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H Street NE By Day & By Night
A playground for foodies, performing-arts fans and music lovers
Anchored by the Atlas Theater since 1938, H Street NE has recently returned to its roots as an arts and cultural center. In early 2005, the theater was reincarnated as the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and new restaurants, bars and businesses began to follow. Today, H Street has turned into one of the nightlife centers of the city, with music venues, bars and plenty of options for late-night eats.
Catch a coffee buzz
Start your day off on H Street by visiting Maketto, a 6,000 square foot communal marketplace that combines urban-inspired retail, a Southeast Asian sit-down restaurant and a cafe. Head upstairs for fresh java roasted in-house and pastries baked daily (or if the sun is shining, grab a seat at the outdoor courtyard). Cross continents for another unique coffee experience at family-owned Sidamo Coffee & Tea’s Ethiopian coffee ceremony every Sunday at 2 p.m. The custom begins with an Ethiopian woman roasting ripe green coffee beans on a camp stove, and ends with an offering of the fresh brew to patrons. All the coffee there is single-origin and roasted in-house, but you can enjoy it out of house and on the back garden patio.
The daytime selection of food
H Street NE is full of adventurous food and drink options, starting with DC’s favorite meal: brunch. Possibilities range from mussels-and-beer operation Granville Moore’s to Smith Commons’ Sunday jazz take, fueled by bottomless peach bellinis. Or, indulge in DC’s signature hot dog, a sinfully delicious half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
If it’s a rooftop and sunshine you’re looking for, head to Ben's Upstairs right next door to Ben’s Chili Bowl for sweeping views of the city and delicious fare. H Street Country Club is in the business of serving up Mexican food and any of the six variations of margaritas with a breeze from its rooftop. If the wait is too long, just cross the street to Red Rocks, where guests enjoy Neapolitan-style pizzas – bolstered by a rotating list of local and regional craft brews.
Most gardens need sun and water, but beer gardens aren’t most gardens. The magic recipe at Biergarten Haus is sun and suds, including summer-friendly kölsches, hefe weizens and lagers. Switch from the German beer to heady microbrews at the Argonaut, or say cheers to a true British pub vibe at The Queen Vic – a Liverpool FC bar that broadcasts games live from across The Pond.
Catch a show
The community comes out in full force for the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s award-winning, thought-provoking productions. This National Register of Historic Places landmark features performance spaces, and in addition to plays, also exhibits affordable, offbeat music acts and collaborations.
You can also catch a show at one of H Street’s many live music venues. Rock and Roll Hotel hosts up-and-coming indie rock bands, while Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar offers something different every night (think: DJ-fueled dance parties, karaoke or comedy). For an enchanting evening, check out Gallery O on H during its Music in the Courtyard series on select weekends in summer.
It’s all fun and games
Retro video games like Donkey Kong, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other arcade favorites please the gamer set at Atlas Arcade, a bourbon-stocked dive bar. Vendetta, an Italy-obsessed tavern with Prosecco on tap, features two free indoor bocce courts (including glow-in-the-dark bocce on Friday and Saturday nights). In addition to a nine-hole mini-golf course, H Street Country Club has your Skee-Ball, shuffleboard and videogames needs covered, too. Or rely on your wits and smarts while attempting The Escape Lounge on H Street's two problem-solving adventures, including one for kids and one for adults (open Wednesday through Sunday).
Early morning eats
Feed your hunger on a marathon Friday or Saturday night on H Street with a slew of open-late street eats. Hit up Copycat Co until 3 a.m. for dumplings and flame-cooked meat skewers, or devour a wedge of pecan pie at Dangerously Delicious Pies – open until 3:30 a.m. Night owls also tend to locally launched food chains Taylor Gourmet and &pizza until 3:30 a.m.