14th Street NW Neighborhood Guide

Walk down 14th Street from P to U between 10 and 1 in the morning, and it feels like the liveliest place in the world. Still, the booming canyon of bars, restaurants, boutiques and cultural establishments that line the bustling strip just west and north of Logan Circle has the feel of a small town, in the middle of the big city.

"It's like an old Main Street," says Rod Glover, one of the founding owners of Home Rule. Along with Garden District, Vastu, Muleh, Well Built and other shops, the funky housewares store has turned the once-faded neighborhood into a home-furnishings mecca.

But shopping is not all that 14th Street is known for. Anchored by the venerable Black Cat music club, dotted with commercial galleries, and bookended by the Source and Studio theaters, the strip has become what Irvine calls "one of the main arts corridors in Washington."

Hop on the tour bus, as we take you around the neighborhood. We'll take you out to eat, show you where to shop and tell you where to see the latest shows, whether they be art, music or theater. There's no better time than now to start.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

 
 

Studio Theatre

1501 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005  | 202-332-3300  |  Web site »

David Muse has some big shoes to fill. The new artistic director of Studio Theatre officially started this week, but he won't fully take over from Joy Zinoman, who founded the theater in 1978, until she steps aside at the end of the month. Muse says he's well aware of the theater's legacy and its role in turning around the 14th Street neighborhood, with which the theater has developed an "edgy, urban and contemporary" vibe. His mission, as he sees it, will be to maintain a balance between continuity and change.

As Muse ushers in this new era on 14th street, he promises both the familiar and the unexpected. Small, intimate spaces, great writing, sophistication and style -- those qualities aren't going anywhere, he says. But he also hopes to bring in more international plays, more new playwrights, and to use the theater's four houses in a "festival way," simultaneously mounting several thematically related shows that, he says, "will talk to each other."

Curator's Office

1515 14th Street, 2nd floor, Washington, DC 20005  | 202-387-1008  |  Web site »

The recent departure of the G Fine Art gallery from 14th Street doesn't seem to have dimmed its former neighbors' enthusiasm for the area's scene. Three 14th Street galleries -- Adamson, Curator's Office and Hemphill -- share a multi-gallery building that sits atop the Italian restaurant Posto. Early last month, the dance company Ballet Teatro International moved into G's former space.

Known for its digital printmaking atelier, Adamson is a showcase for contemporary photography. Hemphill represents such area art stars as William Christenberry and Robin Rose. At a mere 234 square feet, Curator's Office, the self-described "microgallery," doesn't look like it can hold much. But don't let the size fool you. Next month, director Andrea Pollan plans an exhibition that she promises will feature painting, sculpture, collage . . . and candles.

"I can pack it in," she says.

Estadio

1520 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005  | 202-319-1404  |  Web site »

The first thing you'll notice at this month-old Spanish-themed restaurant is the decor: heavy, weathered-wood doors, Spanish tiles, brick-toned walls and hams hanging over the central bar. The second thing: the equally seductive menu. Half a deviled egg here, a ham-wrapped fig hugging a savory bit of cheese and almond there. Its specialty? Pintxos (skewers), bocadillos (miniature sandwiches) and other tapas-size bites.

They're delicious, but be careful. At $2.50 a pop for even the cheapest bites -- and many dishes aren't much more than that -- it's easy to get carried away.

Another tip: Estadio is relatively uncrowded before 7:30 p.m. Come early and avoid the crush. After 7:30, the place is jumping, and it doesn't accept reservations for parties of fewer than six people.

Miss Pixie's Furnishings & Whatnot

1626 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009  | 202-232-8171  |  Web site »

Looking to buy a priest's vestments? A folding kayak? A silver-plated serving dish? You will find them all at Pixie Windsor's used-furniture store. Or you would have, if you visited last week. Nothing sits around very long at this unique emporium for furniture and, well, whatnot. New items arrive every Thursday.

It's hard to pigeonhole the shop's aesthetic, which encompasses the mid-century modern look of "Mad Men" (martini glasses) and a New Orleans bordello (a tall, painted lingerie chest). On a recent afternoon, we spotted a college grad seeking to outfit her first apartment, shopping alongside a middle-aged antique-hound.

In other words, it's a place where you and your mother can find something.

Cork Wine Bar

1720 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009  | 202-265-2675  |  Web site »

Cork, as the name implies, is all about the grape. Well, maybe not all.

Sure, it has an extensive wine list and a knowledgeable staff. A good way to start is with a flight of three short glasses, such as last month's Bastille Day-themed sampler of red, white and rose. But the small, narrow and dimly lit boƮte also has a tempting selection of small dishes for two or three to share.

Not to be missed: the rosemary chicken liver bruschetta with shallot marmalade.

On the way home from work, swing by Cork Market, a half-block away (1805 14th St. NW). You'll find carryout items such as cold fried chicken (Wednesdays and Saturdays only) and lamb meatballs. A word to the wise: One glass of Sola Fred Spanish red will set you back $8 at the bar; at the market, a whole bottle is only $11.

Point Chaud Cafe and Crepes

1736 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009  | 202-588-8877  |  Web site »

It doesn't serve alcohol, but Point Chaud (whose name means "hot spot") gets pretty busy on weekends. This hole-in-the-wall creperie and coffee shop offers a long list of both sweet and savory crepes -- including tuna -- to satisfy the Saturday and Sunday brunch crowd. But its late weekend hours (it's open Fridays and Saturdays until midnight) also make it an ideal place to grab a cheap post-bar meal. Hint: The Black Cat is a just stone's throw away.

Rolled up tight like a burrito or folded into a high-end Hot Pocket, the shop's crepes make excellent finger food -- a classy and cultured alternative to a jumbo slice.

Black Cat

1811 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009  | 202-667-4490  |  Web site »

Celebrating 17 years in show biz this fall -- including nine at its current location -- the Black Cat rock club has the well-worn feel of a neighborhood hangout. Meaning that the hand-painted tables in the downstairs bar will probably be a little sticky and that no one will be able to remember who first put up that string of Christmas lights that's hanging from the wall.

With two upstairs performance spaces (one intimate and one, at 7,000 square feet, not so intimate) and an embrace of acts both old and new, this Cat is full of surprises.

Source

1835 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009  | 202-204-7800  |  Web site »

Home to several resident companies that divvy up the theater season like a time share, the Source is where you'll find the Washington Improv Theater (WIT), a local improvisational comedy troupe along the lines of Chicago's Second City.

Beginning Aug. 13 and running through Sept. 11, WIT will really strut its stuff with "The Neutrino Video Project." Here's how it works: Armed with props and suggestions provided by the audience -- and accompanied by camera crews -- three four-person teams of actors will take to the streets, shops and restaurants of the neighborhood each evening, creating short, improvised movies in which the actors interact with people. Mere minutes later, the movies will be brought back and played in front of the audience. Wait a minute. Doesn't this sound a little like the 48 Hour Film Project, in which teams race to create a movie over a single weekend? According to WIT managing director Topher Bellavia, it's exactly like that. "Except," he says, "it's more like 40 minutes."

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