragrant smoke, and Arab music, try a hookah bar. Soussi provides hookahs alongside beer and North African-inspired food. Try one of the flavored shishas, and enjoy the communal experience.
Tryst. During the week, coffee and beer drinkers come together at Tryst, a spacious and intimate coffeehouse/bar/lounge, to enjoy jazz performances. The schedule rarely changes, so expect to see the Will Rast Trio on Mondays, the Peter Adelman Quartet on Tuesdays, and the LoveSomeThing Jazz Trio on Wednesdays. Each show begins at 8.
Adams Morgan is liveliest at night, so we recommend ending a day in Washington with a visit to this neighborhood. Start with a drink at L’Enfant Cafe during happy hour (Monday through Friday 6 to 7:30, Saturday and Sunday starting at 4:30). Specials include $4 Stella Artois drafts and rail drinks and $5 house wines. On Tuesday nights, there’s a happy-hour bonus: All Belgian beers—Chimay, Delirium Tremens, de Koninck, and more—are half price.
Next, peruse the CD collection at Crooked Beat or order a hookah and a few appetizers at Soussi. Don’t fill up, though, because you’re headed to Pasta Mia for a hearty Italian meal. Except Sunday and Monday, when the restaurant is closed, count on a line at this red-checkered-tablecloth spot. It’s worth it, though, if you like heaping bowls of pasta, such as our favorite, gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce. Have a carafe of house wine and enjoy some good conversation.
After dinner, head to Bedrock Billiards to work off your meal with a few rounds of pool. If billiards aren’t your bag, there’s also shuffleboard and darts. Pool and shuffleboard are $6 to $20 an hour, depending on when you play and the number of players. The draft-beer selection at this basement bar includes Guinness, Redhook IPA, Smithwicks, Boddington’s Strongbow Cider, and more.
End your night at the Diner for a late-night snack. Or, if you’re up for a sweet treat, make a pit stop at Locolat, a Belgian bakery and confections shop. Sample house-made truffles, filled chocolates, macaroons, cakes, tortes, and more, or try a cup of liquefied white, dark, or milk chocolate. The shop has a few tables, so feel free to dine in or take your treats to go. Locolat is open until 8 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 on Thursdays, 11 on Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 on Sundays (though they’ll stay open later for patio guests in good weather). Closed Mondays.
Want more neighborhood guides for DC, Maryland and Virginia? Click here.