Friday Question of the Day – Favorite Homegrown DC Business?

favorite local filter tweet

On Wednesday when we spoke about Starbucks coming to Brookland and Filter Coffeehouse had a great reply on twitter:

“@PoPville yup, were pretty “excited” about it. Maybe we’ll put it out of business like we did at 1919 Penn Ave NW… Bring it”

I loved that response and it got me thinking about other locals that I love – thankfully, there are many. So I thought it’d be a fun Friday Question to highlight some of our favorites. It can be a restaurant, bar, coffee house, clothing, artist, really any type of retail – it just has to be local. So who are your favorite businesses born and bred in the District (or inside the Beltway)?

123 Comment

  • Glen’s Garden Market, hands down! I always think how much I will miss that place if and when I ever leave DC. Great local product/produce selection, great beer, great prepared foods, and friendly staff. Love them.

  • You kidding? Greenberg Traurig is the only right answer to this. BET is a close second.

  • Five Guys

    Started as a single burger spot on Columbia Pike, moved to Beauregard street near NOVA, then opened second location in Old Town Alexandria. They blew up from there starting in the area, then across the country, and now they have locations around the world. They successfully challenged the heavy weights of fast food, helping to give rise to fast-casual dining that brought a rise in quality of food options. They did all of this without any paid advertisement, their rise came from word of mouth alone, either a friend/relative or magazine/newspaper recommending you eat there. They simply let their product, burgers and fries, sell their business.

    Really when it comes down to it, its a decent burger, lots of free toppings options, and best way to get boardwalk fries without going to the Eastern Shore.

    • I have a coworker who moved to Old Town Alexandria from Salt Lake City two years ago. I still laugh at his utter delight at finding out we have Five Guys here, too!

  • binntp

    Chocolate Moose. I buy a lot of cards there, and it’s one of those places I’d be hard-pressed to find a replacement for if it closed.

  • Farragut

    For me, it’s Labyrinth Games & Puzzles (by Eastern Market Metro). the owner, Kathleen, is not only awesome and friendly as ever, but she and her store give back to the community in a lot of ways, working with a lot of schools for hosting game days and such. I also have a fond memory of Labyrinth since I stumbled across the store in the middle of their soft opening just a few months after I first moved to DC. What’s great is that they’ve had enough success that they’re expanding into the space next door, too. 🙂

  • The incomparable Victoria Lai’s Ice Cream Jubilee at the Navy Yards The flavor combinations are terrific!!

  • Busboys & Poets
    HIS Grooming Lounge

  • Mangialardo’s, Litteri’s, Swings Coffee, MGM Roast Beef, Deli City, Union Meat Company, Second Story Books.

  • DC Reynolds
    Pleasant Pops
    Red Rocks
    Chez Billy
    Upshur Street Books
    Kramer Books
    Politics & Prose
    Room 11
    Bus Boys & Poets
    Red Fox
    Big Bear

  • I’m surprised no one’s said SweetGreen yet.

  • 2Amys, hands down. Followed by The Chocolate House, Locolat (sadly closed), Room 11, & Union Market.

  • BicycleSpace, Vace’s (although they started in Bethesda so ehhh…), Litteri’s, Cork and Fork and Calvert Woodley.

  • Gotta be the DC Eagle, after 40 years and 4 locations, although I’ve only known the last two. After the Pulse massacre, it’s even more important to me to have a “safe space” like the Eagle, plus I know the owners and lots of the regulars, so it can feel like a community center and not a bar at times.

  • SilverSpringGal

    Since I feel like it’s being left out & it brings tourists in from all over – Georgetown Cupcake

    • +1

      Definitely deserves a mention. Add that to my list. My wife stops past on her way home from Clarendon and grabs a box for the kids all the time

    • I was going to post the same (expecting to be shouted down in the comments by Baked & Wired fans). Their cupcakes are great, even if the cupcake thing is over. But you have to know how to order like a local to skip the line.

      • I used to like Baked and Wired better, but I now find their cupcakes too sweet and heavy. I think Georgetown Cupcakes are actually very good.

      • I actually did not like them when they first came out. I’m a huge sweet/cupcake fan but their cupcakes were just TOO sweet, no distinguishable flavor. However a few years back they upped their game. Still not on a B&W level, but pretty tasty nonetheless

      • I love B&W something fierce, I had their cupcakes at my wedding. But sometimes I find their cupcakes too big and heavy. And I think Georgetown Cupcake has better frosting. I like the other baked goods at B&W better than their cupcakes – the dessert bars, pies (omg the hand pies) and the muffins/quick breads are all to die for.

        • Love B&W cupcakes (it takes a few sittings to get through one), but I agree their other baked goods are superior. Somehow even their cake slices are better than their cupcakes? I dunno, but they are

  • It’s a tie between Qualia and the Bike Rack.

  • Taylor Gourmet

    • Taylor started in Philly

    • I’ve never been to Taylor Gourmet. I think I will finally try it today for lunch.

      • I was always disappointed with their sandwiches. They just weren’t anything special, IMHO. And their bread was hard and shredded the roof of my mouth. Perhaps your experience will be different.

        • They were good when they launched, but quickly went downhill.

          • +1 Not a fan. Their delivery drivers are also all terrible people. Our office now refuses to order from them even though it’s the most convenient lunch meeting spot (I must say, I do sort of miss their risotto balls, even though they can be hit or miss)

        • Aww man, don’t tell me that. People rave about it on here often. I am walking distance to the K St location. Going to try it in a few hours.

          • My suggestion would be to stick with a classic, like an Italian or chicken cutlet (my favorite is the Vine Street or Ben Franklin). Also, don’t get the wheat bread, its awful. It was incredible when it opened, but it has become more mass produced, so is basically just a good sandwich shop now. I go there all the time when I want a good sandwich, but I don’t go out of my way to seek it out like I used to.

          • Also, the traditional roast pork hoagies are good too if that is what you’re in the mood for. I would just steer clear of some of the crazier seasonal ones – I’ve had bad luck with those.

        • They have soft rolls now! Which makes eating a little easier! I love Taylor, but did find the bread a little on the crunchy side.

  • Im saying Matchbox – they started here, right?

  • Compass is my favorite, hands down, followed by Union Market.

  • Baked and Wired, Dolcezza, Politics and Prose, Kramer Books. And shout out to my local tiny coffee house La Mano. I love them and hope they stick around once Starbucks moves to the neighborhood.

    • Clueless

      +1 for Baked & Wired

    • All of your picks are perfect. I approve!

    • I think La Mano will survive, if only because its small small space doesn’t really encourage (or barely allow for) sitting for hours on end. The rumored-Starbucks will presumably cater more towards people who want to stay for a while. It also doesn’t hurt that the La Mano staff is great and those baked goods are out of this world.

  • Cava Grill
    The Carolina Kitchen

  • Bakehouse at 14th and T was up there but is now production-only (no retail)
    Pretzel Bakery is pretty amazing, though the new location lacks charm.
    Compass Coffee is my favorite coffee shop anywhere (including Portland/Seattle)
    Stachowski has the best deli sandwiches I’ve ever had, and is one of the best values given their immense size. It puts places like Katz’s in NY to shame IMO.
    Toki Underground. Enough said
    Bagels, Etc. It’s nothing groundbreaking but always incredibly satisfying and priced right
    Mangliardo & Sons. Wish they were open at night and at least on one weekend day, but these are incredible subs.

    UNDERRATED: Souk on Barracks Row. I have a feeling Pineapples & Pearls has stolen a lot of their business though…

    The ones that really need our support are the non-food retailers (“dry goods” + services). They are the ones that the internet and delivery services pressure the most. I have to admit I am not good about frequenting these places, since I spend most of my disposable income eating and drinking rather than on “things”, but I do fear we will slowly lose many of them due to competition with Amazon, etc.

    • Yes!

      Souk is my daughter’s and my favorite spot for an afternoon snack.

      Pretzel Bakery is one of our favorites when we are asked to bring something for a neighborhood potluck here in Hillcrest (East of the River). It’s a no-brainer for Octoberfest.

  • Sullivan’s Toy Store and also Middle C Music. Both are local one store beauties on upper Wisconsin Avenue. And both fill a niche not otherwise found from nearby neighborhood stores.

    Sullivan’s has been at 2 locations (or more) over the years, and besides toys has a nice arts and crafts area.

    Middle C has been here for 10 years and sells, teaches and makes many kinds of music.

  • So many great truly local spots, that it is hard to pick. As far as home-grown businesses that are growing/expanding, I would say Cava, Taylor, and Compass are my favorite.

  • Kramerbooks, Big Bear, Stoney’s, Madam’s Organ, Bub and Pop’s, Zenebech Injera

  • Clueless

    Bethesda Bagels

  • Compass Coffee, Cava, Busboys and Poets, Pete’s Apizza. Sweet Green is also good.

  • What about things other than food? I love me some Bailiwick

  • Meat & Foods
    Cork market
    Lyman’s Tavern
    A. Litteri’s

  • Baked and Wired, Filter, Medium Rare, Steak N’ Eggs…. and the concept of unlimited mimosas at brunch. Probably not a native DC idea but I It feels like it. I lived in Chicago many years and been to many cities around the country and never saw that many restaurants going for the unlimited. Maybe now is a popular thing around the country, but 3-4 years ago DC restaurants were going crazy with that and friends from out of town loved it.
    My wife loves it too! Lol

  • Pete’s Apizza!
    Also — Unity Woods Yoga Studio, Le CapriceYou didnt mean just one, did you 🙂 ??

  • Green Hat, for sure.

  • Capitol Hill Books, Peregrine Espresso, Busboys and Poets, Maketto, Clothes Encounters of a Second Kind

    • I have to add another shout out for Peregrine Espresso. They have some of the best coffee in the city, and the owners are very supportive of other coffee shops in the city. They were offered the space on 6th and I (now occupied by La Colombe…) and turned down the offer because they did not want to infringe on the business of another local shop (Chinatown Coffee Co) a few blocks away.

  • Fia’s Fabulous Finds for thrifting, Uprising and Pretzel Bakery for baked goods.

  • Solidcore!

  • No love for the largest waster of paper menus in DC – Manny & Olga’s?!?

    • Meh, they’ve gone downhill since they no longer traffic in stolen cell phones.

    • Big Manny and Olgas fan ten years ago. So many more have popped up since the G Town Location and the U St Location.

      $10 bucks used to be a full Chicken Cheese Steak, a bunch of fries and a can soda. My cheap late night guilty pleasure before going in the house at 2 or 3 am

  • Metro Mutts. Petco can piss off for opening a store a block away.

  • Vida Fitness – the facilities are nice and clean, the equipment works or is quickly repaired, and they have great class offerings.

  • Wagtime! What? I spend all my money on my dog and proud of it.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Jim Henson and the Muppets – out of College Park U MD

  • Menomale is my favorite pizza in DC and The Capital Candy Jar makes a great banana marshmallow peanut butter cup s’more.

  • Mine was Universal Gear, which sadly announced they were closing both of their stores this morning 🙁

  • Kapnos
    Medium Rare
    Baked ‘N Wired
    Pleasant Pops

    • And Cava. If I had an entrepreneurial spirit, I’d try to open a Cava franchise in college towns all over the East Coast. (I even saw the perfect sport for one in Chapel Hill.) Then, in a few years, I’d be able to do a Scrooge McDuck dive into all my piles of cash. Sigh.

  • Anything Jose Andres. Yes, DC is just now recovering from the tapas onslaught, but he really helped put DC on the map as a food destination. All of your favorite DC chefs owe him. I lived here back when we were the land of mediocre steak houses

  • I’m giving a shoutout to Annies Ace. Yes, it’s a franchise, but she done a great job with her stores and I think they qualify as homegrown.

    And beer. Port City is just over the border, as is Three Stars, but they are great.

  • I’m partial to Asylum…which became Smoke & Barrel, along with Meridian Pint and Brookland Pint.

  • G! and Kapnos.

  • Exposing my upper NW roots:
    Child’s Play
    Tastee Diner
    Marriott/Hot Shoppes (non-smoking in states that still allow smoking public buildings!)

  • my least favorite is Congress

  • compass coffee. I miss it so much. I always go when I’m in town for work and bring coffee back.

  • Agree with KramerBooks and Politics and Prose.
    House of Musical Traditions (Does Takoma Park count)?
    Crepes at the Market

  • Ted’s Bulletin, Julia’s Empanadas, and the plethora of bars that have closed in the last year, including, but not limited to, Millie & Al’s, Dan’s Café and Stetson’s

  • Politics & Prose

  • Miss Pixies, Compass Coffee, Balance Gym!

  • DC1

    Compass Coffee hands down!

  • Mt. Pleasant Pharmacy
    Petworth Citizen
    Yes Organic
    Dupont Italian Kitchen
    Hank’s Oyster Bar

  • chix and yoga heights

  • How has there been no mention yet of The Coffee Bar? Love that place and it’s owner.

  • Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse

  • DCity Smokehouse

  • 930 club.

  • Ted’s
    Long Fence
    U.S. Government

  • I like Metro Mutts. Hope the H Street NE location survives the arrival of Petsmart.

  • The Passenger, long may she reign
    Compass Coffee
    Salt & Sundry
    Buttercream Bakery (new fav)
    Rose’s Luxury

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