Location: 630 H Street NW
Readers’ pick: Gallery Place-Chinatown
The next time you’re aching to escape campus for a few hours – or a day trip – tap your U-Pass into the Gallery Place-Chinatown station for an enriching and cultural experience like no other neighborhood in D.C.
Under Chinatown’s spectacular Friendship Arch, you can try high-end restaurants, catch a music concert, take a quick stop by a museum or check out a chic speakeasy. In addition to being a spot for an enticing outing, the history and culture behind this lively area helps to make this locale in particular stand out among the other Metro stops in D.C.
Throughout U.S. history, Chinatowns across the nation were created to grow community and protection for Chinese communities facing discrimination and racist laws, like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned Chinese laborers until it was repealed in 1943. While D.C.’s Chinatown was once populated with 3,000 Chinese residents in the 1970s, housing prices have spurred the gentrification of the area, leaving fewer than 300 Chinese Americans remaining as of 2017.
While you’re in the area, explore a few Asian markets like Da Hsin Trading Inc, an authentic spot packed with Asian snacks, pottery and furniture. For a 7-Eleven-like Chinese grocery and convenience store, check out Chinatown Market just a block away from the Metro stop.
Try new flavors at restaurants like Reren in the heart of Chinatown serving up Chinese-style ramen and other delectable Asian dishes. Hit up hole-in-the-wall China Boy for an excellent dim sum experience, though you might want to take your order to-go since the location is quite small.
Chinatown is also home to some of renowned chef José Andrés’ most magnificent restaurants, like Zaytinya for upscale Mediterranean cuisine.
Grab a low-key drink at Denson, a liquor bar just a block away from the Portrait Gallery providing an intimate, classy feel tucked away from the livelihood of Chinatown’s nightlife. The dimly lit speakeasy resembles an old-timey train station with white and black-patterned hexagon tiles on the floor and a gold and back, industrial-looking divider in the center of the room.
The bar offers a wide selection of small bites and cocktails, including the pretty in pink ($15), made with vodka, rosé vermouth, rose water and sugar – a spin on the classic cocktail.
When you first hop off the Metro stop, you’ll find yourself steps away from gems like the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which both offer enriching exhibitions like a series of portraits portraying the historical figures that are now the namesakes of various D.C. streets and public spaces.
Gallery Place-Chinatown offers genuine dining and shopping experiences to grab a taste of Chinese and Asian culture – as well as pinnacle D.C. landmarks to explore – earning our rank as the best Metro station.
This article appeared in the April 11, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.