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Washington, D.C./Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights

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Washington, D.C. : Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights
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Washington, D.C./Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights

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The Meridian Hill Park Fountain

Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia Heights are three bordering neighborhoods, each with a different character, but united in an unmistakeable sense of dynamism, diversity, youth, and nightlife.

Adams Morgan is a popular dining and nightlife district north of Dupont Circle and the U St Corridor. Mount Pleasant is more of a small town in the city, with a main street with small shops, bars, and restaurants, especially Latin American food. Columbia Heights is a rapidly developing area with a large shopping mall around at the Metro stop, and a number of bars and restaurants, with new ones opening seemly every month.


Dubbed by the City Paper as the Liquorridor, this section of town is home to a denser population of bars and clubs than anywhere else, and is an extremely trendy spot (among locals) for a night on the town. There are plenty of great restaurants, especially ethnic restaurants, most often offering a better value for your money than in Dupont Circle, downtown, or Georgetown. And of course, especially in Adams Morgan, there are tons of bars and restaurants that pack in the fun-seekers and party-goers, particularly after midnight.

This is a good place to see the city at its most dynamic; people from all walks of life, culture, race, sexual orientation, immigrants, natives, transplants, etc. all converge here at the center of the city to enjoy each others' company and to have a good time. It's also the heart of today's current and occasionally controversial gentrification process, particularly so in Columbia Heights (Adams Morgan is already there).


Adams Morgan is best known for the nightlife district on 18th St between Florida and Columbia Rd, which after midnight on weekends gets so packed full of revelers that it's hard to move down the sidewalk. It's more than that, though—it's a lovely, historic, culturally vibrant neighborhood, full of eccentric shopping (often in outdoor markets), great restaurants, community murals, and soaring rents!

Mount Pleasant is the cultural center of the city's Salvadoran population (although the vast majority of the area's enormous Salvadoran population lives outside the city proper), and is a nice for a Saturday stroll to soak up the Latin vibes, see some chanchona bands, and delve into one of the city's famous pupuserías.

Columbia Heights, like much of the city, was devastated by the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Efforts to revitalize the area are much more recent than in Adams Morgan or Shaw, and the lower real estate prices and cheaper dining reflect that. The center of Columbia Heights is the Tivoli Theatre, home of the GALA Hispanic Theatre. The shopping area surrounding it and the Columbia Heights metro station (which opened as recent as 1999) is brand new, of questionable aesthetic taste, and not terribly exciting—mostly shopping malls with major chain retailers like Target, Best Buy, etc. Yet just outside there are many restaurants, bars, and hipster hangouts, lending to a vibe as close to that of New York's Williamsburg in D.C..

Columbia Heights is marked dramatically on its southern border by the Fall Line, which runs along Florida Avenue. This steep escarpment divides America's Piedmont Plateau from the Tidewater region of Virginia. If you are looking for a good view of the city, head to the hill on 13th St just north of Florida near Cardozo High School. This natural formation is also responsible for the dramatic terraces and fountains of Meridian Hill aka Malcolm X Park which, aside from restaurants and bars, is the major point of interest in the neighborhood.

Get in

Adams Morgan map.png

By metro

The closest stop on the Red Line is Woodley Park/Adams Morgan to the west of Rock Creek Park, which is actually a good ten minute walk from Columbia and 18th street. Columbia Heights on the Green/Yellow Lines is the other obvious stop, and is closer to Mount Pleasant.

By bus

The following metrobus routes run 5AM-midnight daily, usually with a couple additional buses midnight-2AM:

52, 53, & 54 [47] travel from 4AM north-south along 14th St from the East End through Shaw to the Columbia Heights metro station, and then all the way north to the Takoma station at the edge of the city.

H2, H3, & H4 [48] run east-west from the Cleveland Park Metro station on the Red Line through Mount Pleasant, the Columbia Heights Metro stop, and then past the Washington Hospital Center and on to Catholic University.

The L2 [49] runs north from GWU through Dupont Circle, then straight up 18th St in Adams Morgan before veering west to the Woodley Park metro stop and the National Zoo. Sa-Su service from 6AM.

The D.C. Circulator Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square Metro Station "Green" line runs Su-Th 7AM-midnight, F-Sa 7AM-3:30AM (to serve the nightlife traffic). It stops at the 18th & Columbia intersection and the Columbia Heights metro stop, and then goes west to the Woodley Park station, and south along 14th through U St and on to Downtown.

By car

It's not very hard to find street parking on side streets in Columbia Heights, and to a lesser extent Mount Pleasant. Adams Morgan, on the other hand, is packed. Since robberies are more common in this part of the city than any other, taking your car here can be a risky venture if you will be walking back to it at night by yourself. Taxis are easy to catch on the main drags, and pretty much anywhere within Adams Morgan. Lots of cab drivers live in Columbia Heights, so they are easier to catch throughout than you would expect for a less lively neighborhood.

The main streets for driving north-south are 16th St and Georgia Ave (although 14th can be a surprisingly quick route north of U St). Major east-west routes are fewer and more confusing: Columbia Rd is the best route to go between Connecticut Ave in Dupont Circle and the Washington Hospital Center and Catholic University.


Bars and restaurants in Adams Morgan
  • Art & Media House, 3035 15th St NW, +1 202 319-7312, [1]. M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Columbia Height's Latin American Youth Center's colorful house is dedicated to teaching and encouraging art in the community, and they keep a small art gallery showing exhibits of works by local youths.

  • Meridian Hill Park (Malcom X Park), (between 15th & 16th; W & Euclid), +1 202 895-6070, [2]. Meridian Hill Park is a hidden gem if there ever was one. Its twelve acres are centered on a long, stunning, cascading waterfall, surrounded by European-style terraced landscaping, and is administered by the National Park Service. The grounds have long been an esteemed commodity in the city, first surrounding an 1819 mansion, which became President James Quincy's home following his presidency. Around the time of the Civil War, Congress considered moving the Presidential residence here from the White House, as the White House was just north of the putrid stench of the mosquito and sewage-infested Washington City Canal, (the plan didn't make it pass the House of Representatives). In the early twentieth century the national government purchased the lands, and converted them into the extravagant Italianate park that you see today. Despite its elegance, the park didn't make it into the modern era unscathed, though. After the 1968 riots, the park was for two decades a haven for open-air drug markets, which got worse and worse throughout the crack epidemic. Following the murder of a teenager in 1990, the community decided to take back control of the park, and organized regular citizen patrols throughout the day and night. They were very successful, and the park is quite safe today. But, alas, the park's rougher days claimed the sword from Joan of Arc—the only female equestrian statue in the city—vandals leaving her arm outstretched without purpose.
  • Mexican Cultural Center, 2829 16th St NW, +1 202 728-1628, [3]. Gallery: M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. Housed in the beautiful former Embassy of Mexico, the cultural center has a nice collection of Mexican artwork, and puts on frequent classical and other musical performances, as well as film screenings, lectures, and other events. The gallery, and many of the events are free, but those that aren't see hefty donations required for tickets.
  • Stoddard Baptist Home (Ingleside Estate), 1818 Newton St NW, +1 202 328-7400. Mount Pleasant's residential streets are filled with beautiful old single-family homes and rowhouses, and several old estates. This former nineteenth century estate (which was far larger than the present day property) now houses what is probably the city's most architecturally significant retirement home!


The legendary Madam's Organ

This part of the city has a ton of colorful neighborhood murals, worth seeking out if you like public art, and worth noticing even if you couldn't care less!

  • Canto a la Esperanza, 2000 Klingle Rd NW. Song for Hope is Mount Pleasant's mural, covering a whole block.
  • Champorama Park Mural, 2270 Champlain St NW. One of several murals around the city by the city's legendary Nigerian artist, Aniekan Udofia.
  • Cows on a Bycicle. 2437 15th St NW. This one is a fun advertisement of sorts for both City Bikes and Ben & Jerry's.
  • The Laundromat, 1728 Columbia Rd NW. A bright community-painted mural of a laundromat, right next to the laundromat!
  • Madams Organ, 2461 18th St NW (over the bar of the same name). The unmistakeable mural that is (to the consternation of some of the more uptight residents) the somewhat risqué symbol of Adams Morgan.
  • Un Pueblo sin Murales (The Adams Morgan Mural), 1779 Columbia Rd NW. "A Town without Murals..." is an odd title in these parts—clearly, it isn't referring to Adams Morgan. On the contrary, there is an element of Pinochet's Chile here, as the mural was painted by two asylum seekers from that oppressive regime, and the caption's "demuralized people" likely refers to that society. The diverse group of people in the mural, however, look very much like Adams Morgan
  • Sankofa I and II, 3030 14th St NW (over the Columbia Heights metro station's east entrance). A stained glass mural over the metro with a theme of Ghanaian Sankofa birds.
  • Three Macaws, 1706 Columbia Rd NW. The three Macaws are a nod to Adams Morgan's immigrant cultures, macaws from Latin America, an Asian dragon, and African warriors.
  • Toulouse-Lautrec, (above Madam's Organ). Contrary to popular belief, this huge two-story mural is not of the famous French painter, it is a mural reproduction of one of his paintings. The man in question is Aristide Bruant, a then-popular French cabaret performer. To the amazement of all Adams Morganites, the associated Cafe Toulouse has closed!
  • Walter Pierce Park Mural. Between Calvert St & Adams Mill Rd NW. This is a sadder mural, a memorial by Aniekan Udofia to two teenagers who were murdered near this park.


Shops, restaurants, and bars on 18th St
  • District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), 2438 18th St NW, +1 202 462-7833, [4]. Gallery: W-Su 2PM-7PM. The Arts Center has a an art gallery with rotating high-quality shows by local artists, as well as a very cool black box theater, and regular and special events (like avant garde poetry nights). Shows/events: $3-20.
  • The Jam Cellar, 2437 15th St NW, +1 202 569-8329, [5]. Tu 8:30PM-midnight. Swing dancing in a 1920s marble-filled mansion that once housed the Brazilian and Hungarian Embassies. It's a really amazing thing. While the weekly event attracts a lot of (read: all) dedicated swing dancers from the area, there are always a couple (world class) instructors around to get beginners started for free. If we're going to be honest here, this is the best place in the country, and hence the world, to go swing dancing—and that's even in spite of the no A/C in the summer. BYOB(!).
  • Meridian Hill Drum Circle, (at the Joan of Arc statue, top of the steps in the park). Nice weather: Su 3PM-9PM. The weekly Drum Circle has been going on for nearly half a century, and is one of the coolest events in the city, with the most diverse section of drummers, acrobats, dancers, and what have you in the city. Come to hang out and enjoy the vibe, or bring your drum and join in the jam session!
  • Tivoli Theatre (GALA Hispanic Theatre), 3333 14th St NW, +1 202 234-7174, [6]. Shows usually Th-Sa 8PM, Su 3PM. GALA stands for Grupo de Artistas LatinoAmericanas, and their residency at the Tivoli Theatre is the jewel in the crown of revitalized Columbia Heights. The Tivoli Theatre was the grandest of D.C.'s early twentieth century movie palaces, built in ornate Italianate Renaissance style for a whopping one million dollars in 1921. Today the theatre is mixed use, with the important use being the small stage for GALA. Most of GALA's performances are in Spanish, with English surtitles, and range from classical Spanish drama to contemporary Latino theater. They also put on frequent non-dramatic performances of dance, music, etc.


The 18th St shopping scene in Adams Morgan couldn't be better oriented for travelers looking to browse for a day. Import shops and especially record stores are strongly associated with the neighborhood. And nearly all the interesting shops are along a three-block strip on 18th St.

Columbia Heights is a thoroughly uninteresting shopping destination, but it is useful for any necessities—new headphones, sim cards, cheap shoes—you might have while traveling. Chains right by the metro stop are standard mall fare: Radio Shack, Best Buy, Target, Marshalls, T-Mobile, etc.


  • Tibet Shop, 2407 18th St NW, +1 202 387-1880, [7]. Su-W 10:30AM-9:30PM, Th-Sa 10:30AM-11:30PM. The Tibetan import store, run by an acclaimed Tibetan journalist and photographer, packed with upscale, handmade arts and crafts, as well as ritual items, carpets, clothes, etc.
  • Toro Mata, 2410 18th St NW, +1 202 232-3890, [8]. Tu-F noon-10PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. Toro Mata, the Bull Kills, is a famous Peruvian folk song, and the Adams Morgan store of the same name is filled with Peruvian art of all varieties—paintings, vases, stuffed animals, interior decorating accessories, etc. A great place for browsing.


18th St in Adams Morgan
  • Meeps & Aunt Neensie's Vintage Clothing, 2104 18th St NW, +1 202 265-6546, [9]. M-Sa noon-7PM, Su noon-5PM. Meeps is one of D.C.'s long-established vintage stores, with a selection of men's and women's fashion, casual to formal. Styles range from the 1940s–80s. It's small, but beloved.
  • Mercedes Bien, 2423 18th St NW (second floor), +1 202 360-8481. Sa noon-6PM, Su noon-5PM. A small men's and women's vintage store run by long-time D.C. fashionista of the same name. In a unique twist, the items on display are actually well organized, carefully selected, and don't require extensive browsing. Considering the careful attention to detail, the prices are quite affordable, and the fashions skew 70s-ish, but other periods are also well-represented.
  • El West, 3167 Mt Pleasant St NW, +1 202 265-6233. M-F 10:30AM-7:30PM, Tu 11AM-7:30PM, Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 9:30AM-7PM. One-stop gaucho shop. Snakeskin check, leather (crocodile, cow, and others) check, cowboy boots, check, large cowboy belt buckles, check. OK, it's not just gaucho apparel, and there are women's items here too, but most of the items are leather of some sort. And it's expensive.

Books and Music

Happily, Adams Morgan's book and music shops, while esoteric, lack the pretension and snobbishness you'll find in most other cities. Staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and welcoming (if slow).

  • Crooked Beat Records, 2318 18th St NW, +1 202 483-2328, [10]. M 1:30PM-9PM, Tu noon-9PM, W-Sa noon-9:30PM, Su noon-7PM. This is the vinyl sister of Smash (below), albeit a little less punk, and a little more post-rock indie. That's not the limit of the collection, though, and the store has the occasional great jazz LP finds. If you are not some sort of expert on local indie rock (and it's hard to see why a traveler would be), ask the friendly experts at the counter, then take your record to the listening station to check it out. This is one of D.C.'s true, great record stores, and a long-time 18th St fixture.
  • Idle Time Books, 2467 18th St NW, +1 202 232-4774, [11]. 11AM-10PM daily. One part record store and three parts used bookstore, this is another great place to browse and to find dirt-cheap books and CDs (small, but excellent classical selection). Unlike soulless chain bookstores, this one is full of comfy chairs, so grab an interesting random book and start whiling away some time!
  • Smash Records, 2314 18th ST NW, +1 202 387-6274, [12]. M-Th noon-9PM, F noon-10PM, Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-7PM. D.C.'s punk rock scene was legendary in the 80s, and this was its most famous record store. It has a great collection of both old and new punk and other local indie CDs, as well related books. Also on offer is a small selection of cheap punk fashion.


There is one particular specialty in Adams Morgan, and that is the Jumbo Slice pizza. Various take outs along the 18th St nightlife strip, between Columbia Rd and Florida Ave serve enormous, greasy slices of pizza on the cheap to hungry drunks until 4AM. There are different opinions about which of the jumbo slice pizza places is best, but the truth is that it couldn't matter less which one you go to—it's remarkably satisfying at night, but not by any means good pizza. The three most well-known are Pizza Mart (2445 18th St NW), Jumbo Pizza (2341 18th St NW), and Pizza Boli's (1511 U St NW, in Shaw).

Jumbo slice pizza

Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant offer very different fare, most notably Salvadoran cuisine provided by the area's enormous Salvadoran community, plus a lot of new restaurants. There is one word that you will know after a visit, and that is pupusa. Pupusas are thick corn maize tortillas stuffed with soft cheese, cheese + loroco (a Salvadoran flower), squash, pork, refried beans, or all sorts of other things, then topped with pickled cabbage (curtido) and tangy red sauce. Pupusas revueltas include more than one filling (adding bacon to the cheese pupusas is never a bad idea). They are delicious. Pupusas in D.C. are serious business; they are always cooked to order, and will take at least ten minutes to prepare. Someone will almost always speak some English, but it's not a bad idea to keep a little Spanish in your pocket (dos pupusas de loroco con queso, por favor). Aside from pupusas, look for Salvadoran soups and delicious atoles. An atol is somewhere between porridge, hot chocolate, and a milkshake, made from corn meal, most of the spices you'd expect in pumpkin pie, and occasionally with chocolate.

Beware Mexican food served here in the Salvadoran restaurants, or anywhere in D.C., as there is virtually no Mexican immigrant community to speak of. With the exception of Taquería D.F. and Super Tacos and Bakery the Mexican dishes are inauthentic rubbish—stick to the Salvadoran entrees. The Salvadoreños do Peruvian quite well, though, so you'll find good lomo saltado everywhere, and occasionally some incredible pollo a la brasa.


  • Amsterdam Falafelshop, 2425 18th St NW, +1 202 234-1969, [13]. Su-M 11AM-midnight, Tu-W 11AM-2:30AM, Th 11AM-3AM, F-Sa 11AM-4AM. Cheap, good falafel with a killer fixings bar catering particularly to the late late night crowd. Good twice-fried fries as well. They accept euros, dollars, and all major credit cards. $4.50-9.
  • The Diner, 2453 18th St NW, +1 202 232-8800, [14]. 24 hour daily. It's a 24 hour diner on the booziest street in the city. Amazingly, the food is actually good! D.C. is rather lacking in 24 hour establishments, so it's a beautiful thing to have one right in the heart of Adams Morgan. Weekend nights can actually see live DJs in here (!), so expect to brave crowds late nights F-Sa. $4-15.
  • Pollo Campero, 3229 14th St NW, +1 202 745-0078, [15]. 10AM-9PM daily. Nostalgic Guatamaltecos take note—Pollo Campero and D.C. get along quite nicely! A Guatemalan fast food chain offering fried chicken which is of significantly higher quality than the garbage you would get at a KFC or Popeye's, along with Central American sides and drinks. It's hardly the best food in the area, but it is fast food, and a fun experience. $4-8.
  • El Pollo Sabroso, 3153 Mt Pleasant St NW, +1 202 299-0374. M-Sa 10:30AM-9PM, Su 11AM-8PM. Peruvian roast chicken, with its spices and green salsa, is good. This is the place in the city to get it, with a side of fluffy Spanish rice, yucca, fried plantains, etc., and washed down with some fruit licuados or horchata. As already said, it's a Peruvian place so skip the pupusas. $5-11.
  • Taquería Distrito Federal, 3463 14th St NW, +1 202 276-7331, [16]. Su-W 8AM-9PM, Th-Sa 8AM-11PM. D.C.'s sole authentic Mexican food is served out of this tiny hole-in-the-wall. The tacos are surprisingly good, even compared to those you would get in a city with a large Mexican community, and you won't go wrong with any of the available fillings. Their menudo, available only on weekends, is likewise excellent. $1.50-7.


  • Don Jaime Restaurant, 3209 Mt Pleasant St NW. An odd mix of Salvadoran and American diner food on offer, this is an especially good place for brunch. It's very accessible to non-Spanish speakers, and has a bar. The owner is exceptionally friendly. $3-12.
  • Don Juan Restaurant, 1660 Lamont St NW, +1 202 667-0010. 11AM-2AM daily. Don Juan is less accessible to non-Spanish speakers, but the pupusas are some of the best in the city. The atmosphere is a little weird, with a big disco ball complimenting the big flat-screen tv, some deer heads on the walls, and the requisite thumping polka on the jukebox, but that can heighten the experience with the right attitude. Separate take-out entrance is in the back. $1.50-15.
  • Ercilia's Restaurant, 3070 Mt Pleasant St NW, +1 202 387-0909. M-W 8AM-10PM, Th-Sa 8AM-11PM. Mount Pleasant's nomination for friendliest Pupusería in town. It's not just a take-out; there is a nice little restaurant inside, so you can sit back, linger over tasty soups or snack on yuca frita. $1.50-9.
  • Gloria's Pupusería, 3411 14th St NW, +1 202 884-1880. 6AM-11PM daily. This is the best known of all the pupuserías in D.C., but its quality thankfully has not yet declined. $2-9.


  • Las Canteras, 2307 18th St NW, +1 202 265-1780, [17]. Tu-Th 11AM-3PM,5PM-10PM, F-Su 11AM-3PM,5PM-11PM. Adams Morgan lucked out recently when a top Peruvian chef from El Chalán opened this little restaurant, serving traditional Peruvian dishes with a little international flair. Peruvian food is one of the world's truly great cuisines, rich with seafood, some fifty varieties of indigenous potatoes, and the culinary intersection of Spanish, Incan, and East Asian traditions. Chinese influenced lomo saltado (beef & potatoes) as well as ceviche (raw fish) are the national dishes, and as with El Chalán, the anticuchos (chicken hearts) are exceptional. $22-35.
  • The Grill from Ipanema, 1858 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 986-0757, [18]. M-Th 4:30PM-11PM, F 4:30PM-11:30PM, Sa noon-11:30PM, Su noon-10PM. This is no gimmicky downtown place—this is a real taste of Brazil in D.C. Brazilian food is meat heavy, and the steaks here are excellent. If steak is too one-dimensional, try the feijoada, a stew of various smoked meats, southern greens, fruit, and black beans. Too much meat? Try one of the seafood moquecas. And the potent caipirinhas are among the neighborhood's favorite cocktails. It is a little overpriced, but if you don't mind the extra $5-10, this makes for a great dinner date. $20-35.
  • The Heights, 3115 14th St NW, +1 202 797-7227, [19]. Mo-Th noon-10:30PM, F noon-midnight, Sa 9AM-midnight, Su 9AM-10:30PM. An American/Continental bar and restaurant with lots of outdoor seating and a good brunch. $10-30.
  • El Tamarindo, 1785 Florida Avenue NW, +1 202 328-3660, [20]. M-Th 11AM-3AM; F 11AM-5AM; Sa-Su 10AM-5AM. This Salvadoran place offers solid food and solid drinks at reasonable prices, in a nice, comfortable dining room. Another establishment catering to the ultra-late night crowd. $12-25.
  • Tonic, 3155 Mt Pleasant St NW, +1 202 986-7661, [21]. M-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM, Su 5PM-2AM. Don't let the Mount Pleasant location fool you, this bar/restaurant serves American cuisine, mostly upscale comfort food. The interior is lovely, and full of friendly hipsters. It's easily one of the best places in this part of town to have a late meal with a big group over several bottles of wine. $7-20.


The Tivoli Theatre
  • Cashion's Eat Place, 1819 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 797-1819, [22]. Tu 5:30PM-10PM, W-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, F-Sa midnight-2AM (bar snacks), Su 11:30AM-2:30PM. This section of town is still a little short on the upscale eateries, but Cashion's has always been an exception—a long time resident in a neighborhood of trendy newcomers. The menu is an odd mix of southern soul and Greek Mediterranean, as the founder, Cashion, was from Mississippi, and the master chef from Greece! With a culinary mix like that, Sunday brunch is a hit. $32-45.
  • Perry's, 1811 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 234-6218, [23]. M-Th 5:30PM-10:30PM, F 5:30PM-11:30PM, Sa 11AM-3PM,5:30PM-11:30PM, Su 10:30AM-2:30PM,5:30PM-10:30PM. There are a lot of reasons to come here, the biggest being the rooftop patio seating and the masterful cooking (mostly Japanese and Middle Eastern "tapas") by famous local chefs as well as an import from New York's Bond Street. Other attractions include drag brunch on Sundays, and happy hour specials on sushi and tapas (M-F 5:30PM-7:30PM) $20-45.


There are far too many good options to list here, especially as of-the-moment bars and clubs close and reopen under different names weekly—you'd be well-served to do your own reconnaissance up and down 18th St. You could hop between five places per day, and it would still take about a month to finish off the neighborhood. Many bars and clubs have sidewalk or rooftop patios in the warmer months, and they're serving anything from cheap pitchers of beer to expensive champagne based cocktails.

Be aware before you arrive on a F-Sa night, though, the crowd is as young as it is drunk, and the whole thing can look a bit like the capital's take on Mardis Gras. That's either a plus or a minus depending on your view, but you can escape this crowd if you choose your destination carefully. Regardless of your tastes, you should be sure to stop by the legendary Madam's Organ.


  • Bourbon, 2321 18th St NW, +1 202 332-0800, [24]. M-Th 6PM-2AM, F-Sa 6PM-3AM; brunch: Sa-Su 11AM. The Adams-Morgan branch of the original laid-back Glover Park bar offers a very wide selection of its namesake liquor—150 whiskeys, to be precise (not just bourbons). Don't like whiskey? They also have a great selection of American wines & microbrews. Try the low-fat alternative grilled ostrich burger if you are feeling a little adventurous. The dance floor upstairs is popular on weekend nights, but otherwise it's better to visit at a more relaxed time of the day—the noise, especially from the embarrassingly classless bartenders, interferes with the proper enjoyment of a $30 Scotch.
  • Dan's Cafe, 2315 18th St NW, +1 202 265-9241. Su-Th 7PM-2AM, F-Sa 7PM-3AM. This family run operation is one of the diviest and most colorful bars in the city. The bartender, Tracey, serves very large servings of booze (think an entire glass of booze for one person) straight up with mixers on the side and SoCo lime shooters are served in squeeze ketchup bottles. It's a one of a kind experience. If you want a dive on 18th St this is it. Cash only.
  • Evolve, 1817 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 486-3087, [25]. Tu-Th 6PM-1AM, F-Sa 6PM-3AM. A small, quieter lounge conspicuously off the caffeinated 18th St strip. A good stylish place to have an audible conversation over cocktails in Adams Morgan (the food is a little disappointing). No dance floor, but there are usually people dancing to the R&B anyway.
  • Millie & Al's, 2440 18th St NW, +1 202 387-8131. M-Th 4PM-2AM, F-Sa 4PM-3AM. Adams Morgan can be a bit much at times, too many shiny nightclub shirts, too many silly cocktails. Seek refuge at this dive bar pining for West Virginia that has been on 18th St for over 30 years. Try the pizza and don't miss $1 beers on Wednesday. Beware that weekends are often extremely crowded with the very drunk and very young.
  • Pharmacy Bar, 2337 18th St NW, +1 202 483-1200. M-Th 5PM-1:30AM, F-Sa 5PM-2:30AM. Indeed, this is a bar with pharmacy decor (it was founded by the son of a pharmacist). Come here instead for great value on drinks and some really great sandwiches, a laid back atmosphere, legendary jukebox, A/C, and good people watching.
  • Reef, 2446 18th St NW, +1 202 518-3800, [26]. Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. The biggest bar in the area, with three-levels plus a more relaxed rooftop deck offering great views of the neighborhood from its tables. As its name suggests, there is an aquatic theme, and aquariums separate booths on the dancing-friendly second floor. The club, and of course the rooftop patio, can get extremely crowded, so show up early on the weekends. No dress code, no cover.
  • Room 11, 3234 11th St NW, +1 202 332-3234, [27]. Su-Th 5PM-1AM, F-Sa 5PM-2AM. A new neighborhood wine bar/café/cocktail spot. It has a tiny inside and a bigger patio area. They specialize in good wine for a good value, and they make great cocktails, which rotate frequently. They also have tasty small dishes like salads, soups, and panini, plus cheese and meat plates. A nice spot to relax, have a drink, and if you're interested, discuss wine and cocktails with the bartender.
  • The Wonderland Ballroom, 1101 Kenyon St NW, +1 202 232-5263, [28]. 5PM-2AM daily. Columbia Heights' neighborhood bar is beloved by the neighborhood's residents, especially the hipsters for the welcoming, local neighborhood bar vibe. There's a lot of history at this bar. Its previous incarnation as Nob Hill was a legendary gay bar that had quite a run from 1954–2004. Weekends are crowded, but people will be happy to let you squeeze. Dance floor upstairs.


Mount Pleasant rowhouses
  • Brass Monkey, 2317 18th St NW, [29]. Four bars in one, with a Karaoke bar in the basement named Peyote grill, and a dance floor with cocktail tables on the second floor. The third floor bar has pool tables and old rusty/ic couches, then there is the upstairs bar which is really divey and has a roof attached where you can go in the warm weather. Go for a crazy drunken night, but don't expect much class. Sloppy and fun if you're in the right mood.
  • Chloe, 2473 18th St NW, +1 202 265-6592, [30]. Tu-Th 11:30AM-1AM, F-Su 11:30AM-3AM. Adams Morgan takes a stab at high end nightclubbing. The results are mixed, but yes, this is the upscale option, with a younger crowd than the neighborhood often attracts. The price is right, but the wait is not. Show up on a weekend any time after 10PM, and you'll spoil your night with an awful, indeterminate time in line. Cover: $5 F-Sa.
  • Club Heaven & Hell, 2327 18th St NW, +1 202 667-4355, [31]. Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. This club is a bit unordinary, but the theme is fun. Basement is hell (who would've thought hell would be the most low-key and conversation friendly?), first floor is purgatory (appropriate for anyone stuck in line), and the upper floor is of course heaven, with its large celestial dance floor. Other than the gimmick, the no dress code policy and $5 covers make this a popular stop. Note that Hell does not have A/C.
  • Habana Village, 1834 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 462-6310, [32]. W-Sa 6:30PM-3AM. Salseros take note—actually, they already have taken note, and the place has a sex ratio heavily skewed towards the males (probably best to come in couples). This is indeed one of the best places in the city for a night of salsa dancing (DJs), and to have a few Cuban drinks. $10 lessons nightly (beginner and advanced); Cover: Free-$10.
  • Napoleon (Metropolitain), 1847 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 299-9630, [33]. M-W 11AM-11PM, Th 11AM-2AM, F 11AM-3AM, Sa 10AM-3AM, Su 10AM-10PM. The Parisian option. Upstairs is a restaurant and bar with French cuisine; downstairs is the champagne bar, Metropolitain, with a host of champagnes, sparkline wines, and mixed drinks thereof courtesy of the expert bartenders. Th-Sa is when the Metro turns into a dance club with an odd choice of 1980s pop and other retro.
  • Saki, 2477 18th St NW, +1 202 232-5005, [34]. Su-W 5PM-1AM, Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. Sushi bar and dance club (dance club, mostly), with a lot of style (think lots of white, Miami, and color changing wall panels), and great DJs. With a diverse crowd, classy atmosphere, and a friendly vibe, it's rather hard not to like this place.

Live music

  • Asylum, 2471 18th St NW, +1 202 319-9353, [35]. M-Th 5PM-2AM, F 5PM-3AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. A biker bar on 18th St? Yes, indeed, this is not just a gimmick—there's even designated motorcycle parking in front! Gothic decor, heavy metal (most nights see live bands), a friendly and eclectic clientele, and cheap beer await. No cover, clearly.
  • Bossa, 2463 18th St NW (Next to Madams Organ), (202) 667-0088, [36]. The food is subpar, the drinks are pricey, but the bands are usually great. Admission: $5-$8; Mojito: $10.
  • Bukom Cafe, 2442 18th St NW, +1 202 265-4600, [37]. M-Th 4PM-1:30AM, F 4PM-2:30AM, Sa 2PM-2:30AM, Su 2PM-1:30AM. The "cafe" bit refers to the food, which is fine Ghanaian cuisine (don't miss the "beer meat"). But the attraction that draws the crowds is the nightly live music—mostly reggae bands, but also West African music. The friendly crowd is mostly African, and a good deal older and more laid back than the rowdy neighbors. No cover. Food: $8-16.
  • Columbia Station, 2325 18th St NW, +1 202 462-6040. Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. Nightly live jazz, no cover. Nothing more needs to be explained, but it's also a nice laid back place to get a drink (while listening to good, local, live jazz with no cover).
  • Madam's Organ, 2461 18th St NW, [38]. Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. Virtually anyone who's been to Adams Morgan has been to the fixture that is Madams Organ. Live music every night—mainly blues but also jazz and bluegrass. Tuesday night is acoustic Delta blues. It owns its own atmosphere, with its stuffed animals, appliances and nick-nacks hanging from the walls and ceiling. Playboy magazine once named it one of the best bars in America, and redheads get discounts. Cover: usually $3.


  • Columbia Heights Coffee, 3416 11th St NW, +1 202 986-0079, [39]. M-F 6AM-6PM, Sa-Su 7AM-7PM. Filling a small hole in Columbia Heights, this is a low-key coffee shop, with high quality beans, and a quiet, comfy place to wake up in the morning or surf the internet. Free WiFi.
  • Tryst, 2459 18th St NW, +1 202 232-5500, [40]. M-Th 6:30AM-2AM, F-Sa 6:30AM-3AM, Su 7AM-2AM. Very hip café-by-day/bar-by-night strategically placed next to The Diner (same owners). The atmosphere is very friendly and encourages you to just hang out for a while. Free WiFi M-Th. Food: $4-10.



  • Adams Inn, 1746 Lanier Pl NW, +1 202 745-3600, [41]. Inexpensive and international, Adams Inn is not a bad place to spend a few nights. A few cautions: shared bathrooms (unless you pay extra), few amenities (no TV, etc.), and breakfast never changes. $110-190.
  • D.C. Hostel (Washington International Student Center), 2451 18th St. NW, +1 202 667-7681, [42]. If you'd like to stay right in the center of the coolest street in D.C., this is your hostel. It's very noisy, of course. Lots of international students. $25.
  • Taft Bridge Inn, 2007 Wyoming Avenue NW, +1 202 387-2007, [43]. 100 year old mansion located in quiet neighborhood. Rooms include breakfast each morning. Private baths and shared baths available. $89-$195. (38.918337,-77.04617)


  • American Guesthouse B&B, 2005 Columbia Rd NW, +1 202 768-0335, [44]. It's hard not to like this place, with its beautiful rooms in an Adams Morgan 1880s Mansion. Double check that you are OK with the size of your room, though, as a couple towards the low end of the price-range are very small. $120-220.


  • Hilton Washington, 1919 Connecticut Ave NW, +1 202 483-3000‎, [45]. The 1,070-room luxury hotel, with a great location near both Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, underwent a $150 million restoration in 2010. It is famous as the place where former President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. $220-400.

Stay safe

While popular as a destination, this part of town is tricky with regards to crime. All three neighborhoods have very serious problems with muggings. Adams Morgan, contrary to popular wisdom, has not become safer "due to gentrification" (violent crime has held fairly steady over the past several decades) so you should take extra precautions when visiting. Muggings happen almost always on quiet side streets, so simply restricting your walks to the main streets will keep you safe, as will traveling in groups of three or more if you do need to navigate the residential areas at night.

Pickpocketing, a crime very rare throughout D.C., and indeed the whole United States, is rampant on 18th St at night on the weekend. Immense crowds of drunk people bumping into each other makes for a pickpocketing bonanza.


In addition to the cafes/coffeeshops above, the Mt Pleasant Branch Library is a great place to surf the web on the public terminals or the free Wifi:

  • Mt Pleasant Library, 3160 16th St NW, +1 202 671-0200‎, [46]. M,W 1PM-9PM, Tu,Th-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This is one of the city's loveliest libraries, the third oldest in the city (1925), built in the Italian Renaissance style.

Get out

  • Wealthier Dupont Circle and the more laid-back U St Corridor, rivals of Adams Morgan for nightlife supremacy, are just south, but there are also a few very interesting options east of Columbia Heights in Petworth.
  • If Mount Pleasant didn't satisfy your Salvadoran cravings, or if you were really pining for Honduran food instead, hop on the Metro or drive north on Georgia Ave to the Maryland suburb of Wheaton for its fantastic ethnic dining.
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