Where to Shop
Moroccan carpets, Nigerian beaded crowns, and rainbow-striped Senegalese baskets spill onto the sidewalk outside this decades-old African-imports souk. Inside, two levels of a slim rowhouse are packed with masks, incense, beads, and other worldly goods. 2405 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-332-4911.
A cavernous shop with oversize windows sells and services bicycles. Both commuter and racing-style wheels—including folding models and e-bikes—mean there are lots of options. A futuristic fitting machine guides buyers toward the perfect match. The store also hosts Monday-night yoga classes, bike-maintenance workshops, and group rides. 2424 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-232-4196.
On mornings when a new limited-edition shoe is released, sneaker-heads can count on this snug men’s sportswear shop. The gallery-like digs with sleek shelves show off kicks from names such as Vault by Vans and Adidas, plus clothes including Reigning Champ hoodies and Carhartt pants. 1781 Florida Ave., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-265-1155.
Twenty brews on tap, many of them local, keep growler fans—and those seeking party kegs—coming back to this cool liquor store. Mix-and-match bargain-bin wines and frequent new releases of craft suds up the appeal. 3103 14th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-234-0044.
An oldies soundtrack on the speakers and neat racks of women’s and men’s used clothing draw budget mavens to this thrift store. You might turn up $9 rain boots, $20 cashmere sweaters, and men’s sport coats for $15. Watch for frequent buy-one-get-one-free deals. 3069 Mount Pleasant St., NW (Mount Pleasant); 202-518-5262.
Idle Time Books
In business since 1981, this two-story used-book shop fills two floors plus a mezzanine with political titles, novels, and a fair share of pulp and science-fiction paperbacks. A large stock of cheeky greeting cards sits by the front window, and you’ll of-ten find a bargain-book cart parked outside. 2467 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-232-4774.
Le Bustiere Boutique
The bikini- or peignoir-clad mannequins in the windows get amusing updates by season—giant strawberries for heads in summer, lots of Santa fur near the holidays. Owner Stephanie Jacek specializes in pretty underthings and bathing suits from French and Italian brands. The feminine space with lace-print wallpaper and cushy poufs accommodates private shopping events or bachelorette parties, too. 1744 Columbia Rd., NW, Second Floor (Adams Morgan); 202-745-8080.
Little Shop of Flowers
In a tucked-away spot just off 18th Street, friendly shopkeeper Sefika Kurt hawks buckets of single flowers plus breezily arranged bouquets. You’ll also find unusual pods, blossoming branches, and other much-cooler-than-roses offerings. There’s a nice selection of houseplants and pots as well. 2421 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-387-7255.
Dried and fresh chilies, an on-site butcher, and wide rows jammed with baked goods, queso, and veggies make this longtime Latino market appeal to homesick immigrants, foodies, and bargain hunters alike. It also sells other wares from Central and South America such as soccer jerseys and colorful church candles bearing images of saints and the Virgin Mary. 3552 14th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-545-0290.
This whimsical gift and card shop sells goods for a range of tastes—Queen Elizabeth–shaped pens, cookbooks, scent-ed candles, handmade jewelry. Presents with a local slant include cheese plates in the shape of the District of Columbia and platters bearing maps of the city. A large children’s section has baby and birthday-party gifts. 1837 Columbia Rd., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-558-9087.
What to Do
A snug, colorfully painted former print shop now holds a nonprofit center hosting kids’ puppet shows and Bollywood dance lessons, plus Tuesday-evening indie-film screenings. 3222 11th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-567-7713.
District of Columbia Arts Center
Climb a narrow staircase to reach this longtime gallery and performance space devoted to local artists. Changing exhibits focus on topics such as tiny “nano” works and protest-oriented art. A small black-box theater in the rear hosts frequent improv-comedy nights and plays. 2438 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-462-7833.
GALA Hispanic Theatre
This 42-year-old cultural center stages both new and classic works—last spring’s production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights was a hit—in the restored 1924 Tivoli Theatre. Performances are generally in Spanish with English surtitles. Also on the marquee: concerts and dance shows, including an annual flamenco festival. 3333 14th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-234-7174.
Meridian Hill Park
Stretching over 12 acres between 15th and 16th streets, this early-20th-century green space—also known as Malcolm X Park—boasts eclectic statues (Dante, President James Buchanan, Joan of Arc), towering shade trees, and a cascading fountain. It attracts picnicking millennials, dog-walkers, and on Sunday afternoons, a lively African drum circle. 16th and W sts., NW (Columbia Heights).
Mexican Cultural Institute
This spectacular 1910 mansion—onetime home to the Mexican Embassy—hosts concerts, art exhibits, and cultishly popular cooking classes by PBS star Pati Jinich. It all takes place amid Beaux Art flourishes (gilded moldings, a grand staircase) and South of the Border touches (Diego Rivera–esque murals, a room plastered in blue tile). 2829 16th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-728-1628.
Past Tense Yoga Studios
A turreted corner storefront holds a soothing, modern space for vinyasa yoga classes, plus specialty offerings such as senior and “baby and me” sessions. The $11 lunchtime classes are a bargain, too. 3253 Mount Pleasant St., NW (Mount Pleasant); 202-462-9642.
Zebra wallpaper behind the bar, local beer, and a roster of vintage movies, lesser-known foreign films, and other quirky picks on the not-too-big screen lure hipsters and movie buffs to this arthouse/cocktail lounge with a couple dozen seats. Patrons sit on vintage dining chairs and old church pews and can munch popcorn or frozen Twix candies during shows. 3107 Mount Pleasant St., NW (Mount Pleasant); no phone.
Where to Eat
By now, you’ve probably heard that this tiny no-reservations Filipino spot commands an epic wait—people often start lining up midafternoon to get their name on the list. Taste Tom Cunanan’s adobos and rice dishes and it’s easy to understand why. We like to head to cozy, charming Room 11 (3234 11th St., NW; 202-332-3234) for a drink—or three—until we get our summons-by-text. 3226 11th St., NW (Columbia Heights); no phone.
Steal a coveted stool at the L-shaped bar in this sliver of a space, which specializes in Japanese rice bowls, sake, and beer. Soy-marinated fried chicken smothered in tangy yellow curry is the ultimate comfort food, while lighter options include salmon sashimi and superb barbecue eel. 2438 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-629-1047.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Whiskey aficionados make cross-country pilgrimages to this enormous Adams Morgan bar, which boasts the largest brown-liquor collection in the Western Hemisphere, with lots of rare and vintage finds. Don’t know Scotch from rye? There are plenty to recommend—plus booze-friendly eats—on three floors, which range from the stellar basement cocktail bar, Dram & Grain, to a tiki terrace in warm weather. 2007 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-588-7388.
The Line DC
Heading to Washington’s hippest new hotel? You’ve got options. We’re most drawn to Brothers and Sisters, Erik Bruner-Yang’s restaurant/bar in the lobby, for quirky cocktails spiked with vitamin C powder or dashi, that Instagram-famous octopus hot dog, and the towering cakes from pastry chef Pichet Ong. On the second floor, Woodberry Kitchen chef Spike Gjerde puts out locally sourced American fare at A Rake’s Progress. 1770 Euclid St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-588-0525.
Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks pack tons of personality into their neighborhood pizzeria with crowd-pleasing pastas (try the Chef’s Mother-in-Lawsagna) and thin-crust pies. There’s a daily happy hour in the cozy bar, so take advantage of beer-pitcher deals and $6 PBR’O (Pabst plus a shot of amaro). 3907 14th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-853-9889.
Chef Alex McCoy’s funky burger bar dishes up the kind of food you want before, during, and after an Adams Morgan crawl. Juicy patties and crispy chicken sandwiches span the globe—try a Szechuan-fried bird slathered in Chinese mustard or an Aussie burger stacked with beets, grilled pineapple, and a runny egg (trust us, it works). Don’t forget smothered fries and a cold beer. 2000 18th St., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-506-1713.
Chef Alfredo Solis and sister Jessica serve a wide range of Mexican specialties, including delicious “basket tacos” from their native Mexico City, huaraches (masa flatbreads), and earthy chicken mole. The bar pours an extensive list of tequilas and mezcals, making for raucous weekend nights. 3714 14th St., NW (Columbia Heights); 202-803-2114.
This serene Spanish spot, clad in blond wood and pretty floral patterns, specializes in coastal Spanish cuisine with Moorish influences—you’ll find hummus scattered with ground lamb alongside honey-drizzled goat-cheese fritters and paella. Vermouth on tap is as tasty at dinner as it is in a brunch cocktail. 3155 Mount Pleasant St., NW (Mount Pleasant); 202-849-3247.
Tail Up Goat
Is there a better place in Washington for lovers of bread and pasta? If there is, we haven’t found it. Jon Sybert’s kitchen makes all the loaves and noodles (even the gluten-free ones), and Sybert’s dedication to craft is matched by his knack for nailing unusual flavor pairings. We had never had smoked-potato ravioli with fermented cabbage and mustard before, but we dig it. 1827 Adams Mill Rd., NW (Adams Morgan); 202-986-9600.
This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of Washingtonian.