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A woman looks into a glass case full of pastries.
The pastry case at Crown Bakery and Restaurant on Georgia Avenue NW.
Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Where to Eat and Drink in Brightwood

The Northwest neighborhood is rich in dive bars and diverse cuisines

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The pastry case at Crown Bakery and Restaurant on Georgia Avenue NW.
| Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The restaurant and bar scene in Brightwood is booming, and — unlike other D.C. locales — the upper Northwest neighborhood is refreshingly devoid of small plates, long waits, and annoyingly priced $15 cocktails. This is the type of neighborhood where one can stroll down the block for some fresh callaloo, salt fish, and rum punch, or saddle up to the bar for a beer-and-a-shot combo. It’s also where local soul food favorite Oohhs and Aahhs has an outpost set up inside a Wal-Mart. In Brightwood, dining options includes Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Mexican, Basque, Jamaican, and Persian cuisine — just to name a few. Here are 15 restaurant to try.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Haydee's Restaurant

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This Sal-Mex restaurant is the place to hang with margaritas and beef fajitas. It’s also a popular place to hear live, local music or belt out a few karaoke tunes.

Julia's Empanadas (Multiple locations)

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Julia’s protein-packed pastries are legendary throughout D.C. Order the Chilean-style beef with raisins, hard-boiled eggs, onions, and ripened olives.

J and J Mex Taqueria

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J and J is a reliable spot for takeout food. There are 10 different tacos to choose from, which range in price from $2.75-$3.50 each, as well as a selection of enchiladas and burritos.

A sub stuffed with grilled chicken and guacamole.
A chicken torta from J and J Mex Taqueria
J and J Mex Taqueria/Facebook

Deset Ethiopian Restaurant

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Deset brings a restaurant and lounge vibe to Brightwood with Ethiopian favorites, like the vegetarian combo, as well as specials for tibs, ground beef kornis, and kitfo.

BBQ Bus Smokehouse

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This local food truck dropped anchor in Brightwood, near the intersection of Missouri and Georgia Avenue NW, in 2017. The restaurant serves a wide selection of smoked meats, wings, and barbecue sandwiches. As of October, the Brightwood location is open for delivery and takeout on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.

A barbecue sandwich at BBQ Bus Smokehouse.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Simple Bar and Grill

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Simple Bar and Grill, as the name implies, keeps everything nice and simple. Expect friendly service, plenty of TVs, a range of cocktails, plus bar fare like jerk-spiced wings.

La Coop Coffee

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La Coop is home to coffee sourced from beans grown in Guatemala. Founder Juan Luis Salazar Cano imports those beans from his hometown in the Huehuetenango region. The coffee shop technically sits in Manor Park, bordering Brightwood, and attracts a long line of latte-craving residents in search of a coveted spot on the porch on busy Saturdays or Sundays.

Juan Luis Salazar Cano poses for a photo surrounded by pastries inside La Coop
La Coop founder Juan Luis Salazar Cano.
La Coop Coffee/Facebook

Moreland's Tavern

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This neighborhood tavern is a neighborly place for craft beers on tap, pork schnitzel, and pretzel bread. Owners Tony Kowaleski and Matt Croke are restaurant vets who add to the warm, hospitable atmosphere.

A bacon burger special from Moreland’s Tavern.
A bacon burger special from Moreland’s Tavern.
Moreland’s Tavern/Facebook

Anxo Cidery and Tasting Room

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This tasting room is modeled off of a Basque cidery. It features a 13-seat bar, outdoor patio, and 24 draft lines to sample fresh cider. Recently, the tasting room launched Brightwood Pizza as both a delivery and dine-in option.

The bar at the new Anxo Cidery and Tasting Room.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Mita Ethio-Japanese Cafe

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This Ethiopian and Japanese cafe is a reflection of the couple that owns it, Misrak Gebrehiwot and Takehiko Inoue. They serve sushi, coffees, teas, wraps, and panini, including a kitfo special on weekends.

Mita cafe’s kitfo panini.
Mita cafe’s kitfo panini.
Mita Cafe/Facebook

Jackie Lee's

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Jackie Lee’s is an ideal neighborhood dive for happy hour or late-night shots. Customers will find $3 PBR cans alongside Austrian pilsner, local craft beers, and cocktails that range from $7 to $12. The food menu skews towards barbecue, with a couple vegan options, but chef Jaren Morrow hosts a “Kennedy Street Tacos” pop-up on Tuesdays.

Tony's Place (Multiple locations)

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For breakfast, Brightwood residents go to Tony’s for generous portions at low prices. The best deal is the hungry man's platter, which includes two eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, and two pancakes for $6.09.

The exterior of Tony’s Place.
Tony’s Place/Facebook

Library Tavern

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This atypical combo — a bar and a Persian restaurant — is known for its extensive selection of kebabs, including beef, salmon, chicken, and lamb, as well as vegetarian options. Brunch service is available on weekends.

A Persian kebab from Library Tavern
A Persian kebab from Library Tavern
Library Tavern

Crown Bakery

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Island favorites at this restaurant and catering operation include oxtail, curry goat, stew chicken, jerk chicken, and shark and bake sandwiches. Since founding Crown Bakery in 2000, Trinidadian owners Jennifer and Trevor Selman are among the longest-tenured members of Georgia Avenue’s rich Caribbean food scene.

A pair of tongs holds a triangular blueberry tart.
A blueberry tart from Crown Bakery.
Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Neptune Room

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This unpretentious bar with a nautical vibe comes from the owners of Bloomingdale staple Showtime. Late-night hours make it popular with the service industry crowd. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. (Sunday through Thursday) and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Haydee's Restaurant

This Sal-Mex restaurant is the place to hang with margaritas and beef fajitas. It’s also a popular place to hear live, local music or belt out a few karaoke tunes.

Julia's Empanadas (Multiple locations)

Julia’s protein-packed pastries are legendary throughout D.C. Order the Chilean-style beef with raisins, hard-boiled eggs, onions, and ripened olives.

J and J Mex Taqueria

A sub stuffed with grilled chicken and guacamole.
A chicken torta from J and J Mex Taqueria
J and J Mex Taqueria/Facebook

J and J is a reliable spot for takeout food. There are 10 different tacos to choose from, which range in price from $2.75-$3.50 each, as well as a selection of enchiladas and burritos.

A sub stuffed with grilled chicken and guacamole.
A chicken torta from J and J Mex Taqueria
J and J Mex Taqueria/Facebook

Deset Ethiopian Restaurant

Deset brings a restaurant and lounge vibe to Brightwood with Ethiopian favorites, like the vegetarian combo, as well as specials for tibs, ground beef kornis, and kitfo.

BBQ Bus Smokehouse

A barbecue sandwich at BBQ Bus Smokehouse.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

This local food truck dropped anchor in Brightwood, near the intersection of Missouri and Georgia Avenue NW, in 2017. The restaurant serves a wide selection of smoked meats, wings, and barbecue sandwiches. As of October, the Brightwood location is open for delivery and takeout on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.

A barbecue sandwich at BBQ Bus Smokehouse.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Simple Bar and Grill

Simple Bar and Grill, as the name implies, keeps everything nice and simple. Expect friendly service, plenty of TVs, a range of cocktails, plus bar fare like jerk-spiced wings.

La Coop Coffee

Juan Luis Salazar Cano poses for a photo surrounded by pastries inside La Coop
La Coop founder Juan Luis Salazar Cano.
La Coop Coffee/Facebook

La Coop is home to coffee sourced from beans grown in Guatemala. Founder Juan Luis Salazar Cano imports those beans from his hometown in the Huehuetenango region. The coffee shop technically sits in Manor Park, bordering Brightwood, and attracts a long line of latte-craving residents in search of a coveted spot on the porch on busy Saturdays or Sundays.

Juan Luis Salazar Cano poses for a photo surrounded by pastries inside La Coop
La Coop founder Juan Luis Salazar Cano.
La Coop Coffee/Facebook

Moreland's Tavern

A bacon burger special from Moreland’s Tavern.
A bacon burger special from Moreland’s Tavern.
Moreland’s Tavern/Facebook

This neighborhood tavern is a neighborly place for craft beers on tap, pork schnitzel, and pretzel bread. Owners Tony Kowaleski and Matt Croke are restaurant vets who add to the warm, hospitable atmosphere.

A bacon burger special from Moreland’s Tavern.
A bacon burger special from Moreland’s Tavern.
Moreland’s Tavern/Facebook

Anxo Cidery and Tasting Room

The bar at the new Anxo Cidery and Tasting Room.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

This tasting room is modeled off of a Basque cidery. It features a 13-seat bar, outdoor patio, and 24 draft lines to sample fresh cider. Recently, the tasting room launched Brightwood Pizza as both a delivery and dine-in option.

The bar at the new Anxo Cidery and Tasting Room.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Mita Ethio-Japanese Cafe

Mita cafe’s kitfo panini.
Mita cafe’s kitfo panini.
Mita Cafe/Facebook

This Ethiopian and Japanese cafe is a reflection of the couple that owns it, Misrak Gebrehiwot and Takehiko Inoue. They serve sushi, coffees, teas, wraps, and panini, including a kitfo special on weekends.

Mita cafe’s kitfo panini.
Mita cafe’s kitfo panini.
Mita Cafe/Facebook

Jackie Lee's

Jackie Lee’s is an ideal neighborhood dive for happy hour or late-night shots. Customers will find $3 PBR cans alongside Austrian pilsner, local craft beers, and cocktails that range from $7 to $12. The food menu skews towards barbecue, with a couple vegan options, but chef Jaren Morrow hosts a “Kennedy Street Tacos” pop-up on Tuesdays.

Tony's Place (Multiple locations)

The exterior of Tony’s Place.
Tony’s Place/Facebook

For breakfast, Brightwood residents go to Tony’s for generous portions at low prices. The best deal is the hungry man's platter, which includes two eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, and two pancakes for $6.09.

The exterior of Tony’s Place.
Tony’s Place/Facebook

Library Tavern

A Persian kebab from Library Tavern
A Persian kebab from Library Tavern
Library Tavern

This atypical combo — a bar and a Persian restaurant — is known for its extensive selection of kebabs, including beef, salmon, chicken, and lamb, as well as vegetarian options. Brunch service is available on weekends.

A Persian kebab from Library Tavern
A Persian kebab from Library Tavern
Library Tavern

Crown Bakery

A pair of tongs holds a triangular blueberry tart.
A blueberry tart from Crown Bakery.
Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Island favorites at this restaurant and catering operation include oxtail, curry goat, stew chicken, jerk chicken, and shark and bake sandwiches. Since founding Crown Bakery in 2000, Trinidadian owners Jennifer and Trevor Selman are among the longest-tenured members of Georgia Avenue’s rich Caribbean food scene.

A pair of tongs holds a triangular blueberry tart.
A blueberry tart from Crown Bakery.
Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Neptune Room

This unpretentious bar with a nautical vibe comes from the owners of Bloomingdale staple Showtime. Late-night hours make it popular with the service industry crowd. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. (Sunday through Thursday) and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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