D.C. Ramblings: U Street

In my year off from school, while I was working in the city, I spent a lot of my nights on U Street, and if you’re willing to make the trip it’s well worth it. U Street is farther away from Dupont Circle than Adams Morgan, but if you take the GUTS bus to Dupont, it’s probably faster to just walk instead of taking the metro to Gallery Place, and having to change to the Yellow Line. No matter how you decide to get there, you need to at least check out U Street at least once before you graduate.

Since coming back to Georgetown, I like to think that I’ve become a little more classy in my drinking habits. Of course this is a matter that I question every time I write these posts seeing has how all my anecdotes relate to drinking in some manner, but The Gibson (on 14th St, right up from U St and next to Marvin’s), may be my saving grace. It can be a little tricky to find because the unmarked door looks like it may be locked, but if you dare to venture in you will be greeted by a hostess at the far end of a narrow and dark corridor. It’s a little intimidating at first, but it leads to a dark, smoky speakeasy — one of the last vestiges of prohibition left in the city. Great for intimate dates or small groups of close friends, the dim lighting is perfect for stimulating conversation. If you start to get claustrophobic, there’s also a patio in the back. The drinks tend to be a little on the pricey side, but you’re paying for the experience.

If you’re not feeling that classy, or you woke up on the side of your bed where you keep you non-prescription wayfarers, head up 14th Street from The Gibson, and you’ll find Busboys and Poets. Its a great spot to grab a few drinks, a bite to eat, or check out some eclectic reading material before checking out other places on U St. It’s also a great place to hang out – there are a lot of tables in the front of the bookstore, it has a full bar and of course the occasional poetry reading.

This next place on U Street is one of the best late night nosh spots in the city. Before I explain about this place, I want it put on the record that my mother’s chili is amazing. But, sorry mom, Ben’s Chili Bowl may give your steaming ambrosia of meat and beans a run for its drachmas (and seriously, they have a Chili Burger, what more can you ask for?). It’s also open until four in the morning on Friday and Saturday.

Other worthy mentions: U Street Music Hall and 9:30 Club for dancing and live performances, and Lost Society.

Photo: https://thecityfix.com/blog/tip-of-the-helmet-bird-names-for-bike-crossings-and-capital-bikeshare-swag/

D.C. Ramblings: Dupont Circle

Whether you’re looking for a new favorite restaurant, a good laugh or a different crowd than what you’ll find in Georgetown’s bars, the Dupont Circle area is a breath of fresh air. Literally. I hate to admit, but Dupont Circle is one of the areas of the city I know the least about. I’ve always viewed it as a stepping-stone to other parts of the city, especially since the GUTS bus conveniently drops off right by the metro. I also used to think that besides restaurants, there really wasn’t much to do there. However, if you’re looking for some lively nightlife, Dupont actually may be one of your best bets in the city, and it’s only a twenty-minute walk (crazy right?).

I have to give a shout out to my editor for this little dive bar, but Café Japone located on P St. before the circle, is one of the most fun Karaoke spots I’ve ever been too. It has an extensive song selection; I leafed through the book for about an hour while the place was packed with people from all walks of life having a good time, and didn’t even make it a quarter of the way through the book. The best part is, the sake bombs were incredibly cheap. The first time I went it was around fifteen dollars for three Sapporo’s and a decanter of warm sake. Three of us were able to squeeze out about ten drinks. This place is great for groups, and if you start the night out here, you’re close to a lot of other great bars, even Adams Morgan if you so felt compelled.

The next stop, past the circle and down Connecticut Ave, The Big Hunt (near N St.), is one of the cooler bars in the city, especially if you would classify yourself as edgy, hip, modern or you wear non-prescription thick-rimmed glasses and think pocket squares should have never gone out of style. This “hipster bar” (I use the term lovingly, I love pocket squares) has four floors chock full of eclectic memorabilia, a great deck for outdoor drinking in the warmer months and boasts itself to be one of the oldest “beer” bars in D.C. Suit vests also seem to be very effective here.

Farther down Connecticut Avenue is one of my favorite places in the city, D.C. Improv. I like this place so much that I’ve mentioned it twice on 4E (once before in a Best Bets post). The first time I went here I saw Flip Orley hypnotize a guy on stage who became so enthralled with the hair of the woman sitting next to him, that he asked her if he could “pet” her. Not to mention that smiling and laughing make you live longer, so at the least, check this place out for your health. It’s a great first date option, guys, and you don’t even have to be funny to get her to laugh.

Two words: Shake Shack. This new sensation is gradually working its way up to D.C. superstardom, soon to be as highly sought after as mumbo sauce (some people also call it mambo sauce – there’s even a go-go band that shares the name) and Jumbo Slice. Last time I checked, Five Guys doesn’t have milkshakes, and Good Stuff Eatery is all the way out in Capitol Hill (until it opens up in Georgetown) so check out this burger joint.

I haven’t even covered half of the great places you can go in Dupont Circle, but these are a start. Go check it out for yourself if you haven’t already.

Photo: https://douglasdevelopment.com/projects/shake-shack