The Highlands Café in Petworth (not to be confused with Highland Origin Coffee in Silver Spring) is a charming neighborhood spot that is unassuming on the outside and colorfully artsy on the inside. Located on 14th Street between Crittenden and Decatur, this is one of “it” spots in the 14th Street Heights neighborhood. Didn’t know that there was a 14th Street Heights district in DC? Neither did I, so that’s another good reason to go up there and hit some of the other local staples along the way—Districto Federal, the Red Derby, etc.
The most memorable quirk about this coffee shop/restaurant/bar is its long mural on the southern wall, depicting the life-cycle of coffee from the berry-picking to the barista-ing to its enjoyment by friends. Along with its mainstay beverage The Highlands also boasts brunch and dinner menus that seem a bit ambitious for such a small place, but the results are great—hearty, Southern-style meals with a smattering of vegetarian options. I was a fan of the towering smoothies!
According to the mission on its website, The Highlands is trying very hard to not just be another relatively funky coffee shop in our city, but a place where patrons can interact with management and feel ownership over the location. I can only speak to my Saturday afternoon visit, but I was very impressed with the variety of clientele, from older men reading newspapers to young Millenials rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, but the best thing is that they all clearly were residents of the neighborhood. In my opinion, this kind of community-oriented local watering hole is just what DC needs more of!
To visit: 4706 14th St. NW, 202-829-6200. Moderate walk from Petworth or Columbia Heights Metros, or the 52 and 54 buses will drop you outside the door.