CHARLIE LOWE/THE HOYA
CHARLIE LOWE/THE HOYA

With the D.C. summer comes time to explore the District that’s hard to come by during the year. From drag brunches to vintage shopping, swing dancing to Peruvian food, Adams Morgan offers some of the summer’s highlights.

PERRYSADAMSMORGAN.COM Sunday Drag Brunch at Perry’s.
PERRYSADAMSMORGAN.COM
Sunday Drag Brunch at Perry’s.

Brunch

Any good day out in Washington, D.C., requires starting off with a delicious brunch, and Adams Morgan boasts an immense number of delectable choices. One favorite is Tryst (2459 18th St. NW), a coffeehouse that feels more like a living room than a cafe. Best known for its superb coffee and pastries, including frozen drinks and seasonal specialties, Tryst also offers a satisfying, if slightly limited brunch menu. This includes the lemon poppy seed waffle with homemade blueberry sauce ($8.50), three-mushroom tart ($8.25), a range of grilled cheese sandwiches (from $5.25) and a mouth-watering watermelon and feta salad ($7.25).

If you’re feeling fancy, try Napoleon Bistro & Lounge (1847 Columbia Road NW), which offers Parisian brunches every weekend in a setting that is much more upscale than the menu prices may suggest. It offers a number of tempting, savory dishes including omelets (made with organic eggs) such as the Matisse with Gruyere cheese and mushrooms ($9) and the Rembrandt with Brie, parsley and sun dried tomatoes ($10) as well as crepes like the Montmartre with roasted mushrooms, scallions and herbed goat and Gruyere cheese. There are also a number of chef’s specials dishes, including the Voltaire — scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese served inside a fresh croissant ($9) — and a wonderful, classic croque-monsieur ($12). If you have any room, try one of its sweet treats such as the traditional creme brulee ($8) or Suzette Crepe ($8).

For brunch with a twist, go to the Sunday Drag Brunch held every week at Perry’s Restaurant (1811 Columbia Road NW) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For $24.95 you get access to its large brunch buffet that includes waffles, muffins, eggs, salads and, a little bizarrely, sushi (drinks are separate). But, more importantly, you get to enjoy your brunch with some wild and hilariously fun drag entertainment. This is the perfect place to go for a birthday, as you’re guaranteed direct interaction with the queens who will make your birthday far more entertaining. Make sure you get there early as seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Shopping

Adams Morgan is a great destination to find shopping opportunities that are more unique than those offered along M Street. There are a number of great vintage stores, such as Meeps (2104 18th St. NW) which has been a staple of the area since 1992. The store prides itself on offering the District “a respite from mass-produced, cookie cutter clothing,” and it certainly delivers on this promise. There is a wide selection of beautiful and fun pieces from the 1960s onward as well an extensive number of costume items. Recently, the store has extended its interest to local artisans, collecting pieces from local designers as well as making an effort to support the local art community.

Another vintage store that attracts fashionable D.C. residents is Mercedes Bien Vintage Clothing and Décor (2423 18th St. NW). Like Meeps, the store offers high-quality, fun, vintage pieces that are actually displayed in an attractive and easily accessible way. The store — and its clothes — are fun and feature a mostly 1970s twist.

For something really unique, head to the Tibet Shop (2407 18th St. NW), a colorful and beautiful Aladdin’s cave bursting with a wide collection of different items for decent prices. Opened in 2007 by award-winning Tibetan journalist and photographer Palden Gyal, the shop offers many of his wonderful photographs, as well as gorgeous jewelry, bags, scarves and odd items.

ERICA WONG/THE HOYA Columbia Station on 18th Street NW.
ERICA WONG/THE HOYA
Columbia Station on 18th Street NW.

Dinner

For dinner on a budget, try Astor Mediterranean (1829 Columbia Road NW), a small restaurant that offers arguably the best Mediterranean food in the District. With a number of great grill options, including a range of kabobs (from $9.95), Astor also features many good vegetarian options, such as the Astor vegetarian salad with hummus, eggplant, stuffed grape leaves and chickpeas ($9.95) and the eggplant wrap with tomato sauce ($6.50). Surprisingly, Astor is also a top choice for great pizza, which is slightly pricier, particularly the Egyptian with eggplant, jalapeno pepper and feta ($17) and the Mediterranean with grilled chicken, Kalamata olives and mozzarella ($17). With a relaxed atmosphere and great food, it’s an ideal destination for dinner on a tighter budget.

If you’re able to spend a bit more, then the Peruvian food at Las Canteras (2307 18th St. NW) is a must. With a menu that combines traditional and contemporary Peruvian dishes, the vibrant and modern restaurant is a fun place to try and well worth the cost. The stylish Los Andes bar is a great place to start off your experience (especially during happy hour, with cocktails for $5 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday). Featuring classic Latin cocktails such as Pisco Sour and margaritas as well as specialty drinks such as the Macchu Pisco — a mix of mango puree, mango rum, pisco and lime juice — the bar is a popular spot in the area. The food menu varies over the weeks, with prices between $11 and $30, but focuses on fresh fish and spiced meat dishes.

To get a taste of Adams Morgan’s popular jazz culture, try getting a late dinner at Columbia Station (2325 18th St. NW), which promises great food and great live music every night. The menu is pretty simple, with classic American offerings such as the country burger with onions, bacon and provolone cheese ($7.95), Buffalo wings appetizers ($6.50) and apple pie ($5.95), but with these reasonable prices and an extensive cocktail list, this is a great spot to sit back, sip on a martini and listen to some amazing music.

Night Out

A trip to Adams Morgan definitely requires a visit to one of the area’s many bars, especially one that features live music. One of the most well-known and well-loved spots is Madam’s Organ (2461 18th St. NW), which, with its huge mural outside, is impossible to miss. Once named by Playboy as one of the best bars in America, the club hosts live music — mainly blues and jazz — every night and attracts a large and eclectic crowd (redheads, take note: you get discounts). One of Adams Morgan’s most unique night out destinations, it promises to be a fun night, any night.

Another fun alternative is The Jam Cellar (2437 15th St. NW), a popular dance club in a posh, turn-of-the-century mansion, which boasts the best swing music DJs in the District and a vibrant, diverse crowd. If you fancy yourself a swing dancing expert, the dances begin every Tuesday at 9 p.m. But, if you are a little less sure about your dance skills, The Jam Cellar is perfect also offers free beginner lessons at 8 p.m. every Tuesday, so you can get yourself ready for the main event. Keep an eye out for special events and competitions, and be sure to head there for an active and alternative night out.

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