Jacob’s Coffeehouse

Rating: 

12822659_10154002503738011_378150982_o (1).jpgJacob’s Coffeehouse is located at 401 8th St NE in a quiet, residential section of Capitol Hill between the crowded H Street NE corridor and the area around Eastern Market. It is a cute neighborhood coffee shop with lots of seating that doesn’t turn off it’s WiFi on the weekends. It can be difficult to find seats in DC’s popular coffee shops on the weekends, but Jacob’s Coffeehouse’s location in a residential area means that it flies under the radar. It is nonetheless very accessible because of its location right along the 90/92 bus route. The interior is cute, but not in a cozy Tryst kind of way. The classical music and abundance of tables and outlets, however, makes this place ideal for laptop work. There is also a very cute outdoor patio. I ordered a green tea latte with a shot of espresso. I was worried that the espresso 12810108_10154002503318011_321923314_owould kill the green tea flavor, but it actually worked well. In addition, the latte was clearly made with real matcha, which I appreciated. This is a great spot if you want a place to work on the weekends without the scene of a Maketto or Compass Coffee.

Maketto (coffee shop)

Rating: 

12736488_10153948896433011_57921359_oMaketto is a Southeast Asian restaurant, coffee shop and boutique located at 1351 H St NE. The coffee shop portion occupies the upper floor and that is what this review covers. Maketto is, without a doubt, one of the coolest and most up-to-date coffee shops in the city. The decor is minimalist and sleek, there is good WiFi and there are plenty of outlets. They have an extensive and excellent menu of coffee and tea, and their drinks are elegantly served in something that resembles a little bento box.

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Savory galette and a pot of white peony tea.

Their tea flavors are particularly good (I’ve had the turmeric ginger and the white peony) and they only use loose-leaf (as they should!). I also tried the savory galette, which was hearty though a bit weird-tasting. Overall, this place is awesome and definitely one of the top coffee shops in the city.

 

El Chalan

Rating: 

El Chalan is an upscale Peruvian restaurant located at 1924 I St NW. They serve very tasty pisco sours, as well as ceviche and other Peruvian classics. The food is good and it’s a rare interesting restaurant in a part of the city loaded with chains and places only open at lunch. My one caution about El Chalan is that it’s not a hip, young place. The decor is old-fashioned and seems a little tired. Its location in a basement doesn’t help in this regard. If you’re looking for a really cool spot to impress a date, El Chalan might not be your place. If you’re looking for a nice place to eat good, interesting food with your parents, then it is a very good bet.

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A Baked Joint

Rating: ★★★★☆

12699013_10153933617038011_264458909_o.jpgA Baked Joint is a coffee shop and bakery located at 440 K St NW near Mount Vernon Square. Yes, the name is just as suggestive as you think it is; their motto is “get baked with us” and the place is run by the same people as Georgetown’s perennially popular Baked and Wired. A Baked Joint offers a wide variety of coffees, teas, cakes, breads made in-house and a variety of other baked goods. They also sell tiny “A Baked Joint” pins for $0.42[0]. It is much more spacious than Baked and Wired and has a wide variety of seating options from tables, to cozy chairs in an industrial, but atmospheric place.

12674824_10153933617308011_920460181_o.jpgI can’t give it five stars because it doesn’t have WiFi (come on, guys, it’s the 21st Century- I know some places structure their business plans around being off the grid, but that’s stupid in a city like DC where people need to be plugged-in). Like Marie Antoinette, A Baked Joint lets the people eat cake; let them have WiFi too.

 

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My coffee and cardamom cake.

Aside from that, there’s a lot to love about this place. In addition to the excellent atmosphere and friendly staff, the coffee is delicious and comes with beautiful latte art in a cup with your name on it- it’s pretty cute. I ordered a something similar to a cortado and a slice of cardamom cake to start- I happen to love cardamom, so the fact that they had that made me happy.12647880_10153933616878011_1830498552_n

 

Their selection of breads looked great too, and I loved the fact that they have challah on Fridays with a sign saying, “Happy Challah Day Every Friday .” The New York honorary Jew in me couldn’t help but kvell.

After my coffee and cake, I ordered a lavender white tea. They have a great selection of tea, it is steeped using loose-leaf tea with a timer (as it should be) and is served beautifully; I was impressed by their attention to detail. Baked and Wired fans should be aware, however, that they don’t have Baked and Wired’s famous cupcakes (I’m not a huge cupcake eater so it didn’t bother me).

 

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A beautifully done lavender white tea. Yes, that is TEA on top of the teapot.

 

Swing’s Coffee Roasters

Rating: ★★★★☆
12633337_10153924913573011_971659797_oME Swing Coffee Roasters aka Swing’s located at 1702 G St NW (additional locations, as well as the roastery, are in Alexandria), is a venerable institution that was established during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency in 1918. The G Street location is inside a soulless, brutalist concrete building, but don’t be fooled by the drab exterior. Inside there is a mahogany coffee bar and other artifacts from the 1920s (taken from the original Swing’s 12669215_10153924913613011_1293831333_olocation in the Mesco Coffee Roasters building at 1013 E Street SE) in an atmospheric space. Tasty coffee is available, including single-origin pour-overs. I also had a savory rosemary biscuit, which was satisfying as well. Swing’s is only open weekdays during the day and lacks comfortable seating for those who want to lounge around (seating options are mainly stools/counters and high tables).

Juan Valdez Café

Rating: ★★★★☆

12656409_10153924659548011_1681312260_oJuan Valdez Café is a Colombian coffee chain (started by Colombia’s  with locations in DC, NYC and Miami. Its DC location is in Foggy Bottom at 1889 F St NW. Juan Valdez Café offers Latin American coffee options, such as Café Cubano (espresso sweetened with raw sugar as it is brewed) and coffee with cardamom, that are difficult to find elsewhere in the city.  There is standard cafe fare, like muffins, but they also have Latin American options

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Pan guava.

like Pan Guava, a guava-filled pastry. My Café Cubano was very tasty (if you like sweet coffee)- it’s a bit like having Turkish Coffee but without the mud at the bottom. The Pan Guava was also pretty good though I found the filling a little syrupy. The cardamom coffee seemed a bit weak at first but grew on me as the cardamom steeped longer in the coffee. My time in the Middle East has made me a huge cardamom addict. It is a fine place to hang out for a while with a laptop, but it is not the coziest. It is a chain and feels like

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Café Cubano.

one, and lacks the character and cushy armchairs of other DC cafes like Tryst. That aside, it’s a good place to go if you want a coffee shop that offers something a bit different from the standard fare and it certainly attracts a diverse crowd of people from all over the world (whom I figure work at the nearby Bretton Woods institutions). Be aware that it’s only open weekdays, during the day.

 

Keren Restaurant

Rating: ★★★★

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A tasty injera plate.

Keren Restaurant is an Eritrean restaurant (Eritrean and Ethiopian food are essentially the same; they were once one country) located at 1780 Florida Ave NW right on the border of the Dupont area and Adams Morgan. In a city full of Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants, Keren offers the same perennially popular injera platters and beef tibsy, but they seem to be particularly tasty at Keren. But what distinguishes Keren from many other Ethiopian/Eritrean places is that it also has an array of Eritrean breakfast items, which mainly center around fuul (warm fava beans- also highly popular in the Middle East) and eggs. Fuul with eggs and injera (you can add meat as

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A hearty breakfast of fuul, eggs, injera and salad.

well) makes for a satisfying breakfast with an East African twist. Don’t worry if you’re not a morning person; Keren’s breakfast items are available all day, which also makes it an option for brunch for those looking for something a bit different. Tasty Eritrean tea is also available. The service is friendly and prices are very reasonable- breakfast dishes start at $5 and an injera platter with beef tibsi is only $8.63. I once went on a date here with an absolute psychopath, but that fortunately didn’t color my view of Keren– this place is great.