How to spend $40 in Petworth

If you had told a Petworth resident 20 years ago that a restaurant named Chez Billy would serve $300 bottles of champagne on Georgia Avenue one day, you would've been laughed out of town. Long a residential neighborhood with working-class roots, Petworth has seen an influx of upscale dining and retail options. Today, the Northwest neighborhood mixes charm and history. Here’s the best way to take it all in, with nothing more than two $20 bills and some change.

Also: How to spend $40 in Mount Pleasant

Pour-over coffee at Qualia Coffee, $3.59

You can tell the quality of a local coffee shop by the number of fliers on its community board. In Qualia’s case, there’s no shortage of notices about local art shows, dog walking services and rooms for rent. On the cusp of its five-year anniversary, Qualia has served the neighborhood with single-origin beans roasted in-house daily from Central and South America and Africa. Pick your desired beans from the day’s offerings and a barista will grind them while you scan the board for upcoming events. 3917 Georgia Ave. NW. 202-248-6423. www.qualiacoffee.com.

A bowl of chlodnik at Domku, $6.20

If you closed your eyes and took a slurp of this cold beet soup, you’d swear it tasted pink. "Every household in Eastern Europe has a version of it," Domku chef and owner Kera Carpenter says of the traditional Polish dish. Her take is made with pickled beet juice, roasted beets, buttermilk and sour cream, all topped with a hard-boiled egg. Other highlights at this predominantly Scandinavian and Slavic restaurant, which opened nine years ago and was a pioneering restaurant on the block, include hand-made pierogies and beef stroganoff. 821 Upshur St. NW. 202-722-7475. www.domkucafe.com.

Chlodnik from Domku in Petworth. (Holley Simmons/The Washington Post)
Chlodnik from Domku in Petworth. (Holley Simmons/The Washington Post)

A bag of clothing from Fia’s Fabulous Finds, $21.15

One of Petworth’s best-kept secrets is the monthly “Fill-A-Bag” promotion at Fia’s Fabulous Finds. On the second Saturday of every month, the consignment shop sends guests into the basement with a grocery bag to be filled with all the women’s clothing and accessories they can fit for $20. “It breaks down to an average of 50 cents per item,” owner Fia Thomas says. Not bad for gently worn threads from J. Crew, Anthropologie, Vera Bradley and Nanette Lepore. Also check out Willow Fashion across the street (which also has a small selection of art materials) and Starr’s Second Story Consignment Boutique on Georgia Ave. 806 Upshur St. NW. 202-492-8278. www.fiasfabulousfinds.com.

Borrow a book from Petworth Citizen, free

Bypass the dining room at this literary leaning bar and restaurant and follow the smell of old paper to the back, where you’ll find a nook dubbed the Reading Room. There, hundreds of titles line the shelves and a reading lamp encourages you to stay awhile. It’s free to use, but if you’re not on a set budget, don’t overlook Petworth Citizen chef Makoto Hamamura’s comfort foods like mac and cheese with chorizo, a shrimp roll with Old Bay fries, and peach barbecue chicken. Still hungry? Hop across the street to Crane and Turtle, another Hamamura joint with a focus on French and Japanese cuisine. 829 Upshur St. NW, 202-722-2939. www.petworthcitizen.com.

The reading room at Petworth Citizen. (Holley Simmons/The Washington Post)
The reading room at Petworth Citizen. (Holley Simmons/The Washington Post)

Almond milk at the Petworth Community Market, $4.40

Every Saturday from May through October, local food producers and vendors like Number 1 Sons (kimchee), Open Book Farm (produce) and Cooking and Beyond (Egyptian food) gather at Ninth and Upshur streets to hawk their goodies. Be sure to check out Ahimsa’s booth, where owner Bettina Knapp sells raw almond milk, made from 100 percent organic almonds and free of GMOs, soy, gluten and dairy. Ninth Street NW between Taylor and Upshur streets. www.petworthmarket.org.

Corn bread from Hitching Post, $5.28

When chef Barry Dindyal took ownership of Hitching Post in August 2012, he completely gutted the nearly 50 year-old restaurant. “We got positive feedback from the neighborhood,” Dindyal says of the renovation. One thing that hasn’t changed much: the Southern-inspired menu. Wings, fried chicken and fried pork chops still draw regulars and new fans alike. Every morning, Dindyal estimate he makes 40 servings of the cornbread to complement the soul food. 200 Upshur St. NW. 202-726-1511. www.hitchingpostdc.com.


Cornbread from the Hitching Post in Petworth. (Holley Simmons/The Washington Post)

Rock Creek Cemetery, free

This cemetery, established in the early 1800s, houses such notables as Upton Sinclair (the author of “The Jungle”), former chief justice of the United States Harlan Fiske Stone, and at least four Civil War generals. It abuts President Lincoln’s Cottage, which was founded in 1851 as a home for veteran soldiers. President Lincoln frequented the home in the summer, when he would escape the mugginess of the city (good luck) and tend to executive matters. The cottage is open to tours ($15). Rock Creek Church Road and Webster St. NW. 202-726-2080.

Total cash spent: $40.62

Correction: A previous version of this story listed Rock Creek Cemetery as the burial site of Gore Vidal. While he reserved a plot in the cemetery, his remains are not buried there.

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at holley.simmons@washpost.com.
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