Welcome to our #BestLife neighborhood guides, where we take a neighborhood and tell you where to eat / drink / stay in any given spot in D.C.! This edition is brought to you in partnership with Union Place. Join us for their grand opening party on July 17!
NoMa is more than its Metro Station. It’s a neighborhood where you can hop between eating amazing Indian food and Laotian food. It’s a neighborhood where you can drink hyperlocal beer (like brewed on the spot your standing) and walk a couple blocks away to drink a brew from across the Atlantic. It’s a neighborhood filled with old a new, cozy and modern. It has more going on than you think.
So get out and explore it.
Need to get out of the city? Want to soak up some nature? Head straight to the outdoor experts at NoMa’s REI flagship to get all of the gear you could possibly need (and some things you probably didn’t know existed). Whether you’re a casual hiker or a serious lightweight backpacker, they definitely have something for you. Beyond that, the flagship also offers a variety of classes like trailside bike repair workshops, wilderness first aid, and how to pack a backpack. You’re one credit card swipe away from becoming the wilderness expert you’ve always wanted to be!
One of the great things about NoMa is that it’s a portal to getting out of D.C. whenever you want. All you have to do is head to Union Station and jump straight into the arms of Amtrak. Spend some time in NYC or hit up Philly if you’re looking for a good long weekend trip, but if you just want to get out for the day, the Marc train will get you to Baltimore for $8 (one way). There’s also all of the amenities in Union Station to consider. You can grab a bite at places like Shake Shack, Cava, &Pizza and Aloha Poke (to name a few) or do some quick shopping at H&M, Uniqlo, Warby Parker or Ann Taylor.
Just in case you need more transportation options, NoMa is conveniently located along the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Conceived in 1988, the trail will be 8 miles and will connect Silver Spring to Union Station upon completion. For now, the trail runs from Union Station to Edgewood, making it easy for you to bike (or walk) on over to Brookland favorites like the Dew Drop Inn or Mess Hall. If you use the trail often and want to give back, we also recommend you be on the look out for volunteer cleanups, which usually take place throughout the year on days like MLK Day.
Connecting the distinct personalities of iconic Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, Union Place, by Toll Brothers Apartment Living®, exudes an undeniable sense of arriving, a feeling of being exactly where you need to be, at exactly the right time. Choose from brand new studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes that feature clean, sleek finishes and warm, natural tones. Expansive amenities such as the resort style rooftop pool and two-story gym with a rock-climbing wall and comfortable, communal spaces bring you every convenience and opportunity to connect with fellow residents — or to reflect in collective solitude. Come experience everything that Union Place has to offer and understand what it truly means to arrive home.
If you’re looking for the kind of coffee shop where you can settle in with a book and make yourself at home, local chain Qualia should be on your radar. The small, light filled space is bright and cherry and the coffee (or tea if you want to mix it up) is always solid and poured with care. There are classic pastry options (more muffins!) just in case your hungry, but Qualia is really just keeping it simple. Go in, grab a cup and spend some quiet time in this solid neighborhood coffee spot.
Tucked into the REI, La Colombe is the most centrally located place to get your caffeine fix (considering it’s only a few blocks from the Metro). The Philly chain has everything you could want from a coffee shop (including various milk options, pastries, etc), but if you’re unsure of where to start, their oat milk draft latte tastes like dessert in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re 13 and drinking your first frappuccino. It’s a grown up dessert. There’s also outdoor seating, if you want to bask in the sun while you suck down an airy draft latte and tuck into a muffin, a true breakfast of champions.
Filled with arcade games, skee-ball and even miniature bowling lanes, The Eleanor definitely isn’t boring. The newish bar and restaurant wants you to play just as much as it wants you to drink and eat. We recommend you grab a cocktail (you can’t go wrong with a house G&T) and dig into the games, but if you’re looking for something a little more substantial, their menu is jam packed with classic options like burgers, hot dogs and snacks. Just be sure to swing by for happy hour where you can get a Miller High Life and a shot (your choice of tequila or whiskey) or some fancy nachos for $5.
Laos In Town
D.C. is booming with Laotian restaurants. (And by booming, I mean there’s three!) Thip Khao is right in Columbia Heights, Hanumanh is in Shaw and, lucky for you, there’s Laos in Town in NoMa. Whether you’re grabbing a drink at their outdoor bar or sitting down for dinner in their cozy, yet sleek restaurant, you have to order the crispy rice salad. It’s one of the best $9 dishes Tom Sietsema has ever had. It comes with meat or without meat. It’s perfect. It’s the best thing on a menu stacked with good things. Pair it with their $5 Laotian draft beer and you’re set for a good (and cheap) night out. Also, our vegetarian food writer loves it.
With its multicolored patio, walls covered with love notes and chalkboard menu, Indigo is the very definition of a neighborhood joint. It’s casual, unpretentious and good. In the summertime, the patio with its picnic tables and wooden bar is always a good choice. Sit down, grab a beer and follow the advice of our Indian Food Guide: “Standout dishes include the spicy chicken Saag with (approximately) eight pounds of spinach wilted in with the chicken and the goat curry, a deep, ridiculously heady blend of tender goat and a house-ground spice mix. Props also for some of the best roti and daal in D.C. Can’t decide? Go with the Thaali platter that allows you to select five different meat or vegetable options.”
Wunder Garten is NoMa’s calling card. The tented beer garden can be seen from the Metro, beckoning you to its trivia nights, live music Sundays or happy hours (which are Monday – Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Stop by to get your fill of German and American brews (including local brewers like DC Brau and 3 Stars). If you need something to soak up that booze, Wunder Garten makes it easy to order from CaliBurger, which serves up burgers and fries in the same vein as In-N-Out.
Also tucked right up against REI (they really do have everything), Red Bear Brewing Company is bringing hyper locally brewed beer to NoMa. Folks love the DC Dirt, which is their roasty and complex American Porter, but if you’re into IPAs, Saisons or Kölschs, they’ve got you covered. Most 10oz pours will run you $5, so go wild and try a couple different things. While they don’t have their own kitchen yet, Red Bear consistently hosts food trucks and pop-ups including D’s Fish Truck, Rollin Pizza, Smoke and Ember and more.
The folks behind one of our favorite sandwich spots in D.C. have expanded their delicious empire. CR NoMa might be new to the neighborhood, but if the original Carving Room location in Chinatown is anything to go by, it will be a staple before you know it. Their menu features a bevy of options between buns, including hamburgers, subs, cubans, but if you’re feeling thirsty, they also have 15 beers on draft and a variety of cocktails.