Home of the Marine Corps Barracks at Eighth and I streets SE — the Marines’ oldest active post, founded in 1801 — the city blocks known as Barracks Row have a lot going on for civilians and service members alike.
545 Eighth St. SE.
On days when the dress-up options at home are exhausted, this children’s bookstore doubles as a fantasy mansion with 16 rooms tricked out with furnishings and costumes around themes such as the farm, the grocery store, pirates, grandparents’ attic, the spa, and the courtroom.
715 Eighth St. SE.
You probably came in search of a sleek sectional sofa, mod lamp, or minimalist coffee table for your rowhouse, but you won’t leave without one of “Mama’s Hats,” colorful crocheted head-warmers made by Christine Fourcade, 96, who is, yes, the mama of co-owner Henriette Fourcade.
545 Eighth St. SE.
The wine and craft-beer boutique offers classes with titles such as like “The Dark Side of Beer” and “Discover Your Wine Style,” plus video conferences with vintners in France. The inventory of small-production vintages is arranged by flavor, not region, and the beer runs from New Zealand breakfast brew to local indie favorites.
532 Eighth St. SE.
Appointments are not only unnecessary, they are discouraged, so walk in and get your Marine-style cut — high and tight, sir! — or any other cut, because as styles and ethnicities in the neighborhood evolved, the 55-year-old shop has kept pace under master barber Charles A. Smith. Hours: 9:00 am – 7:30 pm
506 Eighth St. SE.
Regulars swear the veal is the best in town, and the agnolotti — homemade pasta stuffed with spinach, ricotta and prosciutto — is even better. Ask House Speaker John Boehner or any of the 200-plus members of Congress who have signed their pictures in the congressional directory the maitre d’ keeps behind the counter.
Banana Cafe and Piano Bar
500 Eighth St. SE.
Menu imitates life: Jorge Zamorano and his family fled the revolution in Cuba; he spent hours watching his grandmother cook in Puerto Rico; he took over a Tex-Mex place in Washington 20 years ago. Result: a Cubanorican Tex-Mex mashup, including Grandma-inspired mofongo and bistec encebollado. On a frisky night, the guy at the piano will play the keyboard with one hand and a trumpet or a sax with the other.
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