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Hipster Dining and Drinking Survival Guide

By Rina Rapuano
November 11, 2013
Photo by: Mark Silva/Red Hen

Say what you will about the hipster. Sure, many of them favor oversized black-rimmed glasses, ironic T-shirts and dramatic mustaches, pedaling around town in search of the most preciously crafted macchiato. But like it or not, they remain the harbingers of cool. And where they go, we follow. Here are 10 places where hipsters currently gather, not surprisingly with clear concentrations emerging in the Petworth and Bloomingdale neighborhoods - that is, until they get carried to a new rough-around-the-edges neighborhood on the next wave of awesome. 

  • Photo by: Flickr/Katmeresin

    Sticky Rice

    Sushi and tater tots served under one roof is the epitome of food irony, and it’s just one reason punk-tinged hipsters flock to this H Street spot with karaoke and a DJ dance-party brunch. The Richmond, VA, import (which loses its liquor license briefly this month) gives those who call the restaurant the option of pressing four if they want to hear a “nice Christopher Walken speech” and pressing six if they want to hear a sad trombone. (Yes, of course, there is a real sad trombone message when you press six.)

    1224 H St. NE; 202-397-7655

  • Photo by: Flickr/Christybaugh

    Big Bear Cafe

    Coffee is taken very, very seriously at this Bloomingdale spot, a coffee shop by day and locavore dinner den by night. Music skews alternative, furniture is mismatched, and everything has that 1920s hobo look about it. Nevertheless, we're happy to put up with any tweeness for a chance to enjoy the housemade granola with Trickling Springs yogurt (hipsters love them some Trickling Springs) on the beautiful patio.

    1700 First St. NW; 202-643-9222

  • Photo by: Mark Silva

    Red Hen

    If you think that the business cards made of reused old menus is low rent, then you just don’t get the hipster ethos that fully embraces recycle, reuse, reduce. Other tip-offs that this was a shoo-in for instant hipster status when it opened in April: an animal (and a color) in the name; the mysterious, in-the-know sign featuring just a red hen; celebrated sommelier Sebastian Zutant’s bow ties; and, of course, the restaurant’s Bloomingdale address.

    1822 First St. NW; 202-525-3021

  • Photo by: Facebook/Red Derby

    Red Derby

    Sitting just north of the beaten path of Columbia Heights is this tiny cash-only bar known for its rooftop deck and its well-rounded beer list. That list includes a section titled “Your Old Man’s Beer,” which features $2 Bud ponies and Stroh’s, plus a $4 Schlitz for big spenders. Those who stay into the wee hours Fridays and Saturdays can return to the scene of the crime for brunch Saturday and Sunday mornings.

    3718 14th St. NW; 202-291-5000

  • Photo by: Facebook/Petworth Citizen

    Petworth Citizen

    The hipster quotient is high at the newly minted Petworth Citizen - perhaps even outdoing its older sibling, Room 11, in Columbia Heights. Old-timey decor? Check. Located on a shabby-chic block with promise? Check. Artsy and literary events? Check. Retro cocktails and a daily punch? Yep. Those too.

    829 Upshur St. NW; 202-722-2939

  • Photo by: Facebook

    Showtime Bar

    This cash-only Bloomingdale bar is the brainchild of a vinyl-spinning, vintage-poly-wearing DJ that goes by the nickname Soul Call Paul. Fitting the hipster hallmark of self-deprecation, it is billed as a dive bar, and an extensive internet search turns up no phone number (who uses phones these days?). The free jukebox has been a hit, and the funky yellow wallpaper depicts exotic scenes of animals - a beloved hipster design element.

    113 Rhode Island Ave. NW

  • Photo by: Facebook/DC Reynolds

    DC Reynolds

    Hipsters love this spot partly for its location on the border of two hipster-heavy neighborhoods, Park View and Petworth. Also drawing crowds are the large patio out back, the reasonably priced (and locally sourced) food and an outstanding happy hour that offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal from 5-9 PM Monday through Saturday. Plus, you know you’re a hipster bar when your logo looks like a mustache.

    3628 Georgia Ave. NW; 202-506-7178

  • Photo by: Jimmy Valentine's

    Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club

    It’s hard to get more exclusive than having no phone number and no sign - the website says to look for the pink halo. Plus, it’s cash-only and located in a still-untapped neighborhood east of H Street. But making things difficult only makes the hipsters want it more. They pour in around opening time - 10 PM, except for Fridays, when it opens at 8 PM - for everything from PBR to DC Brau, from a 40-oz. of Schlitz Blue Bull to a Kasteel Tripel.

    1103 Bladensburg Rd. NE

  • Photo by: Facebook/Chez Billy

    Chez Billy

    Everything the Hilton brothers touch - including Marvin, The Gibson and American Ice Company - quickly turns to hipster gold, and this French-inspired Petworth bistro is no exception. The restaurateurs expanded their dimly lit, DJ-fueled party from U Street to the burgeoning neighborhood about a year and a half ago, and the hipsters flooded the nooks and balconies that make up the large space.

    3815 Georgia Ave. NW; 202-506-2080

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Places Mentioned

Sticky Rice

Asian • Atlas District/H Street Corridor

Food23 Decor19 Service19 Cost$26
 
 
 
Red Hen

Italian • Bloomingdale

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Big Bear Cafe

NoneBloomingdale

Appeal- Facilities- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Showtime Lounge

Bar • Bloomingdale

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Chez Billy

French • Petworth

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Red Derby

NonePetworth

Atmo.25 Decor20 Service23 CostI
 
 
 
Marvin

Belgian • U Street Corridor

Food23 Decor22 Service20 Cost$36
 
 
 
Room 11

Eclectic • Columbia Heights

Food26 Decor23 Service25 Cost$36
 
 
 
The Gibson

Bar • U Street Corridor

Atmo.26 Decor24 Service21 CostM
 
 
 
 
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