I’m a sucker for hole-in-the-wall foodie spots. I would rather find a hidden gem than cross a “Best of D.C.” restaurant off my list, and I prefer a neighborhood spot to standing in a line 50 people deep (looking at you, Rose’s Luxury). Perhaps I’m giving away all my secrets, but I believe the time has come to share my love for foodie hideouts. Here are four you’ll have to work to find—because they’re hidden in an alleyway.
If you’re looking for a solid cup of coffee—a latte with just the right amount of foam—La Colombe arguably has one of the best in the District. Whatever you do, do not order a chai tea latte (learned that one the hard way). Often, La Colombe first-timers get lost trying to find the shop. The brick building, complete with industrial garage doors and chalkboard paint sign, is tucked inside Blagdon alley. If you’re headed there, try entering from M and between 10th and 9th street, as N is currently under construction. You’ll find your way eventually (we hope).
If it weren’t for the stand-alone sign, the entrance to The Well Dressed Burrito would look like the sidewall of a warehouse. Tucked inside an alleyway near the intersection of M and 19th, this Dupont spot takes the hole-in-the-wall terminology a bit too literally. They’ve been serving burritos and tacos “somewhere in an alleyway” (that’s a direct quote from their website, mind you) since 1986. Try their marinated chicken burrito, and ask for extra grilled veggies.
If you walk north on 9th street near Shaw, look up—you’ll see a ridiculously large arrow pointing you left toward SUNdeVICH. On their website, they actually have to put in parentheses “In an alleyway between N and O” underneath their address, to more clearly describe their whereabouts. Even though Sundavich is near impossible to find, it often has a line out the door. You really can’t go wrong with any of their sandwiches, but we’re partial to the Athens and Havana.
While Cady’s Alley in Georgetown is known primarily for upscale apparel and furniture boutiques, Kafe Leopold offers shoppers an escape to a European café. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner it offers mini sandwiches, apple strudel, and schnitzel. All dishes are served à la carte, so order a few items for the table and share with your friends.
What other hidden gems can you name in D.C.? Do you have any restaurants to add to this list? Let’s hear ‘em!