Adams Morgan

Clubs

Columbia Station || At one of the city’s oldest jazz clubs, beguiling, unpolished brass instruments hang from the mahogany-paneled walls — seeming remnants of jazz’s golden age. Although D.C.’s best jazz musicians tend to hang around on U Street, this club’s nostalgic vibe, friendly service and solid musical offerings muster to its defense.
Basic info || No cover, 1-drink minimum | Food $$, Drinks $$ | Jazz Wed., Fri.-Sun.
Contax || 2325 18th St. NW | 202 -462-6040 | Official site | Official listings

Tryst || This boho cafe is typically packed with twenty-somethings, equipped with cappuccinos, drumming away on their Macs and improvising letters to pen pals. But the East Village ambiance gets a strong shot of uptown swing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when its resident musicians play mostly straight-ahead jazz. Note that sandwiches and snacks are standard fare here, so full dinner isn’t an option. Nor is jazz on the weekend; for either or those or both, head up the block to Bossa or down to Columbia Station.
Basic info || No cover, 1-drink minimum | Food $$, Drinks $$$ | Jazz Mon.-Wed.
Contax || 2459 18th St. NW | 202-232-5500 | Official site | Official listings

Bossa Bistro & Lounge || Exposed brick, velvet-cushioned seating and rotating exhibitions of art on the walls give this cozy restaurant a chic vibe to complement its abundant supply of live entertainment. Some weekdays  and Sundays (though not at all regularly), the 18th-and-Columbia Rd. hangout features jazz on its small stage. Other nights, the talent ranges from Samba to the poetry of local voices. Find a night when Bossa has jazz, and its classy, top-shelf dinner and great music will make this a first-rate choice.
Basic info || No cover, 1-drink minimum | Food $$, Drinks $$ | Jazz occasionally
Contax || 2463 18th St. NW | 202-667-0088 | Official site | Official listings {go to “music schedule”}

Dahlak || This friendly Eritrean restaurant on the southern tip of Adams Morgan’s main drag plays host to a number of left-brain happenings throughout the week — and holds art openings every month. On Sundays, the fare turns to jazz, with an early jam session that lasts from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30.
Basic info || no cover, 1-drink minimum | Food $, Drinks $ | Jazz Suns.
Contax || 1771 U St. NW | 202-332-2110 | Official site | Official listings

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About the hood

Named for the two elementary schools it housed in before Brown v. Board — all-Black Edward P. Morgan and all-white John Quincy Adams — Adams Morgan is perhaps the epicenter of D.C. nightlife. The main drag, 18th Street, is known for its split personality: it morphs from a funky shopping haven during the day, full of used bookstores, record shops and thrift stores, into a clogged artery at night, with music emanating from virtually every doorway. Under-30s come in search of a wide variety of music, and many linger well past 3 a.m. by the entrances to the neighborhood’s famous jumbo slice pizzerias. In addition to the rock and blues at Madam’s Organ, the hip-hop at Grand Central, and the reggae at Bukom Café, a quartet of jazz venues offers plenty to keep things swingin’ into the wee hours — on any night of the week.

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Metro Directions

  • For any Adams Morgan club: Take the Metro to Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan (Red Line). Exit the stop and walk south on Connecticut Ave. Turn left on Calvert St., and walk across the Duke Ellington Bridge (but first, pause to appreciate its name). Bear right as Calvert turn into Adams Mill Rd. and then 18th St. You will see Bossa, Tryst, Columbia Station and Dahlak on your left as you walk down 18th. (Note: While Dahlak is technically on U St., it’s perched at the intersection of U, 18th and Florida Ave.)
  • Alternate route for Dahlak: A slightly more convenient option is to take the Metro to U St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (Green/Yellow Lines). Exit the stop at the 13th St. escalators and walk west on U St. until you come to Dahlak.

Named for the two elementary schools it housed in the pre-Brown days — all-black Edward P. Morgan and all-white John Quincy Adams — Adams Morgan is now the epicenter of D.C.’s Latino population. Still, it’s thoroughly diverse, both ethnically and culturally. The schizophrenic main drag of 18th Street morphs from a haven for shoppers on the hunt for used books and records during the day, into a clogged artery with electronic beats throbbing from virtually every doorway at night. But in addition to the rock and blues at Madam’s Organ, the hip-hop at Grand Central, and the reggae at Bukom Café, a trio of jazz venues offers plenty to keep things swingin’ into the wee hours, any night of the week.