Washington, D.C./Dupont Circle
Dupont Circle is D.C.'s trendiest neighborhood, owing to its collection of night clubs, bars, cafes, art galleries, and shops. It is widely considered the epicenter of the gay community in D.C.
Pierre Charles L'Enfant's original plan for Washington, D.C. included a number of grand boulevards, radiating out and intersecting with one another in a way that would create public squares and green space. The major thoroughfares coming together at Dupont Circle include Connecticut Ave, which emanates from the White House and runs roughly north-south, and Massachusetts Ave which runs roughly east-west.
The Dupont Circle area remained largely undeveloped until after the Civil War. Construction of the traffic circle at Dupont Circle began in 1871, and when the circle was completed, a bronze statue of rear admiral Samuel Francis DuPont was added. But the statue was replaced in 1921 with the large marble fountain that remains to this day. The fountain was designed by Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon, also the designers of the Lincoln Memorial, and is now a popular gathering spot, with many places to sit.
In the late 1940s, a tunnel was built beneath Dupont Circle as part of a Capital Transit streetcar project. Streetcar service ended in 1962, and a number of ideas have been proposed for what to do with the underground space. Along with the streetcar tunnel, another tunnel was constructed to allow Connecticut Ave vehicle traffic to pass beneath, helping to alleviate traffic congestion around the circle.
The neighborhood began to change in the 1970s, turning into a center for the gay community, particularly along P St, where a number of gay bars opened. The Dupont Circle further gentrified in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming more mainstream and losing its bohemian vibe with the addition of numerous shops, bookstores, and coffeehouses.
Metro is exceptionally convenient in Dupont Circle—the Dupont Circle stop on the Red Line is right under the circle itself.
The Metro station should satisfy most of your travel needs to and from Dupont Circle, but the G2 route along P St between Georgetown University and Howard University is a good way to travel east-west. It stops on P St just off the circle on both sides.
Bus 42 runs between Chinatown and Mount Pleasant, stopping in Dupont Circle. It is a good alternative to the Metro to getting to the National Mall area, passing many historical buildings en route.
The Circulator's Dupont Circle–Georgetown–Rosslyn "Light Blue" line runs from the corner of 19th and N Streets, near the south exit of the Dupont Circle Metro station, to Rosslyn, via the West End and Georgetown.
Unless you are an experienced D.C. driver, it is very easy to get turned around in Dupont Circle, or worse yet, wind up on the barbarous circle itself. Street parking is scarce, and limited to two hours during the daytime on weekdays. There are several parking garages, including one on N St between Connecticut and 17th, with daily rates in the $15-$20 range. Late at night, though, you can find street parking in the deserted business district just south of M St in the West End.
Connecticut Ave is the main thoroughfare (So is Massachusetts, but its traffic patterns are too confusing to be of much practical value). If passing through, make sure to stay in the left lanes to go under the Circle, not around it. Traffic is terrible on the circle, in volume, confusion, and rage. If you accidentally get on, and don't know what you are doing, stay in the outer lane and get off to save yourself the headache. P St is the best route west to Georgetown.
- The Brewmaster's Castle (Christian Heurich House Museum), 1307 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☎ , fax: +1 202 463-1307, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-in tours: Th-F 11AM,1PM; Sa 11AM,1PM,2:30PM. Competing with the Smithsonian for top castle status in the District is the Victorian mansion of one Christian Heurich, who immigrated to the states from Germany to become a wildly successful real estate baron and brewer. (He also holds the title of world's oldest brewer, having kept up his work until his death at a ripe age of 102.) It's a striking example of Victorian architecture and design, and even if you don't make it to a tour, there's a nice Victorian garden in the back open to the public M-F 10AM-4PM, spring-fall. Free, suggested donation $5.
- Mansion on O Street, 2020 O St NW, ☎ . By reservation only. The only way you will possibly get a handle on what this mysterious place is about is to visit. In their own words: The Mansion on O Street is a way of life, not a business. As a small private luxury hotel and club, conference center, and museum, we combine art, architecture, literature and inspiration to craft an exhilarating, entertaining experience. Having been a haven for heads of state, foreign dignitaries, business leaders, writers, artists, musicians, scientists, and members of the entertainment industry, The Mansion offers privacy, security, distinctive amenities and world-class cuisine, all in an environment that is nothing short of magical. Between hundreds of rooms, a collection of some 20,000 books, dozens of secret passages, a collection of John Lennon's guitars, modern art and curiosities of all stripes in every room (virtually anything of which is for sale if you're interested), frequent concerts by legends of rock and R&B, numerology evaluations, banquets, etc., your curiosity will probably find enough piquing here to justify the advance reservations for tours. It's also a luxury B&B, if you are looking for extremely eccentric accommodations in the city. Tours: $5-50/person, rooms: $350-850.
- National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1811 R Street NW, Washington, D.C., ☎ , fax: +1 202 462-3192, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 9am-5pm. Exhibits depicting the contributions made by American Jews in the United States military. Free.
- The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St NW, ☎ . T-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-6PM. The Phillips Collection, opened in 1921, is America’s first museum of modern art. Featuring a renowned permanent collection of nearly 2,500 works by American and European impressionist and modern artists, the Phillips is internationally recognized for both its incomparable art and its intimate atmosphere. Housed in founder Duncan Phillips' 1897 Georgian Revival home, The Phillips Collection is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest small museums. Special Exhibit prices vary; Permanent Collection: Tu-F: donation suggested, Sa-Su: Adults $10, Seniors and Students $8.
- Spanish Steps, S St and 22nd St NW. Kalorama is a quiet, stately neighborhood, and is home to more than a few hidden gems—including this, one of the city's most wonderful secret places. Based on Rome's famous Spanish Steps, these once led up to the Kalorama Mansion (from which the neighborhood gets its name) now lead up the steep hill to a small fountain and a nice city view, which is best appreciated on a summer night.
- Textile Museum, 2320 S St NW, ☎ , fax: +1 202 483-0994. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. An extraordinarily elegant small museum that few Washingtonians have heard of, the Textile Museum is fabric heaven. Everything is very thoughtfully exhibited (to the extent that it's actually a worthwhile stop for more than just textile buffs), and this hidden museum happens to have one of the finest collection of fabrics in the world. There's also a lovely garden in the back. Free introductory tours Sa-Su at 1:30PM Free, suggested donation $5.
- Woodrow Wilson House, 2340 S St NW, ☎ , fax: +1 202 483-1466, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. T-Su 10AM-4PM. President Woodrow Wilson moved here for a quiet retirement after the disastrous setbacks of his late presidency, and lived here for little over 3 years before he died (he was buried in the National Cathedral). The pretty Georgian Revival-style house is preserved as the Wilsons left it, with a nice collection of period furnishings and clothing. $7.50 Adults, $6.50 Seniors, $3 Students, free under age 7.
- Anderson House (Society of the Cincinnati headquarters and museum), 2118 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☎ . Tours: Tu-Sa, 1PM-4PM. The Anderson House, which is perhaps better described as a castle, was built in 1902-1905, as the home of Larz Anderson and his wife. Upon Anderson's death, the house was given as a gift to the Society of the Cincinnati which was something of an American noble order dedicated to preserving the legacy of the American Revolution (and today largely devoted to education about the revolutionary period) founded in 1783 after the Revolutionary War. The house serves as the organizations headquarters, and houses a museum and library. Free.
- Everett House (Turkish ambassador's residence), 1606 23rd St NW. Designed by George Oakley Totten, Jr., the house was built in 1914 for industrialist and philanthropist Edward H. Everett. The house was later used as the Turkish embassy, beginning in 1932, and became the Turkish ambassador's residence in 1999 when a new embassy building was built on Massachusetts Ave. The Everett House features a limestone facade, in Beaux-Arts neoclassic style.
- Townsend Mansion (Cosmos Club), 2121 Massachusetts Ave NW. Built by Mary Scott Townsend in 1899, the house features a Beaux Arts, French-inspired design. Townsend lived there until 1931, when she died. For a period of time before World War II, Sumner Welles (Franklin D. Roosevelt's Under Secretary of State) lived in the Townsend Mansion. The Cosmos Club, a private social club, bought the house in 1950, and continues to occupy the mansion.
The actual Dupont Circle, around which the neighborhood is centered, has a nice park in the middle of the traffic circle. It's a favorite neighborhood spot to read, play chess, and people-watch. On summer weekends there are relatively frequent musical performances. Otherwise, the neighborhood is not brimming with activities (kids will likely hate it here). If you are feeling understimulated, hop on the Red Line and go one station north to get to the Zoo in Woodley Park.
- Betsy Fisher, 1224 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-W 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-4PM. Sorry stereotypes, D.C. has some great fashion boutiques. Ms. Fisher is a careful curator, with a fiercely loyal customer base, attentive service (complimentary drinks, for one), and with clothes ranging from conservative to very trendy. You'll pay a price for this, though!
- G-Star Raw, 1666 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Men's and women's denim boutique, specializing in (as you would expect) trendy jeans and jackets.
- Lou Lou, 1601 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . An affordable accessories and jewelry boutique much loved by locals for its trendy, very cute items.
- Proper Topper, 1350 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. Well, this is where you get your hats! From fedoras to baseball caps, they have hats for women, men, and children (as well as a lot of other fashion accessories), and all of them are stylish.
Most galleries in Dupont Circle participate in "First Fridays" (of the month)—an open house of sorts throughout the evening, with a strong social bent (cocktails, music, etc.). Check with any of the below to see what is going on where.
- Foundry Gallery, 1314 18th St NW, ☎ . W-Su noon-6PM. A non-profit gallery, artist-run and funded, with modern, local art on display.
- Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Ct NW, ☎ . M 10AM-5PM, Tu-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-4PM. This is one of the hipper galleries in town, often sporting live DJs. It's mission is tied vaguely to international, cross-cultural communication, and puts on exhibits by established international artists, as well as locals.
- Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St NW, ☎ . W-Sa 11AM-5PM. Location is a plus at this gallery, housed in pretty old Washingtonian brownstone, rather than the usual characterless minimalist whitewashed galleries you find everywhere. Shows principally contemporary works, American and European, by some big names in the contemporary art world—buyers should expect high prices here.
Dupont Circle may not have a ton of bookstores, but those that are here are beloved city-wide.
- Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . Su-Th 7:30AM-1AM, F-Sa 24 hrs; brunch (popular and crowded): Sa-Su 8AM-3PM. A great independent bookstore and a tried and true Washingtonian experience. It's an odd bookstore, in that it has a full restaurant and bar—pick up a travel guide inferior to this one and then sit down for filet mignon, perhaps? There is also one meager computer, at the bar, hooked up for public internet use. Live music on weekends. Food: $10-20.
- Second Story Books and Antiques, 2000 P St NW, ☎ . 10AM-10PM daily. This is the one and only great used bookstore anywhere nearby. The collection is big and well curated by very knowledgeable staff, and they have a section for rare and collectible books. It's one of the best browsing bookstores you'll ever come across.
- Red Onion Records and Books, 1901 18th St NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa noon-7PM, Su noon-5PM. The friendly owner is an afficianado with a huge second-hand vinyl collection (and CDs and books about music). The store is quite small, so he has a carefully hand-picked selection on display, with some rare finds waiting for a browser to uncover. If there's a specialty here, it's indie.
- Biagio Fine Chocolate, 1904 18th St NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa Noon-8PM; Su Noon-5PM. This shop, tucked away on a lower level, carries a wide selection of chocolates, and has small art gallery.
- Tabletop, 1608 20th St NW, ☎ . M-Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-6PM. A quirky, stylish little gift shop with all sorts of items, but an especial emphasis on anything related to interior design. It's a fun place to browse even if you don't want to buy (but this can be dangerous).
Dupont Circle has plenty of dining options, including some of the best in the city, but keep in mind this is expensive territory with limited budget options aside from the usual fast food suspects. For more affordable local dining, hop on the metro and visit Shaw or Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights.
- Alberto's Pizza, 2010 P St NW, ☎ . M-Tu 11AM-11:30PM; W,Su 11AM-12:30AM; Th-Sa 11AM-2AM. Renowned in a city generally lacking good pizza for being above palatable, Alberto's is a good option for dining in Dupont Circle on the cheap.
- C.F. Folks, 1225 19th St NW, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2:15PM. A happy little sandwich/salad lunch spot with patio seating on the street. Those sandwiches are exceptional and worth seeking out, and even if they weren't, a good lunch for under $10 in Dupont Circle is a beautiful thing. The guy inside is a bit of a goofball. $6-9.
- D.C. Bread and Brew, 1247 20th St NW, ☎ . M-Th 7AM-midnight, Sa-Su 9AM-2AM. It's a little amazing that there's a place in Dupont where you can get high quality food, made from all local, natural ingredients, for under $10. The cafe is on the upper level (the bar on the bottom), in addition to patio seating out front. $6-20.
- Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 1645 Connecticut Ave, ☎ . 11AM-11PM daily. A beloved local chain, serving the city's best basic made-to-order burger and fries, and of course free peanuts. While terrificly unhealthy, the fries in particular are fantastic. This chain is the only place in the city to get boardwalk fries—the kind served on the Maryland and Delaware beaches—fresh cut and fried in 100% peanut oil. $5-10.
- Julia's Empanadas, 1221 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . Su-Th 10AM-2AM, F-Sa 10AM-4AM. Better for a snack than for a full meal, Julia's offers authentic Chilean food in the form of big specialty empanadas (stuffed savory pastries). Popular late at night among inebriated locals strolling out of the nearby bars. Good vegan and vegetarian options. Take-out only. $3.75 Each.
- Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St NW, ☎ . M-F noon-2:30PM; 5:30PM-10:30PM; Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM; Su 5PM-9:30PM. Very tasty Italian cuisine with a nice wine list served in this small restaurant. The one stumble is the noise level, but the restaurant remains quite the good deal. Reservations required for dinner. Guess which one of the desserts is especially popular. $25-50.
- Bistrot du Coin, 1738 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . Su-W 11:30AM-11PM; Th-Sa 11:30AM-1AM. Usually crowded and noisy, but the French/Belgian bistro cooking is great, and the atmosphere is lively and happy. They do a mean mussels with pomme frite. Also try the monkfish. $14-27.
- Hank's Oyster Bar, 1624 Q St NW, ☎ . Su-Tu 5:30PM-10PM; W-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Sa-Su 11AM-3PM. Small, cozy restaurant, with a popular oyster bar, along with fried clams, lobster rolls, and other seafood. This is also a good place to enjoy a beer and martinis. $12-25.
- Heritage India, 1337 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-10:30PM daily. Service is very uneven at this location of the D.C. chainlet, and the food is always a little rushed, but that food is some of the best, most authentic Indian cooking in the city. The fiery vindaloos are a specialty, but if you don't tolerate the heat, the chicken tikka is a great choice as well. $18-30.
- Mourayo, 1732 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th,Su 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM. A classy restaurant (despite the kitschy sailor theme) serving authentic Greek, regional fare. If you're up for a wild ride, try the local favorite: grilled octopus in ink with fava bean puree. $20-45.
- Penang, 1837 M St NW, ☎ . M-W 11:30AM-11PM; Th 11:30AM-Midnight; Fr-Sa 11:30AM-1AM; Su 11:30AM-10PM. Great Malaysian cuisine, Americanized or not, and attractive, trendy decor. Best bet is to order around three of the appetizer/tapas. $15-30.
- Pizzeria Paradiso, 2003 P St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-11PM; Fr-Sa 11:30AM-Midnight; Su Noon-10PM. One of two locations of the famous local gourmet pizza place. They don't take reservations, so the Saturday night wait can be brutal (on a less crowded night, patio seating is nice). But never fear, they do a healthy take-out business too. Also of note is there is an extensive list of rotating draft and one cask beer. $14-22.
- Regent Thai, 1910 18th St NW, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-3PM; Sa Noon-3PM; Dinner: Su-Th 5PM-10PM; F-Sa 5PM-11PM. Thai in the U.S. (and certainly in D.C.) is often nice for a cheap meal with just a little bit of flair, and not much beyond that. But this is one of best Thai places in the city, and serves up less greasy, more authentic dishes, in an attractive space (and it's not quite as cheap). Strangely, they serve free sodas—not just free refills—which makes this a good bet if you're thirsty. The spice levels, which you can control per request, are higher here than you'd find elsewhere, so those extra drinks are extra useful. $15-30.
- Urbana, 2121 P St NW (in Hotel Palomar), ☎ . M-F 7-10:30AM; 11:30AM-3PM; Su-Th 5:30-10PM; F-Sa 5:30-11PM (bar Su-Th to midnight, F-Sa to 2AM). The new restaurant/bar attached to Hotel Palomar is a good place for a cocktail, upscale pizza, and happy hour specials (M-F 4PM-7PM), or for a full meal of their fine Mediterranean-influenced cooking. $28-45.
- Komi, 1509 17th St NW, ☎ . Tu-Th 5:30PM-9:30PM; Fr-Sa 5:30PM-10PM. "Universal acclaim" is often claimed, but rarely factual in a strict sense. But Komi seemingly has yet to generate a negative critical review anywhere—not even a quip. Declared by serious foodies one of the best restaurants in the country, this is a place for a special occasion (or simply is a special occasion), as it's both super expensive and very memorable. Mediterranean/New American cuisine. It is indeed harder to get reservations here than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, so be ready to try a few times a full month in advance, calling first thing in the morning. Dinner: $90, tasting menu: $125, wine pairings: 3 for $48, 5 for $62.
- Obelisk, 2029 P St NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 6PM-10PM. Very, very classy, and very, very tasty Tuscan cuisine. Obelisk's five course pri-fixe menu changes daily, so everything is always fresh and seasonal. It is reputed to be both one of the city's best dining experiences and one of its best deals. It is, however, small and therefore quite hard to get reservations—plan well in advance. $70.
- Restaurant Nora, 2132 Florida Ave NW, ☎ . M-F 5:30PM-10PM; Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. The country's first certified organic restaurant serves almost all locally sourced food. Excellently done, but somewhat limited at times by the organic requirements—it's best in the summer. $35-65, four course tasting menu: $75, $65 vegetarian.
- The Palm, 1225 19th St NW, ☎ . M-F 11:45AM-3PM, 3PM-10PM; Sa 5:30PM-10PM; Su 5:30PM-9:30PM. Yes, it is not the only Palm, but it remains a worthy choice for Washington power dining—along with a very small handful, the Palm has a pretty good claim to best steak in town. And truly, this location is unmistakably Washingtonian. There isn't a whole lot of reason to come beyond political celebrity spotting and steak, but that should be reason enough. $35-70.
- Plume (at the Jefferson Hotel), ☎ . Tu-Sa 6PM-10PM. The new entrant at the Jefferson Hotel is already a clear destination restaurant, with classic French cuisine served in a traditional American, and frankly gorgeous, interior. The food is competitive with the best the city has to offer, and the service is perhaps a step above, with details covered down to the string-bound parchment you receive on your way out, upon which your servers have listed the wines you sampled. $80-200.
- Sushi Taro, 1503 17th St NW, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30PM-10PM. The entire country is lacking in top-notch Japanese restaurants, depriving Americans of one of the world's truly great cuisines. So thank goodness that Sushi Taro is around. You'll spend a fortune, but if you like seafood, this place will blow you away. The name is a bit of a relic from when Sushi Taro was an affordable after-work sushi bar. Today, you are better off going straight to the entrees, since enormous prices and sushi don't mix well—the restaurant's excellent chef isn't as relevant when your dish is not cooked. $55-90; prix-fixe options: kaiseke for 2 $75, omakase for 1 $100.
- Mr. Yogato, 1515 17th St NW, ☎ . A must visit, not just for the great frozen yogurt, but for the experience. Play the Nintendo game system and receive discounted yogurt based on your score. There are plenty of other ways to get free yogurt such as reciting by heart braveheart's freedom speech. $3-$5.
Dupont Circle is most widely known as the gay capital of the nation's capital, with many gay bars and clubs, particularly along P St, and parties of various themes running seven nights a week. But Dupont's nightlife scene is so big and varied, that Washingtonians would not ever think of it as some sort of LGBT ghetto—packed into this little area are endless bars, clubs, and lounges catering to all sorts of different people, with the one exception that they're usually all well-heeled. The main nightlife stretches are along Connecticut Ave just north and south of the Circle, P St west of the Circle, and on 17th between P and T St.
If you just want to sit back and enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee, you are in good hands here. Starbucks and Cosi's lovers will find their every whim catered to on every block. But independent coffee shops are in ample supply as well, most of which offer nice outdoor seating to watch the crowds go by in nice weather.
- Bar Dupont (in the Dupont Hotel), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-1:30AM, F 11:30AM-2:30AM, Sa 11AM-2:30AM, Su 11AM-11PM. A classy place at the bottom of the Dupont Hotel with the best people watching in town through its wall of windows right on Dupont Circle. The drinks are excellent, and the happy hour special—$5 for their signature cocktails—is quite a bargain for this location.
- Bier Baron, 1523 22nd St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F 11:30AM-3AM, Sa 6PM-3AM, Su 6PM-2AM. Remodeled in 2010, this bar features 500 different beers on the menu, including around 20 on tap. The servers are remarkably knowledgeable if you are looking for particular recommendations—and they might talk you out of that second rate Zimbabwean lager you just ordered in favor of a far superior Mosi from Zambia. Try the sweet potato fries. Beer: $4-$14.
- The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 4PM-2AM, F 4PM-3AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 5PM-2AM. The Big Hunt is another very popular, very large bar right off the circle, full of friendly twenty and thirty-something singles. The safari theme throughout is interesting, but those comfy booths are the number one reason to have your beers here—if you can get one, that is. If not, there are plenty of other places to explore. The red basement has extraordinarily bizarre decor, and is a lot quieter for conversations. There are three levels including a rooftop and and second bar room and basement that occasionally open to accommodate overflow.
- Buffalo Billiards, 1330 19th St NW, ☎ . Su-Th noon-2AM, F-Sa noon-3AM. Huge bar located in basement right off Dupont Circle. Popular among fraternity boys, but a good place to watch football games, drink beer, and play billiards. Serves appetizers till late.
- Fireplace, 2161 P St NW, ☎ . M-Th 1PM-2AM, F-Sa 1PM-3AM, Su 1PM-2AM. Black men's gay bar that serves decent brick-oven baked pizzas. Always crowded—to the point of spilling out onto the street—after dark. Upstairs sees dancing on a very dimly lit dance floor.
- Fox and Hounds, 1537 17th St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F 11AM-3AM, Sa 10AM-3AM. There's one big reason to visit this bar, and it's the big, friendly, low-key patio on the street—this is some of the best people watching in the city. Not a bad place to spot celebrities (of the entertainment variety).
- Gazuza, 1629 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. An upscale lounge where you can hear yourself talk is a find in Dupont Circle, but that's hardly the only hook. The excellent mixed drinks take a back seat in popularity to the hookahs, old Looney Tunes cartoons run on big flatscreens, and then there is the inaccessibly crowded patio overlooking the street.
- JR's Bar and Grill, 1519 17th St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 4PM-2AM, F-Sa 2PM-3AM. Gay central! On weekends, and even weeknights, JR's is packed with fashion-conscious yuppie gay men, although there is no dress code, and the crowd isn't snobby-judgmental. In general, the friendly people are the reason to come—otherwise it's just a very crowded bar. Monday show tunes nights are very popular.
- Lucky Bar, 1221 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 3PM-2AM, F 3PM-3AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su 9PM-2AM. A fratboy-ish fake Irish pub/sports bar is really a breath of fresh air in this pretentious neighborhood. The big hook here is the soccer—about 25 TV screens of it every night. Weekends are when the frat-boy ethos can start to get tiresome, unless you really like the crowded, drunken, yuppie-college bar scene. $3 beers during happy hour (4PM-8PM).
- One Lounge, 1606 20th St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. This address, despite being just off the circle, has a doomed reputation—not one business has had long term success here. One can only hope that One Lounge proves an exception, because it has the best drinks in the area bar none. The small portions of gourmet food are also very welcome, and it is a comfortable, fashionable, and usually not-too-noisy space to have some good late night conversation.
- Russia House Restaurant and Lounge, 1800 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 5PM-midnight, F 5PM-2AM, Sa 6PM-2AM; Restaurant closes M-F 10PM, Sa-Su 11PM. Serves traditional Russian fare and vodka, with more than 30 vodkas to choose from. The vodka bar is the main draw, full of ex-pats and Russophiles talking all things Russia, while the restaurant is a bit of an afterthought. Live music W-Th. Owned by D.C. native Aaron McGovern and Lithuanian Arturas "Jeepo" Vorobjovas. Hockey player Alex Ovechkin has been spotted here several times. Baltika/Švyturys Beer: $7; Vodka: $10, Martini: $16.
- Steve's Bar Room, 1337 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 9AM-2AM, F-Sa 9AM-3AM. Popular for its friendly bartenders, who are known to offer free drinks. $3 PBR vending machines. $10 cover on weekends after 11PM.
- Townhouse Tavern, 1637 R St NW, ☎ . M-Th 2PM-2AM, F 2PM-3AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. This may be Dupont's only neighborhood bar. No red bulls, no $15 drinks, no pretension of any sort. Just a good ol' dive bar.
- Veritas Wine Bar, 2031 Florida Ave NW, ☎ . Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM. A romantic, dimly lit wine bar with comfy seating. Perfect for a date. Unless it's F-Sa, when it's far too crowded to be romantic, or really worth going to at all. Unlike many wine bars, you come here just for the wine (and cheese)—it's not really a restaurant. Wine by glass, flight, or bottle.
Dupont Circle has been dance central in the city for at least 25 years, although booming Adams Morgan has given it a good run for its money. There are plenty of parties going on here nightly, the most famous and established of which are at the Eighteenth Street Lounge.
- Apex, 1415 22nd St NW, ☎ . Th 9PM-3AM, F-Sa 9PM-4AM. An 18+ gay club, with free entry on Thursdays with a Student ID. The crowd here is young, with a large contingent of college students on any given night, particularly from GW. It's a big multi-level venue, with more than its fair share of campy dance music. Weekly drag shows on Saturdays.
- Cafe Citron, 1343 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F-Sa 4PM-3AM. A super-crowded Latin salsa/reggaeton dance club that is one of the best bets for a good party on a weekday. Weekends are too crowded to dance. Definitely try one of their renowned mojitos. No cover, strict door policy (i.e. no shorts allowed).
- Cafe Japone, 2032 P St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 5:30PM-1:30AM, F-Sa 5:30PM-2:30AM; lounge only W-Sa. The upper floor of this sushi restaurant is one of the only karaoke bars around, and a good place to watch drunken crooners, or become one. Downstairs is a little-known no-cover lounge, that actually draws some very respected DJs on occasion, and has very funky decor.
- Cobalt, 1639 R St NW, ☎ . M-Th 5PM-2AM, F 5PM-3AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. This club is one of many gay hotspots in D.C., set apart mostly for the fact that people with differing tastes will be happy. The first floor is a fairly relaxed bar scene where you can chat, while the upstairs club is thumping, raucous, and dancing. The shirtless bartenders are also a draw.
- Eighteenth Street Lounge, 1212 18th ST NW, ☎ . Tu-W 9:30PM-2AM, Th 5:30PM-2AM, F 5:30PM-3AM, Sa 9:30PM-3AM. D.C.'s most famous club may have gone to lengths not to become so (no sign, no publicity), but was destined to fail to be obscure. Thievery Corporation, the owners, have long been the biggest name in the local music scene, but lately they have become one of the bigger names in electronica internationally. It's a multi-level house party most nights of the week, with the best DJs in town, bossa nova (weekends) on the third floor, and a swanky atmosphere. The door policy is strict, so dress nicely and wear your best fashion. The crowd inside is both sophisticated, older, and pretty low-key. If you're not in the mood for a party, check out Thievery Corp's music anyway—you'll probably recognize a few tracks from movies, TV commercials, etc. Popular for their Wednesday night Reggae shows. Cover: $10-20.
- The FAB Lounge, 1805 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 5PM-1AM, F-Sa 5PM-2AM. A gay/lesbian bar/club friendly to all, but particularly popular with the ladies for its more laid-back atmosphere on weeknights and regular dyke nights, especially the popular "A Different Kind of Ladies Night" every Friday.
- Fly Lounge, 1802 Jefferson Pl NW, ☎ . W-Th 9PM-2AM, F-Sa 9PM-3AM. A relative newcomer, this is one of the more fun hip hop clubs in the city, designed to look like you're dancing inside a 747 airplane, with waitresses in stewardess costumes, and home to the hottest hip hop DJs in D.C. The downside here, rather obviously, is that it's a bit cramped dancing inside an airplane.
- Ozio Restaurant and Lounge, 1813 M St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F 11:30AM-3AM, Sa 6PM-3AM. A self proclaimed cigar and martini bar, which at times seems much more of a swanky, upscale, four-floor dance club than anything else. The crowds get thick F-Sa, which makes for a good night of dancing, while weeknights are better for heading to the first floor bar for that cigar and martini. The cigar menu is long and impressive.
- Java House, 1645 Q St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 7AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 7AM-11PM. A long-time neighborhood coffee shop that roasts its own beans. The biggest draw is the plentiful, shaded outdoor seating, which fills up with laptops (free WiFi and plenty of outdoor outlets!) checking emails while enjoying some good 17th St people watching.
- Jolt 'N Bolt, 1918 18th St NW, ☎ . M-F 7AM-8:30PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 7AM-8:30PM. Another neighborhood outdoor seating and WiFi coffee shop, this one with a more private seating area on the side of the building. The inside is attractive, decorated with local artwork.
- Steam Cafe and Lounge, 1700 17th St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 7AM-1AM, F-Sa 7AM-3AM. Steam distinguishes itself from the other independent neighborhood coffee shops by staying up late. It's mellow, plays classical music, and has particularly reliable WiFi.
- Teaism, 2009 R St NW, ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-10PM, Sa-Su 9:30AM-9PM; Brunch Sa-Su 9:30AM-2:30PM. Tea shop with Asian inspired foods. Breakfast, lunch, and desserts offered on menu. Great selection of fine teas, although the prices exceed the (high) quality. Good place for lunch/brunch. Seating is limited, so if it looks busy you might want to look elsewhere (but there's also seating upstairs). $2-9.
Dupont Circle is a great place to stay when in D.C., and should be even more popular than it is. Rates are more affordable than at the big chain hotels in the touristy East End, there are lots of charming independent options, it's a great area to come back to in the evening, has convenient metro service, and is just a few blocks north of the main business district. If staying towards the southwest end, you'll be right by the business district of the West End, and a short walk from Georgetown, while the northeast side puts you closer to main dining and nightlife strips.
- Carlyle Suites Hotel, 1731 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The interior is gorgeous—an Art-Deco masterpiece. Aside from the aesthetics, and reasonable prices, the premium Tempur-Pedic mattresses are another good reason to stay here. All rooms have new gourmet coffee machines and full service kitchens, 37 inch HD flat screen TVs, free WiFi, and daily passes to the nearby Washington Sports Club. $140-200.
- The Churchill Hotel, 1914 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . Originally opened as a luxury apartment building in 1906, this hotel is nice, upscale, and unique, without being either trendy or swanky. It's a simple, lovely place just far north enough of the Circle to qualify as being in a quieter neighborhood. Beds get high marks for comfort, while WiFi costs $10/day, and the rooms are a little small. $125-285.
- The Tabard Inn, 1739 N St NW, ☎ . A small, old, charming inn located on a quiet tree-lined street just five blocks from the White House. 40 sleeping rooms, each unique in character and design, aiming to preserve the turn-of-the-century atmosphere, while keeping decor eclectic. In keeping with the historic bent of this hotel (believed to be the oldest continually operating hotel in the city), there are no TVs. (You do get free gym passes to the local YMCA and WiFi, though.) Even if you are not staying at the hotel, the Tabard is a great place for a relaxed evening cocktail hour, and some terrific live jazz on Sunday nights. The small hotel restaurant is as attractive as it is highly acclaimed, serving delicious New American cuisine. Some of the cheaper rooms have shared baths, which you can request upon reservation. $113-218; restaurant: $28-45.
- Windsor Park Hotel, 2116 Kalorama Rd NW, ☎ . An old fashioned, and slightly worn, hotel in a quiet, beautiful spot on Kalorama, several blocks north of the commercial areas. Simple, Queen Anne-style rooms, free WiFi. $100-150.
- Beacon Hotel and Corporate Quarters, 1615 Rhode Island Ave NW, ☎ . Contemporary design, cosmopolitan style hotel with upscale suites. New York-inspired studio suites and upscale turret suites also available. Ask for a room on the upper floors. Views of the White House and the Mall from the rooftop bar are spectacular. $150-260.
- Hotel Palomar, 2121 P St NW, ☎ . A flashy, trendy Dupont Circle location of the Kimpton chain, with a penchant for L.A.-style designs and leopard print, and a reputation for very good service. Pet friendly hotel, outdoor pool. $180-300.
- Topaz Hotel, 1733 N St NW, ☎ . One of the several hip Kimpton Boutiques in Dupont, this one has fairly large rooms, soothing but funky decor with a vague oriental theme, and no gym. The upscale bar, Topaz Bar, is a great, relatively quiet place for drinks, with similarly funky decor. $140-230.
- Dupont Hotel (Jury's Washington Hotel), 1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☎ . You can't beat the location of being literally on Dupont Circle. This hotel, just remodeled in 2009, has stylish, sleek, contemporary decor, and is a little overpriced compared to the services you'd get at other hotels in the same price range, but that is to be expected given the real estate. The recently refurbished bar as very high quality cocktails, with great views out the windows right on the circle. $190-350.
- Embassy Circle Guest House, 2224 R St NW, ☎ . If you want to stay on Embassy Row, this B&B is the place to do it. The building, surrounded by embassies, is itself a former embassy, housed in a historically restored mansion. The rooms are lovely, the hosts are veteran charmers with an affinity for Persian rugs, and overall this place gets more consistently favorable reviews than pretty much anywhere else in the city. If you like the artwork, nearly all of it is original work by guests! $200-280.
- The Fairfax at Embassy Row, 2100 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☎ . Since 1927, The Fairfax has been home to many distinguished travelers including congressman, senators, and ambassadors who made the hotel their permanent residence. Prominent tenants included Mrs Henry Cabot Lodge, Admiral and Mrs Chester William Nimitz, and Senator John McClellan. A young George H Bush and his parents as well as Senator and Mrs Prescott Bush also made The Fairfax their home when in town. 259 guest rooms and suites with views of Embassy Row. $200-280.
- Hilton Embassy Row, 2015 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☎ . Hiltons are always fairly upscale and nice in the same way, so you should know what to expect of this large hotel before arriving. One standout feature (aside from the great location) is the rooftop pool, open Memorial Day–Labor Day, which offers non-guests day passes, usually for $10. $190-300.
- The Jefferson Hotel, 1200 16th St NW, ☎ . Housed in a gorgeous 1923 Beaux-Arts building is this small, ultra-luxury hotel, where rooms come with butlers, and a focus on historical charm coexists with flatscreen tvs embedded in the bathroom mirrors and microchips alerting room service when your plates need to be cleared. Much of the decor is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, representing his life and his interests. The on-site spa, reading room, piano bar (and its cocktails) (Su-M 11:30AM-midnight, Tu-Sa 11:30AM-1AM), and two restaurants are as beautiful as they are excellent. $350-800.
- St Gregory Hotel, 2033 M St NW, ☎ . With the exception of the lobby's Marylin Monroe skirt-in-the-wind statue, there isn't a whole lot that's distinctive about the St Gregory, but it lives up to the name of a luxury hotel, in terms of excellent service and extra thoughtful details. Its clientèle certainly has been distinguished, having played host to big shots in the worlds of art, entertainment, politics—in no small part due to the fact that this is a great location for an extended-stay suites hotel. But it's a luxury hotel, c'mon now, it shouldn't be charging $11/day for WiFi. $150-450.
To get free WiFi in Dupont Circle, you basically just have to open your computer—everyone has it, and not everyone has password protection. Furthermore, many neighborhood shops, cafes, and restaurants offer wireless—the coffee shops and frozen yogurt listed above will give it to you for free, as will all the Starbucks.
If you don't have a computer and need to access the internet, Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe (see listing above) has a single computer at the bar. Eport World is another option:
- Eport World, 1719 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ . M-F 9:30AM-7PM, Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. 30 minutes for $3, 60 minutes for $5.
There's enough dining and nightlife here to satisfy anyone for a long stay in D.C., but the other hot spots are short walks away if you are looking for more diversity. North along 18th St is Adams Morgan, West along M St is Georgetown, and east along U St is Shaw.
|Routes through Dupont Circle|
|Gaithersburg ← Upper Northwest ←||N S||→ West End → East End|