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4/27/2019 The 10 Coolest Neighborhoods In Washington, DC

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Cherry Blossoms and monuments are DC symbols Courtesy washington.org

Washington DC / GUIDES & TIPS

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The 10 Coolest Discover a

Neighborhoods In

Washington, DC
Summer Whitford
Updated: 13 May 2017

Cool defies definition, but we know it when we

see it. Yes, the cool factor is an artificial
construct, but nobody wants to be uncool or
hang out someplace that’s square. Places that
are “in” in D.C. tend to be like small islands in a
constantly evolving archipelago of urbanity.
Each one has something going for it that
makes it different whether it’s the architecture,
a thriving art scene, or intriguing places to eat.
These 10 neighborhoods are reflections of the
capital city’s diversity, history, and bonhomie.

“See the bowtie? I wear it and I

don’t care. That’s why it’s cool.”
Steven Moffat, Dr Who

Adams Morgan

Sandwiched between posh Woodley Park to the

north and stylish Dupont Circle to the south, Adams
Morgan is gritty and entertaining and about as close
as you’re gonna get to the BoHo of SoHo. Its
eateries serve up Korean , Middle Eastern and

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Belgian, Ethiopian , Mexican , and Japanese cuisine

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at local faves like Donburi and Izakaya
city Seki . Wise
imbibers take a stroll down 18th Street after dinner
for a sip of whiskey at Bourbon or its sister, Jack
Rose Dining Saloon . Oh, and never forget; a little
Rebellion never hurt anybody.

Adams Morgan, Washington, DC USA

The rainbow architecture of Adams Morgan/© Ted Eytan/ Flickr


Bloomingdale is a miniature version of the city at

large that maintains its old charm while still being
relevant. It packs a lot of fun and amenities into 12
blocks, like open mic night on Mondays at The
Boundary Stone a cool whiskey bar, and some of
the best food in the city at The Red Hen , chef Mike
Friedman’s award-winning restaurant. Beautifully
renovated brick and stone row houses line the
streets but it’s the well-maintained gardens that
prove Bloomingdale residents have a green thumb.

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When not at Common Good City Farm , an urban

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farm experiment, you can find the locals
city perusing
produce at the Sunday farmers market in front of
Big Bear Café .

Bloomingdale, Washington, DC USA

Boxer Girl mural in Bloomingdale DC/Copyright Daniel Lobo/ Flickr

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is part glamorous grand dame and

part public park, and she is always on the go. In
bouquiniste-fashion, Connecticut Avenue vendors
sell trinkets and share sidewalk space with swanky
chocolate shops like Chocolate House and
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café , a claustrophobic
but beloved bookstore and coffee shop Harry Potter
would find familiar.

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Dining options are plentiful and if you’re on a budget

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Food Corner Kabob House is a hidden city gem that’s
low on ambiance but earns high marks for Afghan
dishes like fresh tandoor-baked naan and roasted
meats. Just two blocks away, is Ankara , an elegant
mid-priced Turkish restaurant the locals favor for the
succulent and plentiful smoked eggplant and lamb.
In a nutshell, Dupont Circle is where modern art at
The Phillips Collection shares borders with
embassies, outdoor chess games , and Sushi Taro ,
a one-star Michelin restaurant .

Dupont Circle, Washington, DC USA

Dupont Circle DC Courtesy of washington.org

Foggy Bottom

When movies show exterior shots of D.C. it’s often a

riverside view of Watergate , The John F. Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts , and the Memorial
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Bridge that gives people chills, and that’s because

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Foggy Bottom, one of the oldest neighborhoods,
city is
Washington with a capital W. On any day of the
week, there are diplomatic receptions at the U.S.
State Department , K Street lobbyists are busy
peddling influence with members of Congress, and
George Washington University students and faculty
scurry between classes and rounds at the
university’s hospital next door. Hours later, they can
all be seen sharing Shammi kebabs and biryani in
tented booths at Rasika West End where the food,
drink, and decor feels like an Indian dream.

Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC USA

View of the Kennedy Center at night Courtesy of washington.org


George Washington never slept here, but Julia

Child, President John F. Kennedy, George Will, and
plenty of other presidents, journalists, famous
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artists, and notorious characters did. Narrow

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cobblestoned streets are shaded bycity
mature trees
and the eaves of beautiful 18th- and 19th-century
homes. Once you see the boutiques and art
galleries , you get why this hilly enclave’s real estate
is so highly prized.

Upmarket restaurants like 1789 and Cafe Milano

cater for the well-to-do whose shopping sprees
often include a visit to Marston Luce for Louis XV
fauteuils or a stop at Dean & DeLuca for imported
cheese and charcuterie. The Georgetown
University students who can afford to live there
often jog along the C&O Canal while tourists tend to
seek out celebrity sweets at Georgetown Cupcake
or a brush with evil at the infamous Exorcist Steps .

Georgetown, Washington, DC USA

C&O Canal Georgetown DC/Copyright Bob M ~ /Flickr

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H Street NE

Is the H in H Street short for Hip or is it just the letter

H? It’s not a dumb question considering the crowds
in this area are mostly hipsters and millennials.
Today, they pack the dive bars, trendy eateries, and
tattoo shops till the wee hours with nary an idea of
the neighborhood’s colorful past. That all changed in
2001 when Atlas Performing Arts Center was
renovated and helped begin a transformation of the
area that included renovations, new businesses, and
a new streetcar.

A once blighted area became party central, and

today, brilliant murals add energy and color to the
cityscape. Diaspora dining makes it possible to eat
Lebanese fast casual at Micho’s Grill , nibble on
small bites and wines-by-the-glass at The Pursuit
Wine Bar , or dine at star chef Erik Bruner Yang’s
places, either retail/restaurant Maketto or Toki
Underground , D.C.’s first ramen shop.

H St NE, Washington, DC USA

H Street NE/Copyright IntangibleArts/ Flickr

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Logan Circle

A walk or drive along 14th Street will leave you

perplexed if you try to figure out where the U Street
Corridor ends and Logan Circle begins because the
area has become one big busy food fiesta. Victorian
homes and multicolored storefronts make Logan
Circle historic and hot for young urban professionals
and their more affluent elders living in expensive
three-story Edwardian manses.

Both sets appreciate access to creature comforts

and the nearby dining. Spain has invaded and
brought terrific food and wine to Estadio and
Barcelona Wine Bar , cold brews take center-stage
at ChurchKey , and if we stretch the boundaries a
bit, there’s Compass Rose . It serves street food
from Denmark, Malaysia, Peru, Basque Country, and
anyplace else the owner’s travels take her.

Logan Circle, Washington, DC USA

Logan Circle/Copyright Ted Eytan /Flickr

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Navy Yard

Washington, D.C. is finally realizing the priceless

value of Potomac River waterfront access and is
spiffing up older areas while building new and
exciting developments. Navy Yard is on people’s
radar because it’s in the former category. The U.S.
Navy Museum has some not so new neighbors like
the early adopter Bluejacket micro brewery,
acclaimed Italian cuisine guru Michael White’s
Osteria Morini , and the Washington Nationals .

Ted Lerner, the team’s owner, figured the area was

a home run and built a beautiful stadium for major
league baseball games. Before and after the games,
tourists and locals mingle and party at The Bull Pen
at Half Street Fairgrounds. Outdoorsy types can run
along the Potomac River Boardwalk, cruise along
the river in a kayak or canoe and kids won’t be able
to resist dipping in the wading pools at Yard’s Park .
Take a folding chair and enjoy fresh breezes and
cool jazz along the Capitol Riverfront from May to

Navy Yard, Washington, DC USA

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Yards Park Capitol Riverfront Courtesy washington.org

Penn Quarter/Chinatown

Penn Quarter and Chinatown has something for

every interest and barely clings to its somewhat
dubious title of Chinatown. Concerts and D.C.’s
Capitals and Wizards take center stage at Verizon
Center , the National Portrait Gallery is a more
human scaled part of the Smithsonian with its artistic
aesthetic, and everything from hot dog carts to
upmarket restaurants is open to serve you.

If you want killer Japanese food, Daikaya is a

twofer. The first floor is a chicken ramen shop, and
upstairs, the izakaya serves Japanese drinks and
inspired dishes such as grilled avocado and firefly
squid with fresh grapefruit. For more ramen options
or fried chicken pleasure, go around the corner to
Daikaya’s other restaurant, Bantam King and join
the crowds enjoying super crispy fried chicken that
is finger-licking good. If, post-dinner, you are still in
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need of libations and socializing, walk over to Cuba

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Libre for creative rum drinks and cardio-strength
salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.

Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Washington, DC USA

Friendship Archway in Chinatown Courtesy of washington.org


Shaw is so cool it’s hot. Brick Federal and Victorian

rowhouses, modern minimalist, and renovated
industrial, loft-style buildings make Shaw a truly
urban neighborhood where Art house-style movie
theaters , spice shops, and trending restaurants are
serving original food to packed dining rooms. For
years, Shaw was held captive by the scourge of
crack cocaine, crime, and poverty, but now it’s a
desirable D.C. darling for savvy, food-obsessed

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The triangle that includes 9th Street and Georgia

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and Florida Avenues has it goin’ on.city
Hazel and
Lincoln have new chefs and seasonal, American,
small plate menus, Landmark Theatres gives equal
billing to independent films and classy cocktails, and
Ripple’s new chef, Ryan Ratino, proves why he
deserved a RAMMY nomination for Best New
Upcoming Chef. Two influential theaters call Shaw
home are cultural anchors: the 9:30 Club , which
continues to be a neighborhood anchor for
progressive music, and Howard Theater, which has
gotten a new lease on life after a long slumber.

Shaw, Washington, DC USA

WeWork Cowork space in Shaw DC/Copyright Ted Eytan/ Flickr

U Street Corridor

Duke Ellington may have become a star in New York

and then performed around the world, but his heart
beat to the rhythms he heard growing up on U
Street in Washington, D.C. Back then, this was called
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“Black Broadway,” and hundreds of brilliant writers,

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artists, musicians singers, scientists,city
lawyers, and business people lived or performed in
this thriving African American “city within a city.”

And today, U Street and 14th Street continue to

celebrate diversity at hot spots like Nellie’s , a gay
sports bar, and Marvin , a soul food restaurant with a
Belgian accent named for DC native Marvin Gaye.
Busboys and Poets , a quirky restaurant and
bookstore inspired by Langston Hughes’ early days
as a starving poet and busboy is a longtime staple
and is joined by Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, and
DC Noodles , a hidden Asian gem with a focus on
Thai dishes. Live music, dance, and theater lovers
head to U Street for alternative, hip hop, jazz, indie,
rock n’ roll and other genres at basement U Street
Music Hall , DC9 , Tropicalia , Black Cat , and Lincoln
Theater .

U Street Corridor, Washington, D.C. USA

Dining at Lupo Verde on 14th Street Courtesy of washington.org

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Southwest Waterfront city

Although the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood is

the city’s smallest, it has plenty of amenities that
instill loyalty in its residents, and it’s below the radar
for most tourists. It’s located between the
Washington Channel and the Anacostia River and is
well known to Washingtonians who head to the
200-year old Maine Avenue Fish Market , which is
the country’s longest operating open-air fish market
for fresh fish and seafood on the weekends.

People live here for the quiet, the incredible views

of the Potomac River sunsets, and because it’s easy
to get to downtown D.C., the National Mall, and
museums in minutes. The Gang Plank Marina and
other residential marinas boast more year-round
boat residents (liveaboards) than anywhere else on
the East Coast, and this is now D.C.’s hottest new
neighborhood thanks to the new $2 billion, 3.2
million-square-foot project known simply as The
Wharf .

Spread across 27 acres of land and 30 acres of

water, The Wharf will join the acclaimed
performance stage known as Arena Stage and add
a new concert hall that seats 6,000. Plus, the public
will be able to patronize dozens of retail, dining, and
nightlife options, shop at a newly renovated fish
market , and tour and sample the wares produced at
a new rum distillery and brewery.

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, D.C. USA

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Boat on the Anacostia River Courtesy of washington.org

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