Sometimes, it’s worth leaving behind your GWorld card to indulge in some of the District’s finest cuisines — well, as long as Chipotle qualifies as fine cuisine.
More than 150 local restaurants and shops have partnered with GW to take GWorld, but there are still a few places that fall between the cracks and don’t accept the University-issued cards, which earn GW 10 cents for each swipe and between 8 and 10 percent of each sale. But even if you need to put up some cold, hard cash at the register, it’s still worth checking them out.
And if you’re looking for a workaround to use your GWorld anywhere, you’ll find yourself stuck. Stores like CVS that accept GWorld won’t let students spend their card balances on Visa and Master Card gift cards that can be used at any location. We’ve tried.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
It’s convenient and fast, even when there’s a long line. The Chipotle inside the Shops at 2000 Penn has become a staple for GW students since it opened two years ago, and even though this location of the fast-growing chain doesn’t accommodate GWorld cards, it’s still teeming with students. Dig into your wallet and dig into that burrito bowl.
But if your wallet is empty and Chipotle is on your mind, head over to the Chipotle at the intersection of M and 19th streets near Dupont Circle, which accepts Colonial Cash. Chipotle experts warn that the M Street location doesn’t take kindly to those who try to cheat the system, though: The location doesn’t allow students to purchase gift cards with their GWorld cards that could later be used at the Pennsylvania Avenue joint.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea
1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Escape that stale Gelbucks routine. Peet’s Coffee & Tea offers a delicate, authentic java taste, credited with inspiring Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz to break into the coffee business. The Pennsylvania Avenue location is situated across the street from the White House — meaning you might run into President Barack Obama during a spontaneous coffee run — and is often less crowded than the Starbucks in Gelman Library.
The beverage menu at Peet’s is similar to Starbucks’, but the café’s spins on the selections taste different altogether. For example, a Starbucks mocha latte — made up of sweet chocolate, dark-roasted coffee and steamed milk — leans more heavily into the chocolatey taste compared to the Peet’s rendition, which has stronger coffee notes.
2514 L St. NW
Thai food traditionally comes with a high price tag, and with pad thai that costs about $13, Charm Thai on L Street doesn’t change anything. But the swanky atmosphere and proximity to campus makes it a great option for students looking to pretend like they’re not on a college student’s budget for one night.
The vast menu accommodates picky eaters who might not be familiar with the Southeast Asian cuisine, with the less exotic but nevertheless tasty dishes like wonton soup and crispy salmon. The menu can also whet the appetite of the more adventurous foodies with selections of duck meat.
The space is relatively small, so it’s not the best place to hold a Thurston floor dinner, but it could make a nice place for a first date.
1717 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
The sandwiches found at Subway, Potbelly or Whole Foods Market can only sustain GW students for so long. When it’s time for a change, Jimmy John’s on Pennsylvania Avenue has you covered. The chain has all the makings of a mouth-watering 8-inch sandwich that sell for about $6, which is comparable to the local competition. Head over and get a Vito — piled high with salami, capicola, onions and Italian dressing.
Jimmy John’s also features an extensive sides menu. Finish a sandwich off with a cookie or even a dill pickle — or both, if it’s just that kind of day.
1143 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Illy, connected to a Renaissance Marriott hotel in the West End neighborhood, offers an escape from the GW scene without all the walking.
The tiny coffee shop crafts decent coffee from an extremely limited menu, but the sitting area, which actually is part of the hotel’s lobby, more than makes up for the actual coffee’s shortcomings. Long couches, perhaps apt for a study group, and secluded, cushiony chairs fill a sizable room that peers out of the café area. Bring your backpack, plug your headphones in and get some homework done while sipping from a porcelain to-stay cup.