2009 14th St. NW, Cardozo
Behind a nondescript entrance on the 14th Street stretch is the bar that began the mixology craze in DC: The Gibson. Serving expertly-made cocktails in a sexy, low-lit seating-room only, this place is great for a date. Make a reservation to avoid the lines and enjoy one of the many house concoctions in the calming, elegant space. For a rowdier time, the outdoor patio opens in nice weather.
2007 14th St. NW, Cardozo
With a soundtrack of funk, ska, and jazz created by a member of Thievery Corporation, a menu that blends Belgian classics with the flavors of the neighborhood (think fried chicken with Belgian waffles), and a very happening year-round rooftop beer garden, Marvin is one of the coolest places on the block. Go upstairs on the weekend to party or downstairs for a relaxed meal during the week.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. NW, Cardozo
D.C. natives will tell you that Ben’s Chili Bowl is the most D.C. place in D.C. They have multiple locations (including one in the Ronald Reagan airport, at Nationals Park, and FedEx Field) but the original one is on U Street. It’s the kind of beloved dive spot where you order at the counter (although table service is available for parties of five ore more), and you don’t come for the salad bowl. As the name suggests, it’s all about the chili dogs, chili burgers, and chili fries. That said, there are a lot of veg-friendly options, from vegetarian chili to veggie burgers.
1908 14th St. NW, Cardozo
Taylor Gourmet is the blood, sweat, and tears of two Philadelphia transplants who opened the chain’s first deli after determining there wasn’t a single good Philly-style hoagie spot in all of D.C. Today the chain is many locations strong, making it a lunchtime staple for everyone from college students to President Obama. The salads are perfectly suitable if you’re trying to keep lunchtime healthy, but the real order here is anything on their freshly baked bread (which gets delivered daily). The Italian sandwich and the Philly cheesesteak are obviously excellent, though anything involving their fried chicken cutlets is also worth a try. They're expanding fast, with locations in Dupont Circle, Mount Vernon Triangle, and the H Street Corridor.