Where to eat, drink, and type in D.C.?
December 22, 2011 8:15 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Washington D.C. from December 26th to the 31st. I'm staying at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. Please tell me about cheap vegetarian eats, good coffee shops and bars, and free wifi in my neighborhood and elsewhere.

I can figure out the tourist sites on my own--what I need are tips on how to eat and drink at fun, inexpensive places when I'm out. So far I've heard about Tryst in Adams-Morgan. But I need some more recommendations. I'm also interested in the U Street scene, from what I've heard of it. Where can I eat, drink, and connect to the net down there?

Also, is there any go-to blog or website that posts info about indie concerts, dance parties, etc.?
posted by Beardman to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm also interested in the U Street scene... Where can I eat, drink, and connect to the net down there?

This is like asking, "Where can I find a nice tree in a park?"

Basically, you want to go to Busboys and Poets. But there's a middle eastern place with cheap felafel platters on 14th and U. If you want better food, head down the block to 12th and U and get the vegetarian food at the Ethiopian restaurant "Dukem".
posted by deanc at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2011

You're in Ehtiopian territory there. I don't have a specific recommendation but I'm sure someone will know a place or two.

One Metro stop up is Cleveland Park. Just outside the escalator there is Indique, a good Indian place. Down the block is the Uptown Theater, a restored old place that's really cool. Mission Impossible 4 is playing there which Ebert gave 3.5/4.0 stars and would be great on its giant screen.
posted by davextreme at 8:34 AM on December 22, 2011

Closer to your hotel is Open City, owned by the same people that own Tryst, and a pretty cool spot in its own right.

Bar wise, 18th Street in Adams Morgan is sort of a black hole of hair gel, jello shots and college kids. But it does have one of the best spots in DC, The Black Squirrel.

I live in Adams Morgan and am less familiar with U Street, but my favorite spots in that general area are Churchkey (on 14th, a few blocks south of U) and The Gibson (16th and U). Churchkey is notoriously packed, get there early to get a seat.

Go to Busboys, but don't be tempted by Eatonville across the street. It's awful.

Finally, off the beaten path, there's a gas station at 14th and V that serves great Uruguayan sandwiches inside. Some of the best food in the District.
posted by downing street memo at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

you want byt for music/fun things to do.
posted by anya32 at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2011

Here are a few cheap Adams Morgan vegetarian places:

Astor Mediterranean (around 18th and Columbia)

There's also Amsterdam Falafel a few blocks away on 18th Street.
posted by statsgirl at 8:43 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Keren Coffee Shop is tasty, cheap and one of my favorites. Bonus, it was recommended in this thread too!
posted by theraflu at 8:47 AM on December 22, 2011

also, check out http://foodtruckfiesta.com/
for any food trucks near you, some of them have some pretty amazing food...
posted by fozzie33 at 9:04 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

In Adam's Morgan, Smoke & Barrel has some vegan/vegetarian options, Amsterdam Falafel down the street is cheap and awesome. Down a metro stop in Dupont is Cafe Green. A bus ride over to Columbia Heights you can find Sticky Fingers, which is all vegan though I realize that's not necessary, but still one of the best bakeries in the city IMO. Great lattes. Pretty sure they have free wifi.

You absolutely must get Ethiopian on U St. It's basically the only food DC really does well as far as I can tell. Also seconding Busboys and Poets.

As far as indie concerts and dance parties, DC9 and Black Cat are near/on U st and are my two favorite spots. You can check out both of their websites for schedules. U Hall (U Street Music Hall) is down there as well, though it's not totally my thing you may like it.

This may be a bit of a hike if you're staying in Woodley Park, but if you can find your way to north Columbia Heights/Petworth, The Red Derby is my absolute favorite place in DC. Cheap beer, dim lighting, board games, a pretty solid veggie burger...awesome.

For the love of god, avoid Adams Morgan on the weekends.
posted by krakenattack at 9:21 AM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm a fan of Lebanese Taverna in Woodley Park - comfortable, reasonably priced, and lots of vegetarian options. A little pricier, but excellent and just across the Ellington Bridge is Mama Ayesha's. Another cheap favorite, Old City Cafe, is nearby (on Columbia Rd. in Adams Morgan.) You can definitely hang out at OCC and work for a while after you eat.

If you're at all interested in jazz, Twins on U St. is a gem - run by smart, kind people who put art and hospitality over making money w/out fail. The Middle Eastern place deanc mentioned is 24-7 Plus - good, cheap food and a real mom-and-pop (and the pop is a jazz nerd with a love for good coffee.)
posted by ryanshepard at 9:26 AM on December 22, 2011

Ditto Busboys, Dukem, Black Cat. The main drag of Adams Morgan is indeed a terrible place, but I do love Tryst a lot and find the experience totally worth braving the hordes of drunk 20-somethings stumbling around outside with their Jumbo Slices.
posted by naoko at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2011

If you're at all interested in jazz, Twins on U St. is a gem - run by smart, kind people who put art and hospitality over making money w/out fail.

Twins is expensive. There's a cover charge and a 2 drink minimum. If you're really into Jazz, then sure, go ahead-- because they really do care about jazz. But if you just want to hear Jazz, go to Utopia after 10pm.
posted by deanc at 9:41 AM on December 22, 2011

If you´re willing to go a bit off the beaten path, Everlasting Life (Georgia Ave and Columbia Rd, about 5 blocks from Columbia Heights metro), is entirely vegan and absolutely delicious. Fair warning, the web site makes it look a lot classier than it actually is. That said, what it lacks in ambience it makes up for in portion size, price, and tastiness. I´m not usually a fan of vegetarian mock meat, but their faux-chicken sandwich is to die for.
posted by ActionPopulated at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2011

I find Busboys&Poets completely forgettable, though I appreciate the owner's social drive. My first thought when you mentioned Woodly was Amsterdam Falafel. Walk out of your hotel, turn right (east) on Calvert and you'll walk across the bridge. Mama Ayesha's is there or you keep walking till you hit Columbia and take a right; AF is just down there, as is a bunch of other places. Tryst is a nice if pricy place to sit with a coffee, assuming you can get a seat. I have no idea if the Diner is very veg-friendly.

As Naoko says, Adams Morgan is overall a hell, though I'd say it's a hell of other people and can be fine when the frathole/bro contingent isn't busy puking on things.

Lebanese Taverna is indeed great. I have never eaten at that location but the ones in Arlington have never let me down.

My preferred Ethiopian is Etete, on U and 9th.

You might consider getting a Capital Bikeshare 3-day membership if you like to ride and the weather is cooperating. There's a station right on Calvert & Woodley so it'll be convenient for you to move around the Adams Morgan area and others that are less well-served by Metro. Speaking of, you might like the H St corridor over in NE though you'll need to navigate the bus system.

Speaking of WMATA & the metro, etc, do yourself a favor if you're going to be using it: go get a SmarTrip card. You can pick one up at the CVS around the corner and it'll make your transit a lot more pleasant. The bus takes em as well so you can avoid change (and you HAVE to use them or a paper card for the metro) and they'll let you go -$5 because the card has value.

I believe the McDs by that CVS has free wifi if you just need a quick check. Open City probably does to and isn't a cesspit.
posted by phearlez at 10:09 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, the gas station with the Uruguayan sandwiches is at 14th and W, not 14th and V.
posted by downing street memo at 10:10 AM on December 22, 2011

You should check out the Veg DC restaurant listing. It's comprehensive and very helpful. It lists at least a dozen places in both Adams Morgan and U St. Both neighborhoods are fantastic for vegetarian food. You might also want to head down 14th St -- the strip from U St to about N St is also full of great restaurants and cafes.

Right in Woodley Park, I think the best vegetarian food is at Afghan Grill. Woodley Park isn't the most fantastic restaurant neighborhood. But you're right on the edge of Rock Creek Park, which is gorgeous. You can walk or bike through there to Georgetown or Dupont if you want some nature time.

Tryst is a great cafe. Some other good ones are Flying Fish in Mount Pleasant (the next neighborhood to the east from AdMo), Qualia in Petworth, and Big Bear in Bloomingdale. I hear Filter in Dupont is good too. All should have free wifi.
posted by zahava at 10:43 AM on December 22, 2011

DCist and We Love DC have lots of good info. Definitely get on the Metro (it's easy to figure out) and go exploring.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:14 AM on December 22, 2011

If you like to play pool, try Atomic Billiards up in Cleveland Park (10 min walk up Connecticut Ave past the zoo from your hotel). Bonus: They have the relatively new DC Brau locally brewed IPA on tap there.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 11:21 AM on December 22, 2011

Coffee (certainly) and wifi (probably -- it's been awhile for me):

politics and prose

posted by bananafish at 11:37 AM on December 22, 2011

downing street memo: "Churchkey (on 14th, a few blocks south of U)"

It's a bit more than half a mile south of U, and 2 miles from your hotel, so a bit of a hike (but by no means a difficult or scary one).

The DC Circulator bus will take you directly from the Woodley Park Metro, down 14th Street, and drop you almost directly in front of Churchkey. It's only a buck, and they run every 10-15 minutes.

The 90/92/93 metrobuses also run in the vicinity of your hotel, and will take you down 18th St (Adams Morgan), down U St (stopping at 14&U where there are also lots of other buses to take you north to Columbia Heights or south into downtown), and then proceed across town to take you to H St NE, Capitol Hill, and Eastern Market. Your safest bet is to catch one of these on the opposite side of the Ellington (Calvert St) Bridge from your hotel. The schedule can be erratic, so you should probably check Next Bus before you leave.

The 96 follows a similar route, but will send you to Union Station after U Street, and you'll end up in a mostly residential part of Capitol Hill.

The L buses also will take you from your hotel to Dupont Circle, and various other points downtown, depending on which one you actually take. These may run more frequently than the Metro, and are probably more convenient if you're traveling to the Dupont area (which is also walkable from Woodley Park).

As others have said, the Metro itself is very easy to figure out, although service becomes somewhat infrequent at night. Luckily for you, it doesn't look like there's much maintenance going on around the holidays, so the Red Line might actually be running on a normal schedule for once. There are a few holiday schedule changes to be aware of though.

Oh, and +1 to Tryst. Great place.
posted by schmod at 11:58 AM on December 22, 2011

Teaism has a ton of vegan choices.

Also, is there any go-to blog or website that posts info about indie concerts, dance parties, etc.?

Brightest Young Things.
posted by empath at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so much for everything so far! I am going to spend Christmas migrating this thread onto my street map.
posted by Beardman at 12:59 PM on December 22, 2011

Another local blog: Prince of Petworth.

I ate at the Lebanese Taverna a few months ago, and it has the huge advantage of being right across from your hotel. Had breakfast this morning at the U Street Cafe, which is a perfectly nice and not at all fancy place for coffee and wifi. I miss DC Ethiopian and try to have it every time I'm back. Dukem is good, as is Meskerem.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2011

Java Green on 18th St is a fantastic and not too expensive vegan/Korean restaurant. Also Sticky Fingers vegan bakery/cafe in Columbia Heights is great - not far from the metro, wonderful place to get a coffee and read for a while. I love Busboys and Poets but it is often quite crowded (though perhaps not so much over the holiday).
posted by citron at 5:41 PM on December 22, 2011

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