Friday, July 1, 2011

Do you have tips for a new resident?

Just got this email, any ideas? Favorite places, places to avoid, etc?
My wife and I just moved to Columbia Heights.  I was reading your blog and was wondering if you had any tips for new residents (bars, restaurants, crime, parking, etc.)  In the week we've been here, we've enjoyed some nice walks with our dog around the neighborhood and have been making a mental checklist of all the restaurants we're looking forward to trying out. 
At any rate, we're glad to be part of the neighborhood and would appreciate any insights the neighbors may have.  Everyone that we've met so far has been extremely nice and super helpful.


  1. Things I would definitely suggest (and please check out the NCHCA website for links to pretty much everything of interest in the neighborhood, including the places I list here :))

    -- find a favorite watering hole. There is one for every vibe, Red Derby (great selection of canned beer, chill, slightly hipster feel), Wonderland (mix of hipster and Virginia-types, a louder, busier verson of Red Derby), Room 11 (chill wine bar, slightly older crowd than the others), Meridian Pint (loud, crowded, young, fun). All four have great outdoor spaces.

    -- try out some of the great ethnic food options in the area. My favorites are Taqueria Distrito Federal, Paila Chilean, and the two Pho Place on Park Road and 14th street, respectively. Bonus: all are cheap.

    -- check out some live music at Bloombars, Wonderland, or the new Acre 121

    -- Walk down to Meridian Hill Park, walk down 13th Street (some great houses and a tremendous views as you pass Cardoza H.S., also great firewords viewing), or walk through the aptly-named Mount Pleasant on the way to the zoo / Rock Creek Park.

    -- hang out on a weekend afternoon in the CH Civic Plaza and just people watch, always a lot of interesting stuff going on.

    -- drop by the farmer's market, for sure, in the Plaza on Saturda morning.

    -- on the evening of July 4th, find a roof deck, any roof deck, in the hood to hang out on. People's homemade fireworks are INSANE around here and go pretty much non-stop from 9 until 2 a.m., and you will feel surrounded by high quality displays.

  2. Get a Google Reader account if you don't already have it and read DC Blogs to stay up-to-date and happenings in the city. Here's the best comprehensive list I've seen thus far:

  3. Columbia Heights is a great neighborhood and there really are some gems, but the wonderful thing about this area of DC is that you are close to other neighborhoods as well.

    A couple of businesses in Mt. Pleasant advertise on this blog. It has a small-town retail strip right in the heart of the city and also has some cool, authentic joints that are worth checking out. You can find a local pharmacy, several restaurants, boutique and second-hand clothing stores, and specialty retail like a hardware store :) and imported art and crafts.

  4. I agree with other folks. Find some restaurants and bars you like (I like Wonderland and Meridian Pint a lot), go to shows when you can, and take advantage of the central location and access to metro and circulator! It's easy to get to lots of other neighborhoods and parks. Meridian Hill Park is close and a wonderful place to read and picnic. There's also things like the Columbia Heights Bocce League (registration closes today I think) and Columbia Heights Day. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  5. Jeff - Sounds like my typical weekend in CH!

    My favorite part of this area is it's easy access to so many other communities, so I walk, bus, circulate, bike, and metro a lot.

    Regarding crime - because you are going to hear a lot about it...get to know your surroundings. In the year and a half I've lived here, I have certain routes I will walk, given the time of day, night, or circumstances. I know which apartment buildings have lots of guys hanging around out front, and which blocks the police go to often. I'm not saying - don't go down this street, or stay out of this area, because it's not like that. It's more like - it's midnight, I'm alone, up ahead is that rowdy house and I can hear it from here - think I'll go around the long way. Whereas, if it's 10am on a Tuesday, I'll walk by without fear. And PLEASE don't walk down the street playing with your smartphone!!!! Because I might kill you by running into you on my bike, or otherwise. Also for crime.

    Personally, I love the diversity here. There are great families, older people, and yes, even teenagers that are really wonderful people to know. If you live in a smaller building, row house, or condo, it's important to get to know your neighbors - even just enough to say hello, so you know who's coming and going.

    I went to Yards Park last Friday night, and although it was fun, I was happy to come home to CH and all it's craziness. I feel like I really live in DC, warts and all.

    Also - get some old bikes and good locks or Smartbikes! Biking here is wonderful!

  6. I agree with all of these - we have some great places to eat and drink in the area, and new ones coming all the time.

    The Getaway just opened on 14th and is finding itself, but, its got some GREAT drinks! Pho 14 on Park is probably one of my favorite places to eat anywhere. The speakeasy, Last Exit, inside of Tonic in Mt. Pleasant is a lot of fun and has a really cool feel. And you have to go do brunch/shopping in Eastern Market - no better place on a perfect Sunday afternoon!

    As far as things to do, the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is a must on Saturdays, along with getting a Pleasant Pop. Hop on a green line train and support the local team by going to Nats games, at Navy Yard. Tickets are ridiculously cheap, and its always fun to go see a game. The zoo is always a good bet - but go during the off season!

    There is so much to see and do in this city - its what makes it so great. Enjoy CH and Mt. P, but, get out and see other areas as well! You'll be pleasantly surprised.

    As for crime, use your best judgement. If it seems shady, then do something about it - different route, turn around, etc. Don't walk with your phone out - you're distracted and its easy for them to grab. Also, don't walk with headphones in, especially at night. You can never hear anyone approaching you. For the most part, you'll always be fine, but just be aware and also alert!

    Welcome to the neighborhood - hope you enjoy it!


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