Head northeast out of the District along Rhode Island Avenue and, after passing Bloomingdale, Eckington and Brookland, you’ll hit Hyattsville, a well-established arts community in Prince George's County. The easy route, coupled with a strong preservation association, makes Hyattsville an ideal jaunt from the city and a pleasant place to live. (Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, once called Hyattsville home.) Founded in the mid 19th century, the area has a concentration of Queen Anne and Victorian homes, though recent revitalization efforts are appealing to the more modern-minded.
To access Hyattsville without a car, take the Red Line to Rhode Island Avenue--Brentwood and catch an 81 or 83 Metrobus toward Cherry Hill or Calverton; or take the Green Line to West Hyattsville or Prince George's Plaza and catch the F8 Metrobus toward Cheverly.
Grab a couple Jacksons and prepare for a little exploring.
A cup of Ka’u Hawaiian coffee from Vigilante Coffee Roastery, $7
This newish coffee roastery and cafe is located on a quiet back street, making it difficult to stumble upon. Let the smell of smoked hay lead you to the 3,000-square-foot facility, which is housed in a former Model T showroom. It’s owned by Chris Vigilante, an ambitious free spirit who first started roasting coffee in the basement of his Ivy City apartment in 2012. “The fire department was called on me once,” Vigilante says of his earlier days. “They busted down my door and asked what I was doing. I served them some coffee and everything was fine.” Today he’s free to roast rare, direct-trade beans like the fruity Ka’u from Hawaii. If $7 sounds like a lot for a cup of coffee (that price includes tax and tip), wait till you hear that a 12-ounce bag of the same beans costs $50. 4327 Gallatin St. www.vigilantecoffee.com. Open Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Decorative ceramic plate from Green Owl Designs, $8.48
Earlier this year, designers Erica Riggio and Angela Justice opened Green Owl Design, an interior design firm that incorporates local art. When they’re not revamping a local hair salon or joojing up a client’s condo, the duo runs a shoebox-sized boutique that sells art, vintage clothing, terrariums, soy candles and repurposed furniture. “We find beauty in all eras,” says Riggio of the mix of furnishings, which may include a headboard from the '70s or a reupholstered chair from the '60s. The hours are spotty (the shop is only open Tuesdays, Fridays and the first Saturday of every month), but the two work from an office space in the rear and, when they’re around, often respond to gentle raps on the window. 4327-C Gallatin St. 301-660-3426. www.greenowldesigners.com.
A kazoo from Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store, $2.11
“We specialize in not being specialized,” says Mike Franklin of his indispensable gathering place at the heart of Hyattsville. The space has grown considerably since it opened in 1991 as a combination general store and sandwich shop. Two expansions later, Franklins houses a brewery that produces 40-50 styles of beer a year; a restaurant that serves American classics (get the Old Bay-dusted onion rings); a variety store that sells greeting cards, wind-up toys, magic tricks, hot sauces, squirt lighters and booze; and a toy shop. “The best thing for me is seeing a parent walk out with a bottle of wine and their kid has a toy.” Franklin notes the restaurant draws a lot of first dates and distinguished community members, including Marc Tartaro, the mayor of Hyattsville, who happened to walk in during a recent visit. 5123 Baltimore Ave. 301-927-2740. www.franklinsbrewery.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Chicken and rice bowl from Spice 6, $9.54
Choose your base. Pick a protein. Add some toppings. It’s a system many diners are familiar with by now. Spice 6, an Indian fast-casual restaurant, incorporates a 400-degree tandoor into the assembly line: Watch as your naan is rolled by hand and tossed into the clay oven, where it bakes and forms charred blisters. Rice bowls are a fan favorite: They’re topped with lamb or chicken marinated in yogurt sauce and ginger-garlic paste, or tofu and vegetables tossed in garlic and spices. Though this is the first and only outpost — located within Arts District Hyattsville, a 25-acre mixed-use development that also holds a Busboys and Poets, Elevation Burger and Tara Thai — an expansion is planned for D.C. and Virginia. 5501 Baltimore Ave. 301-209-0080. www.spice-6.com. Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Vintage medicine bottle from Community Forklift, $7.42
It’s wise to have a project in mind before stepping foot into Community Forklift: The 40,000-square-foot reuse center is overwhelming even to the seasoned contractor or DIY pro. On any given day, you’ll spot hard-to-find hardware, vintage lighting fixtures, mismatched tiles, reclaimed lumber, clawfoot tubs and kitchen cabinets — all priced at 40-60 percent below retail. “We’ll get a call from someone saying, ‘We have 90 church pews, can you come get them next week?’,” says Ruthie Mundell, the outreach and education director for the nonprofit. Since it opened in 2005, Community Forklift has diverted tons of waste from local landfills. (In 2012 alone, the salvage yard sold so many doors that, if stacked end to end, they would span more than 29,000 feet.) Planning a renovation? Donate your reusable scraps to Community Forklift and they’ll haul them away for free. (While this is technically in neighboring Edmonston, you’d be remiss to overlook it while in Hyattsville.) 4671 Tanglewood Dr., Edmonston, Md. 301-985-5180. www.communityforklift.org.
Apple turnover from Shortcake Bakery, $2.87
Cheryl Harrington practically grew up in the bakery her parents owned. “Once I left for college, I thought, I’m never working in a bakery ever again!” Harrington says. She earned a degree in zoology and microbiology and started a family while using baking as a means to unwind. “Often times I was in the kitchen at 9 or 10 o’clock at night baking and listening to '70s music. One day I realized I wouldn’t mind doing this full time.” In late October, Harrington will celebrate Shortcake’s third year of business. She has a particularly hard time keeping the apple turnovers on the shelves. Made with sliced apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon all baked into pastry dough, they’re both soft and crunchy. “It’s so irritating to bite into a fruit tart and get no fruit,” Harrington says. 4700 Rhode Island Ave. 301-779-2836. www.shortcakebakery.com. Open Tuesday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Take in the art, free
In June 2013, the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation tapped eight local artists to paint 19 murals along Route 1 from the Mount Rainier border to Hyattsville, adding to an already rich collection of public art. (Known as the Gateway Arts District, this sliver of Maryland is home to hundreds of makers and performers.) In the swath that passes through Hyattsville, notable works include “After Dark, Hyattsville,” a 40-by-14 mural by Liz Manicatide on the side of Franklins, and “Atha,” by Jerome Johnson, at Centennial Park, which depicts key players in the town’s history. (See a complete map of all the murals here.) Nearby galleries worth a peek include artDC Gallery, A\Work Gallery and DC GlassWorks Sculpture Studio.
Total spent: $37.42
This post has been updated to include directions to Hyattsville via the Green Line.