Street Smart: What to do in Cleveland Park

Neither a park nor in Cleveland, the neighborhood got its name after President Grover Cleveland’s secret purchase of a house there in 1886. Today, the 3400-3600 block of Connecticut Avenue, next to Rock Creek Park, is a one-stop shop for necessities such as groceries and vacuum repairs, as well as fun-seeking in bars, restaurants and shopping.


One movie shows at a time at the historic Uptown Theater. Photo by Sasha Ingber

The Uptown
3426 Connecticut Ave. NW

The deco theater opened its doors in 1936, attracting not only stars but premieres of famous films, such as Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." It was also one of the first cinemas to play "Star Wars," and moviegoer Deborah Smith recalls waiting in a line around the block with people wielding lasers nearby. "There's a lot of weirdos that come here, and that's the way we like it."



Pool sharks take aim at Atomic Billiards, serving Cleveland Park since 1993. Photo by Sasha Ingber

Atomic Billiards
3427 Connecticut Ave. NW

The glittering polyurethane bar and '50s-inspired atomic age murals make for a brilliant underground hangout. Bartender Jake Simms knows the people traipsing in, from those freshly legal to retirement age. "There is no pressure to be anything you aren't," he says. Besides billiards, patrons can play shuffleboard, Giant Jenga and Mortal Kombat 3 while the jukebox glows.



Former site of Yenching Palace, a restaurant which claimed it attracted more diplomats ever day than the White House. Photo by Sasha Ingber

3524 Connecticut Ave. NW

"Why is Walgreens so cute?" asks Sara London, visiting from Pittsburgh. In fact, it's what used to be here that has locals nostalgic: Chinese restaurant Yenching Palace, where the waitstaff wore bowties and conversation never ran dry. President John F. Kennedy's  and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's emissaries supposedly met here during the Cuban missile crisis, and Henry Kissinger was a frequent diner."To me, it's still Yenching Palace," resident Scott McLoughlin says.



18-year-old cheese monger Malachai Howard stands at Ripple's grilled cheese bar. Photo by Sasha Ingber

3417 Connecticut Ave. NW

At a restaurant serving local, organic and sustainable food, the menu changes daily. To keep up, Pennsylvania Mennonites deliver produce most afternoons, and animal purveyors carry in whole pigs, of which every part is used - the "head-to-hoof concept," says bar manager Caroline Blundell. Try the bone marrow with strawberry-thyme jam or the grilled cheese bar, staffed, at left, by cheese monger Malachai Howard.



Cleveland Park's newly renovated firehouse. Photo by Sasha Ingber

Engine Co. 28 and Truck 14
3522 Connecticut Ave. NW

After four years of planning and renovating, the tiny firehouse has reopened with friendly firefighters eager to give tours. Built in 1916 as the neighborhood's first commercial building, it had its doorway renovated to accommodate today's firetrucks, which are a little bigger than their horse-drawn predecessors.

For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit WP Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read Entertainment
Next Story
Fritz Hahn · July 10, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.