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The Best Places to Eat on U Street
Your guide to dining in DC’s after-hours hot spot
Take a stroll down U Street and you’ll find an eclectic array of entertainment options, from live music venues celebrating the neighborhood’s deep roots in the African American jazz scene to up-all-night restaurants that attract U Street’s social set. The neighborhood is worth exploring for foodies who want a side of music with their menu, or those who want to taste-test some only-in-DC staples.
Dance Party Dining
U Street’s musical roots are reflected in some of the neighborhood’s cool cat options like El Rey and Brixton. El Rey is a combo taqueria and Mexican beer garden, while the Brixton hosts live DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights alongside sophisticated pub fare.
The Gibson has a way back #tbt vibe with its Prohibition era-style cocktails and menu. The aviation-themed Café Saint-Ex serves up French fare and its basement bar, Gate 54, welcomes throngs of millennials dancing to a live DJ on weekends.
Another DJ-friendly restaurant, Lost Society, features a menu of top-notch steaks in a Victorian-style dining room and a rooftop that hosts outdoor dance parties in the warmer months. Policy, which features a Latin American-infused menu, pays tribute to patriotism with its upstairs Liberty Lounge, where you can dance the night away.
Hip & Historical
You can’t really say you’ve been to U Street if you haven’t been to Ben’s Chili Bowl. The home of the famous half smoke is truly a DC original. Opened in 1958, locals and visitors alike have been lining up for the tasty chili dogs for decades. Ben’s Next Door provides a more upscale experience with its restaurant and bar set-up.
Restaurant Marvin pays tribute to Marvin Gaye, who was born and raised in DC. For the menu, the restaurant took inspiration from Gaye’s time in Belgium and curated selections that combine soul food and Belgian favorites.
The original Busboys and Poets location resides on U Street, a spacious coffee shop that also serves as a showcase for local artists and poetry slams. Washingtonians gather here to break bread over a delicious meal and discuss books, arts and culture.
DC features a thriving Ethiopian cuisine scene and one its best options is Dukem on U. Diners delight in the authentic menu and soak in even more culture with authentic live music.
Culinary & Cocktail Creativity
Richard Sandoval and Mike Isabella, two renowned chefs and restauranteurs, have brought their culinary mastery to U Street.
Sandoval dazzles with authentic Mexican comfort food at El Centro D.F. – 14th Street. Situated in a vibrant, open-kitchen atmosphere, the menu consists of flavor-filled tacos, shareable plates and enchiladas. The restaurant also features a wide array of tequilas. There’s also Masa 14, known for putting on a fantastic brunch, a Latin-Asian fusion menu brimming with innovation and a rooftop deck that makes for a great warm-weather destination.
Mike Isabella displays sandwich artistry at G by Mike Isabella from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Dine-in or carry-out the delicious creations. By night, the locale offers an Italian tasting menu that will turn dinner into an adventure. Isabella’s modern take on a Greek restaurant, Kapnos, resides just next door. Two wood-fired ovens churn out a menu of spreads, breads, vegetables and small plates.
If you’re looking to sample some creative cocktails, robust whiskey or select a glass from an extensive wine list, U Street is also worth exploring. Vinoteca boasts a carefully curated selection of wines, along with bocce on its outdoor patio.
Chefs Dish DC: Tim Ma Explores the U Street Corridor
Kyirisan chef Tim Ma drops by a few of his favorite spots on and around the U Street Corridor.Check out our guides to all the best places to eat in DC's happening 'hoods.
U Street Dining Map
Where to eat in DC’s after-hours hot spot