Shopping in DC: the 20 best stores in Washington

From couture to cheese, DC’s got it all. Discover where to spend your capital in the capital, with Time Out’s Washington, DC shopping guide

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Money burning a hole in your pocket? Then get thee to Washington DC, where you'll find stores for every taste and budget. Whether you're in the market for cheese, books, vintage clothing, tobacco, wine, or almost anything else, Washington DC has it on offer. Our guide includes some of the best in shopping in Washington DC, from politics-heavy bookstores to funky thrift shops to delectable wine and food emporiums, and everything in between.


If you're jonesing for some wine and cheese, you'll find a plethora of options in DC. Check out Calvert Woodley Wine & Spirits, considered by DC insiders to be the best wine shop inside the Beltway (and it also features a spectacular cheese selection of its own). For Italian cheeses and other imported delights, check out Vace in Cleveland Park.


Don't listen to people who rag on Washington DC's poor fashion sense. This city has its own unique sartorial vibe, which runs the gamut from thrift to high fashion. Vintage aficionados will feel right at home on 14thSt. NW, hub of vintage clothing in DC. Don't miss Dr. K Vintage for menswear, Junction for funky vintage clothes and accessories, and Blues Hard Goods for vintage denim. For modern clothing from international designers, check out fashionable boutique Redeem. If you're looking to revitalize your wardrobe, Ginger Root Design's tailoring service is renowned across town and the store also carries locally designed jewelry and accessories for both men and women. Or, if you feel like splashing out on fancy baubles featuring Tahitian pearls or precious stones, Tabandeh in Friendship Heights is your best bet.


No shopping guide to Washington DC would be complete without a mention of DC's many unique book and record stores. Two quintessential DC bookshops that offer more than just books are Kramerbooks, which also has a popular café (Afterwords), and Politics & Prose, a favorite stop on the reading tour circuit for visiting journalists and authors. If you're looking to round out your vinyl collection, head to Crooked Beat Records, Smash Records, or Som Records, all in NW DC.


This city isn't just about books, cheese, and vintage, though: you'll also find great Washington DC stores for furniture, makeup, home goods, sports, toys, flowers, and beauty. Read on for our full DC shopping guide.


Kramerbooks

  • Critics choice

Not just a bookshop, but an episode of Blind Date, Kramerbooks is an oft-used venue for a first assignation. First, meet in the bookshop, then repair to the attached café (Afterwords), which serves meals and snacks throughout the day. Possibilities of romance aside, the book selection is good.

  1. 1517 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Dupont Circle, (at Q Street)
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Lost Boys

  • Critics choice

If there’s one independent boutique in DC that knows menswear, it’s Lost Boys. Owner Kelly Muccio will personally walk you through the selection of designer brands, including Rag & Bone, Band of Outsiders and Theory, to create a look tailored to your individual style. If you thought you couldn’t pull off that jacket, one look in the mirror after her styling says you can. Be prepared to drop some serious cash, as great style here doesn’t come cheap.

  1. 1033 31st Street, NW, Georgetown, (between K and M Streets)
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Ginger Root Design

  • Critics choice

Founded by two Midwestern redheads with a reputation for being the nicest ladies on the block, you’ll find a great selection of jewelry and accessories by local designers for men and women at Ginger Root (don’t leave without trying on one of the famous lady ties, made from repurposed vintage fabrics and sewn by hand). This place's main focus, though, is its excellent by-appointment-only tailoring service. Bring your beloved but ill-fitting items here for some much needed TLC, and they'll be given a new lease of life under the owners' skilful hands.

  1. 1530 U Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between 15th & 16th streets)
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Politics & Prose

  • Critics choice

As you might guess, Politics & Prose carries a lot of both, plus a large section that is set aside for children and teenagers, and there’s a coffee shop downstairs too. The store is much more than just a thriving independent bookshop, it’s a much-loved institution and a must-stop for prominent authors who are on the reading-tour circuit. Carla Cohen, the shop’s well-known founder and co-owner, died in late 2010; two former Washington Post journalists, married couple Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, took over the following year.

  1. 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Upper Northwest, (between Fessenden Street and Nebraska Avenue)
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Vace

  • Critics choice

There’s not that much fresh Italian produce in DC, but most of what there is can be found at Vace. The aroma of freshly rolled and baked pizzas (their specialty, in slices or pies) will draw you inside, where you’ll find freezers of ready-to-heat pastas, and coolers of soft, delicious linguines plus awesome imported parmesan and other cheeses, all across from a deli case of carpaccio, salamis, hams and, last but certainly not least, olives. And don’t overlook the wine selection.

  1. 3315 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Cleveland Park, (at Macomb Street)
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Allan Woods Florist

Fresh, seasonal favorites abound at this shop—hydrangeas, peonies, lilies and lilacs in spring and summer and a parade of poinsettias at Christmas—alongside a deluge of cut flowers.

  1. 2645 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Woodley Park, (at 26th Street)
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Pâtisserie Poupon

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

All the calorific authentic French pastries and breads are here. Opera cake is a favorite. Poupon is also a café.

  1. 1645 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Georgetown, (between Q Street and Reservoir Road)
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Copenhaver

  • Critics choice

The decorous wooden shelves of Copenhaver hold what many would call the city’s finest selection of stationery: there’s Crane paper of all descriptions, Vera Wang and Martha Stewart invitations, and insanely expensive letterpress notecards. If you’re looking for sombre double-folds for condolence letters or suitable cotton paper on which to print your dissertation, this is your place. Come December, there’s a lovely selection of holiday cards, along with proper red-bordered foldovers with lined envelopes for your Christmas letters. Staff will engrave your wedding invitations too. Service is personal and exceptional.

  1. 1301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Dupont Circle, (between Dupont Circle and N Street)
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Phoenix

  • Critics choice

This family-owned Georgetown institution offers affordable designer jewelry and comfortable clothes for women, as well as sought-after Mexican imports—Day of the Dead figurines, alebrijes (colorful, fanciful animals) and antique silver. There is a wide selection of separates from the likes of Eileen Fisher, Cut Loose and White + Warren. Semi-precious-bead necklaces and earrings dominate the numerous trinket cases, culled from the collections of local and international jewelry artists. Latico, Ellington and Carla Mancini bags and versatile knit dresses round out the wardrobe offerings.

  1. 1514 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Georgetown, (between P Street and Volta Place)
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Redeem

  • Critics choice

Known as one of DC’s most cutting-edge boutiques, Redeem carries pieces by international designers with a modern slant, in dark colors: black is definitely the new black here. You’ll also find a selection of independent magazines, high-end men’s shoes, and a section of the store devoted to Mutiny, a DC-based menswear accessories company that carries vintage pieces, stationery and accessories.

  1. 1810 14th Street, NW, Logan Circle, (between S Street and Swan Street)
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Tabandeh

  • Critics choice

The glittering window displays of Tabandeh stop passers-by in the basement of the Mazza Gallerie in their tracks. This jewelry boutique features pieces from high-end designers scarcely available elsewhere in the city. Giant gray and white Tahitian pearls from Samira 13, stunning chunky gemstone pieces from Iradj Moini, and case after case of precious gems tempt the buyer of means. More-affordable pieces include those from Hollywood-popular Gas Bijoux and angular pieces from Alexi Bittar. Accessories, such as bags, belts and scarves, are also in store.

  1. 5300 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Friendship Heights, ((Mazza Gallerie))
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Blues Hard Goods

  • Critics choice

A hidden second floor gem on 14th Street, owner Andrew Nguyen is a master at effortless cool style, which shows in the vintage denim, hand-sewn bandana scarves and bolo ties in his store. Blues Hard Goods is also home to Las Gitanas pop-up boutique in the back room, for delicate vintage gowns, gloves, and hats.

  1. 1803A 14th Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (at S Street)
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Palace 5ive

  • Critics choice

If you’re a sneaker head, this is your paradise. Carrying the very latest in skateboarding shoes and designer sneakers, Palace 5ive is where you’ll find all the latest designer collaborations and limited edition sneaks, as well as the classic Nikes, Vans, Converse and Adidas. If you’re a skater, it’s got the decks and wheels to go with the shoes.

  1. 2220 14th Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between Florida Avenue and W Street)
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Pulp

  • Critics choice

People drop in to Pulp for an ironic-chic greeting card and find themselves picking up things they didn’t know they needed: the place has candles, masks, toys, and all manner of gag gifts for the hipsters and sophisticates who frequent the store’s lively neighborhood. The paper goods are excellent: not just occasion cards but boxes of fine-quality cotton notes, plus gorgeous wrapping paper by the sheet—and fancy ribbons to go with them. Friends having a baby? No problem. Need a present for more mature sensibilities? Pulp’s got you covered.

  1. 1803 14th Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between S and Swann Streets)
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Dr K Vintage

  • Critics choice

You’ll find plenty of women’s vintage in town, but Dr K is the epicenter of men’s vintage, with owner Somkiat becoming a quiet advocate for upping men’s style game in DC, one customer at a time. Open at odd hours (and often not at all), Dr K is the best-kept sartorial secret in DC. Don’t be surprised to find vintage Levi’s from the 1940s, letterman jackets, denim shirts, hats and bags that would easily sell for double in other more style-obsessed cities. Make friends with Somkiat (aka Dr K) and he might pull out something special for you from the back.

  1. 1534 U Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between 15th and 16th streets)
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Calvert Woodley Wine & Spirits

The old hands here have mounted a large yet well-focused selection of voluptuary treats. The extensive wine shop is especially strong in Burgundy and Bordeaux and always has affordable specials. At the deli, the prodigious selection includes prosciutto, Serrano and pâtés, and a world of cheeses from cotswold to mimolette.

  1. 4339 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Upper Northwest, (at Windom Place)
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City Bikes

Hardcore cyclists frequent City Bikes for its excellent bikes, parts and mechanics. More casual cyclists show up to rent bicycles for a short ride. This shop (and website) is also a hub for a range of cycling activities; visitors to DC may want to take part.

  1. 2501 Champlain Street, NW, Adams Morgan, (at Euclid Street)
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Rock It Again

  • Critics choice

For the dandy within every man, Rock it Again is filled to the brim with tweed blazers, shiny oxfords, plaid vests and vintage fedoras. Visit in winter and you’ll snag fur-lined London Fog coats, leather gloves and warm scarves at great prices.

  1. 1528 U Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between 15th and 16th Streets)
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Millennium Decorative Arts

  • Critics choice

Stylish 1940s- to ’60s-vintage European furniture is stocked at this two-level store, and you’ll find graphic glassware, vases and coaster sets too.

  1. 1528 U Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between 15th and 16th Streets)
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Junction

  • Critics choice
  1. Junction, U Street Corridor, (between 15th and 16th Streets,)
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Users say

1 comments
James Paul H
James Paul H

So... Calvert Woodley is a wonderful shop with a very nice selection of wines and spirits. However, it's simply not the best wine or spirits store "inside the beltway". Although it's out of the way for most, Schneider's of Capitol Hill takes the crown. It's been voted top liquor store for many years running by the Washington City Paper, their selection is unmatched, and their prices are astoundingly reasonable. At a time when many liquor stores are pushing their prices to laughable levels, Schneider's nearly always has the best price on anything you're looking for from Mezcal and Rye, to Burgundian Chardonnay or an offbeat Portuguese Rose, to say nothing of Beer! Their staff is the most knowledgable and friendliest, constantly asking me if my dog would like a treat. I've made a point of visiting Calvert Woodley on 5 separate occasions, and it simply doesn't measure up. I'll give CW points for also having cheese, but that's all.

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