A Guide to DC Neighborhoods: H Street

 

I’m often messaged by readers asking for DC recommendations and, despite all of the travel guides on my website, I didn’t have anything I could point them to that was DC-specific. So, I’ve decided to launch a new feature, “A Guide to DC Neighborhoods.” I contemplated putting all of my recs into one post, like I did with Charlottesville or Richmond, but I realized that most people who messaged me wanted restaurants and museums near where they would be staying, so splitting it out by neighborhood seemed to make the most sense – plus, it lets me get more in depth! And, it made sense that my first feature would be my own neighborhood, H Street.

H STREET IN WASHINGTON, DC

I moved over to H Street, sometimes known as the Atlas District, in Northeast DC in August 2017 as a reluctant transplant from NW DC. For 8 years, I’d only ventured to the Northeast for the occasional show at Rock and Roll Hotel or to spend a weekend morning at Union Market. However, when Adam and I moved in together, he had spent his years in DC living on the East side of town and it was time to compromise. I agreed to move to NE, but only if we could live in the heart of the action.

Despite its reputation as being so far – regardless of where you live in the DC area – H Street is NOT.THAT.FAR. It’s a 6-minute walk to Union Station, a 20-minute walk to the National Mall, a 20-minute walk to Eastern Market, a 10-minute walk to Union Market. The list goes on. And, it’s a vibrant neighborhood with everything you could possibly need (well, maybe we could use some more boutique shopping…). Now that I’ve lived over here, I can’t imagine giving up my walkability to everything from the barre studio I go to daily to amazing restaurants to coffee shops to 4 grocery stores within a 15-minute walk (3 of which are within 3 blocks of us!).

The neighborhood itself is a little bit gritty, a little bit noisy, and full of character. There’s a mix of stores and restaurants that have been over on H forever and those that are newcomers to the scene – just now realizing what a vibrant community is over here in the Northeast.

OUTFIT NOTES: BLACK TURTLENECK / WINTER WHITE JEANS / EVERLANE DAY HEELS (YOU NEED THESE!!) / VINTAGE COACH BAG / GOLD HOOPS / GOLD CUFF FROM PUNCH! BOUTIQUE IN DC / FUR VEST

 

WHERE TO EAT

Most of what’s going on over on H Street is happening in the restaurant scene. It seems every week something new has opened and it’s finally making H Street seem like a destination to those all over the city.

BREAKFAST

 

  • Bullfrog Bagels: Massive bagels are just the ticket on weekend mornings. The 10 block walk totally justifies the splurge, right?
  • Union Kitchen Grocery: Here you’ll find delicious breakfast sandwiches and an array of local and so classic they’re ironic goods (think SPAM).
  • Tony’s Breakfast: Pick up a greasy breakfast sandwich to go from this diner.

LUNCH

 

  • Fresca Taqueria: One of my favorite spots to pick up authentic Mexican food on a shoestring.
  • Fare Well: I don’t normally go to vegan restaurants, but those polenta fries keep me coming back.
  • Sospeso: Mediterranean food and a coffee shop vibe during the daytime make this place a winner in my book.
  • Farmbird: Fast-casual chicken and yummy sides mean this is a quick and easy stop for lunch or dinner.
  • Indigo: Hundreds of 5-star reviews on Yelp are absolutely right about this Indian spot with friendly neighborhood vibes.

DINNER

 

  • Sally’s Middle Name: I only recently tried Sally’s Middle Name and I’m obsessed with everything from their chicken mole to their bread. Yes, their bread.
  • Ethiopic: A mainstay of H Street, this is our go-to for an under $40 date night. Get the beef and chicken platter and you won’t be sorry.
  • Maketto: One of the first super hip restaurants to go into H Street, this is a classic. Don’t miss the fried chicken.
  • Fancy Radish: I haven’t been here yet, but this vegan restaurant has been written up by Bon Appetit. It’s on my list.
  • Stable: Fondue. Need I say more? Okay, I will say more. I love the cozy vibe of this Swiss restaurant, all the cheese, all the wine. Everything.
  • Le Grenier: A classic French restaurant (every neighborhood needs one, right?) that’s great for brunch or dinner.
  • DC Harvest: With seasonal American dishes and a super convenient spot on the 500 block of H Street, this is a reliable spot for any meal.
  • Granville Moore’s: Dimly lit atmospheres are the best for slurping mussels and stuffing your face with frites, right?
  • Cusbah: When I’m craving something spicy and dining al fresco, I come here.
  • Chupacabra: Another al fresco spot, this is a great place to grab a margarita, some tacos, and queso while watching the world stroll by.
  • Toki Underground: Embarrassingly, I haven’t been here yet, but it’s another one of the first H Street spots that gained a reputation citywide. It’s a tiny restaurant that’s all ramen all the time…and a line to go with it.

COFFEE SHOPS

 

  • The Wydown: My go-to spot for working remotely. I’m addicted to their chocolate raspberry scone.
  • Sidamo: A cozy Ethiopian coffee shop that’s perfect for a quiet afternoon cup of tea.
  • Ebenezer’s: Their seasonal lattes, particularly the blackberry vanilla during the summer, are everything.

 

WHERE TO DRINK

In our advanced age, we definitely don’t get out to just drink as often as we used to, but I still have a few local favorites that I recommend whenever someone’s looking to grab a drink before or after dinner. I’ll add a disclaimer here that I know there are lots of dive bars that people love along H Street – Little Miss Whiskey’s and The Pug to name just a couple. I’ve also heard Pursuit Wine Bar is worth checking out.

  • Copycat: While I’m usually grabbing bao buns downstairs at their takeout counter, the cocktails and atmosphere are dark and delicious.
  • Hill Prince: Cocktails under $10 are hard to find in DC, but you’ll sip a few at Hill Prince. Their back patio is an intimate garden space that would actually be perfect for a wedding…
  • Dio Wine Bar: Serving natural wines, this laid-back woman-owned bar is one of my favorite stops when I’m on my way home from dinner along H.
  • Biergarten Haus: To be honest, I don’t love beer gardens, but, if I’m going to one, this one does the trick with lots of outdoor space and hearty bites.
  • Haymaker: Every time we come here, we say we want this to be our neighborhood bar. While we don’t make it often, I sometimes dream about their jalapeno sriracha tots…
  • Bar Elena: With a great happy hour and a great crowd, this is the spot to grab an after-work drink along with some solid bar food – including a spaghetti sandwich.
  • Queen Vic: Similar to beer gardens, I’m also not a big English pub fan, but I’ve heard this one has some fabulous Indian food (I’ve only been there to drink!).

WHERE TO SHOP

Shopping is the one area where H Street is still a little lacking. We’ve had a few shops open up here and there, but if I needed to grab a new top or a pair of earrings or a gift, I’d be out of luck unless I walked up to Union Market.

  • Solid State Books: Independent bookstores are making a comeback and this one is leading the charge on H Street.
  • Maketto: Bet you didn’t even realize you needed a hip clothing shop – restaurant – coffee shop in one.
  • Shopkeepers: Gallery. Lifestyle concept. Shop. I want everything Mimi Miller has done with this space.
  • The Daily Rider: If you’re into bikes, make a stop in here.

WHAT TO DO

What do you do on H Street? Well, mostly you eat and drink. However, we do have a few other activities to entice you over to the neighborhood.

  • Rock and Roll Hotel: Catch a show at the Rock and Roll Hotel or join the dance party that fills the space on weekend nights.
  • Atlas Performing Arts Center: Whether you’re there to see a performance or to take a class at Joy of Motion, you’ll get your arts fix here.
  • H Street Country Club: This is one of the places everyone in town knows – even those who don’t like to come to the NE. You can’t beat indoor mini golf in a bar, right?
  • Union Market: While not technically on H Street, this is a quick 10-15 minute walk up the street.

 

A FEW FINAL NOTES ON H STREET

Despite everything I love about H Street, this probably wouldn’t be your ideal home base if you were visiting DC, however, it’s an amazing place to live. It’s a community and a neighborhood – there’s nothing touristy about H Street. It’s a bit gritty, it’s colorful, it’s noisy, and it has everything I could need in a neighborhood.

If you’re navigating H Street, consider taking the streetcar. It’s a free transportation service that (slowly) runs up and down H Street. When we’re going anywhere along the H Street corridor and we don’t feel like walking, we hop on it. It’s reliable enough, and often easier – and definitely cheaper – than grabbing an uber.

And, if you’re visiting DC and you want to make a trip to H Street, I’d recommend pairing it with a trip to Union Market or strolling over for dinner following an afternoon at the monuments.

 

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