The Washington Post

BQ's List of DC Hot Spots

The favorite spots of a 20-stg native Washingtonian, who knows the city like the back of her hand.

  • byt1
  • Updated 07/03/2012
  • 12 Items

Eighteenth Street Lounge is a favorite spot of young, hip professionals and of internationals. It's got sleek decor, couches, a terrace out back, and has at least one live band every night of the week (from my understanding). Oh - there's virtually no signage (except a small gold plaque), it's the door next to Mattress Discounter's.


Cork is very popular with young, progressive professionals, though it's waiting time is slightly longer than other bars on U Street (now that the NY Times has raved). It's a great place to savor a glass of wine and unwind, and if you can get a table, the food is good too (I've been told the garlic fries are excellent).


Cafe Saint Ex has a great vibe: a cafe upstairs, a non-clubby nightclub downstairs. The music is a bit hit or miss, but when it's good it's superb - very danceable beat but a nice mix of music from the past 30 or so years. Also try their Brazilian night. Their food is good too - the gorgonzola risotto that comes with the tuna is my favorite in all of Washington.


Cafe Citron is loud, but always fun, albeit super crowded on the weekends. That said, they have live music every night of the week (I'm a big fan of the flamenco, on Mondays, and the samba on Wednesdays is...typical carnaval stereotype but the dancer is talented, and gives lessons after the show). The food is good too - try the Bolivian potato cake.


I haven't gone yet, but I've heard Bravo Bravo is great on the weekends from numerous people. That said, during the week it is dead.


Laid back but nicely decorated bar. As its name suggests, the clientele seem (and the bartenders are) more intelligent (but still damned good-looking) - while people don't go out of their way to strike up conversations, some of the best conversations I've had at a bar have been here. They also serve some top-notch food by bar standards.


Sushi Taro is supposedly the best spot for sushi in DC. I don't personally know much about what makes sushi good, but I can tell you that the food is good (and ranges from your safe California rolls to much more exotic fare) and most of the customers are Japonese.


I finally tried Hank's Oyster Bar for brunch on Mother's Day, and wow was it good. In addition to a great selection of seafood (crabcake eggs benedict, shrimp and grits...), I was charmed by the fact that they serve goldfish at the beginning of the meal. No, but the food is really good - a must-try for seafood lovers.


Busboys is a hot spot for political activists. While their food menu is largely sandwiches, their brunch is really good (hello three or four types of eggs benedict), they serve excellent yellow gazpacho in the summer, and their desserts are mouthgasmic (seriously, try the cheesecake).


Ben's is a DC landmark. If you haven't been, you should go. I'm not really a chili fan, but they have great cheese fries, good hot dogs, and fantastic chocolate milk shakes. The owners have also opened Next Door (next door to Ben's Chili Bowl), which is one of my favorite bars in the city: the embodiment of U Street Renaissance (try the blueberry caipiroska).

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