Although Adams Morgan is less than half of a square mile, the diverse community brims with a variety of world cultures. The neighborhood—centered at the intersection of 18th Street and Columbia Road—is mostly considered a major night-life area with bars and restaurants scattered along 18th Street. However, restaurants, patio areas, cafes and rows of historic houses really define the community. During the hustle and bustle of the day, Adams Morgan is just what residents need to escape and discover a slew of new global traditions and influences as diverse as Japanese, Himalayan and French.
Lauren Spiler is a freelance journalist based in Athens, Georgia. Most call her Spiler.
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1. The DINER
This retro-style eatery strives to accommodate the customers in the diverse neighborhood it calls home. Open 24 hours and seven days a week; The DINER beckons passers in with the vibrant cobalt umbrellas on their patio which ventures into their restaurant through the opened walled doors. Metal round stools are fastened to the floor, white octagon tiles with black flower designs and diner style booths complete the experience while serving creative comfort food for all. The menu's description is spot on with, "serving early birds, night owls and everyone in between." Menu items range from breakfast burritos, pancakes and eggs to late-night onion rings and pretzel bites. The Diner Royale pairs well with their Cold & Pressed, an iced coffee with Irish whiskey and simple syrup, while a cornmeal crusted catfish with roasted red bliss potatoes, collard greens and tartar sauce is a delectable dinner dish.
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Donburi is a Japanese rice bowl and when the name of a restaurant is what is served, the bar to impress it set high. Donburi conqured the rice bowl and exceeded expectations with the atmosphere. The quaint eatery with a front window as the restaurant's wall to the street is nestled along 18th St. across from the DINER. While the outside establishes a simple black and white design below the large glass window, the bar which holds around 20 people is full with a Japanese influenced ambiance. The compact wooden bar serves as a table and the edge of the stage to become mesmerized by the chefs as they create the variety of rice bowls from curry mix katsudon with a combination of chicken, pork or shrimp to unagidon with barbecued eel with sansho powder. The karaagedon bowl served with light crisped chicken on top of white rice, a fried egg, vinegar eggplant and pickled radishes created the perfect plate while enjoying the house electronic music. Watching the chefs cook effortlessley with one fryer and eight eyes provided entertainment while Japanese rice and barley tea laid out on the bar balanced well with the impact of the flavored dish.
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3. Mintwood Place
Nestled on Columbia Rd., the modern farmhouse inspired eatery provides everything to transport you into a French-American collaborated atmosphere. Among Washingtonian Magazine's "100 Very Best Restaurants 2015," Mintwood Place eclectic outdoor patio and French-American ambiance is ideal to sip on a signature cocktail or one of their wines from the impressive list. Their wine list is full of reds, whites, sparkling and roses from Rita Hills,California to Burgundy, France with the bar bringing a local influence of Green Hat Gin ,which is produced in D.C. A It's Always Sunny in Peru cocktail with blackberry-infused Pisco, Elderflower, lime and egg whites for a fluffy elegance to the palate syncs well with the pork chop served with rapini, autumn squash and balsamic. Menu items also include Sea bream with mussels, shrimp, saffron and veloute to other French-American flared items created by executive chef Cedric Maupillier. Although the largest party the restaurant can accommodate is six, snag your best friend and head to the bar on Tuesday through Friday from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm to enjoy happy hour and escargot hush puppies with chervil remoulade the locals rave about.
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4. Himalayan Heritage Restaurant
On the corner of 18th St. and Kalorama Rd., Himalayan Heritage has found the recipe to disappear to when you want to travel to another land without hearing the traffic from just outside. Chef Samrat Poudel has done that with Himalayan Heritage's North India, Nepalis, Tibetan and Indo-Chinese's cuisine being one of few spots in Adams Morgan to receive the authentic food. After walking up the steps and setting foot inside canary room with bright artwork, a wall with a rectangular brick design and wood slanted roofs above the booths and bar, the bright light from the side windows of the building overcomes you with a relaxing sensation. Goa fish curry cooked with onion coconut milk, spices and herbs, and a kihuchumber salad with diced red onions, bell peppers, and cucumbers tossed with vinegar, oil and chat masala down to the sweet and light heritage special naan bread and hemixed tandoori transports your taste buds to the mountain range in Asia instead of 18th St. feet away.
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Lavender hot chocolate. Need you say more to catch the attention of bookworm or friends catching up with one another? Tryst, a coffeehouse, bar and lounge, immediately makes you feel at home with comfy chairs and couches among the tables and chairs while RO Thomas's artwork is hung around the coffeehouse. The specialty coffee and cocktails palace is full service so you can keep your head in that book or continue to chat with friends without continuously going back to the bar getting another rosemary-lemon homemade soda or Old Ox Golden Ox Belgian Pale Ale. Take a seat at the curved steel countertop and gaze upon people photoed in bathtubs (rated PG) with coffee and cigars in hand. In the center of the liquor shelves is a pineapple, a symbol of hospitality, which Tryst delivers to a T. Along with the teas, liquors and six beers on tap, Tryst makes a mean cup of joe with their house blend being a rich, chocolatey Latin American coffee with a dash of an African pop. Known to the staff, the sexy Cuban is a regular Cuban coffee but instead of adding hot water, no foam milk is added and even a side of animal crackers. If a light pick-me-up is needed, the harissa hummus gives you a pep in your step to rejuvenate before the night festivities begin.