U Street

  • Bustling
  • Music-Filled
  • Historic
  • Diverse
  • Fashionable
Ben's Chili Bowl

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The part of the city that never sleeps, U Street stays up late and knows how to have a good time.

U Street was once truly the heart of black culture in America, attracting locals and visitors for an unparalleled music and nightlife scene. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s also the birthplace of celebrated DC hero, jazz musician Duke Ellington. Today, this section of the city is as vibrant as ever, anchored by the refurbished Howard Theatre in Shaw, where a towering sculpture in reverence to Ellington stands.

In fact, there’s no better place for the music-lover than this area. You’ll find underground and aboveground jazz, nationally and internationally acclaimed bands and DJs, and all sorts of options for affordable tunes.

Food is eclectic and exciting. One of the best ways to experience the food in the neighborhood is on a Carpe DC Food Tour. From soul food to Italian to the world-famous Ben’s Chili Bowl and its signature half-smoke sausage, the area's a cornucopia of eats to be excited about. And uniquely, on the eastern end, you’ll find a handful of homey eateries in an area known as “Little Ethiopia” for its concentration of residents from that country. If you’ve never eaten with your hands before, now’s your chance. Plus, there’s a Saturday farmers’ market at U and 14th Streets, and lots of coffeeshops to get your caffeine fix.

It’s both historic and colorful, boasting some of the richest culture of the city and full of bars, restaurants, and boutiques – as well as plenty of DC locals who come to enjoy the culture and the people-watching.

A diversity of funky boutique shops abound, for clothing, decor and records; and a new bar seemingly opens up every weekend. The best way to take it all in is just taking a stroll, day or night.

Locals Love

Live music at the 9:30 Club, the rooftop at Restaurant Marvin, shopping at GoodWood, live jazz at JoJo Restaurant and Bar, late nights at Ben's Chili Bowl.

Getting There

We recommend you ride the Metro to the U Street stop on the Green Line. This drops you in the heart of the area, with two exits (on 10th Street and 13th Street). By bus, you can take the 90 buses (90, 92, 94, 96) that drive across U Street itself, or the Circulator, which stops on U and 14th Streets on its north-south route. You can also hop on a Capital Bikeshare, or better yet, just take in the whole thing by foot.