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20+ Places to Eat, Shop & Play on DC's 14th Street
Swank and style: Everyone’s talking about the 14th Street scene's restaurants, bars, shops and more.
Creative cocktail bars, Michelin-approved restaurants, funky galleries, unique boutiques, trendy coffee shops, rockin' music venues: the 14th Street NW scene has an experience for everyone. Locals and visitors throng to this exceptional streetscape for its endless allure and ceaseless excitement. Discover the spots that make 14th Street NW buzz.
When restaurateur Stephen Starr armed 14th Street with a slice of Paris in spring 2013, he had an instant classic on his hands, and what seems to be a perennial, highly-lauded favorite. Part brasserie, part cafe, part bistro, Le Diplomate is France-meets-DC. Brown butter-infused trout amandine and perfectly cooked steak au poivre – rest assured, it’s peppery – share the menu alongside chilled oysters, a famed roast chicken and ever-munchable pommes frites.
The Scene: From haute fashions to casual designs for les femmes and a mélange of jackets paired with jeans for les hommes, expect a laid-back yet chic vibe and high-volume chatter to fill the vast space comfortably.
Insider Info: True to a French restaurant, the bakery items are magical; just leave room for the terrine. The slim patio is a people-watching paradise and the burger Américain might just be the best in DC. Finally, if you belly up to the bar, you’ll have a front-row seat to dapperly attired bartenders mixing craft cocktails just for you.
Le Diplomate, 1601 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
It’s pretty clear why chef Ryan Ratino was named Rising Culinary Star of the Year at the 2017 RAMMYs when you dine at Bresca, his Michelin-starred venture on 14th Street. An inventive menu melds tantalizing flavors and Ratino’s one-of-a-kind vision: broccoli pierogis are served with goat gouda and burgundy truffle, foie gras is paired with waffles and fermented banana and scallops with chestnut cappelletti pack a deliciously rich punch.
The Scene: The restaurant’s namesake is Catalan for honeycomb, which also served as the inspiration for the brightly colored and earthy decor. Have a glance (and a feel) of the moss-covered wall and order Bresca’s signature drink, the Bee’s Knees, which is served in a bee-shaped glass. There are also comfy window seats adorned with plush pillows – just note that these are in high demand.
Insider Info: Ratino is a Michelin-starred chef who also happens to have a green thumb. Many of the herbs and floral garnishes found on Bresca’s ornate dishes are grown in the restaurant’s rooftop garden.
Bresca, 1906 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
In 2012, local food writer and entrepreneur Amanda McClements opened Salt & Sundry, a stylishly curated kitchen, home and gift store with locations in Union Market and on 14th Street. “We’re taking the intimidation factor out of decor by showing a laid-back, casual way to pull your space together,” says McClements. “I love highlighting the work of talented small makers from DC and beyond.”
The Scene: Design-forward locals love the elegant-meets-funky collections of dinnerware and handmade furniture set inside this bright, airy space. Craft cocktail enthusiasts will also dig the unique barware and small-batch, locally made ingredients for sale.
Insider Info: There’s no need to leave Fido outside while you’re perusing Salt & Sunday’s offerings, as dogs are welcome inside.
Salt & Sundry, 1625 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Pearl Dive is a palace indeed, boasting a Gulf-style bar and a dedicated fishmonger. This Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand honoree from Chef Jeff Black devotedly serves up sustainable American seafood, including highly select oysters, rotating based on freshness. Start with a dozen Black Salts on the half shell – these plump alluvial oysters are specially grown in Virginia for Mr. Black. Don’t miss the gumbos, po’ boys, grilled fish or duck confit (still waterborne, fewer gills).
The Scene: For all the new upscale restaurants nearby, Pearl Dive has been a popular mainstay, mixing jorts and Chanel jackets. Festivities at the bar overflow onto the sidewalk patio, where the raw bar has a second window.
Insider Info: Happy hour means oyster mania, a must-do for half-priced local oysters on the half shell.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, 1612 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
After you've had your fill of bivalves and po' boys at Pearl Dive, continue your 14th Street adventure upstairs with creative cocktails at Black Jack and TILT Side Bar. Get comfy in the lounge-style seating at Black Jack while enjoying daily food and drink happy hour specials and sipping on the popular Twisted Sister, starring a delightful mashup of gin, Pimm's, ginger beer, bitters and cucumber water in a mason jar. For a true throwback, the rear portion of Black Jack houses TILT Side Bar, a neon-lit bar with a separate cocktail menu that will make you feel as if you're in an ‘80s-themed pinball machine.
The Scene: With happy hour Tuesday through Sunday, you can find Washingtonians young and old enjoying Black Jack's dynamic craft cocktails. For the cinephile in your life, movies are often projected on to the the exposed brick walls behind the bar.
Insider Info: The shareable cocktails at TILT – multiperson drinks served in ‘80s-themed vessels – are a must-try for larger groups.
Black Jack & TILT Side Bar, 1612 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
It’s DC’s major contemporary Belgian restaurant with a roaring bar scene and a Josper oven, a Spanish machine that achieves exceptionally high heat to caramelize the exterior of a bone-in ribeye for two, for example. There are expected dishes like endive salads, mountains of mussels (offered a number of ways), plenty of frites, and not-so-traditional offerings like a waffle stuffed with mussels and herbs.
The Scene: This place is built for fun and does get noisy. There are to-go eats, like cones of frites, served late-night. Brunch can get just as festive as happy hour, when crowds enjoy waffles and mimosas.
Insider Info: Chef Bart Vandaele was knighted in his native Belgium for services to the crown. Sir V is not, however, without a naughty sense of humor. There are pictures of giant sausages (so we hear) in the men’s room.
B Too, 1324 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
It doesn't get much more American than ice cream, and Ice Cream Jubilee is one of the District’s favorite spots for the tasty treat. The shop specializes in truly creative flavors, including banana bourbon caramel, Thai iced tea and sweet potato molasses candy. You can also savor sundaes, milkshakes and sorbets at this local sensation.
The Scene: The intimate location near 14th Street is a great place to grab a sundae or cone on-the-go, but there’s also a small patio that’s perfect for relaxation on warm summer nights.
Insider Info: Even after summer ends, Ice Cream Jubilee continues churning out inventive seasonal flavors. Ring in fall with apple butter oatmeal cookie ice cream, which combines a creamy base, fresh apple butter made in-house and a crumble of oatmeal cookie on top. Ice Cream Jubilee also crafts some of the most innovative hot chocolate in the city in the form of creamy Nutella and malted white chocolate flavors. The latter features homemade earl grey-lavender syrup, malted milk and melted hunks of white chocolate.
Ice Cream Jubilee, 1407 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group operates this 14th Street gem that combines a modern American restaurant and a chic gastropub. Open for dinner and weekend brunch, the ground-floor Birch & Barley attracts a crowd who know to expect classic fare with a twist. Upstairs, ChurchKey is stocked with exactly 555 house-selected brews, many of which are seasonal and heavily sought-after pours, making the locale invaluable to the seeker of suds. ChurchKey is one of the city’s ideal spots for a brew pilgrimage, whether you know the ins-and-outs of making beer or not. You’ll find rare, high-quality craft brews in abundance, making for one of the finest beer experiences in the city.
The Scene: A touch rustic, a touch romantic, Birch & Barley’s low-lit dining room is abuzz with hip Washingtonians who come for hand-cut pasta, grilled local lamb and seasonal vegetables. Before or after you relax at ChurchKey’s sprawling and spacious bar, make sure to note the colorful, beer-themed artwork.
Insider Info: A small lounge area in the back of ChurchKey offers refuge, with dimmed lights and comfortable seating.
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey, 1337 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
A visit to the underground Players Club channels the old school vibes of your parents' basement, complete with wood-paneled walls and pool tables. This bar from prolific restaurateurs Ian and Eric Hilton pays homage to 1970s and ‘80s Americana with classic arcade games and pinball machines. Eight rotating drafts feature a range of beer options, with canned beers and cocktails also available.
The Scene: Pretend you’re a kid again with fellow arcade fans, many of whom were probably not even born in the decades that Players Club pays homage to. The crowd tends to skew towards young professionals and is a popular late-night weekend spot (closing time is 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
Insider Info: Conveniently located beneath Shake Shack, Players Club has an arrangement that allows you to order delectable burgers and fries without having to leave the bar.
Players Club, 1400 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
The owners of Ghibellina once shared a flat on Via Ghibellina in Florence, which inspired the business partners to open this Tuscan-inspired gastropub. The menu features rustic Italian dishes and is perhaps best known for its wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, which are served with pinking shears so you can cut your own slices.
The Scene: Ghibellina offers diners a welcoming atmosphere no matter the season. The small front patio is considered prime real estate in the spring and summer months, while fall and winter channels cozy vibes in the soothing environs of the exposed brick interior.
Insider Info: What could possibly be better than happy hour? A pizza-focused happy hour. Diners can enjoy $10 mouthwatering pizzas paired with drink specials seven days a week (Monday – Thursday, 4-6:30 p.m. and Friday – Sunday, 3-6:30 p.m.).
Ghibellina, 1610 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20009
This vintage venue best known for landing up-and-coming alternative artists hasn't missed a beat. Black Cat is truly in tune with the indie and underground scene, and has certainly anchored 14th Street since before its boom. It’s also home to events like monthly DJ-led dance parties and sci-fi happy hours. What’s more, there’s room enough for two simultaneous concerts, one at the intimate ground-level Backstage (where there’s often no cover) and a headliner at the upstairs Mainstage. In between, visit the Red Room Bar for its hipster vibe, game machines and never-crowded atmosphere.
The Scene: Feel free to have a drink up and down 14th Street before lining up outside for a show, but there’s more than enough going on inside the Black Cat (pinball, two stages, cheap beer, fantastic crowd) to warrant making a night of it here.
Insider Info: Band or no band, hungry vegetarians hit up the onsite Food for Thought Café in search of barbecue seitan sandwiches and a solid veggie burger. Half-smokes and hamburgers also decorate the menu, offering any concertgoer a quiet repast before returning to the bedlam.
Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
A chic indoor-outdoor set-up, stylish decor and primo location make this restaurant and wine bar a hot spot. If you have to wait for a table, saddle up to the bar to peruse the list of Spanish and South American tempranillo, garnacha and malbec varietals. A range of affordable tapas and paella options round out the perfect Catalonian-inspired evening.
The Scene: Young professionals, late-night adventurers and date-night seekers all converge at Barcelona for brunch and after-dinner drinks.
Insider Info: Cozy up at Barcelona, where you can enjoy blankets, heat lamps and a fireplace on its patio. Go light with cava and Spanish cheeses or heavy with a Rioja and paella – either way, you’re in for the royal heat treatment.
Barcelona, 1622 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
New York’s popular meatball-centric outpost The Meatball Shop opened its first location outside of the Big Apple in October 2018 to rave reviews. Sure, you can nosh on classic meatballs, but there’s plenty of other options to choose from (think: Maine lobster balls or an appetizer of buffalo chicken balls) and a variety of sauces and seasonal sides.
The Scene: Whitewashed brick and wood furniture pair well with food-focused wall art in the well-designed space. Note that The Meatball Shop also features an extensive whiskey selection and stays open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Insider Info: Make it a game night at “the cockpit,” a cozy section upstairs that offers board games.
The Meatball Shop, 1720 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Masa 14, a Latin fusion hot spot, and El Centro D.F., which focuses on Mexican cuisine, are nearly-neighboring eateries with fantastic rooftops and happy hours focusing on small plates and craft cocktails. El Centro is a bit more of a party, while Masa 14 is the quieter of the two, great for a second date.
The Scene: You’ll want to dress to impress, but not with a blazer and slacks. Think more Euro, with tighter fitting, more daring outfits.
Inside Info: What makes El Centro stand out is the Latin dance parties in the subterranean dining room. The tables are removed, the remixed salsa is turned up and dancing commences. The unlimited rooftop brunch is also a DC-must dining experience.
Masa 14, 1825 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; El Centro D.F., 1819 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
After doing some serious world travel with her husband, owner Rose Previte decided to get in the business of serving up street food from every corner of the globe. Compass Rose is no street-style stall, however. Cozy and warm, outfitted with vintage furnishings and unique fixtures, it’s an intimate sanctuary just made for sharing some almost-unpronounceable but certainly delish dishes.
The Scene: Compass Rose sits just a hop east on T Street in an unassuming converted townhouse, all exposed brick and mood lighting. Groups of hip twentysomethings and couples converge in this chic, casual atmosphere.
Insider Info: The dish to order? Khachapuri, made famous by its inclusion on many DC “best-of” lists. It’s an import from Georgia, a masterfully rich bread-cradled boat of just-runny cheese and a liberal helping of butter, topped with an egg cracked directly into the warm embrace by your server tableside.
Compass Rose, 1346 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
The brightly colored Colada Shop is a photographer’s dream. This Cuban cafe-bar combo is packed with pastel hues and good vibes, which extend to the dog-friendly patio. Reasonably priced empanadas and sandwiches bring to life diverse flavors and are best paired with a bold Cuban coffee by day and a cocktail by night.
The Scene: Depending on the time of day, you might find friends grabbing a post-Soul Cycle cafe con leche and avocado tostada or an after-work mojito.
Insider Info: Colada Shop’s rooftop garden is the place to be on Thursdays. Guests will enjoy a Caribbean-themed, all-night happy hour complete with $6 cocktails and $2 empanadas.
Colada Shop, 1405 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
This classic 14th Street establishment dishes out delectable Italian dishes including burrata, calamari antipasti and homemade pizzas and pastas. An extensive wine list includes 100 available by the bottle – many of which are made from Italian grapes – and select cheeses and cured meats are made in-house.
The Scene: This cozy 100-seat spot is spread over two floors of a former rowhouse on the corner of 14th and T streets. A meal under the Edison bulbs on the outdoor patio – a tough seat to come by in the District – makes for the perfect people-watching/dining activity.
Insider Info: Talk about classy: the 15-seat bar on the main floor is made of Carrara marble and hand-painted Italian tile.
Lupo Verde, 1401 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Dedicated to producing cutting-edge, contemporary plays, Studio Theatre features four intimate settings in order to offer a rich lineup of the latest and greatest playwrights as well as remakes of modern classics. Variety once called Studio Theatre the place “where local audiences will find today’s edgiest playwrights.”
The Scene: A popular destination for lovers of avant-garde productions, Studio Theatre’s prime location on 14th Street makes for the perfect dinner-and-a-show date night.
Insider Info: This playhouse offers plenty of promotions and discounts, especially for young theater-goers. If you’re under 30, you can join the Studio25 program for $25 tickets to all performances, while a valid student ID will score you $20 tickets. Looking for last-minute things to do? The $30 at :30 Rush Tickets promotion offers discounted tickets within a half hour of curtain call.
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
Runway-ready and famous-name boutiques have opened, along with fellow vintage and consignment shops, but Miss Pixie’s stands apart. Redecorate your entire home with antiques, black-and-white postcards, sterling silver, and most-adorable teacups. Unsurprisingly, the inventory changes constantly, so each time visiting is a new shopping experience.
The Scene: All kinds of strollers appear here; young couples putting together their first place, families with kids, and the just-moved-in look for ways to make their abodes unique.
Inside Info: Grab an adorable mini cookie at the register while you shop. It’s a sweet way to peruse the many wares.
Miss Pixie’s 1626 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Baan Thai rests quietly above a sushi spot and specializes in serving traditional Thai food. The chef wanted to return to her roots and move away from tired Americanized Thai. Sure, you could order pad Thai or green curry chicken, but the range of dishes are so much deeper than that, taken straight from the countryside and using deep, earthy spices, herbs and curries found nowhere else.
The Scene: It’s not a party (though perhaps in your mouth), but a relaxed space to enjoy authentic cuisine, with artwork and original pieces flown in from Thailand.
Insider Info: Speaking of party: Head all the way upstairs, where you can reserve the space for free, order from the bar, and sip and mingle under the shimmering lights of an enormous chandelier.
Baan Thai, 1326 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Affordable, succulent South American chicken in the front and 60-plus whiskeys in the back. That’s the name of the game at Chicken + Whiskey, a fast-casual hybrid. An array of savory sides like fried plantains and chunky guasacaca (a Venezuelan, guacamole-like sauce) are waiting to be paired with rotisserie chicken, slow-roasted to perfection over wood charcoal for 12 hours.
The Scene: Après-dinner, walk through the rear refrigerator door (seriously!) and you’ll stumble upon a not-so-secret, wood-paneled bar that touts two-ounce pours and reasonably priced cocktails. There’s also an impressive vinyl collection that DJs spin from on select nights.
Insider Info: A menu standout is the pollo frito sandwich, which features cassava-crusted chicken breast, Amarillo-mango mayonnaise, Greek yogurt mustard sauce, bacon and smoked Gouda on a jalapeño cheddar brioche bun.
Chicken + Whiskey, 1738 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
We’ll have a heavy pour of Hemingwayesque 1920s Paris, please. A veteran spot in the scene, Bar Pilar is a wonderland of shimmering chandeliers, gilded decor and exposed that transports quaffers to an earlier time. Cocktails are strong and meticulously poured. Splendid for a date along the sensuous wooden bar.
The Scene: Few would bat an eye at impeccably dressed patrons going to, or coming from, a night out. Take note of artwork covering every wall and corner.
Inside Info: Attempt to snag one of the few outdoor tables and pair good drinks with a way to take in the entire scene. The downstairs can get crowded, but the smaller upstairs is a bit more intimate.
Bar Pilar, 1833 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Occupying a prime corner spot, the Logan Circle outpost of this local treatery is a cafe serving fine coffee and gelato in the spirit of an old-fashioned parlor. Dolcezza pours Stumptown coffee and scoops Argentinian-style gelato made right here in Northeast DC from locally sourced ingredients. Flavors lean fruity and fun.
The Scene: Owners Rob Duncan and Violetta Edelman (who met while sailing up the Amazon) have refurbished the building. It opened in 1878 as a pharmacy, and was, until the dynamic duo refurbished it, a fried fish joint. It’s unrecognizable now: a gleaming marble counter, space for a dozen-plus flavors of gelato and a La Marzocco espresso machine, the Ferrari of coffeemakers, and 30 seats.
Insider Info: Don’t have time to linger? Sidle up to the to-go window for coffees and gelati by the cup or cone.
Dolcezza, 1418 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
Shake Shack has become a national sensation with its perfectly grilled burgers, adorned with soft potato rolls, crisp lettuce, ruby red tomatoes and legendary Shack Sauce. You can order yours throughout DC, including its Logan Circle location. The chain is also adored for its creamy, irresistible shakes made with premium custards.
The Scene: The Shack is for everyone, whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal with the kids or a late-night bite after the bar.
Insider Info: While juicy burgers are what they’re known for, you can’t go wrong with the Chick'n Shack either. This fried delight is served on a perfectly puffy potato roll with pickles and buttermilk herb mayo.
Shake Shack, 1400 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
These two bars, located around the corner from each other at P and 14th, come to the area courtesy of co-founder Ed Bailey, who helped make DC’s gay nightlife scene what it is today from his days as a DJ. Number 9 is decked out in mirrors and leather banquettes downstairs, has a tiny, great-for-people-watching patio, and music-video-playing TVs upstairs. Trade opened in 2015 to much fanfare and is still highly popular, with its tall wood-backed booths, offbeat paintings and rooster-print wallpaper.
The Scene: Number 9 may be slightly more formal, but only because the lighting and setting is less dim than Trade, which has a few darker corners in which to canoodle.
Inside Info: 9’s happy hour is two-for-one from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Trade offers something called Huge Happy Hours, in which cocktails are given generous pours into tall pint glasses from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Number Nine, 1435 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20005; Trade, 1410 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
No single adjective can describe DC’s 14th Street scene. This strip of activity changes by the day, making it one of the most dynamic, vibrant, and energetic corridors in the District. For more adventures, you should also check out more things to do in Logan Circle and nearby U Street.