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The neighborhood may be called Logan Circle, but the action is actually found a few streets to the west, centered around the trendy shops and restaurants of 14th Street NW. Logan Circle’s proximity to Howard University attracts students of all ages, and the neighborhood itself is known as a diverse, progressive, and intellectual place, home to writers, artists, and Civil Rights trailblazers.
In fact, The Civil War played a big role in the development of Logan Circle, as it was named in honor of Civil War veteran and US Congressman Major General John A. Logan. His salmon-colored residence still stands at 4 Logan Circle, and his statue can be found in the center of the traffic circle. After the war, the area became home to thousands of free blacks who lived in a refugee camp at Camp Barker. As the city grew during Reconstruction, the area attracted wealthy African Americans, like journalist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who founded the National Council of Negro Women. Her mansion, at 1318 Vermont Avenue NW is today a National Historic Site, just one of the hundreds of beautiful Victorian homes found within the neighborhood’s two historic districts.
In the early 20th Century commercial properties — especially automobile showrooms — could be found along 14th Street NW, and today many of these buildings have been repurposed into noteworthy theaters, art galleries, and restaurants, like Le Diplomate, which serves up some of the city’s finest French flavors. The arrival of a Whole Foods organic grocery store sparked Logan Circle’s gentrification in the early 2000s and has continued ever since.
There are more renters than homeowners here. Housing options range from subdivided Victorian homes and newer-build apartments in Logan Circle. The vibrant boutiques, eateries, and bars along 14th Street NW add to its appeal, plus there’s always something going on here, making Logan Circle a fantastic place for everyone from students and young professionals to history lovers and anyone who wants to participate.
Bounded to the north by T Street NW, 11 Street NW to the east, Massachusetts Avenue and Thomas Circle to the south, and 15th Street NW to the west, Logan Circle enjoys a central city location that’s only half a mile from Downtown DC.
It’s a drivable destination, but parking in Logan Circle is tight; good thing there are underground parking options for renters in the area’s apartment buildings, although they can be expensive. Public garages can be found for drivers along Massachusetts Avenue NW.
There is no Metro Station within the neighborhood, but Dupont Circle on the Red Line and Shaw on the Green Line are just a few blocks away.
Metrobus routes 52, 54, 59, 90, 92, and S6 all roll through the neighborhood, and the DC Circulator travels along 14 Street NW.
Bicyclists will rejoice by the many pedaled paths, as bike lanes can be found on 13th Street, NW, 14th Street NW, 15th Street NW, and M Street NW.
It used to take two weeks to score a table at Le Diplomate; thankfully, a lot has changed now that it’s been open for nearly a decade. Its fans include lobbyists, Congressmen, socialites, and even Michelle Obama. Housed in a former laundromat, it has all the hallmarks of your favorite French bistro, from a zinc-topped bar to mosaic-tiled floors and a lovely glass-enclosed terrace that’s a prime spot for brunch. You’ll find French comfort foods on the menu, ranging from a homey onion soup crusted with Gruyere to steak frites, roasted chicken, and lots of tarts. The house-baked bread is simply a delight.
A Hemingway-inspired restaurant that takes its name from Papa Hemingway’s boat, Bar Pilar features fine American flavors in a homey gastropub setting, with exposed brick walls, twinkling overhead lights, and creaky wood floors. The menu itself reads like a novel, and cocktails are cleverly adapted from Hemingway’s literary works. The Penicillin, made with 12-year malt Scotch, ginger liqueur, and a splash of lemon juice, will cure what ails you. The dinner menu includes burgers, brisket, dumplings, and hush puppies.
The breakfasts are renowned at Commissary: think heaping plates of Huevos Rancheros, fluffy potato pancakes and bacon, and spicy avocado toast. But lunch and dinner are also on offer at this establishment, which is owned by the LGBT restaurant group Eatwell, and if you’re lucky enough to get a table on its umbrella-shaded patio overlooking the action on P Street, you might just linger through ’til the next meal.
Four words say it all: Cereal Milk Ice Cream. Christina Tosi, formerly the pastry chef at Momofuku, has gained her own, well-deserved renown with her Milk Bar dessert shops, which put a creative twist on old classics. Her DC Flagship is located in a former auto body shop on 15 Street NW and has both a test kitchen and a classroom, so dessert enthusiasts can try their hand at crafting their own confections.
The Coffee Bar on S Street NW has been quenching Logan Circle’s thirst for caffeine since 2012. This corner storefront has a nice patio and has become a community hub. Try one of its coffee creations like the Honey Badger, made with an eye-opening 4 shots of espresso, half & half, and a drizzle of honey. Drip coffees, matchas, teas, and soft drinks round out the menu.
Bivalves are on the menu at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, but it’s also known for its buckets of crispy fried chicken, seafood gumbos, and Po Boys sandwiches. This Creole restaurant has become a District sensation and also has one of the neighborhood’s best bars, located upstairs; it even has its own bocce court.
At the time of the writing of this guide, there aren’t any breweries in Logan Circle, but Churchkey will satisfy your need for suds with its wide selection of unique craft beers — with over 500 labels available on draft, in bottles and even in casks. Located on the second floor above Birch & Barley, it’s like heaven for beer enthusiasts, with multiple-climate controlled beer cellars and special glassware best suited for each pour. The bar food is also quite tasty.
Shopping in Logan Circle can be found along 14th Street NW between M Street NW and T Street NW.
You’ll find lots of inspiration to furnish your home at Salt & Sundry, which specializes in home goods, pillows, tableware and dishes, textiles, candles, and more. For offbeat finds, Miss Pixie’s has it all: antique furniture, bookshelves, dishware, and other one-of-a-kind pieces at really affordable prices.
Clothing boutiques include Filson, which specializes in bags and outerwear and has been around for more than a century. Current Boutique is a consignment shop that features high-end and designer duds, while Marine Layer offers athleisure and more casual clothing options; plus there are additional indie retailers to be found next door in Dupont Circle.
All the foot traffic in the area has attracted big-name retailers like West Elm Furniture, Sephora, and Blue Mercury.
For grocery stores in Logan Circle, head to the Whole Foods on P Street NW. Other nearby grocers include a Safeway in Dupont Circle and a Trader Joe’s in Cardozo.
For a great look at Logan’s Circle history, download a self-guided walking tour from Cultural Tourism DC’s website. Fourteen stops distinguished by street markers highlight areas of historical and cultural significance, such as St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which hosted the progressive American Negro Academy, led by W.E.B. DuBois, and played a central role in the city’s black unity movement. The residence at 1530 15 Street NW is where famed artist and educator Alma Thomas lived, to name just a few.
For a more whimsical point of interest, be sure to check out the Barbie Pond near the intersection of 15th Street NW and Q Street NW, which has grown quite a following. Every season its owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) creates a new display around his fountain from his collection of hundreds of Barbie Dolls; there were Ken dolls with rainbow flags during Pride Month, an homage to Vice President Kamala Harris during the Inauguration, etc. You can also follow the Barbie Pond’s goings-on through Instagram.
Art abounds around Logan Circle, and an array of galleries and art centers can be found along 14th Street NW, such as The Corner at Whitman-Walker, which presents exhibitions from an LGBT perspective, and DC Art Glass Studio showcasing the work of glass artist Robert Wiener. Terzo Piano and Gallery Neptune & Brown feature contemporary artworks from major and under-represented artists, while the noteworthy Transformer DC is a nonprofit arts center that connects emerging artists with the community through exhibitions, programming, and an annual Heartbreakers Ball, one of the hottest Valentine’s Day happenings in the city.
The nonprofit Studio Theatre showcases productions from contemporary playwrights in its intimate theaters, from Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morriseau to Flow by Will Power. It has received multiple Helen Hayes awards for excellence. It recently underwent a multi-million renovation and has upgraded technology, a new café, and a brand-new immersive ground-floor performance space.
The famed music venue The Black Cat has been on 14th Street NW since the 1990s and literally watched the neighborhood transform into the gentrified space it is today. Thankfully, little has changed within these walls; it still hosts killer concerts from up-and-coming musical acts which have ranged from Radiohead to Parliament Funkadelic and DC’s own Fugazi, and the experience still feels like your grandmother’s basement, with exposed pipes, cracked floors and little adornment. You’ll want to hang out in the upstairs bar called The Red Room, a throwback space with pool tables and a working jukebox.
There aren’t that many parks in Logan Circle, just the circular green expanse within the traffic circle itself, and Cardozo Playground, at the neighborhood’s eastern edge, bordering Shaw, which has a kickball field, basketball and tennis courts as well as a skate park. For more outdoor adventures, head a few streets over to Rock Creek Park, which begins near the National Zoo and has hiking and biking paths that literally stretch into suburban Maryland.
The gates of Howard University lie only a mile away from Logan Circle, making it a choice off-campus housing spot, particularly for graduate students. The neighborhood’s charming Victorian houses, which have been subdivided, provide an affordable place to live and study with the appeal of the 14th Street Corridor’s dining and shopping scene just a walk away.