Banana Cafe

Latin cuisines and piano tunes converge on Barracks Row.

The food: The cuisines of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico collide at this vibrant neighborhood spot. Sharable small plates (also available at the upstairs piano bar) include ceviche, empanadas, stuffed yuca, and quesadillas. More substantial meals range from paella to Cuban sandwiches to chimichangas and enchiladas. There are plenty of fruity cocktails, including a tasty mango margarita.

The scene: Popular with Capitol Hill residents, this bilevel cafe and piano bar is colorful and loud. The upstairs bar has a tropical-resort feel, with lights around the windows and along the thatched-roof bar. Live piano music happens Tuesday through Saturday after 7. The players have set lists but often take requests.

What’s nearby: To the north is the Eastern Market Metro stop (Orange and Blue lines). To the south is the Marine Barracks, the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. Along Eighth Street are plenty of bars (sports hangout the Ugly Mug, Irish pub Finn MacCool’s), restaurants, and clothing boutiques.

Insider tips: On weeknights between 5 and 7:30, the piano bar hosts happy hour. House margaritas, domestic beers, and rail drinks are all $2.50. Mini-martinis are half price, and hors d’ouevres are free.