Once a crossroads for trains, mills and orchards, Bloomingdale has become an oasis of colorful rowhouses and mom-and-pop shops, where locals knock on each others’ doors to share their food, skills and stories.
Most every day before sunrise, cousins Jamilyah Smith-Kanze and Sara Fatell do a "kitchen ballet" at their sweets bakery. "We used to work in a tight space and still flow seamlessly around each other," Smith-Kanze says. Nursing the neighborhood's sweet tooth since 2012, the shop uses recipes from generations of women in the family as well as Fatell's imagination. Kathy's Cookie, a triple chocolate cookie that honors their departed aunt, is the bestseller.
"Pubs are the great equalizer, where all walks of life come to gather and enjoy good food, drinks and conversation," says Colin McDonough. He and a brother -- and another set of brothers -- own the 12-table pub. But it's not just the whiskey, wings and warm atmosphere that have locals lingering. After the bar replaced its sliding barn door with a swinging glass door, McDonough quips, "people have the hardest time coming in and out."
Barely a year old, the Italian-inspired neighborhood restaurant draws diners from well beyond Bloomingdale. Every strand of pasta and link of sausage is made from scratch, and the drink list includes orange wine from Hungary, Slovenia and Georgia. "I fell in love with the stories and the art of making wines," says sommelier Sebastian Zutant, who lives four doors away.
Crispus Attucks Park
Behind houses on U Street
Nicknamed "the secret park," a modest stretch of grass spanning a single city block honors an African American who was the first casualty of the American Revolution. For 60 years, a telephone company operated on the site, leaving behind cables and an abandoned building in the 1960s. Today, people come to picnic and play, savoring the smell of flowers and fresh laundry from surrounding houses.
Various addresses; Noll's bike sculpture is at 84 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Whimsical art dapples the sidewalks, including vibrant sculptures by resident Tom Noll, an ex-jewelry designer with "big thick thumbs." Repurposing metal, stone and wood, his art brings the community just a little more homegrown charm.
For more areas to explore, visit StrollAround.com.
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