In the ’Hood: Getting to Know D.C.’s Capitol Hill

Some of the best things to do in this historic neighborhood

The historic Capitol Hill neighborhood is famous for its marbled Congressional offices, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress—just a few of Washington, D.C.’s heavy-hitting sites. But it’s also a leafy residential zone lined with elegant 19th-century row houses, locally owned boutiques, colorful Eastern Market and some of the city’s top restaurants. And thanks to two Metrorail Stops (Capitol South and Eastern Market) and the free D.C. Circulator, it’s easy to get to and around, though walking reveals some of the city’s prettiest sights. Whichever mode of transport you decide to use, here are just a few highlights in a zone packed with some of the best things to see and do in Washington, D.C.

Where to Eat

This center of power isn’t all about politicking. It’s also a popular foodie destination, with celebrity chefs and homegrown toques adding to D.C.’s overall restaurant buzz. Opened by local star chef Scott Drewno (formerly Wolfgang Puck’s The Source) and chef Danny Lee (Mandu), Chiko transports diners to Asia with flavor-bomb mashups of Korean and Chinese dishes. Little Pearl marks James Beard Award-winning chef Aaron Silverman’s latest gem, following his uber popular no-reservations spot Rose’s Luxury and Michelin-rated upscale tasting room Pineapple and Pearls (both also located in Capitol Hill). Le Bon Cafe recalls Paris’ Marais neighborhood and dishes French favorites and welcomed caffeine fuel to Hill worker bees.

Chiko 423 8th St. SE, 202.558.9934

Le Bon Cafe 210 2nd St. SE, 202.547.7200

Little Pearl 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202.618.1868


Where to Drink

After work, Capitol Hill’s buttoned-up let down their hair at fine watering holes like Barrel, where the rum list is two pages long and an underground level serves up rum-based cocktails and hip-hop beats. Harold Black pours craft drinks in civilized, speakeasy-style digs, while Wisdom lays down knowledge from a gin-heavy menu in casual comfort.

Barrel 613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 202.543.3622

Harold Black 212 7th St. SE, 202.627.0994

Wisdom 1432 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 202.543.2323

Craft cocktails at Capitol Hill area bars

Where to Shop

You won’t find big chains in this historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. Instead, the streets are lined with locally owned shops like Fairy Godmother, where kids find wishes for great toys and books granted, and Hill’s Kitchen, where adults indulge their culinary fantasies with top tools. Howl to the Chief is a dog’s paradise with tons of toys and treats fit for presidential pooches.

Fairy Godmother 319 7th St. SE, 202.547.5474

Hill’s Kitchen 713 D St. SE, 202.543.1997

Howl to the Chief 733 8th St. SE, 202.544.8710

Hill’s Kitchen

Where to Play

Naturally, this area is full of iconic sites. But after seeing the usual suspects (Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, etc.), visitors shouldn’t miss glimpses of feminist history at the Belmont-Paul or an intriguing stroll through the country’s postal past at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Just kitty-corner from the Supreme Court, the Folger Shakespeare Library is another marbled hall, this one housing the largest collection of Shakespeariana in the world, along with a Globe-like theater for productions of the Bard’s famous plays.

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument 144 Constitution Ave. NE, 202.543.2240

Folger Shakespeare Library 201 E. Capitol St. SE, 202.544.4600

Smithsonian National Postal Museum 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, 202.633.5555

Smithsonian National Postal Museum