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A beef stir-fry dish at critically acclaimed Thip Khao.
Thip Khao/Facebook

Where to Eat and Drink in Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant

Find everything from tacos (so many) and funky vegetarian dishes to unbelievable Laotian and Filipino cuisine

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A beef stir-fry dish at critically acclaimed Thip Khao.
| Thip Khao/Facebook

Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant were both dramatically affected by the riots that raged across the nation's capital in 1968 following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Many of the homes in the area became neglected over time, paving the way for immigrants from El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam to put down roots in the area.

New Columbia Heights blogger Andrew Wiseman, who has lived in the neighborhood for roughly a decade, notes, "The restaurant scene has really exploded since I moved here in 2007. It was at first mostly only a few chain places and a few (tasty) small spots that catered mostly to Latin Americans, clustered on 14th, Park and a bit on Georgia, but since then it's really blown up. To me it got moving after Wonderland [Ballroom], Red Rocks and Room 11 opened, and it's just grown sinceThe New York Times noticed it back in 2011, which to me says something. Now you've got all kinds of food and people still line up in the late afternoon to get into Bad Saint."

Both Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant remain some of the most ethnically diverse parts of the city, and that is reflected in the available cuisines. From Cuban to Dominican to Mexican to Vietnamese, there's a world of dining options to explore.

Updated by Adele O’Donnell

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Little Coco's

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For neighborhood Italian, Little Coco's is a little more ambitious than the usual red sauce joint. The menu features a variety of pasta dishes as well as deep fried and Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas. There’s a new rooftop beach bar this summer too, dubbed “Coco Beach.”

Gourmet pizza at Little Coco’s.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

Lyman's Tavern

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Pinball wizards can head to Lyman's Tavern to play games and grab a few drinks. Food offerings include hot dogs, sliders, various grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, and pupusas.

The bar at Lyman’s Tavern.
Lyman’s Tavern/Facebook

Red Derby

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This cash-only beer bar is a favorite neighborhood hangout with a selection of board games to enjoy as well as a much-loved roof deck. Fried foods like chicken tenders, fried mac and cheese, and onion rings are available to accompany the beers.

Canned beers, in branded coozies, at Red Derby.
Red Derby/Facebook

Taqueria Habanero

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There are multiple taquerias in Columbia Heights, but Taqueria Habanero remains a neighborhood favorite. Freshly made flour tortillas and incendiary fresh hot sauces partner brilliantly with moist chicken and crisp carnitas. Don't miss the rotating agua frescas and top shelf tequilas and mezcals.

Taqueria habanero
Assorted offerings at Taqueria Habanero.
Mike R./Yelp

Pho Viet

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There are three pho restaurants to choose from in Columbia Heights, but Pho Viet is worth seeking out. It seems like everyone who eats there is a regular, or gets treated like one. Be sure to try the spicy lemongrass pho with an adjustable heat level for an extra fragrant pho.

Thip Khao

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Pioneering chef Seng Luangrath excited the residents of Columbia Heights and the District proper by announcing that she would be bringing a Laotian restaurant to the area (in addition to Bangkok Golden in Falls Church, Va.). Her arrival in D.C. ushered in a number of accolades, including a James Beard Foundation Award nomination. Go for the watercress salad with mango, tapioca balls, and larb, or be adventurous with the jungle menu.

A curried soft shell crab creation at Thip Khao.
Thip Khao/Facebook

Le Caprice

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This bakery is beloved for its gourmet breads and pastries. Find regular, chocolate, and almond croissants as well as macarons and hearty breads. And be sure to head over for tiger bread, known to some as Dutch crunch, which features a rice flour paste on top that produces a crackly exterior.

The Good Silver

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Looking for breakfast at a non-breakfast hour? The Good Silver, which replaced predecessor Kangaroo Boxing Club last year, now serves reuben hash, and egg and cheese sandwiches as well as burgers and cocktails on tap.

Customers drinking at neighborhood bar the Good Silver.
Elias D./Yelp

Meridian Pint

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This nearly decade-old neighborhood watering hole is one of the top beer bars in D.C., featuring a wide selection of specialty beers and hosting friendly tap takeovers. The menu also offers a good selection of vegan menu items making it easy for people with a variety of dietary preferences to find something appealing. Next up: expanding to Virginia with Dominion Pint.

A flight of beers at Meridian Pint.
Meridian Pint/Facebook

This bakery, bar, and restaurant from the team behind Bad Saint and Room 11 scored rave reviews since it opened this year. Try to score a table for artistic dishes like kimchi toast or marinated feta.

An artful dish at Elle.
Joe King/Joe King Photography

Taqueria Los Compadres

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Though the taco joint has been through a few name changes, most recently Lezo's, one thing hasn't changed. Doña Rosa, who ran a clandestine "apartment taqueria", is still making the tacos, tortas, tamales, and rich stews served at this neighborhood standby.

Mole chicken at Taqueria Los Compadres.
Taqueria Los Compadres/Facebook

El Chucho

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While there are plenty of good taco places in the neighborhood, the Mexican street-style corn with mayo and cheese, and frozen margaritas are what makes people return to El Chucho.

Assorted tacos at El Chucho.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

Room 11

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Room 11 has a reputation for being a cozy neighborhood wine bar. But more than that it has a great outdoor patio where patrons camp out all year-round with seasonally inspired drinks and over-the-top baked goods. There’s also meaty charcuterie plates, vegan risottos, and more.

Bar staff mixing a drink at Room 11.
Room 11/Facebook

Mi Cuba Cafe

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Mi Cuba has been open in Columbia Heights over a decade. Owners Ariel Valladares and Jacqueline Castro-Lopez serve Cubano sandwiches, papas rellenos, ropa vieja, and vaca frita. Find sides of fried green and sweet plantains as well as yuca. Stop by at breakfast for Cubana toast and cafe bombon — espresso with condensed milk.

Caribbean cuisine at Mi Cuba.
Juliana C./Yelp

Bad Saint

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Stellar reviews and limited seating mean lines form as early as 3:30 p.m. (it opens at 5:30 p.m.) at this neighborhood gem. Its sophisticated approach to Filipino food elevates a cuisine that has captured the attention of local diners.

Soft shell crab ukoy at Bad Saint.
Bad Saint/Facebook

Need tibs, kitfo, doro wat and other Ethiopian favorites? Letena has many varieties incorporating various meats, as well as plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. More than that they focus on brewing Ethiopian coffee roasted by Counter Culture Coffee, and host an Ethiopian coffee ceremony on Sundays.

Beau Thai (Multiple locations)

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Beau Thai offers great Thai food during the week, including standard noodle dishes and curries. The weekend brunch offers diners the opportunity to try some traditional dishes not typically found on most Thai menus, such as kanom krok, savory fried bananas, and Thai doughnuts.

Wonderland Ballroom

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Wonderland Ballroom is a Columbia Heights mainstay, where it has been for over a decade. The bar is known for its trivia nights, dance nights, bottomless mimosas at brunch, and plethora of vegetarian options.

Customers having brunch on Wonderland Ballroom’s patio.
Ruth C./Yelp

Raven Grill

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The Raven has built up a reputation as one of the few "true" dive bars in D.C. with its jukebox, cash-only policies, and offering only bags of chips to fill patrons' bellies. But that means getting to pick up food from any of the nearby Latin, Caribbean or Asian restaurants.

The venerable Raven Grill.
Prawet J./Tripadvisor

Haydee's (Multiple locations)

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Haydee's is a fixture for those in the neighborhood, rather than a destination spot. But it's beloved for its pupusas, fajitas, margaritas, and karaoke night.

Haydee’s
A hearty dish at Haydee’s.
Donnisha B./Yelp

Bar Roubaix

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Cyclists have a new hangout in Bar Roubaix, a sporty spot from nightlife vets Ian and Eric Hilton that opened in Columbia Heights at the end of 2017. Find bike tire chandeliers, a bike maintenance station, a pool table, and even a cycling arcade simulation game inside.

Customers seated on the patio at Bar Roubaix.
Bar Roubaix/Facebook

Little Coco's

Gourmet pizza at Little Coco’s.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

For neighborhood Italian, Little Coco's is a little more ambitious than the usual red sauce joint. The menu features a variety of pasta dishes as well as deep fried and Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas. There’s a new rooftop beach bar this summer too, dubbed “Coco Beach.”

Gourmet pizza at Little Coco’s.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

Lyman's Tavern

The bar at Lyman’s Tavern.
Lyman’s Tavern/Facebook

Pinball wizards can head to Lyman's Tavern to play games and grab a few drinks. Food offerings include hot dogs, sliders, various grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, and pupusas.

The bar at Lyman’s Tavern.
Lyman’s Tavern/Facebook

Red Derby

Canned beers, in branded coozies, at Red Derby.
Red Derby/Facebook

This cash-only beer bar is a favorite neighborhood hangout with a selection of board games to enjoy as well as a much-loved roof deck. Fried foods like chicken tenders, fried mac and cheese, and onion rings are available to accompany the beers.

Canned beers, in branded coozies, at Red Derby.
Red Derby/Facebook

Taqueria Habanero

Taqueria habanero
Assorted offerings at Taqueria Habanero.
Mike R./Yelp

There are multiple taquerias in Columbia Heights, but Taqueria Habanero remains a neighborhood favorite. Freshly made flour tortillas and incendiary fresh hot sauces partner brilliantly with moist chicken and crisp carnitas. Don't miss the rotating agua frescas and top shelf tequilas and mezcals.

Taqueria habanero
Assorted offerings at Taqueria Habanero.
Mike R./Yelp

Pho Viet

There are three pho restaurants to choose from in Columbia Heights, but Pho Viet is worth seeking out. It seems like everyone who eats there is a regular, or gets treated like one. Be sure to try the spicy lemongrass pho with an adjustable heat level for an extra fragrant pho.

Thip Khao

A curried soft shell crab creation at Thip Khao.
Thip Khao/Facebook

Pioneering chef Seng Luangrath excited the residents of Columbia Heights and the District proper by announcing that she would be bringing a Laotian restaurant to the area (in addition to Bangkok Golden in Falls Church, Va.). Her arrival in D.C. ushered in a number of accolades, including a James Beard Foundation Award nomination. Go for the watercress salad with mango, tapioca balls, and larb, or be adventurous with the jungle menu.

A curried soft shell crab creation at Thip Khao.
Thip Khao/Facebook

Le Caprice

This bakery is beloved for its gourmet breads and pastries. Find regular, chocolate, and almond croissants as well as macarons and hearty breads. And be sure to head over for tiger bread, known to some as Dutch crunch, which features a rice flour paste on top that produces a crackly exterior.

The Good Silver

Customers drinking at neighborhood bar the Good Silver.
Elias D./Yelp

Looking for breakfast at a non-breakfast hour? The Good Silver, which replaced predecessor Kangaroo Boxing Club last year, now serves reuben hash, and egg and cheese sandwiches as well as burgers and cocktails on tap.

Customers drinking at neighborhood bar the Good Silver.
Elias D./Yelp

Meridian Pint

A flight of beers at Meridian Pint.
Meridian Pint/Facebook

This nearly decade-old neighborhood watering hole is one of the top beer bars in D.C., featuring a wide selection of specialty beers and hosting friendly tap takeovers. The menu also offers a good selection of vegan menu items making it easy for people with a variety of dietary preferences to find something appealing. Next up: expanding to Virginia with Dominion Pint.

A flight of beers at Meridian Pint.
Meridian Pint/Facebook

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