Biking around Town Vol. 6 – Going To The Italian Store

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Biking around Town is written by Josh Nadas (@dcliterate), a daily bike commuter & avid rider who works for the National Park Service, and lives in Mount Pleasant.

I love Italian markets. There are a couple around DC, and the Italian Store is one of my favorites. Their pizza is legendary, and their sandwiches are some of my favorites around town. The store also boasts an impressive selection of prepared Italian food, frozen pastas, and sauces. I could go on and on, but safe to say it’s a great store. Here’s how to get there:

I started this route at New Hampshire and M street NW. From there, you want to take M street westbound all the way to the Key bridge. Take the sidewalk to cross the bridge. While that sounds simple, there are a lot of cars on M street, and the left hand turn onto the sidewalk to cross the bridge involves either dismounting and walking or patience through 1-2 light cycles to accomplish it safely.

Getting through Georgetown is the hardest part of the ride. Once you get onto the sidewalk of the bridge, the entire rest of the route is the paved trail until you get to the shopping center where the Italian Store is located. The only part where you need to be careful is crossing the intersection with the GW parkway. Promise me that your going to wait for the light – okay? Even with the light be aware that there are people in the right lane turning right – it’s an unusually busy crossing.

Continues after the jump.


If you have never ridden on the Custis trail, it’s one of the hillier (and more fun) trails around town. The trail is fairly narrow and there is a high volume of other cyclists and walkers, adding to the challenge. While it is straightforward, it’s not a total cakewalk. These complexities along with the hills make this an intermediate category ride.

Continuing our route, you follow the Custis trail until you cross over highway 124 on a bridge. You may not be able to tell that you are crossing 124, but you pedal over a fairly substantial road, which brings you to the turnoff for your destination. Watch for a left turn off the trail that you can follow eventually making a right turn onto the sidewalk towards the shopping center where you can see a large Giant grocery store. The store is nestled into the shopping center right past the bike shop (big wheel bikes) and before you get to the BGR. Honestly, this ride comes with ample dining options, though the Italian Store is the best choice IMO.

I think that this might be a nice date ride. I would definitely take my fiancé here for some fancy cheese and lunch. It’s not a very long ride so you won’t get super sweaty riding to your lunch spot. Budget 30- 45 minutes to get here at a modest pace, starting where I started. If you don’t want to end your ride right away, you could just pick up provisions at the store, and head on down the trail for more riding and picnicking. For me – I was plenty happy to get out there for an extra special hoagie/hero/grinder/sub for dinner, I managed to make it back just as dusk was settling in, a sure sign that spring is here.

Ride Notes:

As was mentioned in the column, there can be a lot of traffic on M street depending on when you go.
Be careful crossing the GW parkway after you cross the key bridge.
When you get off the Custis trail, and get to the shopping center, it’s a pretty big and busy parking lot. Watch out for cars doing unusual things because there are no rules in parking lots.

16 Comment

  • “Be careful crossing the GW parkway after you cross the key bridge”

    Also known as the circle of doom.

    • My favorite experience near the “circle of doom” was when i was running on the path and a driver was pulling out of the Marriott and turned left onto the trail and then onto the GW Parkway. They almost hit me an another runner. They had dip plates so go figure.

  • With regard to getting through Georgetown, I find it easiest to use the P or Q street bridge from the L’Enfant City (even if it means going north first) and getting down to N and using that to traverse Georgetown. You can then cross M using 34th southbound and Bank St northbound…

  • The safest way is likely to take the Memorial or Roosevelt Bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail, then take that north and get on the Custis Trail…

  • holy crap – there is no reason to bike on the madness of M St in GT! Take the canal trail or K to cross the canal, and just walk the bike up a few stairs to Key Bridge if you must – but I agree with the others – take a different bridge or street, but not M.

    • You don’t know DC bikers. The stupider the route, the more they feel entitled to bike on it, especially at busy times and in bad weather.

  • One of the things I liked about living in Courthouse was biking to the Italian Store (though as far as local Italian stores go I think A. Litteri is much better). That little trail is nice.

  • Custis trail is by no means intermediate in difficulty. Any road separated trail is beginner level (IMHO) and critical to getting folks on their bikes in a city. And compared to the just as wide Mt. Vernon trail – the Custis is used by some of the most courteous riders/walkers/runners in the area. Never have had a problem with speedy bikers zooming past unannounced or two-abreast riding like other trails.

    • There are a lot of homeless people camped out in this part of the trail, though. I’ve never had a problem with them but it’s something to be aware of.

      • Not one time in 6 years of using that trail 4 times a week did I see a person who I could objectify as homeless even walking on it… Just my experience.

        • They hang back a bit from the trail (more in the woods) and try to keep hidden. I think the times I noticed them it was when I was walking and had more time to observe the surroundings.

  • I love this series. Thanks for the great tips!

  • This is cool and the Italian store is great. I have to agree with the other posters, biking down M Street is for Evil Knievel and nutters.

    • I am imagining grainy footage of a slow-motion bike crash into a crowd by a guy in a white leather suit.

  • You know there’s the Vace Italian Delicatessen in Cleveland Park, right?

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