Dupont Circle. Photograph via iStock.
Dupont Circle

Where to eat, shop, and explore around Dupont Circle.

About Dupont Circle

Washington neighborhoods tend to have a singular feel—either residential or commercial, tourist-centric or governmental. In contrast, Dupont Circle is a vibrant blend of local haunts and traveler attractions, historic homes and thriving nightlife. While much remains unchanged in recent years—including the area’s status as a center of gay life and host of the Pride Parade in June—there are also enticing new restaurants and shops that keep even longtime Washingtonians coming back.

Where to Eat in Dupont Circle

The best places to eat around Dupont.
Photograph by Scott Suchman.
The grilled cheese and tomato soup combo at Glen’s Garden Market is one of our favorites. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Bar Charley. This vintagey spot has a mellow vibe but an exciting drink list. Options include on-tap tiki cocktails; cocktail creations like a Mai ta? To Our Tai! with white rum, dry curaçao, pineapple, orange juice, and orgeat; and an eclectic 30-plus-bottle wine list. The menu includes burgers, steaks, and Catalan fries with chimichurri, romesco, manchego, and a fried egg. 1825 18th St., NW; 202-627-2183.

Bistrot Du CoinThis thunderously loud French-themed hangout stays open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, when revelers stave off hangovers with hearty steaks and stews. While enjoying the hubbub, consider a good onion soup, the steak frites that are the standard of Paris cafes, and the daily special. The wine list, a collection of French country varietals, offers delicious reds and whites at fair prices. (1738 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-234-6969).

Duke’s GroceryThis spot is not a store, despite the name—it offers relaxed lunch options, with cold pints and a British-inspired menu of bacon “sarnies,” or sandwiches, as well as burgers and pub plates. (1513 17th St., NW; 202-733-5623).

Glen’s Garden Market. As a grocery, Glen’s is no discount destination—credit grocer Danielle Vogel’s commitment to local products and environmental health. As a cafe, it’s one of the top sources of seasonal, wallet-friendly fare. Health nuts can load up on mixed salad plates (we love the kale and the tahini tuna), while the healthyish go for sandwiches such as a house-roasted-turkey club. Not feeling virtuous? The thin pizzas are delicious, grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of the best pairings in town, and pints such as Port City Optimal Wit are forever $4. (2001 S St., NW; 202-588-5698).

Hank’s Oyster Bar. There are always at least five kinds of oysters on the blackboards at this boisterous, limited-reservations fish house. The rest of the menu draws from New England (fried clams, lobster rolls) but also ranges below the Mason-Dixon Line (nightly meat-and-two specials, collards cooked with vinegar and butter). (1624 Q St., NW; 202-462-4265).

Iron Gate. Restaurateur Michael Babin revived the Iron Gate Inn in 2013 and transformed it into one of the prettiest indoor/outdoor spaces in DC. There’s a year-round patio plus a carriageway with a long bar, where a small-plates menu is served. Inside the candlelit dining room, four- to six-course tasting menus are the only option. Either way, you’ll find lusty takes on Mediterranean ingredients. (1734 N St., NW; 202-524-5202).

KomiInside this unassuming rowhouse, chef Johnny Monis is putting out one of the top culinary experiences in Washington. There’s no menu—a dozen or so dishes lead you deliciously to the grand finale, when you tear into a communal platter of roasted suckling pig, suckling goat, lamb neck, or turbot served with freshly baked pita and an array of accompaniments. Dinner is $165 per person, and the restaurant takes reservations—which are highly encouraged—up to one month in advance. (1509 17th St., NW; 202-332-9200).

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. This funky bookstore and cafe/bar is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays—early and late on other days—and serves a classic American brunch all weekend. (1517 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-387-1400).

Little SerowJohnny Monis (see Komi, above) and his co-owner wife, Anne Marler, fell in love with the flavors of Thailand, and the chef reproduces them with devotion and detail for a $54 six-dish meal. It isn’t a tasting menu; rather, it’s family-style dining, with dishes piling up as you dig into the charred meats and accompanying baskets of sticky rice and vegetables. Reservations aren’t accepted, and waits can stretch to two hours, but you can head to a nearby bar and get a text you when a table is ready. (1511 17th St., NW).

Mari VannaAlex Ovechkin and fans of infused vodka flock to this Russian bar and restaurant modeled after a babushka’s home—it’s known for Friday-night diskoteka dance parties. (1141 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-783-7777).

ObeliskOwner Esther Lee takes cues from an Italian kitchen, sourcing the best ingredients at this low-key rowhouse where almost everything is made on the premises. The menu and the array of antipasti change daily, but some gems do reappear, such as meatballs with pine nuts, and burrata with olive oil, salt, and pepper. (2029 P St., NW; 202-872-1180).

The RiggsbyHidden in a hotel that resembles your average Dupont Deco apartment building is a keyhole-shaped doorway. Walk through (be sure to glance down at the impeccable graphic tiled floor) and you’ll discover a place that transports you, Wes Anderson–style, to another time. The dining room looks late-’70s swank and celebrates cocktail-party relics such as the stuffed mushroom and the Harvey Wallbanger. The smoothly curved bar and louche lounge wouldn’t be out of place at a discotheque. But chef/owner Michael Schlow, also behind Tico) on 14th St. and a handful of well-regarded Boston-area restaurants, isn’t operating strictly within the realm of the nostalgic here. He and deputy Philippe Reininger also put forth lovely fish dishes—including a cut of striped bass with tangy squash purée and pancetta granola—that feel squarely in the 21st century. (1731 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-787-1500).

Where to Shop in Dupont Circle

Our favorite places to shop around Dupont.
Farmers Market produce. Carrots from Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Carrots from Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Dupont FreshFarm Market. Dupont is a good bet for anyone looking to stock a kitchen, especially on Sundays, when this farmers market is held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (1500 20th Street NW, 20th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue and Hillyer Place).

Emporium DNA. For contemporary designer labels. (1666 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-232-1770).

Fillmore & FifthThis little consignment shop is consistently on point: Chanel flats and Donna Karan dresses are just some of the gems we’ve spotted on the racks. (1630 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-627-2711). 

Glen’s Garden Market. A source for items from the Chesapeake watershed. (2001 S St., NW; 202-588-5698).

Jenni Bick Custom JournalsA Washington native, Bick began making custom journals out of her small Adams Morgan bookstore in the early 1990s. Though the original store shuttered, Bick kept at her craft and, in 2017, opened this sprawling paperie stocked with writing instruments, fine notebooks, and her signature leather journals, which can be customized at an onsite embossing station. (1300 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-721-0246).

KramerbooksThis longtime bookstore added 800 square feet in 2016, beefing up its biography, nonfiction, children’s, and cookbook sections, among others. Be sure to scan the staff’s quirky and often humorous personal picks, then sit back with your purchase while sipping espresso at the attached Afterwords Cafe. (1517 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-387-1400).

PansaariSpecializes in Indian spices and prepared foods. (1603 17th St., NW; no phone).

Proper Topper. At this whimsical shop you’ll find men’s and women’s hats, dresses, kids’ clothing, gifts, and accessories. Also excellent: the jewelry selection, the coffee-table books, and the colorful collection of Mata Traders frocks. (1350 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-842-3055). 

Read Wall. DC native Read Wall started his eponymous men’s line when he was only 25, and it’s quickly taken on cult status among local yuppies. In a shop reminiscent of a cigar bar, you’ll find crisp chinos, bright wax jackets, and cotton polos. (1875 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-733-1913).

Secondi. A Fendi canvas bag for $396. An Hermès scarf for $160. They’re not exactly steals, but the prices at this second-floor consignment boutique are accessible to a wide range of buyers. The sunny shop has the largest secondhand inventory in the area, and the classy, professional looks are known to include such brands as Marc Jacobs and Gucci. (1702 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-667-1122).

Second Story Books1950s-era cookbooks, front pages from Civil War newspapers, and lovingly dog-eared paperbacks line the shelves of one of DC’s last secondhand bookstores. For more serious buyers, there’s also a formidable selection of first editions from greats like Virginia Woolf. (2000 P St., NW; 202-659-8884).

Shop Made In DCTahis year-old shop offers a taste of the District’s artisan-maker scene, with a rotating selection of such wares as T-shirts, handmade jewelry, posters, and stationery. You can also pick up a coffee and a pastry–both locally made, of course–while you browse. (1330 19th St., NW; No phone).

Tabletop. Tucked down a flight of stairs, this playful, modern home decor shop sells printed wares from designers like Orla Kiely, along with mugs, wine glasses, and other barware that wouldn’t be out of place in a museum shop.  (1608 20th St., NW; 202-387-7117).

Things to Do in Dupont Circle

All the best things to do and places to see in Dupont.
Dupont Circle Neighborhood Guide: Anderson House, one of the area's grandest mansions, is open for tours. Photograph by Mark Finkenstaedt.
Not-so-hidden gem: Anderson House, one of the area’s grandest mansions, is open for tours. Photograph by Mark Finkenstaedt.

Anderson House. A magnificent Beaux Arts mansion that’s home to the Society of the Cincinnati, Washington’s oldest historical organization, founded by American Revolution officers in 1783. Visitors can take hourlong guided tours of the home or browse through the museum, which features weapons, portraits, and artifacts from the Revolutionary War. (2118 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-785-2040).

Board RoomA youthful crowd rents board games like Jenga to play at this bar and game room. (1737 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-518-7666).

Fox & HoundsFans of authentic dives can play tunes on the jukebox at this neighborhood watering hole, which pours straight glasses of booze with a mixer alongside (go for a gin and tonic). (1537 17th St., NW; 202-232-6307).

Hillyer Art SpaceIf emerging talents are of interest, don’t miss Hillyer Art Space, just steps away from the Phillips Collection. The contemporary commercial gallery features international artists and is a must-stop during First Fridays when Dupont’s galleries stay open late and offer the chance to chat with curators. (9 Hillyer Ct., NW; 202-338-0325).

The marble fountain in Dupont Circle proper. In warm weather, a good spot to sip coffee and people-watch is on the benches ringing the marble fountain in Dupont Circle proper, the traffic circle/park that defines the neighborhood and is home to chess matches, political rallies, and, in winter, snowball fights.

The Phillips CollectionAfter you’ve fueled up, head to America’s first museum of modern art. The Phillips boasts some 3,000 works by the greats—including Renoir, Monet, and Rothko—plus exhibits ranging from Georgia O’Keeffe to local collector Anita Reiner. (1600 21st St., NW; 202-387-2151).

Woodrow Wilson HouseHistory buffs can also explore the more recent past at the Woodrow Wilson House, a Georgian Revival mansion where the 28th president spent his final years. An hourlong tour reveals quirky personal items, including an early slow cooker and Wilson’s surprisingly large shoes. (2340 S St., NW; 202-387-4062).

Look Inside My Home: An Exposed Brick Loft in Dupont Circle





Crime & Safety

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