You’ll find Michelin Guide-approved restaurants, local distilleries and even a winery and brewery in this up-and-coming DC neighborhood.
Ivy City is a small, historic neighborhood north of Union Market with a high concentration of restaurants and craft distilleries. It was originally developed as a post-Civil War community for African Americans, and featured a popular racetrack, as well as the Hecht Company department store warehouse. The recent redevelopment of the historic Hecht Warehouse has served as a catalyst for the neighborhood’s reemergence, resulting in the arrival of retailers like Nike – who opened its first East Coast community store there – and a convergence of creative chefs, brewers, winemakers and distillers. Dig in to the best places to eat and drink and start planning your Ivy City foodie adventure.
Don’t forget your Bib (Gourmand)
The tantalizing scent of savory smoked fish radiates at all hours from the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, making this Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient – awarded for great food at a good value – a neighborhood must-visit. The delightful smokehouse fish board topped with five different smoked fishes, two bagels and all the fixin’s is a crowd favorite, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you to try the shrimp po’ boy or tender crab cake sandwich with hand-cut fries that are to die for. The downstairs market, open Tuesday through Thursday, also offers up raw and ready-to-eat seafood, which includes some of the city’s best bagels and lox.
Dinner and a show
City Winery is part urban winery, full-service restaurant and concert venue, and one-hundred percent a guaranteed good time. In fact, you could practically spend all day splitting your time between the downstairs bar, the upstairs dance floor and the rooftop wine garden. The restaurant’s menu is composed of locally sourced dishes with a focus on sharable plates – think braised duck tacos and a rotating cast of flatbreads – and, of course, an extensive wine list with 400-plus options that would please any oenophile.
In addition to sipping under the sun in the wine garden, the space also hosts concerts, wine classes and other one-of-a-kind experiences perfect for a date night or friendly gathering. Make sure to check out the impressive events calendar and plan your next evening out.
Date night delights
At La Puerta Verde, one step through the restaurant’s namesake – which means “green door” in Spanish – and you’re transported into a space that melds a warehouse-chic atmosphere with the vibrant colors of Mexico. Don’t miss happy hour, where you can enjoy $3 tacos and discounted margaritas, or bite into stellar meat and seafood dishes made with seasonal ingredients from the States’ southern neighbors.
Nearby, chef Matt Baker has turned a former tomato cannery into Gravitas, a Michelin-starred farm-to-table restaurant highlighting the delicious bounty of the Chesapeake in a modern space with plenty of exposed brick. You can choose your own culinary adventure with the flexible five- or seven-course tasting menu options, allowing you to sample a range of Baker’s popular dishes (think yellowfin sashimi and an exceptional chocolate ganache that snakes across your plate). Green thumbs can get their kicks sipping on cocktails upstairs at the Conservatory, which includes a greenhouse and garden alive with flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Sip from the source at these spots
The District is home to a thriving scene of distilleries, wineries, breweries and cideries – many of which can be found in Ivy City. You can get into the DC spirit at any of these places to drink.
Started by two friends with the mission to make you rethink cider, Supreme Core Cider is your go-to spot for locally sourced, craft beer-style ciders. Sourced from family-run farms in Virginia, the cidery’s concoctions include a crisp, oaky brew aged in Sagamore Rye Whiskey barrels and the Ivy City Rosé, a collaboration with City Winery where the cider is aged in red and white wine pomace (the pulpy residue that remains after grapes are crushed). The kid- and dog-friendly taproom is open from 2-6 p.m. on weekends.
Republic Restoratives, a women-owned business built on the belief that the power of a cocktail can bring communities together, is the first Ivy City distillery that you’ll see when entering the neighborhood from New York Avenue NE. The Ivy Room bar is the perfect place to sip a house-made cocktail, and you can’t go wrong with any of the distillery’s handcrafted spirits: Civic Vodka, Borough Bourbon and Rodham Rye.
Whether you’re in want of whiskey, long for gin or hanker for vodka, One Eight Distilling has you covered. Most of the spirits are named after DC locales and even the distillery’s name pays homage to the district – Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution is responsible for the establishment of Washington, DC as the nation’s capital.
Wander over to New Columbia Distillers and see how they make Green Hat Gin on a free tour, named after a local mythical bootlegger. There’s also Jos. A. Magnus & Co., a 19th-century distillery that was reestablished in 2015 and has been winning awards ever since, and Don Ciccio & Figli, producers of Italian herbal liqueurs with recipes that have been handed down through generations.
Last, but certainly not least, Ivy City is home to Atlas Brew Works, a local brewery with an often-rotating stable of sours, IPAs and lagers. The kid- and dog-friendly tap room is open daily and tours are available on Saturdays.