You could say DC is the hidden gem of the East Coast. While most people envision the city overrun by politicians and lawyers, there’s actually a small but mighty entrepreneurial community behind a pretty impressive lineup of cultural, food, and artistic experiences. This #DoersAcrossDC travel guide, curated by local doer Lauren Bates, founder & CEO of Wild Terrains, has some of our favorite places to stay, eat, drink, work, shop and explore in Washington, DC with an emphasis on supporting local businesses and creatives in the DC community.
1770 Euclid Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 | https://www.thelinehotel.com/dc
Built inside a historic church, the LINE DC is the city’s latest hotspot. You’ll find creatives hanging out in the communal areas (a coffee shop, several bars & restaurants, and a recording studio), while the floors above house stunningly-designed rooms for out-of-towners. The entire project was done in collaboration with the DC creative community, from the menus to the decor. Rooms feature art curated by DC local Svetlana Legetic, photography by Kate Warren, and plants sourced by local shop Little Leaf. The LINE is a perfect spot for daytime meetings or after work cocktails. Room rates start at $268/night.
2224 F St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | https://www.hotelhive.com/
DC hotels can be really expensive, but The Hive is one of the best options that’s reasonably priced and still stylish. The hotel is a micro-hotel so the rooms are tiny, but thoughtfully designed. Room rates start at $100/night.
1346 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009 | http://maydandc.com/
Michelle Obama ate here and loved it. And in case that’s not convincing enough, Maydan is the newest restaurant from one of DC’s favorite female restaurateurs, Rose Previte. The restaurant spans two floors with a massive fire pit in the middle, where you’ll find chefs flipping homemade flatbread, roasting fresh vegetables, and searing spiced kebabs. The bar on the ground floor is filled with DC creatives and an excellent spot for both dinner and drinks. What to order: Beiruti hummus, beet borani, the lamb shoulder. Oh, and our favorite cocktail in DC: the Unbuttoned Stud Punch (scotch, amara, mint, & black tea).
1250 9th St NW | allpurposedc.com
Arguably the best casual Italian restaurant in the city. The chefs are seriously creative here, coming up with pizza combinations, small plates, and vegetable dishes that sound unusual but taste like you don’t know how you ever lived without them. What to order: the Buona (a pepperoni pizza drizzled with chili honey), the crispy roasted garlic knots with parmesan fonduta & herb butter, and whatever is up on the special board. They also just opened a new location in the Navy Yard with an outdoor patio and river views.
1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | http://lediplomatedc.com/
If you’re looking for a very DC experience, then dinner or brunch at Le Diplomate (or ‘Le Dip’ as locals call it) is a must. Le Dip is the place to see and be seen. Without a reservation, you’ll wait at least an hour, maybe two. That said, this is one of the only restaurants in DC that will feed you after 11pm on weekends. What to order: the burger (hands-down the best in DC) and carafes of wine for the table.
Tail Up Goat
1827 Adams Mill Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 | http://www.tailupgoat.com/
A 2-minute walk from the LINE hotel, Tail Up Goat is a neighborhood favorite among locals. The menu is unique and innovative, taking inspiration from the Mediterranean and Caribbean. What to order: any of their homemade breads & the tagliatelle with beef ragu, anchovy, ricotta salata, and calabrian chili breadcrumbs.
3226 11th Street NW, Washington DC 20010 | http://www.badsaintdc.com/
This Filipino restaurant is rated one of the best in the country and is one of the toughest restaurants to get a seat at in DC. Because they don’t take reservations and only have 24 seats, a line usually begins to form in the early afternoon to get on the waitlist. We’ve heard rumors outdoor seating is coming soon. What to order: all of it.
122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001 | https://thedabney.com/
A beautiful restaurant with farm-to-table dishes and a mesmerizing open kitchen. The menu changes daily and is perfect for sharing. The bar is a fun place to sip cocktails made with fresh herbs and local ingredients.
1822 1st St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | http://www.theredhendc.com/
A cozy Italian restaurant with the best pasta dishes in DC. What to order: the whipped ricotta crostini, the squid ink campanelle, and the maple custard.
1847 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 | http://www.lapisdc.com/
A charming Afghan bistro covered in flickering candlelight with oriental rugs strewn across the floor. The perfect place if you love to share dishes and sample a bunch of things.
Pineapple & Pearls
715 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 | https://www.pineappleandpearls.com/
Feel like dropping a few Benjamins on dinner and drinks? Pineapple & Pearls’ tasting menu experience is rated the best in DC. With two Michelin stars, it rings in at $325 a person (including drink pairings, taxes, and gratuity). Everyone we know who’s gone says it’s worth it. Invite us if you go?
809 Upshur Street NW, Washington, DC 20011 | http://www.timberpizza.com/
A crowd favorite. The menu is simple and delicious: empanadas, salads, pizza. You apparently can also order delivery.
1309 5th St NE | http://unionmarketdc.com/
Union Market is an industrial warehouse filled with food incubators, test kitchens, restaurants, and shops. This is one of the best places in town to sample the local DC food scene. Rappahannock Oyster Bar and Mason Dixie Biscuit Co are two of our favorites.
The Dabney Cellar
1222 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | No website
A cozy basement wine bar owned by The Dabney (see above). The Dabney Cellar has one of the best wine lists in town along with small bites like bacon buttermilk biscuits. There are only a handful of seats, so if you go here don’t tell a single soul. Secret stays with us!
3125, 725 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | http://allsoulsbar.com/menu/
A small no-frills bar in Shaw with an outdoor patio that lets you bring in outside food. It’s the perfect spot for a glass of sparkling rose on a hot summer evening. Pro move: it’s BYOF, so use a delivery app to order the Buona from All-Purpose Pizzeria (see above) to your table.
2012 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | https://www.gaslight-dc.com/
A cocktail bar with a 1920’s art deco vibe. Dark wood-paneled rooms with fireplaces are the perfect place to cozy up on a cold winter night. There’s an open-air patio during the summer. Great cocktails.
1336 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | http://www.maxwelldcwine.com/
Another small wine bar just down the street from The Dabney Cellar. Maxwell Park features a new menu each month, built around quirky seasonal themes like funky wines or perfect Thanksgiving pairings. They recently had a menu featuring all female winemakers, which we loved!
American Ice Company
917 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | http://www.amicodc.com/
American Ice is a reclaimed garage-turned bar that serves local beer, whiskey and barbecue. Large outdoor wooden tables are great for groups on a nice day. The swachos (pulled pork covered nachos) are the best drunk food in the district.
1801 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | http://www.gardendistrictdc.com/
A popular outdoor beer garden on 14th Street. No frills but a great beer list, good food, and very lively on a beautiful day.
Blue Duck Tavern
1201 24th St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | blueducktavern.com
Blue Duck Tavern is a beautiful restaurant and we love their bar if you’re in the mood to dress up and sip on fancy, creative cocktails. It’s located inside the Hyatt near Georgetown.
1405 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | https://www.coladashop.com/
A vibrant Cuban cafe with great coffee and cocktails.
Grace Street Coffee
3210 Grace St NW, Washington, DC 20007 | http://www.gracestcoffee.com/
A local coffeehouse on a quiet cobblestone street in Georgetown. They roast their beans on site and have plenty of room to spread out and have a productive, caffeinated work day.
3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010 | http://www.colonyclubdc.com/
A favorite among DC creatives. Colony Club is perfect for making the seamless transition from coffee-fueled work to wine-fueled work, since the coffee shop turns into a bar in the evenings.
1056 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007 | www.the-wing.com
The famous women-only coworking space & community has just opened its doors in Georgetown. The Wing space is stunning but open to members only. If you happen to be a member of one of their NYC locations, you can pop on in.
Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery
8th & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | http://npg.si.edu/visit/kogod-courtyard
A well-kept secret in DC. There’s a beautiful courtyard with glass ceilings between the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It’s a great spot to take a breather or write in a journal. There’s also wifi.
1351 H St NE | maketto1351.com
One of the coolest creative spaces in DC is Maketto – a concept shop that contains a restaurant, cafe, and store all under one roof. The restaurant serves modern Taiwanese and Cambodian dishes with fancy cocktails. If you can’t make it for dinner, the Insta-worthy concept shop and café are reason enough to visit and a great spot to work remotely for the day.
SHOP SMALL BIZ
Salt & Sundry
1625 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | https://www.shopsaltandsundry.com/
Salt & Sundry is the most popular home decor store in the district. The space, which was designed by owner Amanda McClements, is filled with so many beautiful things that it’s inspiring to just walk through it. We love collecting ceramics, glassware, books, and rugs from her shop. They also have a location inside Union Market and an online store.
1401 S St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | https://www.littleleafshop.com/
This jungle offspring of Salt & Sundry is every #plantlady’s dream. Details like the vibrant wallpaper and the plants hanging from the ceiling make this tiny shop feel like a magical oasis.
1287 4th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 | https://www.briefassembly.com/
A chic pop-up shop curated by DC designers Mallory Shelter and Carolyn Misterek. The shop is filled with beautiful handmade clothing, jewelry, art, bath products, notebooks, and more, from American makers with an emphasis on those found in DC.
Take Care Shop
1338 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007 | www.takecareshopdc.com/
Skip the spa and head to the most calming shop in DC. Take Care was founded by Becky Waddell and focuses on plant-based skincare. She’ll recommend products for you based on your skin’s condition and texture.
Tin Tin’s Pieces
Whimsical paintings and ceramics by super talented DC artist, Kristin Endsley.
The most beautiful notebooks and planners. Made in DC.
Wander Renwick Gallery
1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006 | renwick.americanart.si.edu
A modern art gallery just a few steps from the White House known for its colorful and mesmerizing Insta-worthy exhibits. The exhibits rotate seasonally so be sure to check the website before you visit and see what’s currently on display.
Take a class at The Lemon Collective
3015 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 | www.wearethelemoncollective.com/
A few years ago, three badass DC creative women (pattern designer Kathryn Zaremba, plant designer Holly Simms, and interior stylist Linny Giffin) opened up this space. Check out their calendar for upcoming creative workshops like hand lettering, flower crown making, and terrarium building. This is a great way to get a feel for the DC creative community.
Visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005 | https://nmwa.org/
As crazy as it is to believe, this is the only major museum in the world that is solely dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in visual, performing and literary arts. Works on display highlight important female artists like Frida Kahlo and more.
Hike in Rock Creek Park
5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, DC 20015 | https://www.nps.gov/rocr
A large national park in the middle of Northwest DC with several hiking trails that will make you forget you’re in the middle of a city.
Spend an afternoon in the National Museum of African American History and Culture
1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560 | https://nmaahc.si.edu/
The most impressive addition to the National Mall in recent years. The building is so beautiful it won the Beazley Design of the Year award in 2017. Tickets are free, but you’ll need to plan far in advance to secure timed entry passes.
Have a cocktail at ARTECHOUSE
1238 Maryland Ave SW, Washington DC 20024 | https://artechouse.com/
A massive immersive art space with an augmented reality cocktail bar. A fabulous date night experience.
Walk along the National Mall
If the weather is nice, one of the best parts of DC is being able to walk along the National Mall and see all the historic buildings and monuments. You can start and stop wherever you like, but the main sites to see are the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and several other memorials and museums.
Buy tickets to Dupont Underground
19 Dupont Cir NW, Washington, DC 20036 | www.dupontunderground.org
Dupont Underground is a creative space housed in an abandoned trolley station underneath Dupont Circle. Check their calendar for upcoming art events and experiences.
Visit a summer exhibit at the National Building Museum
401 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | https://www.nbm.org/
The National Building Museum hosts a large-scale interactive exhibit every summer. Look up past exhibits like THE BEACH, Hive, and ICEBERGS and check the NBM’s website to see what this year’s is going to be.