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The Hilltop


Shaw Area- Must-Haves

If you attend Howard University, you have the pleasure of being located near a variety of Washington, D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods, such as Columbia Heights, Logan Circle, and U Street/Shaw. U Street/Shaw is one of D.C.’s major hot spots for all things shopping, eating, and drinking. Plus, it’s only a few blocks away from campus. 

Alongside the different local spots, The U Street/ Shaw neighborhood has a rich history; jazz singer Duke Ellington grew up there and frequently performed at the jazz clubs on U Street in an area once called “Black Broadway.”

This neighborhood is perfect for exploring if you’re new to the area due to its rich history and unique character. Since the pandemic, many stores and restaurants have developed new in-person policies for available seating. Before visiting, visit their website to see the updated operating hours and mask requirement policies.

The Hilltop has put together this list of some of the best places for Sunday Funday, a night on the town with friends and a cozy place to study for your next exam. 

To Study 

Calabash Tea & Tonic

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Courtesy of Calabash Tea Facebook

2701 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20018

Cozy tea house Calabash has chai lattes covered and all sorts of herbal, black and green teas — along with vegetarian and vegan snacks. The tea house also offers comfortable seating and relaxing music, which makes for the perfect study spot. 

Sankofa Video Books & Cafe

Courtesy of DCist

2714 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

Sankofa Cafe is a Black filmmaker-family-owned and operated bookstore and cafe specializing in books, movies, and programming about people of African descent. The coffee shop founded in 1998 is a great spot to catch up on your latest lectures or grab a new book.

Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library

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7420 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20012

This local public library is perfect for all-day studying and is known for offering required books to students for free. In addition, the library just got a makeover, so their updated furniture and latest MacBooks are great for students. 

A Baked Joint

 430 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001

A Baked Joint is the sister store to Baked & Wired that offers the same type of comfort that we miss while away from home. Their expansive menu is ideal when spending the day at their restaurant studying for your next exam.

Compass Coffee

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1921 8th St NW Washington, DC 20001

Founded in 2014, Compass Coffee is an American coffee roaster and retailer in the Shaw Neighborhood that offers comfortable seating for students interested in getting work done while sipping freshly brewed coffee.

To Brunch

NuVegan Cafe

Courtesy of NuVegan website

2928 Georgia Ave NW, Washington DC, DC 20001

NuVegan is one of DC’s top spots for vegan soul food eats and casual dining. This location is only a few minutes from campus and even has a location in Blackburn that is open to students and staff. 

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1250 U St Nw, Washington DC, DC 20009

This &Pizza location is only steps away from the Shaw-Howard U Metro Station and is perfect if you’re walking to or from the metro station. &Pizza is a pizza parlor that launched in 2012 in Washington, D.C. and offers customized pizzas with vegan options available.


Courtesy of In a DC Minute

805 V St NW, Washington DC, DC 20001

Haikan is the second Sapporo Ramen shop in DC after Daikaya. The local restaurant offers Japanese-inspired kozara (small plates), traditional ramen, and the bar serves a collection of Japanese-inspired cocktails.

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El Techo

606 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

El Techo serves Latin American street food and cocktails in an unparalleled rooftop location with expansive city views. El Techo is an excellent place to find yourself for any occasion, but especially weekend brunch.

El Rey

Courtesy of the Washingtonian

919 U St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

El Rey is easily one of the top spots for Howard students and is the spot to be at for Sunday Funday. The heightened experience is worth your time, and the essence of Mexican home cooking is the cherry on top of your visit. 

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The Royal

501 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

This D.C. hotspot first opened in 2015 and is a great brunch spot for unique light bites, classic breakfast dishes, and incredible cocktails. It’s a Latin-inspired, family-owned coffee shop/cocktail bar and all-day eatery that is an essential addition to your DC brunch list.

Tiger Fork 

922 Blagden Alley, Washington, D.C. 20001

This D.C. staple is inspired by Hong Kong street vibes and offers a superior Chinese brunch. Alongside great food, Tiger Fork also has unique wellness cocktails and a colorful backdrop perfect for brunch selfies. 

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1250 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

This casual spot serves pizza and small Italian plates that make this restaurant a gem for bottomless brunch. A few menu favorites include mushroom lasagna, garlic knots, and pizzas that feature truffle honey as an ingredient. 

Busboys and Poets

Courtesy of Busboys and Poets

14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Busboys and Poets is a fan favorite for brunch in DC, but what makes the location stand out isn’t just their wide range of vegan options. Busboys and Poets aim to be not only a restaurant but also a space for locals to come together through literature at their bookstore.

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Saints Paradise Cafeteria 

601 M St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Looking for a great home cooked meal? This is definitely your go-to stop. This church-run cafeteria offers soul food that oozes comfort and offers the perfect meal to subside almost anything you’ve been craving for. 

To Indulge 

Here’s The Scoop

Courtesy of The Huffington Post

2824 Georgia Ave NW Washington, DC 20001

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Here’s The Scoop is the newest ice cream dessert shop located near Howard’s campus. The black-owned store opened in 2019 and serves various freshly baked goods by featured and up-and-coming local bakers in DC.

Insomnia Cookies

Courtesy of MapQuest

2318 18th St NW Washington, DC 20009

Insomnia Cookies is the perfect place to satisfy your late-night cravings and stays open until 3 am daily. Insomnia Cookies sells classic cookies, including vegan options and a variety of deluxe cookies.

To Shop

LeDroit Market

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1901 4th St NW Washington, DC 20001

LeDroit Market is a local DC bodega that’s only a few minutes away from campus. The small grocery store offers the essentials and so much more. The local shop offers a coffee corner, and even serves fresh salads and sandwiches. 

Whole Foods Market 


Courtesy of The Business Journals

967 Florida Ave NW Washington, DC 20001

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This Whole Foods location is minutes from campus located on Florida Ave. The popular supermarket specializes in natural and organic foods, and usually is on the higher end of price points when shopping for groceries. 


1400 7th St NW Washington, DC 20001

The closest Giant to campus is located on 7th street and is open until 12am, which is perfect for any last-minute grocery pick-ups. Giant is a staple grocery store that is sure to check off every item on your grocery list and even has an in-store pharmacy. The store also offers student discounts if you show your university ID at the checkout. In addition, if you sign-up for their rewards program you have access to more discounts. 

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