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Aug 9, 201010:00 AMResident Tourist

D.C.'s 14th Street Shopping

Aug 9, 2010 - 10:00 AM

On a sparkling weekday, a sign hanging in Ms. Pixie’s bright pink collectibles shop confirmed what we already determined: “Thursdays are the best day—always new inventory.” That, plus easy parking, no reservations needed for lunch and hospitable salespeople made us very happy that we chose a Thursday to prowl 14th Street between Q and U streets.

This visit started with an actual task. Months earlier I’d made my first real foray into the 14th Street corridor on a busy Saturday afternoon that coincided with the neighborhood’s annual Sidewalk Sale. I bought some great picture frames from Framesmith D.C. (1352 Q St., NW), and was promised rock-bottom prices on matting and glass at a later date. So I set off on a Thursday morning with some black and white photos in hand and my pal Dani in tow. Dani hadn’t been to the area in ages, so she was eager to see what all the fuss was about.

We attended to business at Framesmith (reviews here), where the helpful owner told me my framed photos would be ready in about 10 days. We left the framing shop and peered in the windows of Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections (ACKC) chocolate shop (1529-C 14th St., NW), agreeing to stop back for further exploration and possible purchases before the day was done.

Heading south on 14th, we ducked into Timothy Paul Bedding and Home (1529-A 14th St., NW) and immediately decided that we wanted to redecorate our homes, top to bottom, with fabrics furnished by this unique supplier.

Specializing in bed linens, Timothy Paul also stocks comforters in soft cotton and cashmere, with prices to fit nearly any budget.

Some items were vintage pieces picked up by the owners during their shopping trips to Southeast Asia and some of the bedding was made in the U.S.A.

We tore ourselves away from the lovely wares at Timothy Paul and sought refuge in Reincarnations, at the corner of 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue. This eclectic store boasted two floors of furnishings, some of them outlandish and some absolutely stunning.

Curvaceous chairs with chocolaty fabric screamed to be sat upon, and the glass martini light fixture above the register made me want to install a wet bar in my basement, just to find a home for that little chandelier.

Reincarnations brought out the wild thing in us, inspiring a new found urge to get modern and crazy. What better fix for this type of mood than a visit to Miss Pixie’s? But our stomachs were rumbling, so it was time to head north on 14th Street to Café St. Ex (1847 14th St., NW).

We sat outside in the shade and shared a flavorful chicken salad and a beet salad with “grapefruit two ways.” Who could resist? The beet salad turned out to consist of watercress; lots of soft, plump beets; slices of grapefruit; and, yes, the second way—tiny, sugared slivers of grapefruit zest, just to perk things up a bit.

Gratefully nourished, we resumed our admittedly haphazard tour of the blocks of 14th Street between Q and U streets. Miss Pixie’s was filled with Formica-topped tables, metal cabinets, retro side tables and chairs, and Mexican metal art in the form of farm animals—roosters, pigs and a sizable white goat—placed strategically throughout. By my third metal pig I was really beginning to think my yard needed nothing more than a small menagerie of hardy, weather-resistant metal creatures to foster a back-to-nature look.

Our final destination took us back to where we began—around the corner from the framing shop. Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confection, a chocolate shop, has been in existence since late 2007, and it draws a serious neighborhood following for its cocoa bar offering specialty drinks, as well as its ample chocolate display. Prices are not cheap, but it seems somehow correct for an indulgence like lavender pistachio dark chocolate to cost nearly $2 for a bite-size piece.

We made our selections carefully, choosing one decadent bit of chocolate for each family member. As soon as we got back to the car we agreed there was a risk of our own chocolate melting, so we sampled ours then and there—yum.

I started the car and we marveled at how much we’d seen in just a few short blocks, but lamented that we never got to walk along U Street. I brightened at the prospect of returning to pick up my completed framing project, knowing more shops and cafés beckoned just around the corner.

Update: We went back to 14th Street a few weeks later to pick up my framed photos (which turned out great, by the way). On this visit we stumbled upon the Mid-City Caffé, an ultra-cool coffee shop above Miss Pixie’s that hums with the quiet buzz of an office with two dozen cubicles, only everyone there is in their own little chair or stool, pecking away at laptops.

Serious coffee lovers should not miss this spot. Watching them make our coffee was like observing performance art at its finest.

And we finally made it to U Street, where we tucked into the world-famous half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl, (1213 U St., NW) and felt that all was right with the world.

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