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Shaw is a neighborhood in north-central Washington DC just east of Dupont Circle and south of Adams Morgan.

The African-American Civil War Memorial


Shaw technically includes the sub-neighborhoods of Logan Circle, Truxton Circle, and the U Street Corridor. It is bounded by 15th St NW, Florida Ave (formerly Boundary St), North Capitol St, and M St NW.

Although it has a diverse population, Shaw is distinctive from the adjacent areas due to its African-American heritage. It is popular due to its jazz clubs, bars, high-end bars and lounges, and for the marvelous food, including Little Ethiopia.

The neighborhood, named after Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, was first developed starting in 1865 when the end of the Civil War led to a huge increase in demand for new housing in Washington, D.C. The extension of streetcar lines in the early 1900's up 7th St and 14th St also spurred additional development.

Because Shaw was not affected by covenants that prohibited property sales to African Americans, Shaw became the center of African-American culture in Washington and was home to many black-owned businesses, entertainment venues, and other institutions. It was the birthplace of jazz great Duke Ellington, who lived on the 1200 block of T St. It was the center of Washington's music scene and includes the historic Howard Theater (opened in 1910), Lincoln Theatre (opened in 1921), and Bohemian Caverns jazz club (opened in 1926).

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968, riots broke out at the intersection of 14th St & U St. The riots resulted in significant damage to 1,200 buildings and resulted in thousands of permanent job losses. With the introduction of crack cocaine in the 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent flight of residents and businesses from the area, Shaw succumbed to urban blight. The entire neighborhood was considered to be unsafe due to rampant prostitution and drug use.

However, beginning in the early 1990s, a wave of gentrification restored the area. In 1986, the Reeves Center, a 500,000 square foot municipal office building, opened at the intersection of 14th St and U St, bringing thousands of jobs to the area. The Shaw-Howard University Metro Station opened in 1991. In 2000, a Whole Foods supermarket opened at the intersection of 14th & P Street and quickly became one of the retailer's highest grossing stores. Between 2000 and 2002, Harrison Square, the first large scale residential development in the area in a long time, was constructed. Since then, dozens of upscale businesses have opened and thousands of apartments have been constructed. Houses at Harrison Square, which originally cost $200,000 in 2000-2002, are now selling for $900,000.

The U Street Corridor is a vibrant collection of boutique shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and art galleries along U St NW between from 9th St and 18th St. The corridor first became commercially significant when a streetcar line operated along U St in the early 20th century. It was known as Black Broadway due to the number of live music and performance venues.

Logan Circle, named after Civil War general John A. Logan, is a traffic circle as well as a historic district whose commercial area centers around 14th St. The beautiful Victorian-style buildings in this area were less affected by the riots and this area now features some very trendy restaurants and bars.

Get in[edit]

Shaw map.png

By Metrorail[edit]

For more information on riding the Metrorail in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get around.

Shaw is serviced by the following Metrorail stations on the green and yellow lines

By bus[edit]

The following are the main bus routes operating in Shaw, along with links to timetables and route maps. For more information on riding buses in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get around.

  • X3 is a very convenient express route heading west from U St/Cardozo through Adams Morgan to area in Upper Northwest including Woodley Park, the National Zoo, and Tenleytown.

By car[edit]

Driving is definitely not recommended if you are not familiar with the area. The main streets are 14th St, R St, 9th St, 7th St, and Florida Ave. North Capitol St is a good and relatively uncongested artery heading north towards Maryland and the I-495 Capital Beltway. Avoid driving on U St, because it is one of the most congested streets in D.C. On-street parking is possible on the quieter side streets any time of the week.


House of the Temple
  • African-American Civil War Memorial1000 U St NW. The nation's only monument to African American Civil War soldiers. More than 209,000 names of the United States Colored Troops who fought in the Union Army are inscribed on 157 burnished stainless steel plaques. Arranged according to regiment, the names include those of the 7,000 white officers who served with the African American troops. At the center of the plaza encircled by the inscribed names is a sculpture, The Spirit of Freedom, by artist Ed Hamilton.
  • House of the Temple1733 16th St NW (between R St & S St),  +1 202 232-3579. M-Th 10AM-4PM (tours start on the hour). A Masonic Temple, the headquarters of the Scottish Rite, and a prominently featured location in Dan Brown's 2009 novel, The Lost Symbol. It's almost absurdly grand, pretty easily outshining the similar Supreme Court Building in Capitol Hill, and there's nary a Washingtonian around who hasn't at some point walked by it, surprised by this enormous but unidentified building. The interior is a wild Orientalist fantasy in way that only the Masons could bring to life, and is open to the public for tours and exhibits. Free.
  • Thurgood Marshall Center1816 12th St NW +1 202 462-8314, e-mail: . M-F 8:30AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-3PM. A Shaw landmark, built as the local YMCA in 1912, and designed by one of the nation's first black architects, W. Sidney Pittman. The name comes from the fact that Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall was a frequent visitor to the Y, and that he wrote portions of his opinion for the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision here. On the first floor, the Shaw Heritage Trust maintains an exhibit portraying the living history of African Americans in the Shaw Community. Free.


The Greater U Street Heritage Trail is a self-guided walking tour with downloadable audio that will have you visiting major sights in the neighborhood.


The Studio Theatre by the galleries on 14th
  • Howard Theatre620 T St NW. A historic theater, opened in 1910 and extensively renovated in 2012 after decades of vandalism, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974
  • Lincoln Theatre1215 U St NW +1 202 328-6000. Native Washingtonians Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey performed in the Lincoln Theatre. The theatre also hosted shows by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughn.
  • Studio Theatre1501 14th St NW +1 202 332-3300. shows usually: W-F 8PM, Sa 2PM, 8PM, Su 2PM, 7PM. The Studio Theatre can lay claim to being the vanguard of D.C. Theatre. It's spacious, modern, comfortable, and puts on absolutely top-notch contemporary dramatic performances. If what's playing here appeals to you at all, make a night here a priority. $35-70, discounts available per website.


U St is the place for the more funky, local, boutique shopping, although discounts are hard to come by. The art galleries on 14th St have the most exciting contemporary exhibits in the city. If you are up for some seriously exotic shopping, head to Little Ethiopia on 9th Street, south of U St, to sample the various Ethiopian stores and food markets. The Whole Foods Supermarket on 14th St & P St is one of the highest grossing Whole Foods in existence.


  • Junction Vintage1510 U St NW, #B +1 202 483-0261. W 3PM-7PM, Th-Sa noon-7PM, Su noon-5PM. One of the better vintage stores in the city, with a rather small, but thoughtful selection at better prices than you'd find for this quality in most vintage stores.
  • Redeem1734 14th St NW +1 202 332-7447, e-mail: . M,W-Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-6PM. Boutique offering luxury casual wear with a strong indie-rocker bent. You might be tempted to contemplate the inherent contradictions of boutique counterculture, but catch yourself—it's that same political preoccupation that keeps D.C. stuck in drab suits. That's also presumably why the store has the name it does.
  • Treasury Vintage1843 14th St NW (between Swann St & T St),  +1 202 332-9499. M,W-Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-6PM. Probably the best prices and selection of the area's vintage shops.


Founders Library, the symbol of Howard University

While very dangerous in the 1980s, the area around the intersection of 14th St and Q St is now the center of D.C.'s high-end contemporary art scene and has hosted some world-class exhibitions.

  • Galleries at 15151515 14th St NW.


  • Greater Goods1626 U St NW. Tu-Sa 11AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. D.C.'s greenest store, specializing in a whole wide range of eco-friendly home goods, as well as items designed to raise awareness of how you can minimize your carbon footprint, decrease waste, etc. The book section is also worth a browse, and the owner is very friendly.
  • Lee’s Flower Shop1026 U St NW. Opened in 1945, this family owned business is one of only 3 businesses on U St to survive the 1968 riots


Shaw is famous for its African food, particularly Ethiopian. Little Ethiopia, on 9th St just south of U St, has the best Ethiopian restaurants outside of Addis Ababa. While the number of Ethiopians in the D.C. area has been debated, D.C. is widely considered to have the largest number of Ethiopian ex-pats anywhere in the world and Shaw is the epicenter of their community. To brush up on your Ethiopian dining etiquette, see Washington, D.C.#Eat.

Shaw is also known for its soul food diners, many of which have been in D.C. much longer than most residents. You won't find the best soul food in the world here, but the feel of these restaurants, which are sometimes covered wall-to-wall in pictures of famous celebrities that visited decades ago, give you a unique peak into the history and culture of D.C.

As noted below in the Drink section, Shaw also has many independent chic cafes that serve sandwiches at low prices.


For the cheapest options, try one of several Mediterranean or pizza hole-in-the wall restaurants.

  • Ben's Chili Bowl1213 U St NW +1 202 667-0909. M-Th 11AM-2AM, F-Sa 11AM-4AM, Su noon-8PM. A mainstay since 1958 and one of the few businesses in the area to survive the 1968 riots, this restaurant is a city landmark. It's been patronized by President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Bill Cosby, and every recent city mayor. In fact, you might find future mayoral candidates bivouacked here, in hopes of showing that they are "of the people." It's a down-home, low-maintenance, diner-style restaurant known for serving D.C.'s best half-smokes and for its friendly staff. Take a peek inside so that you can say you've been here, but if want something fancier, look next door for Ben's Next Door, which is a nice bar/restaurant opened in 2008 by the same owners to capitalize on their fame. $3.50-7.
  • Chix2019 11th St NW (between U St & V St),  +1 202 234-2449. M-Sa: 11:30AM-10PM; Su: 12PM-9PM. Cheap chicken, with beans, rice, and vegetables.
  • The Mediterranean Spot1501 U St NW +1 202 232-7108. A hole-in-the wall restaurant with good food.
  • Uncle Chips Cookies1514 North Capitol Street NW (between P St & Bates St),  +1 202 999-4990. M-F 10AM-6:30PM, Sa 9AM-6:30PM, Su 9AM-4PM. Delicious cookies and brownies and amazing sandwiches with fresh ingredients. $5-13.



Townhouses and shops in Little Ethiopia
  • Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant & Market1334 9th St NW (between N St & O St),  +1 202 798-6762fax: +1 202 667-2498. Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F-Sa. With the entrance hidden in the basement, this gem can be tricky to find, but the number of Ethiopian ex-pats inside will tell you that you are in the right place. Mains: $11-17.
  • Dukem1118 U St NW +1 202 667-8735fax: +1 202 667-2498. Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F-Sa. The Ethiopian cuisine here is solid, if of variable quality. But the real reason to come is for the daily late-night live Ethiopian music—likely the best you'll experience outside Ethiopia itself. A real hub for the local Ethiopian community. Full bar. $10-20.
  • Etete1942 9th St NW (between T St & U St),  +1 202 232-7600. 11AM-1AM daily. Nice ambiance, excellent service, and top-notch quality for all the favorite dishes. $8-18.
  • Lalibela1415 14th St NW (between N St & P St),  +1 202 265-5700. 9AM-11PM daily. Named after a town in Ethiopia famous for its rock churches, Lalibela is closer to Dupont Circle than to Little Ethiopia, but the food is authentic and delicious. Pleasant outdoor seating remedies the dark interior, and is indeed the main reason to come here as opposed to the otherwise superior options on 9th St. $8-14.
  • Queen of Sheba1503 9th St NW (between P St & Q St),  +1 202 232-7788. Open since 2006, Queen of Sheba prides itself on serving fresh authentic Ethiopian food. Popular among the local Ethiopian population. Mains: $10-14.
  • Sumah's West African Restaurant1727 7th St NW (between R St & S St),  +1 202 462-7309. 10AM-11PM daily. Easy to miss among the large apartment buildings, but offers huge portions of very tasty Sierra Leonean food. An entree is $14, but will easily feed two–three people. If you ask Sumah, he'll let you sample everything before you order, since you probably won't otherwise know what to get. Whatever you end up ordering, make sure to wash it down with delicious homemade ginger beer. $14-16.
  • Uptown Ethiopian Fusion Cuisine1608 7th St NW (between Q St & R St),  +1 202 232-1608. 10AM-2AM daily. Ethiopian & Italian food with televisions playing sporting events.
  • Zenebech Injera608 T St NW +1 202 667-4700. 8AM-11PM daily. Little Ethiopia's dive restaurant. Has only two tables, but does a thriving carryout business among the Ethiopian taxi drivers. It's cheaper than most of the options on 9th St, and spicier too. While the tables won't impress a date, the food here is unbeatable. Kitfo (raw beef) is probably their top dish. Mains: $10-12.

Soul food diners[edit]

  • Busboys & Poets2021 14th St NW (between U St & V St),  +1 202 387-7638fax: +1 202 387-6138, e-mail: . M-Th 8AM-midnight, F 8AM-2AM, Su 9AM-midnight. Somewhere between a cafe, a bookstore, and a bar, Busboys & Poets principally serves up hearty portions of leftist politics. Poetry readings and political rants grace the stage, while the food is basic pizza, burgers, some down-home cooking, and sandwiches filled with things like falafel and hummus. Cool place to hang out if you share the vibe. Nine on the Ninth is an open-mic poetry night at 9PM of the 9th of every month. 4 locations in the DC area. Food: $8-15.
  • Florida Avenue Grill1100 Florida Ave NW +1 202 265-1586. Tu-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 8AM-4:30PM. A famous D.C. establishment serving soul food since 1944. This is another rare business to have survived the 1968 riots, as the owner fended off rioters with his gun. The food, service, and ambiance are all below average, but it's worth stopping in to see the pictures on the wall of celebrities that visited the diner when it was in its heyday and get a feeling for the history. Mains: $6-16.
  • Oohs and Aahs1005 U St NW +1 202 667-7142. M-Th: 12PM-10PM; F-Sa: 12PM-4AM; Su: 12PM-7PM. A nationally-acclaimed soul food diner that opened in 2003 and is very popular among the late-night crowd. Try the collard greens, sweet yams, potato salad, and mac n' cheese.
  • Torries@Wilsons Restaurant700 V St NW +1 202 462-3700. M,W-Th 7AM-5PM, F-Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7AM-6PM. Like the Florida Avenue Grill, this is another soul food diner that doesn't have the best food, but it is worth a visit for the experience. The steak & egg breakfast, chitlin's, and fried chicken livers rank among the most popular dishes. $3.25-12.


  • Barcelona1622 14th St NW (between Corcoran St & R St),  +1 202 588-5500. A popular wine, sangria and tapas bar. Tapas: $6-12.
  • Cakelove1506 U St NW +1 202 588-9800. M-Th 9AM-10PM, F 9AM-11PM, Sa 9AM-midnight, Su 9AM-9PM. Cake, cake, cupcakes, and more cake, all baked fresh from scratch. The bakery/coffee shop was founded by Warren Brown, a high-powered downtown lawyer who, apparently, woke up one day and said, "screw this, I'm gonna bake cakes." He has written several books about the experience. 4 locations in the DC area. Live DJs Tu-W 8PM-10PM. Free Wi-Fi. Desserts: $3-7, sandwiches: $5-10.
  • Eat the Rich1839 7th St NW (between S St & T St),  +1 202 316-9396. A popular oyster bar by Derek Brown and award-winning oysterman Travis Croxton.
  • Thally1316 9th St NW (between N St & O St),  +1 202 733-3849. Pronounced 'Tally', this restaurant has a nice colorful ambiance. Appetizers: $5-12; Mains: $18-24.


  • Le Diplomate1601 14th St NW (between Q St & Corcoran St),  +1 202 332-3333. A wide selection of French cuisine. A favorite among locals. Despite the large size of the restaurant, you will need reservations during busy times. Main courses: $25-30.
  • Nonna's Kitchen1212 U St NW +1 202 735-0439. Personalized Italian food in an intimate environment. 4-course tasting menu: $75; 4-course tasting menu: $90; 7-course tasting menu: $110.
  • Rogue 24922 N St NW +1 202 408-9724. Personalized meals by Chef Cooper. 3-course tasting menu: $45; 5-course tasting menu: $65; 10-course tasting menu: $70; 24-course tasting menu: $125.
  • Thai X-ing515 Florida Ave NW +1 202 332-4322. Tu-Su 4PM-10PM. Some of D.C.'s best Thai food served in the city's strangest "restaurant." There is one cook, Taw Vigsittaboot, and this is basically his house. Fortunately he's expanded a bit to include his front yard, where there are a few tables on the street. Since it's a one man show, and everything is cooked to order, expect a long wait—bring good interlocutors, a book, or a laptop-there is free WiFi. You'll need to make reservations relatively far in advance for weekends. Taw has also changed the weekend menu to a noticeably more expensive chef's choice prix fixe, which has allowed him greater creativity—and that's decidedly a good thing. $18-35, Prix fixe: F-Sa $40, Su $30.


A true landmark of black Washington and the place for half smokes in the city


Shaw is popular for its non-chain cafes, each with its own unique character, although the vibe is almost always hip and liberal.

  • Big Bear Café1700 1st St NW (between R St & Randolph St),  +1 202 643-9222. Technically just outside Shaw in the neighborhood of Bloomingdale, this hipster café has a unique vibe - covered in moss and grape vines!
  • The Coffee Bar1201 S St NW (between P St & Q St),  +1 202 733-1049. Opened in 2012, this coffee shop prides itself on the best coffee and knowledgeable baristas. Try the honey badger.
  • Kafe Bohem606 Florida Ave NW +1 202 735-5895. A café with a relatively large food menu, specializing in Czech cuisine. The coffee served in porcelain cups.
  • La Columbe1219 Blagden Alley NW +1 202 289-4850. A trendy place popular on the east coast. The exposed brick walls give the feel of a hipster coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • Uprising Muffin Company1817 7th St NW (between S St & T St),  +1 202 290-1196. "Taste the Revolution" is the motto here. Excellent muffins, coffee, people and just overall cool vibes.


Shaw has several very classy bars. These are not the places where you will find cheap beer.

  • Black Jack1612 14th St NW" +1 202 319-1612. An extremely popular bar with a great selection of beers and cocktails.
  • Cafe Saint-Ex1847 14th St NW (between S St & T St),  +1 202 265-7839, e-mail: . Su,Tu-Th 11AM-1:30AM, M 5PM-1:30AM, F-Sa 11AM-2:30AM. The contemporary American Bistro upstairs (with good food but spotty service) is complemented by a very popular bar/lounge downstairs, where DJs spin bossa, downtempo, French lounge, 70s funk, etc. DJs usually spin starting at 10PM Tu-Sa, but check the website for details. Entrées: $12-23.
  • ChurchKey (Birch & Barley), 1337 14th St NW, 2nd floor (between N St & P St),  +1 202 567-2576. M-F 4PM-1:30AM, Sa-Su noon-2:30AM. Beer selection is the primary reason to come here, with 50 craft brews on tap and 500 bottles of beer on the wall. It's a really classy, stylish bar, but it's so crowded that you won't be able to sit, much less chat with the friendly and very knowledgeable bartenders (M-W nights are best). Happy hour is busy and a good time to meet people. Downstairs is Birch & Barley, which serves the full beer menu and has excellent contemporary American dinner plates. Since you can reserve a table downstairs, that can be a good bet if you don't want to brave the crowds upstairs.
  • Cork Wine Bar1720 14th St NW (between R St & S St),  +1 202 265-2675, e-mail: . S,Tu-W 5PM-midnight, Th-Sa 5PM-1AM. A fancy little wine bar that specializes in French and Italian wines, particularly in more offbeat wines, and the food is superb. Try the rosemary chicken liver bruschettas with a shallot marmalade, or perhaps a chili mint roasted eggplant. Wines/glass: $7-15, 3-wine-flight: $9-13, entrées: $5-25.
  • Dacha Beer Garden1600 7th St NW (At Q St),  +1 202 524-8790. A popular Bavarian-style beer garden where you can eat and drink outside on picnic tables when the weather is nice.
  • The Gibson2009 14th St NW (between U St & V St),  +1 202 232-2156. M-Th 6PM-1AM, F-Sa 6PM-2AM, Su 6PM-1AM. According to legend, Mr. Gibson asked the bartender to serve him "an improvement upon the perfect martini." The wise bartender opted not to tamper with the simple perfection of gin and vermouth, but rather replaced the olive garnish with a small slice of onion. Thus was the Gibson born. Its namesake bar is D.C.'s favorite unadvertised speakeasy—you ring the buzzer next to an unmarked black door to get in. Although, the Gibson has a strict policy of not allowing more people inside than there are seats (no standing), so if you plan a weekend visit, you should definitely make a reservation before 5PM. It's beautiful inside, dimly lit and elegant, and the cocktails are renowned as some of the city's very best, mixed by true experts. The ambiance is very sexy and it is a popular date spot. Cocktails: $10-$16.
  • Ivy & Coney1537 7th St NW (between P St & Q St),  +1 202 670-9489. A popular sports bar where they root for teams from Chicago and Detroit.
  • Local 161602 U St NW +1 202 265-2828fax: +1 202 483-1961. M-Th 5:30PM-2AM, F 5:30PM-3AM, Sa 5:30PM-3AM, Su 5:30PM-1AM. The (affordable) food is hit-or-miss, so focus on the (expensive) rooftop bar with outdoor heaters for the winter, brought to you by the owners of the über-cool 18th Street Lounge. Popular with those wanting to dance or meet singles. Happy hour runs weekdays 5:30PM-8PM, and the house DJs spin F-Sa 10PM-1AM.
  • Marvin2007 14th St NW (between U St & V St),  +1 202 797-7171. M-Th 5:30PM-2AM, F-Sa 5:30PM-3AM, Su 10:30AM-2AM. Named after D.C.-native Marvin Gaye, this is a wildly popular bar and only slightly less popular soul food restaurant. The second floor is almost always hopping, with regular DJs inside, and a fabulous outdoor rooftop in the back, with its own bar well stocked with craft beers.
  • Mockingbird Hill1843 7th St NW +1 202 797-7171. Tue-Thu: 5:00pm-12:30am; Fri-Sat:5:00pm-1:30am; Sun:5:00pm-11:30pm. A "sherry and ham" bar. "Drink more sherry. Eat more ham." is the motto. Owned by Derek Brown, who owns several bars in the area.
  • Nellie's Sports Bar900 U St NW +1 202 332-6355. A fun sports bar with a rooftop deck. Features karaoke, trivia night and drag queen brunch, along with several happy hour specials. Especially popular among the gay crowd.
  • The Saloon1207 U St NW +1 202 462-2640. Tu-Th 11AM-1AM, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 2PM-2AM. A laid-back neighborhood bar with an emphasis on conversation over good beer. One of the few bars in the area that has the music turned down. You will find a wide variety of quality European beers, but you won't find many mass-produced beers such as Bud or Miller. Beer: $6-$20.
  • Solly's Tavern1942 11th St NW (between T St & U St),  +1 202 462-2640. Somewhat resembling a dive bar, this venue is famous for its weekly Kostume Karaoke on Thursdays, in which costumes are provided for patrons to be less self-conscious when they sing to a drunken crowd. Burgers: $12.
  • Southern Efficiency1841 7th St NW (between S St & T St),  +1 202 316-9396. Tu-Th 11AM-1AM, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 2PM-2AM. John F. Kennedy said that Washington, DC is a place of “Southern efficiency and Northern charm” and that is what gave this popular whiskey bar, which also serves southern food, its name. While the selection focuses on Kentucky bourbon, there are also several offerings from local distilleries. Also has a decent selection of local beers. Owned by Derek Brown, who owns several bars in the area.

Music venues[edit]

Live music finds its home in Shaw, particularly around U St. The Black Cat and the 9:30 Club are two of the city's most prominent music venues, playing host to plenty of national acts of all types, drawing varying crowds.

  • 9:30 Club815 V St NW +1 202 265-0930. doors open: 6PM-11:30PM. Check the calendar as the top shows sell out fast. This standing-room-only 1,200 person venue boasts top-notch lighting and sound systems, and expensive booze. The place is small enough where you are going to have a great view no matter where you are standing. cover: $10-60.
  • Black Cat1811 14th St NW (between S St & T St),  +1 202 667-7960. Su-Th 8PM-2AM, F-Sa 7PM-3AM. Plays host to some big names, but usually features indie-rock and underground hip hop. The sound system certainly suffers compared to the 9:30 Club, but the cost is lower, and there's more to do here: in addition to the live music, they have another room for DJs and dancing, one for shooting pool, and another for a vegetarian cafe! cover: $5-30.
  • DC91940 9th St NW (between T St & U St),  +1 202 483-5000. doors open 5PM daily. DC9 is almost always a hit. Live music is the staple at this medium-size, medium-dive club, and includes national and (usually) local acts, usually indie-rock. The clientéle is pretty hipsterish, but not at all judgmental—it's a great place to let loose and get your dance on at the regular dance parties (or the after-show late-night dance parties), regardless of whether you know what you're doing. DC9 has some incredible drink specials on quality brews too. cover: $3-10.
  • U Street Music Hall1155 U Street NW. 500-person capacity room with a great sound system that features both DJ and live performances.
  • Velvet Lounge915 U St NW +1 202 462-3213. Su-Th 7:30PM, F-Sa 9PM. Probably D.C.'s diviest venue for music—to the point where you might legitimately worry about falling through the floorboards of the tiny performance space. Shows are often local, and in addition to the standard indie rock, punk, and dance music, feature D.C.'s premiere experimental acts. Su-Th there's no cover to enter the downstairs bar, so you can sample the music first to see if you want to pay to go upstairs. cover: free-$10.


Bohemian Caverns on U St

Two of the best jazz clubs in the city are in Shaw.

  • Bohemian Caverns2001 11th St +1 202 299-0800fax: +1 202 299-0803. shows usually F-Sa 9PM-1AM. In the basement of a large classy establishment, the legendary D.C. caverns live on. The Bohemian Caverns were the place to hear live jazz back in the days when Duke Ellington lived in the neighborhood and the list of legendary musicians and singers who played here is staggering. After the 1968 riots, this club closed down along with virtually all the rest of U St's commercial activity, but it has finally been resurrected and is quite possibly on the way to restoring its former glory. The caverns really feel like a cave, complete with stalactites, quartz walls, and petrified wood tables. The space is small, the audience eclectic and smart, and the stage features the best of D.C.'s local jazz scene, as well as the occasional big name touring act. Get tickets in advance and show up early if you want to sit down. Tickets: $10-$30, with a $5 discount if purchased in advance or online.
  • Twins Jazz1344 U St NW +1 202 234-0072fax: +1 301 445-4363. Tu-Th 8PM-midnight, F-Sa 9PM-1AM, Su night jam sessions with very loose hours. Twins puts on the best jazz and blues shows in D.C. The sets are long, the performers are top-notch, the audience is sophisticated, and the Ethiopian food is good. Cover: $10-30 + a 2-drink minimum. Weekends will usually have 2 nightly shows.


The clubbing scene in Shaw is not as popular, nor as trendy, as those of nearby Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle but there are still several good options.

  • Flash645 Florida Ave NW +1 202 827-8791. Features a rooftop dance floor. The music is generally deep house and other electronica.
  • Liv Nightclub2001 11th St NW (At the intersection of 11th St & U St, entrance is in the back of Bohemian Caverns),  +1 202 505-4548. A 2-level club that also hosts open-mic and karaoke nights.
  • Tropicalia2001 14th St NW (At the intersection of 14th St & U St, entrance is in the basement on U St),  +1 202 629-4535. A great place for dancing, although, depending on your taste, you'll either love or hate the music.


General John Logan, Union general, in Logan Circle

Most accommodation options in Shaw are in the southwest section of the neighborhood, close to Dupont Circle, the East End, and within walking distance of the National Mall, while other options are further east, close to the convention center. In addition to large hotels, there are a couple small B&B options, although they have much less amenities to offer.



In addition to the hostels below, there are several hostels just south of Shaw in the East End.

  • Capital Comfort Hostel1610 7th St NW (between Q St & R St),  +1 877 889-6499. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Basic hostel. It is best to make reservations by phone. Dorm bed: $29-41.
  • Duo Housing1223 11th St NW (between M St & N St),  +1 202 808-2195. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. A popular, clean hostel with a "no-shoes inside" policy. Dorm bed: $30-55.


  • Cardozo Guest House13th & T St NW +1 202 328-3510, toll-free: +1-877-893-3233. Guest house in a beautiful home with comfortable rooms, most with shared bathrooms. No breakfast, no kitchen, no internet, and no TVs or phones. This isn't a typical B&B as no breakfast is served and sometimes your only company at the guesthouse may be other guests. What you do get, however, is to spend your time on a quiet street in a lively neighborhood with plenty of entertainment and restaurants. $65-$185.
  • District Hotel1440 Rhode Island Ave NW (Near the intersection of 14th St & P St),  +1 202 232-7800, toll-free: +1-800-350-5759fax: +1 202 265-3725. Fairly bare-bones, they still find their color TV to be tout-worthy, and the breakfast gets hate mail, but if you can get a low rate here, the price is hard to beat. $76-169, depending on the day - check the website for last minute deals.
  • Embassy Inn1627 16th St NW (between Corcoran St & R St),  +1 202 234-7800, toll-free: +1-800-423-9111fax: +1 202 234-3309, e-mail: . A small hotel run by the same management as the District Hotel (see above). $79-189, depending on the day - check the website for last minute deals.


  • Hotel Rouge1315 16th St NW (between N St & P St),  +1 202 232-8000fax: +1 202 667-9827. Boutique hotel with large rooms a short walk from Dupont Circle, with a red theme throughout the hotel. Bar/restaurant located on the premises. 24-hour fitness center. Happy hour of red wine, red beer, and red juice served M-F. $110-300.
  • Washington Plaza Hotel10 Thomas Circle (At 14th St & M St NW),  +1 202 842-1300. A 3-star chic hotel in a 1962 building designed by Morris Lapidus. Includes an outdoor pool and a lobby bar with a fireplace. From $119.


  • Doubletree Hotel1515 Rhode Island Ave NW +1 202 232-7000fax: +1 202 521-7103. A large upscale hotel that caters particularly to business travelers and lobbyists, as it is a few blocks from K Street and a couple more from the White House. From $109 on weekends, $229 midweek.
  • Hotel Helix, A Kimpton Hotel1430 Rhode Island Ave NW +1 202 462-9001. This boutique hotel has sort of a Hollywood-retro-pop art thing going on and very international clientèle—a fashionable small hotel in a fashionable location. You'll probably want to dress fashionably to fit in at the lounge. Not a typical "Washingtonian" experience, but D.C. really has little to do with that stereotype anyway. $179-400.

Stay safe[edit]

As in many nightlife-centered neighborhoods of Washington, DC, Shaw has a significant problem with muggings, particularly around the bars and the public housing projects.

Avoid walking on dark side streets; even some more well-traveled areas like 9th St and parts of Florida Ave can get a little too quiet after midnight.

Drunken club-goers stumbling out of venues on U St, or concert venues such as the 9:30 Club and Black Cat are often targeted for petty theft. Keep an eye on your belongings, and remember to refocus your alertness upon leaving the club.

Vagrants, while annoying, will usually stop bugging you if you keep up your pace and just give them a polite smile and a "sorry."

Smash-and-grab robberies of parked cars are more common than you'd like.


There are plenty of cafes that have free WiFi. If you need to use a computer terminal, visit the neighborhood library.

Go next[edit]

  • If you want to delve further into D.C.'s African-American history, cross the river to Anacostia!
Routes through Shaw
GreenbeltColumbia Heights  N WMATA Green.svg S  East EndSuitland
PetworthColumbia Heights  N WMATA Yellow.svg S  East EndHuntington

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