DC Neighborhoods: U Street Corridor
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What was once the heart of Washington’s African American community in the 20th century, U Street is now home to a revitalized, diverse and lively art and music scene. The U Street Corridor is located in the Shaw neighborhood and is filled with musicians, artists, music clubs, restaurants, and shops. U Street is the place to go when you are looking to escape the typical DC crowds you might find in Georgetown or Adams Morgan. In order to help provide you with the full U Street experience, here is a list of must-try activities:
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Created in 1958, this old-school chili diner is a DC landmark. Ben’s Chili Bowl is open 24-hours a day, making it a great place to get a late night snack after a night out on U Street. Between the chili half smoke and the chili cheese fries you can’t go wrong, just don’t tell your personal trainer (by the way, if chili cheese fries are consumed, but you’re too tipsy to remember it, do the calories still count?). This place has the typical small diner feel, is family run, and the walls are decked with photos of Ben’s fans Bill Crosby and Barack Obama. Eating at Ben’s Chili Bowl is like a rite of passage for locals and visitors alike.
A combination of Bistro, rooftop and lounge, Marvin is a great U Street hangout spot. Their menu focuses on Belgian classics while incorporating a bit of U Street flavor. With various genres of music constantly playing, you’ll be surrounded by good vibes. Walk upstairs to discover Marvin’s rooftop lounge and bar, boogie down inside or cozy up next to heaters outside and enjoy the view; the rooftop lounge is open year round. Marvin is the perfect spot for a date night or a night out with friends.
If you are seeking a brunch spot in the U Street Corridor, Vinoteca is the place to be. Fifteen-dollar bottomless mimosas and all the classic brunch options (and then some) make Vinoteca a true brunch destination. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, and the atmosphere is intimate and comfortable. The excellent service makes a great dining experience even better. Gather up your food-loving friends and head to Vinoteca for a lovely Sunday afternoon.
DC’s number one music venue is located right in the U Street Corridor. The infamous 9:30 club brings in all types of music and people and is a destination for any music lover. Both big name musicians and underground bands get the opportunity to perform here, and you are guaranteed a great show regardless of the performer. The venue itself is on the smaller side, so it has the perfect intimate concert feel. The earlier you get here the better; you’ll want to claim a great spot to watch the performance. Keep up with their concert schedule online to find something you can enjoy on your next night on the town.
Howard Theatre holds quite a bit of history. it was built in 1910 and was often referred to as the “Theater of the People.” During its most popular days, it catered to the African American community and hosted many of the greatest African American musicians from the mid-twentieth century. Howard Theatre was the home to so many historically famous figures, including Booker T. Washington, Marvin Gaye, and Duke Ellington. The theatre struggled and closed for a while but reopened in 2012 and has been thriving ever since. Enjoy a performance there and revel in all of the history around you.
Another historic landmark in the U Street area, Bohemian Caverns is a jazz venue that has been open since 1926. It is still in its original location, and can be considered one of the nations oldest and most premier jazz clubs. Like Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns was a hot spot for the African American art and music scene and hosted many famous names in its heyday. It was also known for being a late night host of music playing and liquor drinking during prohibition. Although the club has closed and re-opened various times throughout the years, it has always played a key role in the history of the Shaw neighborhood. If you are a jazz lover, you will get your dose of great tunes and history by taking in a performance here.
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