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Independent Coffee Shops Near Zoo and/or the National Mall

Does anyone have recommendations for non-Starbucks independently owned coffee shops near either the Zoo or the Smithsonian Castle part of the National Mall? Thanks!

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  1. It's not entirely near the zoo but in Adams Morgan (a short walk from the zoo and it's metro stop) is Tryst.

    1. Open City is near the zoo -- same owners (and good coffee) as at Tryst.

      5 Replies
      1. re: mselectra

        Yes, either Tryst in Adams Morgan or Murky Coffee on Capital Hill. D.C. needs more small coffee houses!

        1. re: beauxgoris

          Can never be enough! There do seem to be more all the time, though -- but not necessarily in the neighborhoods the OP asked about.

          I'm not sure if Teaism counts, since it's not coffee, but it's good when you're doing the Mall (but not on the Castle side, nothing's over there, I think).

          Oh, you might also consider Le Bon Cafe, which would be a shorter walk than to Murky.

          1. re: mselectra

            Also if you find yourself in Dupont Circle, SoHo Coffee on P St. is independently owned I believe and has a great environment. They play good music, the owner/manager is a riot, and they have the best chicken salad wrap in the world. Plus I love how all the dishes are mismatched and they sometimes serve coffee in small mason jars etc. Such a stark difference to the million Starbucks acorss the city.

            1. re: mselectra

              I don't think they said they were on foot, no? Le Bon Cafe is cute, but for coffee I'd go the extra 3 blocks to Murky.

              1. re: beauxgoris

                Yes, you're right. I didn't know if "independent" "coffee" or the location was most important, so thought I'd throw it out there.

        2. It's a quite a walk to the zoo, but Foster Brothers in Clevelan Park is great.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Jacey

            Is that Foster Brother's still open? I thought for some reason it closed down but maybe that was the coffee shop next door.

            1. re: Elyssa

              Was there this weekend. Nothing in that strip has closed down recently.

              1. re: Jacey

                There was a coffee shop next to Foster's Brothers that I use to hang out a lot but I've heard it closed down about 6 months or so ago.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Fosters isn't a long walk from the zoo, imho. It's next to the Cleveland Park metro which is about the same distance as the Woodley Park metro from the zoo, a normal short walk for DC, I'd say.

                  Isn't Foster's a chain? (In case that matters)

                  There was a bagel place next to Foster's that's closed fairly recently, is that what you're thinking of?

                  1. re: mselectra

                    Yes thank you. I thought Foster's was the bagel place by mistake. Totally mixing up the 2.

              2. re: Elyssa

                You're thinking of Bethesda Bagel, which is a chain and closed down almost a year ago at this point.

                I don't believe Foster Brothers is a chain. Are you thinking of Einstein Brothers? They don't roast their own coffee there, but the coffee is good. They also have some comfy seats and decent food.

            2. The Castle itself also has a small take-out food sales area and I'm sure there is coffee there. It might not be great coffee...in fact, I think all of the Smithsonian buildings on the mall have drink/snack sales. They're not necessarily pleasant places to linger, though.

              1. i am seconding or thirding foster brothers. i was there this weekend as well and i am officially in love with the place. the bagel was DELICIOUS the coffee was smooth and flavorful and they provided copies of the washington post. highly recommend over open city and tryst. not too crowded and had the low keyness i crave from a coffee shop.

                1 Reply
                1. re: polly parker

                  I go to Foster Brothers a lot and it definitely serves a good bagel (Bethesda Bagels, I believe). I agree that it is low key and a good place to hang out, although the lack of wifi is annoying. The coffee I have found to be inconsistent, and the service can be very brusque. It's a big hangout for studying types, so it actually can get very crowded, especially on Sunday afternoons.

                2. Thanks for all of your tips. I actually posed the question for a reader of my blog who emailed me. I'm not sure if he'll have a car or not, but I'll direct him to all of the great info you've provided here. Thanks!