If you’ve never strolled down Mount Pleasant Street in Northwest Washington, it’s time you learned what the neighborhood’s many residents and fans already know — this adorable enclave feels like a quintessential small-town Main Street. The commercial stretch of four or so blocks — from Park Road NW on the northern end to just south of Irving Street NW — serves as the backbone of this close-knit, historic and diverse community with plenty of opportunities for shopping, eating, relaxing, exercising and pampering.
Here are several compelling reasons to give “Mount P” another look:
Bargain shoppers should definitely hit Frugalista at the south end of the street. There, you’ll find a high-end thrift store with racks labeled Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Ann Taylor, among other brand names. Discounted, gently used Lucky Brand and Dansko shoes line the walls, and you might score a furry white vintage Perry Ellis coat. More deals are found up the street, including El West, which stocks everything from swanky cowboy boots and costume jewelry to backpacks.
Mount Pleasant farmers market, which sets up shop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays from early April through mid-December, is a huge draw for residents who flock to Lamont Park for bao buns, kombucha and seasonal ice pops while perusing the meat, cheese, produce and baked goods stalls. There’s often live music and a free bike clinic. If you’re hankering for craft groceries but the market isn’t open, head to Each Peach for its curated selection of produce and pantry items along with healthful prepared salads and sandwiches.
Eating & Drinking
The hodgepodge of mainly mom-and-pop bars and restaurants here perfectly reflects the diversity of the neighborhood. Spots range from modern Beau Thai and homey Filipino food at Purple Patch to hippie-leaning sandwiches at Dos Gringos. The large Latino community is also deliciously represented with the reliable and affordable Peruvian chicken at Pollo Sabroso, plus a mix of Mexican and Salvadoran dishes at old-timers like Haydee’s, Ercilia’s and Don Juan. Grab a barstool at Raven Grill and Marx Cafe if you’re craving a beer (or planning a revolution), but cocktail fans should stick with Beau Thai and Purple Patch for anything shaken or stirred.
The most obvious way to relax would be to drop into a class at Past Tense, a tiny but mighty yoga studio on the north end of the street. Just across the way is The Well, which offers massages, acupuncture and wellness classes. A less obvious path to relaxation — yet sometimes just as satisfying — is to find one of the many access points to Rock Creek Park and, well, take a hike. (Incidentally, you’ll also find the back entrance to the National Zoo at the western edge of the neighborhood.) Warm up and chill out with an expertly crafted cup of joe at Flying Fish Coffee & Tea or catch a movie at the quirky Suns Cinema, which shows art-house films and random vintage gems like “Edward Scissorhands” and “Die Hard.” A couple of nail salons line the street for those hankering for some magazine-reading time in a massage chair.
While you’re poking around this vibrant neighborhood, check out the City Heritage Trail signs that lead history buffs on a walking tour that includes the area’s oldest house, the earliest African-American house of worship on 16th Street and what used to be “Czech Row,” among other things. While meandering, take note of the former emergency call boxes given an overhaul through the Art on Call project. Artist Michael Ross filled the derelict vintage boxes in Mount Pleasant with sculptures depicting the history of the area, such as the Civil War scene found where Mount Pleasant Street meets Park Road.