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8 Things to See & Do in DC’s Ivy City Neighborhood
Head to this up-and-coming area in Northeast DC for distilleries and breweries, Michelin-certified dining and the National Arboretum.
Just a few blocks north of bustling food hall Union Market lies Ivy City, a small neighborhood off of New York Avenue NE that’s experienced a renaissance in recent years. This historic area was conceived in the mid- to late-1800s as an African American community and later a manufacturing and warehouse-filled zone. The recent development of the historic Hecht Warehouse has brought with it a number of local businesses, making for plenty of great places to eat and drink and industrial vibes galore. And no visit to Ivy City is complete without a visit to the U.S. National Arboretum, a 446-acre living museum and every Instagrammer’s dream.
The mouthwatering scent of savory smoked fish and meat emanates at all hours from the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, making this Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient – awarded for great food at a good value – a must visit. Signature dishes include Salmon Candy, hot smoked salmon with honey, and the delightful smokehouse fish board topped with five different smoked fishes, two bagels and all the fixin’s. The neighborhood restaurant and bar also features a regular lineup of concerts and a great patio complete with fire pits.
Any visit to the recently opened City Winery is a guarantee for a good time. Combining a winery, full-service restaurant and concert and events venue, you could practically spend all day without leaving the 42,000 square foot space. The restaurant’s menu is composed of locally sourced dishes with a focus on share plates – think braised duck tacos and a rotating cast of flatbreads – and, of course, an extensive wine list with 450-plus options that would please any oenophile. Open daily from 5 p.m. until midnight, make sure to check out the impressive events calendar for concerts, wine classes and more.
The two longtime friends who founded this crowd-funded distillery join our list of exciting DC experiences that celebrate amazing women, and with good reason. They had a vision that the power of a cocktail could bring communities together, and that’s just what they’ve done. Visitors can join that community by doing a distillery tour and private tasting or having a craft cocktail at The Ivy Room bar. You can’t go wrong with any of the distillery’s homemade spirits: Civic Vodka, Borough Bourbon and Rodham Rye.
Step through this restaurant’s namesake – “la puerta verde” means “green door” in Spanish – and you’re transported into a space that melds a warehouse-chic atmosphere with the vibrant colors of Mexico. Start your culinary adventure with grilled avocado guacamole and wash it down with cocktails refreshingly priced at $10 and under. Round out your experience with plenty of tacos, standout sweet-and-savory street corn or one of the stellar spicy seafood dishes like the jumbo grilled shrimp, a.k.a. camarones a la diabla.
Local legend has it that “Man in the Green Hat” was a sly bootlegger in the District during Prohibition. While he was arrested on several occasions, visitors to New Columbia Distillers will not be subjected to drinking moonshine or harsh penalties. Instead, they can join a free tour and tasting on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. to learn more about the artisanal Green Hat Gin and the man who inspired its name.
Founded by two thirsty engineering scholars with a discerning taste for beer, Atlas Brew Works sought to bring craft brewing back to the Ivy City community. They’ve succeeded, so make sure you check out the often-rotating stable of sours, IPAs and lagers. The kid- and dog-friendly tap room is open daily and tours are available on Saturdays on the even-numbered hours from 2-6 p.m.
The free-to-enter 446-acre park and living museum in Ivy City is home to the historic National Capitol Columns, which supported the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol from 1828-1958, as well as miles of trails and one of North America’s largest collections of bonsai trees. At the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, discover a fascinating collection of miniature Japanese and Chinese trees and learn about these centuries-old practices.
Whether you’re in want of whiskey, long for gin or hanker for vodka, One Eight Distilling has all tastes covered. Most of the spirits are named after DC locales and even the distillery’s name pays homage to the district – Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution is responsible for the establishment of the nation’s capital. Guests can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the warehouse before visiting the tasting room.