While Columbia Heights isn’t the geographical center of Washington, D.C., I like to think it’s really the heart of the District. Nestled between the major arteries of 16th Street Northwest and Georgia Avenue, it was an early bedroom community, born when the city began climbing the hill north of Florida Avenue at the turn of the 20th century. Today, it’s a largely residential, accessible neighborhood offering a diverse range of dining, shopping and entertainment options. Here are a few of my favorite places to take visiting friends and family.
Columbia Heights has long been a nucleus of the District’s Latin population, specifically for those from Central America. I don’t let people leave without trying pupusas with curtido, yuca and platanos. The hole-in-the-wall (or ground, really) El Rinconcito II is my go-to spot. 1326 Park Rd. NW, DC;
Another underground favorite is The Thirsty Crow. If visitors have to cheer on their team on a Saturday or Sunday, I like to take them somewhere they can get shrimp chips, steamed bao buns and beef chow fun. The draft beer and cocktail lists are legit to boot. 3400 11th St. NW, DC; thirstycrowdc.com //
At 11th Street and Kenyon dwells Wonderland Ballroom. Kitschy décor? Yep. Sweaty dance floor? Check. Lots of themed events? That too. Plus, Underground Comedy hosts free comedy shows on Sundays at 8 p.m. 1101 Kenyon St. NW, DC; thewonderlandballroom.com // @thewonderlanddc
Entertaining bibliophiles? While Columbia Heights doesn’t have a bookstore, reading material isn’t hard to score. Target on 14th Street has a respectable selection of new and popular titles, plus the neighborhood’s abundant Little Free Libraries are a good excuse to explore side streets. There’s a great pop-up book seller in front of Giant most weekends, too.
Meridian Hill // Malcolm X Park shows up on these kind of lists all the time, but only because it is the best public space in the District. One, it’s gorgeous. Two, its small trails are a needed urban haven. And three, it’s full of people — and furry friends — doing interesting stuff: drumming, playing soccer, tightrope walking, juggling, playing chess, doing yoga and more. 16th and W Streets in Northwest, DC;
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