From morning omelets at a stylish diner to beer and dancing at a late-night dive bar, this stretch of Columbia Heights offers delicious diversions at all hours.
Perhaps the homiest restaurant neighborhood in the city, Columbia Heights’ 11th Street serves up indie bars and eateries on the blocks between residential Kenyon and Monroe streets. If you plan well, you could chow down on three meals a day here – and still have spots to go to for a nightcap.
Since it opens at 7 a.m., start your feasting day at the The Coupe, a busy modern diner with pressed tin ceilings and retro charm where former President Barack Obama once had lunch. Grab a booth – or one of the vintage sofas – and order from the served-all-day breakfast menu. Highlights include fried chicken and biscuits and house made granola. Expect lots of laptop-toting students and parents with little kids.
For a mid-morning java break, head to Room 11. The cafe/small plates brasserie is open morning till late (cocktails are the specialty of the house), when the outside patio with fire pits fills up with revelers. It’s chill here before noon, when you can slip into a small cafe table to sip strong drip coffee or munch on a bialy from DC’s own Bullfrog Bagels.
On weekends, the brunch at El Chucho Cocina Especial lures a local crowd of hip young professionals and stroller-pushing parents. In a two-level one-time auto body shop that’s been painted bright turquoise, dig into Mexican-fusion fare like huevos de Chesapeake (eggs and crab cakes) and masa pancakes. Its signature hibiscus margaritas go down easy, and the coffee is good and strong, too.
Adventurous eaters will want to explore the world of Filipino cuisine at cozy, laid-back neighborhood hot spot Bad Saint. This 24-seat restaurant has been racking up the accolades, including being named 2016's number two best new restaurant in America by Bon Appétit and chef Tom Cunanan receiving Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic at the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards.
For hearty Italian with a chill vibe, try the Neapolitan pizzas at RedRocks, which can be munched inside the Victorian-house-turned-restaurant or outside on the buzzy patio. And if you’re craving dancing and crowds, the divey Wonderland Ballroom has DJ’s upstairs on the weekends and a memorabilia-filled first-floor bar jammed with locals.
Notables Just Off 11th
In keeping with the trend of many of DC’s Southeast Asian restaurants, Thip Khao proudly serves its pungent, Lao cuisine without holding back on flavor or spice. Unfurl the banana leaf-steamed sea bass for powerful flavor combinations of curry and dill, and keep close at hand the restaurant’s namesake: a small wicker basket with sticky rice you eat with your hands.
If you’re vegan and in DC, life’s about to get a whole lot sweeter. Everything at Sticky Fingers Sweet & Eats caters to vegans with a sweet tooth (see: cupcakes, whoopie pies and sticky buns). While the sweets make the headlines, Sticky Fingers is also a great brunch and lunch option with faux chorizo nachos and reubens to biscuits and gravy and Buffalo seitan wraps.
DC has many neighborhoods with dining and drinking scenes. Check out even more bars and restaurants.