DCGuide

Where To Eat And Drink In Columbia Heights

DC's best Lao food awaits.
Where To Eat And Drink In Columbia Heights image

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

You’ve worked up an appetite after releasing your inhibitions at the drum circle in Meridian Park, and now you need to feed your renewed spirit. Luckily you’ve got options like sticky beef sesame jerky at a local Lao spot and the city's best breakfast burritos. Here's your guide to where to eat and drink in Columbia Heights.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

Lao

Columbia Heights

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightClassic Establishment
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Thip Khao makes some of the best food in the city. The Lao spot’s sinus-clearing red-curry noodle soup is our go-to for crying into on a cold winter (or any really) day. And we love their crispy beef sesame jerky. So it’s not surprising that there's often a line before the doors open. If you do manage to crowd your way into Thip Khao's dining room, just know you'll be squeezed so close to your neighboring table that you'll be able to hear everything going on over there, which is nice if you’re a nosy person, not so nice if there's a break up situation happening.

When you’re looking for a breakfast spot that won't judge your 3am texts, go to La Tejana. The Tex-Mex restaurant serves nine ridiculously good tacos that they rightly recommend you order in batches of two or three. Each soft taco is made with some variation of eggs, queso, potatoes, or refried beans on flour tortillas made in-house. On the weekends, expect a line that forms early, but moves quickly. You can take your order to-go or hang around the standing counter mounted against a wall.

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No, Queen’s English isn't a posh British tea house. It's actually a living room type restaurant serving some of the best Cantonese food in the city. You’ll find yourself rubbing elbows with your neighbors as you curb the temptation to pluck a generously coated truffle dumpling off their plate with your chopsticks. The family-style menu is meant for sharing, just not with strangers at the next table. Exercise some self control because you won't want to share once your table starts filling up with your own plates of orange sesame rock shrimp and spicy cucumber.

If you're on the lookout for a chill spot to work, The Coupe is a great option. The all-day breakfast cafe takes up the entire corner of the block, and is full of booths with a view and more secluded tables to get some serious work done. Just like any top-notch café, they've got an extensive coffee and pastry menu for those not up for a full meal. But, if you're hungry, The Coupe Royale is the way to go. It's loaded with eggs, sausage, a crispy hash brown square, and your choice of either french toast or pancakes (get the pancakes, always get the pancakes). 

For the days when there’s no better company than your own, head to Letena Ethiopian Restaurant. Snag a comfy seat, drown out the world with Ethiopian jazz, and dive into their solo-friendly menu. We swear by the vegetarian sampler where seasoned green collards and spinach, peppery orange lentils, and vibrant red beets will have you thanking whatever higher power you believe in for bringing you this far.

The pastries at Ellē are so good they’ll inspire you to move to France, enroll in culinary school, and lead a life making buttery guava turnovers. Until then (boo capitalism) enjoy the best mudslide walnut cookies that life has to offer alongside freelance poets sipping on $6 lattes that are most definitely being written off as a critical expense. If you're looking for a quiet workspace, head to the secluded backroom where you can lean against the cool brick wall while you knock whatever assignment you're working on. 

Options for good Mexican food in the city are limited, but fortunately, there's Taqueria Habanero. You'll find kids swinging off chipped wooden chairs while their parents unwind over sopping birria tacos, and lone diners savor sizzling shrimp fajitas at the bar.  For the ultimate experience, come here midday. It’s not as busy, the service is fast, and your tender beef brisket flautas will be served piping hot. And to seal the deal, never leave without an order of the churros. Double up if you're sharing, so you’re not fighting over the last one.

This neighborhood spot is your all-around Italian restaurant, whether you’re looking for a great pizza, the city’s freshest donuts, or a reliable low-key date night spot. Little Coco’s long dining room is a combo of high tops, small wooden tables, and plastic-covered booths where you can tight-squeeze five of your closest friends. You’re not going to find DC’s best pasta (though it’s good enough for a casual night out), but you will find delicious gooey pizza, like The Dr. Pepper covered in pepperoni and fior di latte, that tastes exactly like we imagine the ultimate Ninja Turtle cheese pull.

This three-story bar is popping almost every night of the week with people who live nearby enjoying an afterwork drink and hookah. Twinkle lights line the ivy on the small covered patio where you can pull up a seat for most of the year. Happy Hour, which runs from 5-8pm, is your best bet, but get there early if you want a seat at the small first-floor bar (the only one that’s guaranteed to be open) because it gets packed quickly.

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