Where to Shop, Play, and Eat in the New North End Shaw
The explosion of dining and retail in North End Shaw means a lot of things: new places to drink and dine before a 9:30 Club show; a more peaceful place to shop that has nothing in common with Georgetown; and an artist’s row that tickles DC’s creative side. The neighborhood, its fabricated name drawing the occasional eye roll, is anchored by two main buildings: The Shay at 8th and U Street NW and Atlantic Plumbing at 8th and V Street NW. Here’s where to shop, what to do, and where to eat in this buzzy urban space that bleeds cool, developed in large part by The JBG Companies.
If a Vineyard Vines-wearing dude grew up a little, ditched an internship for a real job, and learned to like Scotch, he’d be ready to graduate to Read Wall. The shop, pedaling both ready-to-wear men’s clothing and custom-made suits, is a modern man’s haberdashery inspired by big names with even bigger senses of style: JFK, Paul Newman, and James Dean, to name a few. Try to look past the fact that they self-brand as a “classy frat house” and price a white oxford at $155, because the tailoring is exquisite and knit ties make you the coolest guy at a wedding.
Every once in a while, an adult happens upon a store that makes them feel like a kid in FAO Schwarz. Chrome is one of them, especially if you’re anything from an amateur urban cyclist to a dedicated (but hopefully not entitled) bike commuter. There are so many bomb-proof, military-grade bags to tinker with, plus functional clothing and clip-less bike shoes that are passable as street shoes, too. To maximize your Chrome experience, order a custom bag and watch it get made right in front of you, starting at $140. We dig the recycled dry cleaning rack they use to circle the bags and the fact that they like to pass out free cans of PBR.
Above all else, Kit & Ace proves you don’t have to be spoiled to appreciate cashmere and even wear it. The Vancouver clothier folds the high society wool into clothes you can work in, move in, and sleep in (read: you never have to take them off, and you won’t want to). Technical luxury, they call it. We call it so comfortable the day is won. The Shaw shop services both men and women by selling tees, button-ups, sweaters, jackets, pants, skirts, and beyond. Men can expect to pay $158-$198 for pants, but remember, they’re so functional you could spontaneously burst into a full-blown sprint at any time.
Frank & Oak is a wallet-friendly menswear import from Montreal. Gingham shirts, aka your life uniform despite a nagging girlfriend who wants you to give sweaters a try, run $45, while you can score a whole suit for $150. There’s one catch. You have to board the slim-fit bandwagon. That’s right, the world has decided it wants to see the male form, not hide it behind busted pleats and boxy cuts. While some Frank & Oak locations have a café, the Shaw location ups the ante by having an in-house barber instead.
New York-based Steven Alan is a good place for men and women to shop who love to name-drop designers. You know the type -- they wish the tag were on the outside. The carefully curated collection includes duds from Acne Studios, durable outerwear from Woolrich, jewelry from Maya Brenner Designs, and beyond. Stock up on everything from boots and bags to sunglasses and jeans, but expect to pay beaucoup bucks.
Instant gratification used to be rare when it came to Warby Parker because you had to wait for frames to come in the mail. While that was fun, being able to hit a full-blown store is better. Especially when it’s a little spunky with artwork, independent books, and a photo booth to occupy that friend with 20/20 eyesight that you dragged along for face-framing advice. There’s even an onsite optometrist giving eye exams, which you should book online -- walk-ins can expect a wait.
Fancy a Scotch with your cinematic experience? Order the “Nothing Comes from Nothing” with Monkey Shoulder, Ardbeg, ginger-spiced syrup, and lemon juice, and then BRING IT WITH YOU into the movies. Same goes for bar bites, like crab cake minis and southwest chicken eggrolls. Atlantic Plumbing Cinema doubles as a bar and a restaurant, and it’s by the same folks (Landmark Theatres) who brought us the beloved E Street Cinema. What’s new, however, is that when you buy tickets online or at a kiosk, you reserve actual seats, eliminating latecomer front row anxiety. And, the cushy leather seats still smell like new car. Expect flicks that dance between mainstream and independent.
Riding an e-bike doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you awesome. You can finally be a car-traffic-skirting bike commuter without worrying about arriving sweaty because you’re not doing all of the work. Riide’s business model is clutch: buy a RiidePass for $79 a month, plus a $299 down payment, and you get an electric bike, theft insurance, charger, lock, and unlimited maintenance. The catch is a one-year commitment. Riide bikes take 2-3 hours to charge and they have a 25-mile range, but may we politely remind you that the pedals work... pop into Riide’s North End Shaw shop to see for yourself.
Take in some art at two galleries that have recently found new homes in North End Shaw. Washington Project for the Arts is dedicated to furthering contemporary art and artists, and holds regular artist talks and exhibitions, while Foundry Gallery plays host to member artists practicing various styles. Both are not newcomers to the DC art scene, but the new digs are bringing fresh energy.
Instead of learning that cat videos on the Internet are indeed entertaining, kill some time learning something analog. Typecase Industries -- a full-service letterpress print shop -- offers letterpress workshops. Try your hand at typesetting, linoleum carving, or more modern techniques. Or, just toil away until you’ve made a nostalgic concert poster for the high school band that never made it out of your parent’s garage. Poster workshops typically last four hours and run $127. The cat videos will still be there when you get back.
Pick up a frame-worthy map of your DC hood, some reading material to help you get in touch with your more creative (and sexual?) self, or score some journals and planners to get life back on track in the New Year. Cherry Blossom Creative is so many things. It’s a boutique graphic design studio. It’s a small but charming retail shop. And soon, it’ll play host to workshops ranging from drink & draws to entrepreneurship skills for small business hopefuls. They see themselves as cheerleaders for DC’s creative side, and we don't disagree in the least.
Our pick for best coffee of the year selected North End Shaw for its second location -- even though the original shop is a Frisbee toss away. No one’s complaining, though, because the more Compass Coffee, the better. The shop in The Shay is smaller but also has less of a constant din, making it a choice location to crush some work if you can snag an upstairs table. Check out some of the new menu lineup, which includes Compass Tea and fancy winter lattes like Nutella Mochas. Also nibble on treats from area artisans like Harper Macaw chocolate or Fruitcyle cinnamon apple chips.
If you have a soul, you fell in love with the original location of Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont. Its indie, earth-hugging vibe is welcoming, though it can be a bit hectic in there. Think of the new North End Shaw location as a thoughtfully edited, organized offspring. Everything is exactly where it should be, there are sun-catching outdoor tables, and the sandwiches are as satisfying as ever. Consider Glen’s Shaw your booze boss: They have more than 35 hard ciders; the crème de la crème of Virginia wines (think Linden, Barboursville, Early Mountain); and enough craft beer to fuel a Super Bowl party for 1,000 yuppies. You can also find everything you need to stock a bar, like shrubs, bitters, and tonics. And gelato. So much gelato.
Good news if you love Daikaya. Partners Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima (pictured), and Yama Jewayni are opening their second ramen spot, but expect big changes. Virtually none of the steaming bowls of noodles will be carbon copies from the original shop in Chinatown because this time they’re serving Sapporo-style ramen, characterized by the use of miso in the broth. The team traveled to the northernmost region of Japan in 2015 for research, and we reckon they’ll get it right at Haikan (which cleverly translates to "pipes" or "plumbing" in Japanese). They’re projecting a Spring 2016 opening in the Atlantic Plumbing building.
A neighborhood is nothing without a pizza place. Look what one did for the sleepy Connecticut town of Mystic. When it opens in January (so very, very soon!), Declaration will serve pizzas like the Benjamin Franklin, an appropriate hat tip to Philly with cheesesteak, provolone, fresh mozzarella, and sweet onions, or the John Adams with shucked clams, potatoes, pork belly, thyme, and fontina cheese. Expect standards like chicken wings, meatballs, mussels, and an arsenal of pastas. Declaration joins its DC sister restaurants Lincoln and Teddy & the Bully Bar in saluting history, politics, presidents, and in this case, the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Chef Tim Ma’s first DC restaurant is going to slay it. Why? Because Tim’s tapping into his Chinese heritage without losing site of French technique. The name, which you’ll quickly learn to pronounce once you’re a crème fraîche wing-eating regular, is tied to his three kids. Expect a small but vibrant space, full bar program, and a few dishes that used to hit it out of the park at Maple Ave, including the seared scallops with coconut risotto and savory ice cream.
One of our chefs to watch in 2016 is opening Hazel in late winter/early spring. Duck will be a big focus -- Rob Rubba is smitten with the world’s most flavorful waterfowl. The restaurant is from Neighborhood Restaurant Group, who you know from greats like Birch & Barley, The Partisan, Red Apron, B Side, and more. That tells you the drinks will be solid, too, thanks to the three-headed booze beast of Jeff Faile (cocktails), Greg Engert (beer), and Brent Kroll (wine).
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Laura Hayes is a DC-based food, drink & travel writer who also contributes to Washington City Paper, Food Network, Arlington Magazine, and others. She plans to wear stretchy pants from Kit and Ace to eat all the ramen at Haikan. Follow her on Twitter @BTMenu.