Hot hoods: Mount Pleasant

December 18, 2013

Mount Pleasant’s main drag, Mount Pleasant Street NW, is lined with much-loved restaurants and charming shops. (Kathy Orton/TWP)

The heart of Mount Pleasant lies just shy of 1 mile from the nearest Metro stop in Columbia Heights. But you won’t find any of its residents complaining about the walk: The distance is one reason this village upon a hill has remained placid despite being surrounded by the bustle of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. One of Washington’s first suburbs, the quiet but far-from-sleepy neighborhood boasts a packed strip of locally owned businesses and celebrates a rich Hispanic heritage. As a result, Mount Pleasant is a multicultural playground for families and hipsters who tip their hats to newcomers with a “Welcome to the neighborhood!”

Getting Around

If the aforementioned trek to the Columbia Heights Metro stop is less than ideal, know that Mount Pleasant is serviced by the S1, S2, S4 and S9 Metrobus lines, as well as the 42 and 43. You’ll spot a fair share of bicyclists (heading south on 16th Street NW is a breeze thanks to its gradual slope). Forgot your fixie? Three Capital Bikeshare stations are nearby.

Housing Options

A concentration of large rowhouses — often with yards, decks and covered porches — makes Mount Pleasant a major draw for families as well as renters looking for spacious group-living options. The area bound by 16th Street NW on the east, Harvard Street NW on the south, Rock Creek Park on the west and Piney Branch Park on the north is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due, in part, to its cluster of Classical Revival and Colonial Revival architecture. Many of these homes have remained intact, so the neighborhood draws house flippers eager to make renovations.

Looking Good

Mount Pleasant is home to Eastern Confederate, where a cheap beer comes standard with your haircut (3112 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-621-7363). Founded in 2011 by Vidal Sassoon alum Ryan Hunter Mitchell, the basement-level salon offers affordable cuts for men and women ($45-$55). To finish off your new look, stop at nearby Amani ya Juu (3166 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-536-5303). You’ll find stylish fair-trade clothing, jewelry and home accessories made by female artisans in Africa.

The Markets

While there’s no major supermarket chain represented in the neighborhood, Bestworld — a locally owned market — offers affordable produce and a concentration of ethnic ingredients (3178 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-265-3768). The newly opened Each Peach Market (3068 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-525-1725) fills a void with locally made foodstuffs. Saturday mornings, April through December, you’ll find a producers-only farmers market in Mount Pleasant Plaza (3200 Mount Pleasant St. NW).

The Eats

Fans of authentic Mexican food will feel right at casa in Mount Pleasant: Haydee’s Restaurant, a neighborhood institution since 1997, serves sizzling fajitas (3102 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-483-9199); at least two pupuserias dish out the traditional Salvadorian snack; and at Don Juan, a plate of nachos and a Coronarita (a margarita containing an inverted Corona) makes dinner (1660 Lamont St. NW; 202-667-0010). Other cuisines include Southeast Asian from Beau Thai (3162 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-450-5317) and Korean, Chinese and Japanese takeout from Adam Express (3211 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-328-0010).

Going Out

While Mount Pleasant isn’t a nightlife destination, those looking for fun can find it. Arguably the city’s best dive bar, The Raven Grill (3125 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-387-8411), sells $3 cans of PBR in a dimly lit space with a jukebox. Up the street are Tonic, a restaurant/bar with a Skee-Ball table (3155 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-986-7661), and Last Exit, a cocktail lounge modeled after an old-timey speakeasy (202-986-7661). Marx Cafe hosts raucous country-music nights (3203 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-518-7600).

Lounging Around

Mount Pleasant’s easy pace is ideal for lollygaggers. Flying Fish Coffee and Tea aids your reverie with cozy, worn-in chairs (3064 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-299-0141). Wander downhill to Meridian Hill Park for a picnic (2400 15th St. NW). And don’t overlook the impressive Mount Pleasant Library (3160 16th St. NW; 202-671-3121), the third-oldest public library in Washington still in use.

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post 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@wpost.com.
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