Neighborhood Guide

Once home to Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and Zora Neale Hurston, Shaw boasts a rich and storied history as a center for music and culture. U Street is lined with renowned venues like the Lincoln Theatre, Howard Theatre, and other nightclubs where Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington performed. Today, the neighborhood is a thriving cultural hub once again, with bars and restaurants paying homage to its glorious past. Newcomers mix and mingle with Shaw’s stalwarts, ushering in a modern golden age for the historic neighborhood. 

  • Shaw
  • U Street
  • 14th Street

Welcome to Shaw. Grand old Victorian mansions, charming row houses with little gardens, and shiny new high-rises make up the streetscape in this part of town. Street art brings color and vitality. North of Logan Circle, south of Columbia Heights, and east of Adams Morgan, Shaw is perfectly positioned, with access to the whole city.

Illustrated map of the Shaw neighborhood showing key places such as the Metro stop and 9:30 club

My Sunday Schedule in Shaw

10:30 AM

If you’ve got a pup, take him or her to the Shaw Dog Park or Cardozo Playground. Grab a latte on the way or visit one of the neighborhood’s many boutique fitness studios. 

12:15 PM

Time for some retail therapy around 8th Street. Browse a curated collection of chic boutiques, salons, and lifestyle retailers nestled on the north end of Shaw.

2:00 PM

Meet friends at the Shaw Metro Station and pop across the street into the African American Civil War Museum. Getting hungry? Head around the corner for an afternoon snack, salty or sweet. 

6:00 PM

Pull up a stool at any of the local happy hour spots. Low-key corner bars serve artisanal wine and beer, while new cafés and speakeasies favor top-notch cocktails. 

8:00 PM

Happy hour slinks right into dinnertime. Take your pick among the plethora of restaurants and cafés dotting the streetscapes surrounding 901W. 

The U Street corridor comes alive after dark, with live music, dance, and free-flowing drinks. From low-key hangouts to craft breweries and cocktail bars, it’s all here. Cheers!

Illustrated map of the U Street neighborhood showing key places such as Ben's Chili Bowl

U Street Entertainment

Howard Theater

Originally opened in 1910, this storied theater is like a microcosm of the neighborhood itself. In its golden age, people flocked there to hear jazz by Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and native son Duke Ellington. Though it closed for a time, it was restored to its former glory in 2012 and now hosts live bands once again.

Illustration of a tuba to represent Howard Theatre
Drawing of a trumpet to represent U Street Music Hall

U Street Music Hall

This DJ-owned dance club and live concert venue boasts one of the best sound systems in D.C. There’s no VIP area, bottle service, or dress code, so you can just soak up the music. The owners also support music education for D.C. youth through the nonprofit U Street Music Foundation.

9:30 Club

Hailed as the number-one nightclub by Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Pollstar, this legendary venue has hosted Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Green Day, and countless other famed stars. The club opened in 1980 but moved to today’s larger location in 1996. According to Rolling Stone, “playing the 1,200-capacity club has remained a rite of passage for indie acts on the rise.” 

Drawing of an electric guitar

West of 901W, the 14th Street corridor draws hungry locals to its many restaurants. This part of town has an international flair, with chefs from all over the world dishing up Spanish tapas, French bistro fare, Southeast Asian food, and anything else you could want. 

Illustrated map of the 14th street neighborhood showing key activities such as dining and shopping

Stay Thirsty on 14th Street

Drawing of a green martini glass with a lime

From Coffee to Cocktails

If you can’t make it to Cuba, a visit to Colada Shop is the next best thing. “Certain elements will be traditional, but we want to keep it approachable,” president and partner Daniella Senior told Eater. “We want to transport people.” The brightly colored space channels the Cuban eateries of Miami’s Little Havana and effortlessly transitions from coffee (“colada” is a Cuban-style espresso meant for sharing) to cocktails, including a Hemingway daiquiri, piña coladas, and other tropical drinks. 

Share the Love

It’s no wonder Bon Appetit called Peregrine the “best coffee in D.C.” Husband-and-wife owners Ryan and Jill Jensen are so passionate about sharing their love for coffee, they’ll teach you the secrets to brewing the perfect cup in their classes. And you can bet they know their stuff—Ryan has got the awards to prove it. They offer bike delivery service to local residents, so you can get bags of the best single-origin beans sent straight to your door.

Illustration of a blue coffee mug with flowers on it
Illustration of a bottle of red wine and two glasses

Pour One Out

“The wine list is an ever-changing, ever-evolving child,” says Gretchen Thomas, wine and spirits director at Barcelona Wine Bar, which has one of the most extensive Spanish wine programs in the U.S. “The philosophy is to just keep it fresh and to always highlight what’s amazing that’s coming out in the wine world right now,” Thomas says. With forty wines by the glass and hundreds of bottles, Barcelona is your go-to place to try delicious and unusual wines.

  • Attractions +
    Shaw Dog Park
    African American Civil War Museum
    Westminster Playground
    Logan Circle
  • Nightlife / Music +
    9:30 Club
    Black Cat
    U Street Music Hall
    Landmark's Atlantic Plumbing Cinema
    DC9
    Howard Theatre
    Twins Jazz
    Cortez
    Right Proper Brewing Company
    The Fainting Goat
    Dacha Beer Garden
    All Souls Bar
    Brixton
    Nocturne
    Gaslight Tavern DC
    Barcelona Wine Bar
  • Food +
    American Ice Company
    Uprising Muffin Company
    Declaration
    Sugar Shack
    Al Crostino
    Etete
    Takoda
    Masa 14
    Matchbox
    Jeni's Splendid Icecream
    Peregrine
    Colada Shop
    Ben’s Chili Bowl
    The Smith
  • Stores +
    Trader Joe’s
    Nahom Records
    Aesop Shaw
    Le Labo
    Warby Parker
    Lettie Gooch
    Rewild
    CVS
  • Fitness+
    Solidcore
    The Dailey Method DC Barre & Cycle
    SoulCycle
    Kick Fitness
  • Transportation+
    Shaw-Howard University Station
    U St / African-American Civil War Memorial / Cardozo Station