If you’ve just moved to the Columbia Heights neighborhood, chances are you’re in the process of finding your favorite spots around the neighborhood. From good coffee shops and boutiques to your go-to grocery store, you may be exploring a lot of new places right now. And during this search, you’re likely in search of the best Columbia Heights restaurants.
Lucky for you, this neighborhood has dozens of fantastic eateries for you to explore. Read on to discover some of the best restaurants Columbia Heights has to offer that you’ll find yourself returning to over and over again.
Plan to spend some time waiting in line when you choose Bad Saint for a dinner of authentic Filipino food. Some days the line starts more than two hours before opening so go early. Choose a spot at a bar across the front of the shop with its large windows. You can people-watch while you enjoy your scrumptious meal of Ginisang Tulya or pork belly with chicharron. This restaurant offers a full-service bar so you can enjoy spirits with your meal or an after-dinner drink. The menu rotates and includes a seasonal selection and a vegetarian option if you need one.
You'll know that you've arrived at the Room 11 bar when you see its bright blue exterior with an American flag surrounded by pride flags waving in the air. This is the ideal spot for drinks on a warm afternoon or evening. It has a generous outdoor area to take in the fresh air. When you arrive, you can take a seat at the bar or select one of the small intimate tables. You can order small plate tapas for the table to offset the drinks. On the weekends, this bar offers a brunch with homemade fig pastries as the centerpiece.
Filled with a combination of natural and overhead lighting, this local bakery will become your first stop each day. You can grab a bag of DC's best chocolate or almond croissants on the way to the office. On the weekends, grab your special someone and stop by for a quick breakfast of pastries and a hot coffee at La Caprice. If you're in the area around lunchtime, you can grab a quick sandwich. This bakery will quickly become your go-to spot for birthday cakes and pies for the holidays.
Slip on your dance shoes for an evening at Wonderland Ballroom. This is a multilevel bar that frequently offers live music and a dance space for you to show off your skills. Wonderland Ballroom is a bar that offers almost any drink that you can think of. They have a bar menu with a wide range meals and snacks, including a vegan option. The fully-stocked bars and knowledgeable bartenders can whip up any concoctions that you can dream up.
Get your fix of Italian food at Little Coco's for lunch or dinner. This local eatery offers both pasta and pizza to fulfill any craving. On warm evenings, you can eat on the outside patio under the lights or take a seat at the bar if you're dining alone. You can indulge in classic Italian entrees and try a rich dessert with an espresso after your meal. There's a full bar to mix you a before-dinner cocktail.
Each night, a new and different DJ takes the stage at Zeba Bar to spin some tunes. The parade of new DJs provides a variety of music and dance styles. In this multilevel bar, you'll find hookah, delicious cocktails, and a dance floor. There's a food menu with all your favorite bar meals. It's a great local bar to spend an evening.
Mi Cuba Cafe
With brightly painted green walls and ceiling-hanging plants, Mi Cuba Cafe feels a little like eating on an island. This Columbia Heights' staple has been in business for more than a decade due to the hard work of owners, Ariel Valladares and Jacqueline Castro-Lopez. You can sample all of your favorite Cuban dishes, such as Cubano sandwiches and papas rellenos. Treat yourself to a cafe bombing, which is a cup of espresso with condensed milk, '
When the weather is good, you can make a beeline over to the Red Derby to soak up the sun or a little stargazing from the rooftop bar area while you sip on a cool cocktail. This pub also offers a fair selection of food items, including po'boys and shrimp baskets. For the vegetarians, there is always at least one option. All the food has a cajun flavor to heat you up while their list of mixed drinks to cool you down.
If you're looking for someone where casual to have a drink and grab a little grub with a little fun tossed into the mix. At Lyman's Tavern, you can play one of the pinball games while you wait for your sliders, tacos, or grilled cheese sandwiches to come up. On pleasant nights, you can grab a table out front to enjoy the fresh air. With only a handful, indoor tables fill up quickly so if you're with a group, arrive early.
There isn't a shortage of Mexican restaurants and taco stands in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, but El Chucho seems to have the market cornered on repeat business. This neighborhood staple is best known for its Mexican street-style corn with mayo and cheese with its frozen margaritas to wash it all down.
If you’re looking for good, solid American food that feeds the body and the soul, you’ll find it at The Heights. This restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch is an atmosphere you’ll want to revisit again and again. It's easily one of the best Columbia Heights DC restaurants you won't want to miss.
The Heights has a lounge with high ceilings and a patio that will make you want to stay and chat for hours. You can also choose to eat in the dining room that feels cozy and intimate without being cramped. If you go on the weekend, you can walk off your brunch with a trip down to the local farmer’s market to stock up on groceries for the week.
Los Hermanos is a great place to experience a new culture and the excellence of home cooking. The restaurant serves portions like your grandma used to – more than you think you can eat, but so delicious that you’ll clean the plate. It’s run by a family that makes it their mission to make every guest feel at home.
When you visit Los Hermanos, you’ll get your choice of a rice, a side, and a meat. The meat options include everything from stewed beef, pork chops, goat, stewed chicken, and more. You can mix all these together for a dish that’s everything you love on a plate, cooked and seasoned with the kind of care that shows.
Thip Khao is a Laotian restaurant that brings a unique vibe to the D.C. area. In Laos, a thip khao is a communal basket served at family meal times that’s filled with sticky rice. The restaurant has brought this tradition to the United States and given it a modern twist that delights their customers.
In addition to the rice in the thip khao, you can pick from a variety of different dishes to mix with. You take a bite of each dish with a variety of rice, and you can share around your table or stick to your go-to favorites.
El Pollo Sabroso
El Pollo Sabroso is one of the best-kept secrets in Columbia Heights, a hidden gem that offers an incredible dining experience. The restaurant is genuine and easygoing, offering a no-nonsense approach to Peruvian cuisine. While you won’t find any fuss or frills at this restaurant, what you will find is good, down-to-earth, honest-to-god delicious food.
Some of El Pollo Sabroso’s specialty dishes include gyros, rotisserie chicken, and their famous yucca fries. They don’t skimp on the portions, and you’ll be sure to leave with a full belly. You can enjoy your meal there for the full experience or take it with you to go; they’re all about meeting your needs where you are.
Mi Cuba Café
As you might expect from the name, Mi Cuba Café is a Cuban restaurant that will transport you to the island. The restaurant is filled with bright colors, tropical plants, and all the sounds and smells of Cuba. Expect a crowd when you go to Mi Cuba Café; it’s a favorite among locals, who pack the small dining room to a cheerful bursting.
Mi Cuba Café is renowned for their outstanding empanadas, and their Cubano sandwiches are too good to miss. On hot summer days, you can cool down with some of their fresh-squeezed orange juice. The acid in the drink will bring out the flavors in the food and make you feel like you’re on island time even in the middle of Columbia Heights.
Napoli Pasta Bar
Although the Napoli Pasta Bar is a relatively new addition to the neighborhood, it’s quickly gained a following. The restaurant opened in 2018 and has worked to bring residents of Columbia Heights to the Amalfi Coast. From the authentic dishes to the hand-painted plates, you’ll be transported to the Mediterranean the moment you walk in the door.
You can find incredible Italian classics like ricotta gnocchi and clam linguini at the Napoli Pasta Bar. Of course, no Italian meal is complete without plenty of wine, and Napoli Pasta Bar can more than deliver. Pull up a seat at the table made from a genuine green Vespa scooter and dig into a meal that will have you proclaiming, “Bellissimo!” by the end.
If you’re looking for good pho in Columbia Heights, look no further than Pho 14. This restaurant prides itself on its no-nonsense approach to the Vietnamese classic soup. In fact, this family-owned restaurant has done so well that they’ve been able to open two other locations around the D.C. area.
When you go into Pho 14, you’ll be able to build your own perfect bowl of pho. Start with your broth – beef, chicken, or a vegetarian broth that uses Fuji apples as its base. From there, you can pile on all the toppings your heart desires, and if you visit on a Friday, you’ll get all this goodness for just $5.
Find the Best Columbia Heights Restaurants
Columbia Heights has dozens of incredible eating experiences for you to try. From down-home cultural cuisine to elegant Italian fare to classic American food, you’ll find restaurants that you want to go back to over and over again. In fact, we’d challenge you to visit a new spot every week; you’ll be shocked at how long it is before you run out of favorite eateries.
If you’d like to discover more of the best Columbia Heights restaurants, check out the rest of our site at The Vintage. We offer city sophistication blended with suburban culture in Mount Pleasant. Check out our floor plans today and start finding your place in the middle of this tight-knit community.