The Best of Cleveland Park and Woodley Park

With an Art Deco movie theater and several buzzing new restaurants, these two Northwest DC neighborhoods offer a nice mix of old standbys and exciting newcomers.
District Kitchen. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
District Kitchen. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
  • 1 Fine-Dining Feast

    Chef Frank Ruta’s Modern American dishes dazzle at
    Palena (3529 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-537-9250). Guests
    choose from four or six courses of delicately layered consommés, pastas
    flavored with lobster roe and saffron, and entrées such as pan-roasted
    pork leg with cardamom and sweet garlic. For a more casual experience,
    head to the adjacent Palena Cafe— well loved among regulars for its
    truffled-cheese-topped burger and crisp-skinned roast chicken.

    Read Our Full Review of Palena ››

  • 2 Friendly Wine Shop

    Weygandt Wines (3519 Connecticut Ave., NW;
    202-362-9463)—owned by importer Peter Weygandt—is known for its fine
    selection of lesser-known Old World wines, including an array of
    affordable whites. Stop in on your way to a dinner party—the friendly,
    informed staff excels at picking the right bottle for every
    occasion.

  • 3 Movie Night

    Sick of generic multiplexes? Opened in 1936, the Art Deco
    Uptown Theater (3426 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-966-5401)
    only has one screen, but at 40 by 70 feet—one of the largest in the
    area—it delivers quite a show. Balcony seats add to the old-timey
    feel.

  • 4 Haute Happy Hour



    Photograph by Scott Suchman.

    Ripple (3417 Connecticut Ave., NW;
    202-244-7995) is as much a casual snacks spot as it is a dressy dinner
    destination. Grab a high-top table in the long, lean bar area and settle
    in for a charcuterie sampler and one of the best by-the-glass wine lists
    in town. Sunday through Thursday, happy hours (5 to 6:30 and 10:30 to
    midnight) draw a crowd for half off selected wines and beers on tap and a
    grilled-cheese menu with fancy melts like the Stinky Pete: Époisses
    cheese, asparagus, and anchovy. In the daytime, the restaurant’s tiny
    shop, Sugar Magnolia, is the spot for house-made ice
    cream.

    Read Our Full Review of Ripple ››

  • 5 Secret Garden



    Photograph by Andrew Propp.

    There’s no shortage of Firehook Bakery & Coffee
    House
    locations in the area, but behind the Cleveland Park
    outpost (3411 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-362-2253 ) is a little-known,
    lattice-lined porch with cozy nooks for whiling away an afternoon with the
    newspaper, a latte, and maybe an extra-large cookie or two. Settle in only
    if you’re truly looking to unplug—the bakery’s wi-fi doesn’t extend
    outdoors.

  • 6 Watch the Game

    For nearly four decades, the squat Connecticut Avenue building
    on the southern end of Cleveland Park was home to the bar Ireland’s Four
    Fields. Originally named Ireland’s Four Provinces, it closed this summer
    to make way for Uptown Tap House (3412 Connecticut Ave.,
    NW
    ; 202-244-2030), which boasts a marble-topped bar and tables, 17
    high-definition TVs, and a handsome red-and-black color scheme. Pub grub
    includes pork and beef sliders and fried chicken; there’s also a raw bar
    with oysters, clams, and shrimp cocktail.

  • 7 Kitsch Kingdom

    Staplers shaped like sushi rolls? Check. Wooden alarm clocks?
    Check. From plush toys for kids to gag gifts for adults, the eclectic shop
    Wake Up Little Suzie (3409 Connecticut Ave., NW;
    202-244-0700) has a trinket for everyone.

  • 8 Subs on the Go

    What can you get for $5.25 these days? At the Italian deli
    Vace (3315 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-363-1999), it will
    buy you a thick-cut Italian hard roll stuffed with fresh-cut deli meats or
    tomato and sweet mozzarella. The shop’s devoted neighborhood following
    also stocks up on house-made thin-crust pizza (by the slice and pie) plus
    to-go gourmet imports that include sauces, pastas, and Sanbitter, an
    addictive and complex Campari-like soda.

    Read Our Full Review of Vace ››

  • 9 Fun Fashions



    Photograph by Andrew Propp.

    At Tangerine Boutique (2643 Connecticut Ave.,
    NW
    ; 202-652-1461), you can find brightly patterned blouses and dresses at
    starting-salary-friendly prices—dresses typically don’t go over $75, tops
    average less than $40, and accessories are in the $20-to-$30 range. The
    warehouse-style shop is also open late—until 9 Monday through
    Saturday—making it an ideal stop before drinks in Adams
    Morgan.

  • 10 Sip and Graze

    There are so many tempting beginnings at District
    Kitchen
    (2606 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-238-9408) that you might
    not make it to the mains: Mason jars of house-made chicken-liver mousse,
    smoked-bluefish dip, and handcrafted pickles. Or bite into a crisp,
    battered soft-shell crab or a forkful of pasta with basil cream. There are
    also clever cocktails such as the Gia Paloma, tart with lime and
    grapefruit and Burlesque Bitters.

    Read Our Full Review of District Kitchen ››

  • 11 Cocktails in a Cool Setting



    Photograph by Andrew Propp.

    In the intimate dining room at New Heights, chef Ron Tanaka
    serves such fare as grilled pork loin with mustard-glazed white beans and
    rib-eye atop rye spaetzle. Downstairs at the twinkly, tiny Gin
    Joint
    (2317 Calvert St., NW; 202-234-4110), bartender Nicole
    Hassoun whips up seasonal tonics that combine flavors like basil and
    fennel or lime and orange flower. She pairs these with a carefully curated
    collection of boutique gins to create the best G&Ts in town. Hosting a
    party? Give Hassoun 48 hours’ notice and she’ll make custom tonics for the
    occasion.

  • 12 Neighborhood Hangout

    As at its sister restaurants—Tryst and the Diner in Adams
    Morgan—laptop loitering is perfectly acceptable at Open City
    (2331 Calvert St., NW; 202-332-2331), a hybrid coffee shop,
    diner, and bar. It’s just the spot for a solo dinner (bonus: breakfast is
    served all day) or an afternoon beer break at the marble bar. No time to
    linger? Grab a fresh pastry and a foamy cappuccino from the to-go counter
    and be on your way.

    Read Our Full Review of Open City ››

  • 13 Taste of Italy

    It’s not just about pizza at 2 Amys (3715
    Macomb St., NW
    ; 202-885-5700). Part osteria, part wine bar, this
    always-jammed hot spot is a trove of esoteric Italian morsels courtesy of
    chef/owner Peter Pastan. Pleasures include a briny octopus-and-potato
    salad and bright-green rapini spicy with red pepper. Don’t overlook the
    well-sourced and beautifully sliced cheeses and salumi. And, yes,
    the pizzas are more than fine—a recent special with artichokes, sausage,
    and fontina was sublime.

    Read Our Full Review of 2 Amys ››

  • 14 Garden Oasis



    Photograph courtesy of Hillwood Estate.

    Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood Estate, Museum
    & Gardens
    (4155 Linnean Ave., NW; 202-686-5807) is a hidden
    trove of lush gardens. Stroll through the serene Japanese garden, browse
    the Russian imperial art and artifacts, then top your visit off with a
    gourmet sandwich in the cafe, which lends picnic blankets for lunching on
    the grounds; $15 suggested donation.

This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

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