Neighborhood spotlight: Capitol Hill

Isabelle Pala

I’ve lived in Capitol hill since I was five years old but it has never ceased to amaze me. Colorful brick townhouses and dainty front yards line its streets while the markets, cafes, and parks bring the neighborhood to life. 

If you’re walking around the neighborhood, you’ll likely encounter kids playing on the sidewalks, dogs running full-speed in the parks, or friends enjoying a morning coffee at a local cafe. The thing I love about the Hill is that you can really feel the community. Little Free Libraries are dispersed throughout the neighborhood, people proudly put up humorous, liberal signs outside their houses, like “Any Functioning Adult 2020,” and they don’t hesitate to ask you how your day is going as you pass them in the street. 

No matter where you are in the neighborhood, you can always find a park within a five-minute walk. My personal favorite is Lincoln Park, where you can find me at least two days of the week reading, painting, or picnicking. On one end, there are two playgrounds in which I spent a large portion of my childhood, and on the other end is a grassy area with trees perfect for shade that’s filled almost to capacity with picnic blankets on a nice afternoon. Other parks nearby include Stanton Park, renowned for its cherry blossoms in March, and Garfield, which has a little skate park hidden under the freeway. 

One thing I love about my neighborhood is that there are so many family-owned corner stores and cafes. If I’m ever hungry for a snack I can always run to the little market a block down from my house and the owners are always happy to see me. Then there are the breakfast cafes like Jimmy T’s and Jacob’s Coffee House that have super affordable breakfast comfort food like French toast and pancakes. 

While on the subject of food, Capitol Hill has a variety of good eats within a small radius. My childhood favorite was a little Italian restaurant nestled between townhouses near Union Station called Nostra Cocina that has since changed owners but still boasts the best pineapple pizza I know of. 

If you’re looking for a casual brunch place, Bullfrog Bagels and Le Pain Quotidien, both located next to Eastern Market, are perfect. Bullfrog Bagels is nonstop busy but so so yummy (bagel connoisseurs, this place is for you) and Le Pain Quotidien makes you feel like you’re in Paris and has the best mini pancakes you could ask for, although it is a bit pricey. But don’t miss Union Market, as it has a huge variety of cuisines all under one roof from Korean tacos to French crepes.  

Of course, this article would be incomplete without mentioning the Hill’s biggest asset, Eastern Market. During the weekdays, the inside of the brick building is bustling, filled with vendors selling cheeses, fresh produce, meat, pre-made food, and baked goods. Pro tip: they have the best mini-chocolate chip cookies ever. I’m pretty sure they are just made from Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough, but something about them makes them ten times better than anything I could make. By Saturday morning, the weekend flea market is in full swing. Tents are set up outside the building bright and early, showcasing a variety of handicrafts and foods, ranging from home-made soap to paintings of DC to warm apple cider. Seriously, if you ever go to Capitol Hill, you HAVE to stop here. I could literally write an entire article just on Eastern Market so I’ll stop now. 

Last but not least, simply taking walks around Capitol Hill has to be one of my favorite things. Everything is so close, so there’s really no reason to drive, and the neighborhood is super bike-friendly. This also makes neighborhoods like Navy Yard and Downtown DC super accessible. One of my favorite walks is from Lincoln Park to the Capitol. It’s a 15-minute walk down East Capitol Street, which has the most adorable townhouses. Capitol Hill has so many things to offer and there’s nowhere else I’d rather have grown up.