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.
H STREET GUIDE: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
H STREET GUIDE: 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!).
H STREET GUIDE: 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.
H STREET GUIDE: 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.