Columbia Heights is beloved and heralded as one of Washington, D.C.’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, reflected in its eclectic collection of cuisines, businesses, and residents, including a deep-rooted Hispanic community. From its variety of quaint coffeeshops and wide-ranging restaurants and some of D.C.’s hidden gems, this Northwest neighborhood is off the beaten path (no tourist traffic!) and will offer an unparalleled District experience usually saved for locals only!
Owned by Washingtonians, Tynan offers a variety of affordable and delicious coffees and teas in a low-key environment. With a mission to connect with customers in across “vibrant, diversified DC neighborhoods,” Tynan’s cozy vibe is perfect for sipping a drink alone, getting some work done, or meeting a friend!
Where: 1400 Irving St. NW, 107
2. The Coupe
A cafe and bar, The Coupe is a treasured community gathering place and aims to support it by sourcing a majority of its products from small, local businesses—including coffee beans from other local coffeehouse, Tryst! The Coupe offers seven flavor options, customer favorites like the Cuban coffee, and frappes for those feeling a little fanciful! No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong!
Where: 3415 11th St. NW
A family-owned business, Le Caprice brings the vibes of a quaint French cafe. You can snack on 19 flavors of macrons and French classics like the cafe au lait, sitting indoors or on the garden patio. But whether you plan on it or not, you’ll probably find yourself leaving with a croissant!
Where: 3456 14th St. NW
For a dairy-free option head on over to Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, a vegan cafe and bakery! This plant-based spot offers all of the frills of a coffeeshop, including delicious cupcakes (they’ve won “Cupcake Wars” twice!) and a matcha latte (with choice of soy, oat, or coconut milk)!
Where: 1370 Park Rd. NW
5. Thip Khao
If you’re looking for unique culinary experience with a spicy zing, Thip Khao is the place to go! Serving authentic Laotian dishes from chef, co-owner, and Lao native Seng Luangrath, Thip Khao has been named among D.C.’s best restaurants by both the Washingtonian and the New York Times. But heed the spiciness labels: Thip Khao definitely packs the heat!
Where: 3462 14th St. NW
This Michelin Bib Gourmand is a neighborhood hotspot! Boasting its “99% Mexican,” Puebla-influenced cuisine, Taqueria Habanero’s is known for its mouthwatering homemade tortillas—no matter what taco you order, you’re making the right choice!
Where: 3710 14th St NW
A bit on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, Rooster & Owl is worth every penny. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a mix of modern American shared plates and an ever-changing tasting menu, you can always rely on its signature pre-dinner pineapple buns to draw you in!
Where: 2436 14th St. NW
8. Mi Cuba Cafe
Traditional Cuban cuisine and tropical vibes will leave you feeling like you’ve been transported out of D.C. Must tries include: their rum cocktails, plátanos maduros fritos, and picadillos!
Where: 1424 Park Rd. NW
9. Red Derby
If you’re looking for a dive-bar atmosphere with rooftop vibes and affordable drinks, then look no further! Nestled in Columbia Heights, Red Derby is a local favorite for its cheap bar eats (check out Tendie Tuesday!) and infamous $3.50 whiskey and tequila shots, and beer and shot combos.
Where: 3718 14th St. NW
Playing off its namesake “Alice in Wonderland” inspiration, you’ll walk in the front door and go down the rabbit hole. A “Drink Me” sign adorns the liquor by the bar, where patrons can choose from hot or cold cocktails, a variety of beers, and the most comprehensive list of “crushes” you’ll ever see (orange, lemon, even mermaid)!
Where: 1101 Kenyon St. NW
Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, is beloved by D.C. residents, attracting them there for a variety of activities. Its many statues and memorials bring in sightseers (Jeanne d’Arc’s sword has been stolen and returned a number of times). Meanwhile, its winding paths and steps are a natural draw to runners, while group yoga and HIIT workouts take place there most weekends. When the weather is nice, people love to spread out on the grass for picnics, games, and a little quiet time to read. But the biggest draw is the park’s legendary Sunday drum circles. What began more than 40 years ago as a small group of African Americans gathering continues on to this day every Sunday afternoon during warm and mild weather, drawing professional and novice drummers and dancers alike just looking to connect.
Where: 16th St. NW and W St. NW
With varying Saturday times dependent on the season, the Columbia Heights Farmers Market is the ultimate local experience. Offering locally grown produce and vegetables, homemade goods from bread to cheese, and unbeatable authentic Mexican food, shopping at the farmer’s market easily beats your average grocery store run!
Where: 1400 Park Rd. NW