The bustling intersection of 14th and U Streets Northwest has long been a destination for weekend revelers, city dwellers and tourists alike — all flocking to the corridor for restaurants and nightlife. And despite the recent business booms in Shaw, Petworth and the Atlas District, 14th and U is still pulling in new eateries and watering holes along with shops that prove this area might just be the next Georgetown.
Here are a few of our favorite reasons to head to one of D.C.’s most exciting nightlife hubs:
This colorful Cuban coffee shop is really so much more than a cafe, thanks to cocktails from former Barmini drinks-slinger Juan Coronado; hearty sandwiches like the medianoche (similar to a Cuban sandwich but on softer bread); pastelitos, or pastries featuring Caribbean flavors like guava and cheese; and the shareable drink known in Cuba as the colada, which is four shots of sweetened espresso. The large patio outfitted with several tables will be the spot to pretend you’ve escaped to a tropical locale this summer. 1405 T St. NW; (202) 332-8800
You’ve likely heard of the new trend of a bar within a bar — but how about a bar within a bar above a restaurant? To find Tilt, the new pinball-themed bar on 14th Street, you’ll have to take the stairs above Pearl Dive and head to the back of Black Jack till you see a fairly nondescript door that will open to reveal a colorful ode to the vintage arcade game. Look for cool design features like draft pulls made with tilt disks and a bar top made with pinball-machine glass. Order a Blonde Bullet, a cocktail made with bourbon, Basque cider, lemon juice and ginger foam, or one of the shareable cocktails for groups. 1612 14th St. NW; (202) 319-1612
ICYMI, there’s now a distillery — yes, a distillery — located within a stone’s throw from this famous crossroads. Book a $10 tour to sample the homemade gin and vodka or the house blend of whiskey, then make your way back upstairs for chef Justin Bittner’s outstanding spins on American and Mediterranean comfort foods. You’ll find such dishes as pork osso bucco with saffron risotto, duck confit with bean cassoulet and roasted Arctic char with celeriac-parsnip puree. Or park at the bar and order bites like smoked trout spread, deviled eggs or a fried-chicken biscuit — just make sure to finish every visit here with a crème brûlée donut. 1414-1418 U St. NW; (202) 629-3787
Folks who live pretty much anywhere other than Georgetown will be happy that national boutiques are investing in this corridor. (No more fighting for parking on the city’s tiniest, most congested streets!) You’ll now find shops like Lululemon, Madewell and J Crew Men along with those that have been around a bit longer like Filson, Shinola, West Elm and Room & Board. And, of course, you’ve probably long loved Goodwood, Miss Pixie’s and Home Rule for eclectic home furnishings and tchotchkes, as well as our homegrown Salt & Sundry, which just moved into a bigger space across 14th Street.