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Shaw is a neighborhood in north-central Washington D.C. just east of Dupont Circle and south of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. 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 many Ethopian eateries. As a note, Logan Circle and the U Street Corridor are included for the purposes of this guide.

The African-American Civil War Memorial

Understand[edit]

Shaw is a large area that borders the near neighborhoods of Logan Circle, Truxton Circle, and the sub neighborhoods of the U Street Corridor/Cardozo and Blagden Alley. It is bounded by 15th St NW, Florida Ave (formerly Boundary St), North Capitol St, and M St NW.

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 1900s 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 ft² (46,000 m2) 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 cost $200,000 in 2000-2002, were selling for $900,000 in 2015.

The U Street Corridor (aka Cardozo) 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 and is still known as Black Broadway, the center of African American cultural life from the turn of the century well into the 1950s. It was particularly known as a hub for jazz music, predating the Harlem Renaissance, due to its many Black-owned live music and performance venues, a rarity in segregated pre-World War II America.

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 Street. The beautiful Victorian buildings in this area were less affected by the riots and this area is now highly sought after. Once a seedy red light district, it has long since gentrified to become one of Washington's most fashionable addresses, with many new high-rise condos in between million dollar rowhouses. Most working class residents and artists have long been priced out, moving to Columbia Heights and further east. Logan has become an upscale alternative to U Street, with many trendy bars, restaurants, and clubs drawing people from all parts of the city and surrounding areas. Given its proximity to Dupont Circle, many foreign tourists also flock to Logan Circle, looking for something more edgy.

And finally, the Blagden Alley/Naylor Court area near the Washington Convention Center has emerged as a sub-neighborhood of Shaw, with its own distinct identity. Once a shabby-chic haven for artists and skaters, it now one of the city's finest dining areas, something of a shock to old time Washingtonians. The Michelin-starred Dabney and other trendy haunts lead the way. If you love food, you'll definitely want to make a pilgrimage to Blagden.

Get in[edit]

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.

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.

See[edit]

Map of Washington, D.C./Shaw

House of the Temple
  • 1 African-American Civil War Memorial, 925 Vermont Ave NW, +1 202-426-6841. 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. African American Civil War Memorial (Q383962) on Wikidata African American Civil War Memorial on Wikipedia
  • 2 House of the Temple, 1733 16th St NW (between R St & S St), +1 202-232-3579. M-Th 10AM, 11AM, 1:30PM, 2:30PM, 3:30PM. 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 guided tours. Free. House of the Temple (Q176356) on Wikidata House of the Temple on Wikipedia
  • 3 Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th St NW, +1 202-462-8314, . 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. Twelfth Street YMCA Building (Q7857561) on Wikidata Twelfth Street YMCA Building on Wikipedia
  • 4 Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, 1318 Vermont Avenue NW, +1 202-426-5961. Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site (Q6780317) on Wikidata Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site on Wikipedia
  • 5 Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, +1 202-426-5961. Th Sa Su 9AM-5PM. Free, but tour reservations are $1.50/ticket. Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site (Q5047156) on Wikidata Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site on Wikipedia

Do[edit]

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.

Theatre[edit]

The Studio Theatre by the galleries on 14th
  • 1 Howard Theatre, 620 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. Howard Theatre (Q5921031) on Wikidata Howard Theatre on Wikipedia
  • 2 Lincoln Theatre, 1215 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. Lincoln Theatre (Q6551052) on Wikidata Lincoln Theatre (Washington, D.C.) on Wikipedia
  • 3 Studio Theatre, 1501 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. Studio Theatre (Q7628241) on Wikidata Studio Theatre (Washington, D.C.) on Wikipedia
  • 4 Theater J, 1529 16th St NW, +1 202-777-3210. Theatrical troupe that performs works related to Jewish culture. Theater J (Q7777274) on Wikidata Theater J on Wikipedia
  • 5 Constellation Theatre Company, 1835 14th St NW, +1 202-204-7741. Small theatre company that performs at Source Theater. Constellation Theatre Company (Q5163936) on Wikidata Constellation Theatre Company on Wikipedia

Comedy[edit]

  • 6 Washington Improv Theater (WIT), 1835 14th St NW, +1 202-204 7770. Hosts hilarious paid improv shows throughout the year, plus the pay-what-you-want "Harold Night" improv shows every Tuesday night. Washington Improv Theatrer (Q96677896) on Wikidata Washington Improv Theater on Wikipedia

Learn[edit]

  • Goethe-Institut, 1377 R St NW, +1 202-847-4700, . M-Th 9AM-5PM, F 9AM-3PM. A sponsor of German culture in the U.S. and of intercultural ties with locations in 6 major cities, the Goethe-Institut offers classes in German language and culture. It also hosts free events such as lectures, concerts, or movie screenings; check the website for a calendar.

Buy[edit]

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.

Fashion[edit]

Galleries[edit]

Founders Library, the symbol of Howard University

Other[edit]

  • 7 Lee’s Flower Shop, 1026 U St NW, +1 202-265-4965. Opened in 1945, this family-owned business is one of only 3 businesses on U St to survive the 1968 riots.

Eat[edit]

Shaw and Logan Circle offer countless options when it comes to found, with an array of cuisines available. Shaw is famously on the cities top venues for African American and Caribbean food, though their number have declined, many historic institutions remain, most famously Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street. The U Street Corridor is also a hub for African food, particularly Ethiopian and West African cuisines. 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.

True to its heritage, Shaw home to dozens of 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 peek into the history and culture of D.C.

In contrast Logan Circle, is home to the cutting edge of the DC culinary scene, home to chef driven restaurants that give the best of New York City and Paris a run for their money. As such, prices are notably higher than nearby Shaw/ U Street, however the quality is impressive. 14th street is home to an endless array of cuisines, just walk down the street and go where ever takes your fancy.

On the other end of Shaw, Bladgen Alley, is a slightly more low-key but extremely trendy restaurant area with an excellent array of cuisines. Few tourists make their way here, which means prices are lower than Logan Circle and Dupont, and restaurants are packed with locals and gourmands in the know. Expect great quality, chef-driven food for the price, reminiscent of trendy parts of Brooklyn or Montreal.

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

Budget[edit]

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

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

  • 1 Ben's Chili Bowl, 1213 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. The restaurant displays a sign in front saying Barack Obama and his family can eat for free. $3.50-7.
  • 2 The Greek Spot, 2017 11th St NW (between U St & V St), +1 202-265-3118. Good, cheap Greek food. Sandwiches: $6-8.
  • 3 Judys Bar & Restaurant, 2212 14th St NW (between W St & Florida Ave), +1 202-265-2519. Salvadoran and Mexican food. You don't come for the ambiance or the service but the food is great & cheap.
  • 4 KoChix Korean Chicken Wings, 400 Florida Ave NW, +1 202-232-3468. A hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves excellent chicken wings. 5 wings: $6.49.
  • 5 SUNdeVICH, 1314 9th St NW, +1 202-232-7108. Creative sandwiches in a converted garage.
  • 6 Uncle Chip's Cookies, 1514 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.

Mid-range[edit]

African[edit]

Townhouses and shops in Little Ethiopia
  • 7 Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant & Market, 1334 9th St NW (between N St & O St), +1 202-798-6762, fax: +1 202-667-2498. M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-11PM. 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.
  • 8 Dukem, 1118 U St NW, +1 202-667-8735, fax: +1 202-667-2498. Su-Th 9AM-2AM, F Sa 9AM-3AM. 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 of Ethiopia. A real hub for the local Ethiopian community. Full bar. $10-20.
  • 9 Etete, 1942 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.
  • 10 Habesha Market And Carry-out, 1919 9th St NW (between T St & U St), +1 202-232-1919. 11AM-1AM daily. A restaurant and a market. Try the spicy beef stew, sambusa, and spicy lentils. Mains: $8-15.
  • 11 Lalibela, 1608 7th 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, 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.
  • 12 Queen of Sheba, 1503 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.
  • 13 Sumah's West African Restaurant, 1727 7th St NW (between R St & S St), +1 202-462-7309. 10AM-11PM daily. A hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves huge portions of very tasty West African food. If you ask Sumah, he'll let you sample everything before you order. Make sure to wash it down with delicious homemade ginger beer. Try the cassava leaves or okra sauce with beef and chicken or the peanut butter and potato sauce with chicken. Mains: $14-16.

Soul food diners[edit]

  • 14 Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St NW (between U St & V St), +1 202-387-7638, . 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. Weekly open-mic poetry nights are held at each location. 4 locations in the DC area. Food: $8-15.
  • 15 Florida Avenue Grill, 1100 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.
  • 16 Oohs and Aahs, 1005 U St NW, +1 202-667-7142. M-Th noon-10PM, F Sa noon-4AM, Su noon-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.
  • 17 Torrie's Restaurant, 700 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.

Other[edit]

  • 18 Al Crostino, 1926 9th St NW (between U St & Florida Ave), +1 202-797-0523. Excellent Italian food.
  • 19 Barcelona, 1622 14th St NW (between Corcoran St & R St), +1 202-588-5500. A popular wine, sangria and tapas bar. Tapas: $6-12.
  • 20 BKK Cookshop, 1700 New Jersey Ave NW (At R Street), +1 202-791-0592. noon-10PM daily. A Thai noodle restaurant. Mains: $13.
  • 21 Chaplins' Restaurant & Bar, 1501 9th St NW (between P St & Q St), +1 202-644-8806. A 1920s-themed Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar famous for ramen noodles.
  • 22 DC Noodles, 1412 U St NW, +1 202-232-8424. Thai noodles in both traditional and contemporary variations.
  • 23 El Sol Restaurante, 1227 11th St NW (between M St & N St), +1 202-815-4789. Among the best tacos and Mexican food in DC. Tortas $8-10; mains $10-25.
  • 24 Fainting Goat, 1330 U St NW, +1 202-735-0344. Extensive menu with plenty of pictures of goats on the walls!
  • 25 Mason Dixie Foods, 1819 7th St NW (between S St & T St), +1 202-849-3518. Voted best biscuits in America. Also serves fried chicken.
  • 26 San Lorenzo, 1316 9th St NW (between N St & O St), +1 202-733-3849. Tuscan food. Lunch mains $15, dinner mains $25-30.
  • 27 Supra, 1205 11th St NW (between M St & N St), +1 202-733-3849. Georgian food, including khachapuri.
  • 28 The Dabney, 122 Blagden Alley NW (between M St & N St), +1 202-450-1015. Michellin-starred Mid-Atlantic food in a former row house. More affordable menu in attached basement lounge
  • 29 Tiger Fork, 922 Blagden Alley NW (between M St & N St), +1 202-733-1152. Hong Kong/Chinese food.
  • 30 Tortino, 1228 11th St NW (between M St & N St), +1 202-312-5570. Great Italian food. Lunch mains $15; dinner mains $25-30.

Splurge[edit]

  • 31 Le Diplomate, 1601 14th St NW (between Q St & Corcoran St), +1 202-332-3333. Upscale French cuisine with an impressive design to match. High prices but excellent service. A favorite among locals and visitors alike. Despite the large size of the restaurant, you will need reservations during busy times. Consider a midday visit during the week, for a more leisurely experience Main courses: $25-30.
  • 32 Thai X-ing, 515 Florida Ave NW, +1 202-332-4322. Tu-Su 5-9PM. Some of D.C.'s best Thai food served in one of the most unusual restaurants in the city. 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. Because he is the only cook 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. Mains $15-30.

Drink[edit]

Cafes[edit]

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

  • 1 Big Bear Café, 1700 1st St NW (between R St & Randolph St), +1 202-643-9222. This hipster café just outside Shaw in the neighborhood of Bloomingdale has a unique vibe - covered in moss and grape vines!
  • 2 Calabash Tea & Tonic, 1847 7th St NW (between S St & T St), +1 202-525-5386. A large selection of flavorful teas and vegan food.
  • 3 The Coffee Bar, 1201 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.
  • 4 Compass Coffee, 1535 7th St NW (between P St & Q St), +1 202-251-7402. Fair trade coffee in a well-designed and comfortable space.
  • 5 La Colombe, 1219 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.

Bars and lounges[edit]

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

  • 6 Black Jack, 1612 14th St NW (between Q St & Corcoran St), +1 202-319-1612. An extremely popular bar with a great selection of beers and cocktails.
  • 7 Cafe Saint-Ex, 1847 14th St NW (between S St & T St), +1 202-265-7839, . 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. Mains $12-23.
  • 8 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.
  • 9 Cork Wine Bar, 1720 14th St NW (between R St & S St), +1 202-265-2675, . Su 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, mains $5-25.
  • 10 Dacha Beer Garden, 1600 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.
  • 11 The Gibson, 2009 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.
  • 12 Ivy & Coney, 1537 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.
  • 13 Marvin, 2007 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.
  • 14 Nellie's Sports Bar, 900 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.
  • 15 Right Proper Brewing Company, 624 T St NW, +1 202-607-2337. Homemade beers and southern-style food in a very trendy industrial-style space.
  • 16 The Saloon, 1207 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.
  • 17 Solly's Tavern, 1942 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.
  • 18. Archipelago, Corner of U and 11th Street. Daily 4PM-midnight. A tropical tiki escape right on busy U Street, Archipelago transports visitors to the isles of the South Seas, with its tropical cocktails and an excellent Asian-inspired menu to match. Best experienced during the week or on Sunday as it gets busy along with the rest of U Street on the weekends. Features a rather amusing ode to Tom Selleck and delicious Pina Coladas. $12-50.

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.

  • 18 9:30 Club, 815 V St NW, +1 202-265-0930. 6-11:30PM. 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.
  • 19 Black Cat, 1811 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.
  • 20 DC9 Nightclub, 1940 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.

Nightclubs[edit]

The clubbing scene in Shaw is a younger, hipper alternative to grungy Adams Morgan or upscale Dupont Circle but can get very crowded on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • 21 Flash, 645 Florida Ave NW, +1 202-827-8791. The city's leading venue for underground house and techno. Excellent sound system and popular stop for DJs from the Berlin/Ibiza/ London circuit during the European off season. Features a rooftop dance floor.
  • 22 Pure Lounge, 1326 U St NW, +1 202-290-7058. A high-end nightclub and lounge.
  • 23 Tropicalia, 2001 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.
  • 24 Vegas Lounge, 1415 P St NW, +1 202-483-3971. A great place to dance to Motown and pop.

Sleep[edit]

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.

Budget[edit]

Hostels[edit]

  • 1 Capital Comfort Hostel, 1610 7th St NW (between Q St & R St), +1-877-889-6499. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Basic hostel. It is best to make reservations by phone. Dorm bed $29-41.
  • 2 Duo Housing, 1223 11th St NW (between M St & N St), +1 202-808-2195. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A popular, clean hostel with a "no-shoes inside" policy. Dorm bed $30-55.

Hotels[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

  • 5 Cambria Washington DC Convention Center, 899 O St NW, +1 202-299-1188. An all-suite hotel with a rooftop deck and an indoor pool close to the convention center. From $144.
  • 6 Homewood Suites by Hilton Washington, 1475 Massachusetts Ave NW (At 14th St & M St NW), +1 202-265-8000. Breakfast is included daily and a basic dinner is also included on some nights. From $179.
  • 7 Kimpton Banneker Hotel, 1315 16th St NW (between N St & P St), +1 202-232-8000, fax: +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.
  • Moxy Washington, DC Downtown, 1011 K St NW. Hip hotel with sleek rooms, a lively lobby lounge with games, a cafe & cocktail bar.
  • 8 Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 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.

Splurge[edit]

  • 9 The Darcy Hotel, 1515 Rhode Island Ave NW, +1 202-232-7000, fax: +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 $180 on weekends, $340 midweek.
  • 10 Holiday Inn Washington DC - Central / White House, 1501 Rhode Island Ave NW (between 15th St & 16th St), +1 202-483-2000, toll-free: +1-800-248-0016, fax: +1 202-797-1078, . Old reliable. A big upscale chain close to the White House, with a big underground parking garage. Nothing unique about it, but you know you'll be taken care of. From $109 on weekends, $229 midweek.
  • Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, 901 Massachusetts Ave NW, +1 202-824-9200. Sleek rooms & suites, plus casual dining, an upscale lounge & event space. $300-400.
  • 11 Viceroy, 1430 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 drunken belligerent behavior on weekends, 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 has mostly moved to Northeast DC and less well off areas, but can occur on busy weekends.

Connect[edit]

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

Go next[edit]

  • Dupont Circle and 18th St in Adams Morgan are both within easy walking distance for additional nightlife, bars, and cafes. Near Northeast has more choices as well but is further away.
  • 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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Logan Circle
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LeDroit Park