NFT Washington DC Cleveland Park / Upper Connecticut

Cleveland Park / Upper Connecticut

Self-satisfied liberals unite! These blocks are dominated by well-meaning professionals who carry their own bags to the organic market, shun fancy restaurants, and enjoy the debates at Politics & Prose. But they like their coffeehouses sans the grunge.

The upper NW stretch of Connecticut has plenty of reasons to make the trek. Politics & Prose is easily the city's best bookstore and regularly hosts major-league literati; the upscale beer, wine, and liquor stores have the best selection in the District; and beauty abounds -- from the trails of Rock Creek Park to the exquisite 17th-century furniture and parterres at See more.

>Hillwood Museum & Gardens.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Rachel Tepper
Photo:  Rachel Tepper

Politics & Prose
Politics & Prose is a DC institution which has been providing Washingtonians with literary musings and mocha for over 25 years, a tough feat in a city known for its transience. It's a truly wonderful independent bookstore which hosts authors nightly and boasts remarkably loyal clientele. The downstairs cafe, Modern Times Coffeehouse, serves up some truly delicious fare which includes a modest but delicious variety of soups, salads and sandwiches. Thankfully, P&P provides free Wi-Fi to all cafe patrons. Without internet, I lose all sense of time and space. (Is it 1993? Where am I? What's a blog? Are pet rocks still cool?) A password to their wireless network is printed on every receipt issued at the register, which weeds out the freeloaders and the phonies. As a result, the place is relatively uncrowded and quiet. The only downside to P&P is that it's not so accessible by Metro. One must either get over their fear of the bus (it took me a long time, and the system doesn't inspire much confidence) or get some good walking shoes and hike over from either Van Ness or Tenleytown on the Red Line.

Posted By:  Emily Groves
Photo:  Emily Groves

Comet Ping Pong
When I first heard of Comet Ping Pong, a ping-pong themed pizza and beer joint with actual ping pong tables for people to use in the back, I couldn't get there fast enough. Here was an idea so basic, yet so novel, that I thought the creator couldn't have been less than genius. Well, I was half-right. When I arrived, I was immediately impressed by the cool artsy warehousy decor, and I smiled when I heard the familiar clip clop of ping pong balls over the general chitter chatter of the diners. Even the tables were painted to look like mini ping pong tables: an added tackiness that I found quite awesome. But when I looked at the weak pizza selection and their hefty accompanying prices, reality sunk in a bit: maybe this place wasn't my utopia. And when my limp, lifeless, tiny, tasteless, dull pizza arrived, I knew it. But many rounds of ping pong and a few beers helped kill the disappointment, and made me realize that Comet Ping Pong, despite its terrible food, still has ping pong tables in the back. And that in itself is stellar.

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium
If you don't have strong feelings about Rock Creek Park--nay, if you don't full on love it, then you haven't been taking advantage of one of DC's best treasures. I don't know where 1,754 acres of trails, majestic trees, fresh air, white-tailed deer, gold finches, wildflowers, and a babbling, freshwater creek doesn't impress, but it should. It's an urban anomaly that city folk get to have a chunk of nature and wildlife in their daily lives--and please don't bring up Central Park, because a) Rock Creek Park isn't square, and b) 143,589 other differences. Which is not to say that the park is totally wild; Rock Creek Parkway does snake through the green, and indeed is one of the nicest ways to course downtown. But on weekends, sections of Beach Drive are closed to traffic, offering a shaded, leafy paved trail for bikers, roller bladders, joggers, and walkers. It's all ours to enjoy, folks!

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtey of Comet

I won’t beat around the bush. Comet has three ping pong tables in the back. Yes, it also serves New Haven-style pizza and it’s tasty. Yes, it’s got an industrial space and themed décor that is hip enough. Yes, they have high-quality beers on tap. Yes, they have a bartender named Paul who is quite possibly one of my favorite people in the world. (And no, he doesn’t know I feel that way.) But what it comes down to is ping pong… many, many games of ping pong… and much trash-talk about my backhand. Comet is on the outskirts of NW DC, on the same block as Politics & Prose. So for many it’s a hike, but for those of us who live in the area, it’s wonderful. Word to the wise: watch out for renegade balls when you play late at night. Not only do drunk people have bad depth perception—they also don’t know their own strength.

Posted By:  Molly V Strzelecki
Photo:  Molly V Strzelecki

The employees at the Calvert Woodley liquor store next to the Van Ness Metro stop are gods. There, I said it. Where else can a person who knows nothing about wine walk in and feel so cared for, so loved? Cal Woodley, as the locals call it, makes it happen. If you walk in and stand in the middle of the vast wine section with a blank look on your face, within thirty seconds, one of the friendly wine staff connoisseurs will be there to help. The staff seems to have an innate ability to pick out the perfect bottle of wine for you based on taste, country, price, red, white, pink, you name it. And besides alcohol (including a wide selection of hard liquor and beer from the usual American brands to upscale lagers, pilsners, stouts, and regional IPAs), the Cal Woodley has international meats and cheeses, fresh bread and bagels, a unique variety of whole roasted coffee beans, and so, so much more. One-stop-shopping, DC style.

Posted By:  Molly V Strzelecki
Photo:  Molly V Strzelecki

Politics & Prose
Books, books, books galore. Politics & Prose is every bookstore lover’s dream, with tons of the latest titles as well as author events that seem to go on just about every night. There is a café in the basement, so enjoy a cuppa with your nose in a book. For those who enjoy discussing books, Politics & Prose also offers a bunch of different store-sponsored book groups, like The Classics (this month reading 4 Tragedies and Octavia by Seneca) or Evening Fiction (this month reading The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, by Vassanji). Next week, check out author Tamara Draut discussing her novel Strapped on Monday, or Barnet Schecter discussing his book The Devil’s Own Work on Friday. Check the website for times and other happenings at the store.

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
Maybe you sweated buckets at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer, catching your favorite outdoor music fest on the lawn. Well now it’s autumn: time to wear woolen clothing, stop drinking Bud Light, and take your favorite great-aunt to Hillwood, the former estate of Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post. The sole heiress to the Post cereal empire, Marjorie was a premier collector of fine and decorative arts. Her Washington home, a 25-acre property overlooking Rock Creek Park, shelters 18th-century French tapestries, diamond-studded Fabergé Easter eggs, royal portraits by German court painters, and Italian mosaic tabletops—proving that it is indeed possible for every visible surface of one’s home to be patterned, embroidered, embossed, inlaid, and gilded. And while some may find it a bit *cough* ostentatious, others will find it exquisite. So go on, take your auntie for a stroll around Mrs. Post’s French parterre for a peak at her imperial porcelain collection and a cup of tea at the Museum Café. I promise it’ll make for a lovely afternoon.

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