Although Washington D.C. might not be known as a 24-hour city, it doesn’t completely shut down come midnight. Top off a night of bar-hopping at one of these delicious yet affordable late-night haunts.
It’s not only the literati who flock to charming Kramerbooks & Afterwards for a book and brew. This all-inclusive bookstore, bar, and café is a popular after-hours destination attracting hip, young Washingtonians. Open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday, and late-night during the week, this bustling joint with a laidback vibe is the perfect place to wind-down after a long night. The dinner menu offers classic American dishes, from bacon cheeseburgers to crab cake sandwiches. Once you walk past the display case filled with decadent home-made cakes and pies, you’ll know what you want before you take your seat.
With several outposts throughout D.C., Julia’s Empanadas (1221 Connecticut Ave., NW. 202/861-8828) is a clear favorite among Washingtonians. These pastries, with fillings both savory and sweet, are a late-night must. It’s hard to choose among the many options, from Chilean-style beef to chorizo with rice and black beans; but you can’t go wrong with the Saltenas empanada stuffed with chicken, potato, green peas, hard-boiled eggs and green olives. At $3.18 for savory empanadas, and $1.69 for fruit-filled ones, do yourself a favor and sample more than one.
Annie’s Paramount Steak House (1609 17th St., NW. 202/232-0395) attracts a varied crowd, especially late-night revelers. Anyone who craves steak and eggs in the middle of the night will appreciate this reliable and relatively cheap steak house open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. As you walk in, the friendly staff makes you feel welcome; the food is a comfort to boot.
The menu at Amsterdam Falafelshop (2425 18th St., NW. 202/234-1969) might consist of only three items — falafels in pita, Dutch-style french fries, and brownies — but the choices are far from limited. At this cash-only, top-it-yourself falafel sandwich bar, choose from nearly 20 different garnishes and a variety of dipping sauces for the twice-fried fries.
Some would say a night out in Adams-Morgan isn’t complete without Pizza Mart’s (2445 18th St., NW. 202/234-9700) double-plated jumbo slice. With a mobbed storefront and a line snaking out the door, you can’t miss this popular after-hours destination. Although $4.25 may seem pricey for a slice, this super-sized pizza could and should be shared among friends.
As the bars clear out after last call, make your way off crowded and chaotic 18th Street to the pleasantly low-key El Tamarindo (1785 Florida Ave., NW. 202/238-3660) for cheap but heaping portions of Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine. Artwork by local artists hangs on the wall of this neighborhood joint, where you can enjoy a full sit-down meal at 3 a.m. The large menu offers a range of options, from starters of chile con queso (with cheese) and quesadillas to dishes of enchiladas, pupusas (a stuffed corn tortilla), and Salvadoran-style sopas (soup).
After a night of hobnobbing with politicos clad in button-downs and seersucker, stop in at this burger joint for a late-night treat. Five Guys Famous Burger and Fries (1335 Wisconsin Ave., NW. 202/337-0400) is famous for a reason — their savory, ground-beef burgers and crispy, twice-fried fries hit the spot. If you’re going to fill up on the free peanuts, make sure to select the “little” burger, which is one patty instead of the usual two.
Amid all the hubbub of Georgetown’s M Street is Mon Cheri Café (3015 M St., NW. 202/338-2745), a sandwich-to-go shop catering to the after-hours crowd. What it lacks in ambience, Mon Cheri makes up for in food, satisfying any and all late-night cravings. Serving everything from burgers to gyros to cheese-steaks, this unpretentious cafe is a nice departure from its somewhat haughty surroundings.
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Photo credit: © Andy Grant