A. Litteri Inc.
517-519 Morse Street , NE
Among the commercial trucks, warehouses, and the DC Farmers Market sits the best selection of Italian food in the city. Litteri's has been offering the District a comprehensive selection of Italian specialty groceries since 1926 (moving to its current location in 1932). Many Italians in the community travel to the neighborhood just to shop at Litteri's, while others make the journey because of the stores reputation. In addition to all of take-home food, the deli serves up delicious sausage, subs, and cheeses.
4115 Wisconsin Ave , NW
This restaurant might be themed for San Francisco, but the neighborhood shop serves up some of the tastiest sandwiches available to DC residents. The "Mission," filled with brie and fresh vegetables, is a must for vegetarians. The "North Beach" offers up among the best chicken salad found between two slices of bread. Don't get caught on just one sandwich though, they're all well worth trying. The exploded potatoes are a great side or change of pace. The only downside of Frisco's is it's small, so it can get crowded.
American City Diner
5532 Connecticut Ave , NW
American City Diner is the classic new-school diner. It's shiny and bright and tries to recapture the feel of a 1950's diner seemingly without the authenticity. Nevertheless, the jukebox has some fun songs, the food is good, and the atmosphere relaxed. The screened in porch also includes a screen for classic dinner and movie nights.
Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street , NW
Ben's Chili Bowl probably serves up the most enjoyable chili in the city. Everyone who works there is extremely friendly, the customers are social, the juke box is fantastic, and there are plenty of pictures on the wall (in the back at least) to keep you entertained as you eat. The chili burgers and fries are standard fare, and the veggie burger is better than you would expect in the quick-grill chili bowl environment. The milkshakes are deliciously thick and tasty. It's easy to understand why this place has become a DC institution and a favorite of both regulars and those visiting the 14th and U night scene: it's impossible to leave Ben's Chili Bowl without feeling quite content and a just a little too full.
1346 T St , NW
While many restaurants around 14th and U Streets NW serve up delicious dishes of Ethiopian cuisine, there aren't too many places you can go and relax with a cup of Ethiopian coffee. Cafe Collage is the place to do this. Its deliciously spiced Ethiopian coffee and hot chocolate are served up piping hot (food wise, the menu is very basic -- pretty much only including some pastries). The two levels of comfortable couches, small outdoor patio, interesting art, and friendly staff create an environment that invites long visits.
1506 U Street , NW
Cakelove is a wonderful idea: who wouldn't love a store exclusively for cupcakes? Newspaper clippings reveal that the recently opened store is already a local favorite. Before picking a cupcake flavor, you must make fundamental decision between iced or naked. The cupcakes are quite different in each of these camps. With icing, the cupcakes themselves are fairly standard: vanilla or chocolate treat, topped by one of the wide variety of buttercream frostings. The un-iced ones are a little less conventional and a whole lot more special. They are bursting with flavor and are impressively moist. The chocolate sunrise sets is particularly scrumptuous.
Colonel Brooks Tavern
901 Monroe Street , NE
Colonel Brooks looks a bit like a cheesy resort town hang-out, but the campy decor adds to its appeal. The tavern draws a crowd of college students and neighbors of all ages. They have probably been won over by the wide-ranging dinner menu or the melt-in-your-mouth buttery crust of their pie. A large party can stay separate from the crowd by reserving the upstairs restaurant. no matter where dinner is served, stay after and relax at their bar while being watched over by the image of Colonel Brooks himself.
5515 Colorado Ave , NW
Colorado Kitchen is a culinary treat tucked away in the residential pocket of 14th Street Heights. Self-described as American cuisine, the restaurant serves adapted New England classics that call soul food to mind. The brunch is a particular treat -- the home made donuts at the beginning of the meal turn the trip into an addictive habit. Don't just stop by once, their excellent menu changes each month. Colorado Kitchen has everything a great restaurant needs -- fresh ingredients, an excellent chef, reasonable prices, and just enough kitschy decoration to make it homey.
Columbia Heights Coffee
3416 11th Street , NW
This neighborhood coffee shop is off the beaten path of the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant retail strips. But the trip to 11th street rewards customers with amazing drip coffee and espresso (that quickly gains many converts from other coffee shops). In terms of food, they have the usual pastries, but also an unbelievable crab cake sandwich. Hopefully Columbia Heights coffee will expand its hours and seating, so more people can enjoy its comfortable atmosphere and excellent caffeine.
Crown Bakery - Caribbean Style
5321 Georgia Avenue , NW
Crown Bakery is a small store crowded with customers ready to enjoy Caribbean meals and desserts. They sell both sweet and savory pastries - from guava and mango to chicken and veggie. They also have peanut drops, cookies, and breads. If you're feeling adventurous, the exotic homemade juices like sorrel are well worth the try. Their pastries and juices are strong and very sweet but also quite good.
1916 14th St , NW
This El Salvadorian and Mexican restaurant serves simple but tasty meals at reasonable prices. The wide ranging menu includes a wide variety of dishes served in generous portions. The restaurant attracts many people in the Latino community, which is always a good sign for genuine Central American fare. The atmosphere is basic but elegant, and the juke box spins good Latin music.
Florida Avenue Grill
1100 Florida Ave , NW
The photos of famous patrons that line the walls of this neighborhood grill show off many more faces than could ever fit in the restaurant at once. The narrow room offers a few booths, a counter, and an extremely busy grill. It's no wonder the place is so popular and has been a U street institution for so many years. The grits, hot cakes, and various meats are all excellent and cheap. Florida Avenue Grill is the place for a southern breakfast.
200 Upshur St , NW
Across the street from the Old Soldier's Home, a corner home has been converted into a neighborhood restaurant. The Hitching Post is a neat space with a friendly atmosphere and home-style dinners. Meals of fried chicken, burgers, and fish sandwiches can be accompanied by mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and other classics. The gumbo is a special treat with plentiful seafood. Also, a local residents and regulars fill the large bar to spend casual evenings at the Hitching Post.
Horace and Dickies Seafood
809 12th St , NE
Horace and Dickies sits unobstrusively, tucked away a couple storefronts off of H Street. Inside, the take-out restaurant is nothing special. It's just a line of customers, a fridge of soda, and counter in front of really, really good fried fish sandwiches. They sell a couple other sandwiches and sides, but people come here for the fried fish. And they should. The four large pieces of flaky, not-too-fishy, great with hot or tartar sauce fried fish piled atop two slices of bread ring in under $5. This is probably one of the best dining deals in the city. Though Horace and Dickies doens't have seating, Lincoln Park isn't too far away to picnic on a nice day.
Jimmy T's Place
501 E. Capitol St. , SE
At peak hours, the Jimmy T's experience goes a little something like this--hover near the doorway until a table is freed, wait forever for someone to take your order, endure jibes from the waitstaff regarding your food choice/insistence on service/the shape you're in that morning, wait forever for your food to come, wait forever for the part of your order the server forgot to bring the first time to come, eat a satisfying but unremarkable meal, wait forever for your check, leave feeling like you've finally found an authentic community gathering place in the city. Don't go to Jimmy T's for a fine dining experience. Go for a leisurely meal of greasy comfort food served up by a harried but hilarious staff in a room full of your neighbors. And be sure to heed the sign above the grill--"Be nice or leave."
La Lomita Dos
308 Pennsylvania Avenue , SE
Unfettered by the influence of South American or Southwestern cuisine like so many other Mexican restaurants these days, La Lomitas Dos serves up plain, good, and inexpensive Mexican fare with strong margaritas in a festive yet intimate atmosphere.
200 E St , SW
The Market Inn is a family owned and operated restaurant tucked between Capitol Hill and the Southwest waterfront. This upscale restaurant primarily specializes in seafood (particularly lobster and crab) but also serves prime and spare ribs. For added entertainment, there is live piano or jazz every day. A popular spot for over forty years, the Inn can be found in Ray Oldenburg's "The Great Good Place," which discusses the importance of cafes and pubs in the vitality of a community.
3203 Mount Pleasant St , NW
This restaurant and bar has an inviting low-key ambience without being pretentious. The low-lit wooden interior provides more character than the clubs that try to be hip in Adams Morgan. The menu is composed of mostly Spanish cuisine that is reasonably tasty and pretty cheap. Their Belgian beers round out the usual beer menu. The Marx Cafe hosts DJs who spice up the experience as the night goes on. This is a chill place to spend an evening.
4706 14th Street , NW
As you lounge on one of Mocha Hut's cushy couches, surrounded by bright pillows and tapestries, sipping your good strong coffee, staring up at the old aluminum ceiling or at the art for sale across the room, you might be tempted to stay longer than you had planned. It's okay! Just order a waffle, a bowl of soup, a sandwich, or a salad from Mocha Hut's full breakfast and lunch menu and watch the slow but steady stream of young and old locals enjoying themselves as much as you are.
Negril Jamaican Eatery
2301-G Georgia Avenue , NW
Negril is a simple eatery that offers up reasonably priced, generously portioned, and delicious food. The menu is pretty basic, but there is something for everyone. Definitely try the roti - it is mild, but juicy and flavorful. Their side dishes and desserts complement the entrees quite well. For the complete Jamaican experience, try their Jamaican sodas or sorrel juice. While you can eat at the restaurant, the atmosphere doesn't add much to the experience, so carry-out makes sense. Negril also runs in several Maryland locations.
Phish Tea Cafe
1335 H St , NE
Phish Tea is a huge H street cafe that offers up Caribbean cuisine, a bar, and an art gallery. The menu includes a wide array of Caribbean food from many of the islands. The cafe features traditional items that have been lost or forgotten (including Fish Tea, the fish soup from which cafe derives its name). The space itself is enormous, filled with comfortable couches, great ambience, and impressive art gallery with the paintings of local artists on sale. Check out the Phish Tea Cafe for lunch, dinner, or brunch, or consider renting this fantastic space for a private event.
3903 14th St , NW
Logs for wood-smoke BBQ sauces are visible from the outside of this carry-out ribs restaurant. Though it seems like it should be easier to find ribs in DC, this is the only place needed to fit the bill. The pork and beef ribs are flavorful and fall off the bone. The side dishes are fine and the sweet potato pie is a good way to end the meal, but the ribs are definitely the star of the Rib Pit.
1420 Pennsylvania Ave , SE
The Scoop actually hosts children's parties and is not a place primarily intended for the passerby to pick up some food. Despite its focus, it deserves recognition as one the better places to get a scoop of ice cream in the city. Though not made in the store, the ice cream is homemade for them (which seems to be a rarity these days). The passerby should definitely stop by the Scoop to pick up their scoop -- cup or cone. The ice cream is more highly recommended than their food, though they do have some to-go basics available here as well.
1720 14th Street , NW
Sparky's is the 14th Street home of the neighborhood coffee shop, quick sandwiches, and oversize donuts. This is a great place to grab a drink and pastry and relax or meet up with friends during a weekend afternoon or before hitting a show or club in the area. A couple lucky people can shag the comfortable people-watching chairs by the door. Beyond that, the tables are also helpful for playing the board games always available in the cafe.
3222 Pennsylvania Ave , SE
Star Pizza's not just for lunch. The simple but adequate breakfast menu at this inconspicuous SE establishment offers the kind of diner-style eats you tend to crave in the early hours. (Try the hotcakes--oh so fluffy.)Thanks to the stick of Doublemint you get after paying your bill, the pictures of "Half Smoke" and "Hot Dog in a Bun" that adorn the walls, and the Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga Namco arcade game, Star Pizza's atmosphere is welcomingly campy. We know there's at least one regular and wouldn't be suprised if there were many more.
Sweet Mango Cafe
3701 New Hampshire Ave , NW
Sweet Mango Cafe is an excellent example of DC's ample Caribbean cuisine. The menu is basic, but each dish is delicious and deserves many returns. While the curry, plaintains, and patties are all great, Sweet Mango is known for its well-spiced and tender jerk chicken. Also, like many local Caribbean restaurants, it offers large portions for reasonable prices.
The large cafe has a crisp look with bright walls and impressive black and white photos. The kitchen is visible from the counter where you order your food, and the tables on the ground floor are surrounded by large windows. Upstairs also offers a patio option.
Szechuan House Restaurant
515 8th Street , SE
The rich red walls and cheery paper lanterns of Szechuan House create just the right atmosphere for dining over Asian food, whether for a quick lunch or a leisurely dinner. The mostly Chinese menu also includes some Thai and curry dishes, sushi on Tues-Sat, and a full bar. Try the Peking duck for a moist treat or a bean curd dish for a filling vegetarian meal.
1202 U Street , NW
This small restaurant serves up Caribbean food and live jazz. The menu is pretty basic, offering plantains, calypso chicken, several types of roti, and a few other popular Caribbean dishes. Their beverages are more interesting, with authentic drinks that include delicious sorrel juice. Appropriate for the U street corridor, the Islander hosts live jazz on Sundays nights.
Turntable Restaurant and Reggae Disco
5802 Georgia Ave , NW
Turntable is a spacious Jamaican hangout divided into thirds: drinking at the bar in the back, dancing in the middle, and dining (or dominoes) at the tables and booths at the front. The menu includes Jamaican specialties like oxtail and jerked meats; Red Stripes are cheap at the bar, which also features juices and sodas in unusual fruit flavors. Staff and patrons, mostly Jamaican transplants, are friendly -- almost too friendly.
Waffle Shop (Columbia Heights)
1402 Park Rd , NW
Perhaps the only reason this restaurant serves waffles is to honor its original sign. Rather than part with the fantastic 1950s neon sign, the owners must have decided it was worth offering traditional American breakfasts along with its Latin American cuisine. The majority of the menu is the same as can be found in most neighboring Central American restaurants. However, the food was good, the portions generous, and the prices quite low. This isn't the place to go if you're looking for any formality in your dining experience. The dingy exterior always makes the Waffle Shop look closed, the coffee was served up in an MIT 1999 mug, and service came after a struggle to catch the attention of the wait staff. Yet all together, the formica counter, swivel stools, juke box, and stream of customers definitely made this Latin American 1950s diner worth the visit.
Waffle Shop (Downtown)
522 10th Street , NW
As part of an apparent trend in DC Waffle Shops to serve ethnic food as much as waffles, this diner has added an extensive Chinese menu to its breakfast and lunch selections. However, the charm still comes in the breakfast or lunch experience. The stools that line the wavy counters are crowded with customers chatting with the waitstaff. The waffles are excellent and the rest of the breakfast food was tasty, though not something to write home about. The Chinese food is fine, but it's a good thing it's inexpensive. Definitely check out the Waffle Shop during a social morning.
Windows Cafe and Market
101 Rhode Island Ave , NW
This Rhode Island Avenue cafe is a comfortable and cheap place to chat and eat. The menu is basic, with sandwiches, pastries, and coffee, but these simple dishes can be supplemented by the offerings of the attached convenience store. Windows' country aesthetic provides a pleasant backdrop to catch up with friends, read, or enjoy a quick meal.