A Guide to Brookland, D.C. for the New Freshman Class

As CUA welcomes the class of 2023 to its campus, it’s easy for new students to get lost in the surrounding city, starting right here in Brookland. 

Located in the Northeast region of the district, the neighborhood of Brookland has been long-regarded as a home to tradition and religious-based tourism for decades, hosting several chapels, monasteries, and The Catholic University of America since 1887. Since its initial development, the neighborhood has rapidly transformed itself into a millennial’s dream. The Brookland neighborhood is reimagining itself and breaking away from its long-established conventional trademarks as a host to religious values and traditions to rapidly move towards the ranks of other keystone neighborhoods throughout Washington. Through the development of trendy apartment complexes, lively restaurants, imaginative shops, picturesque farmers’ markets, and diverse culture, this once quiet D.C. neighborhood is quickly on its way to becoming one of Washington’s hidden treasures. 

The Brookland neighborhood consists predominantly of 12th Street NE and Monroe Street NE and all the area in between. The modish locale is easily accessible from downtown D.C. via the Brookland-CUA station along the Metro’s Red Line, located at Monroe & 9th Street near Michigan Avenue, and is just a short ride away from downtown D.C. The Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market, located directly off of the Brookland-CUA Metro station, consists of several examples of Brookland’s creativity and inventive culture, home to several local artists and crafters along the pedestrian walkway. Locals are free to roam in and out of stores filled with pottery, paintings, jewelry, among other art forms provided by 27 local artists and vendors. The artistic aesthetic of The Arts Walk provides a proclamation of acceptance and stimulating expressionism throughout the Brookland neighborhood.

Dispersed throughout the Brookland community are an array of diverse and delicious restaurants, such as Brookland Pint, located along The Arts Walk, which serves craft beer beverages and whips up its own renditions of American cuisine. Another popular restaurant among locals and visitors is San Antonio Bar and Grill located on 12th Street NE, a vibrant Tex-Mex eatery recognized for its mega margaritas and fiery entrees. Diners also enjoy Murry and Paul’s American cuisine located across from San Antonio.

Perhaps one of the most popular and most on-brand restaurants in the Brookland neighborhood is Busboys and Poets, located on Monroe Street NE. Named for American poet Langston Hughes, the Brookland location is one of five locations in Washington and is a self-proclaimed “space for art, culture and politics to intentionally collide.” In addition to developing a creative and political environment, Busboys and Poets also serves several menus, such as brunch, lunch, and dinner options, all with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Locals often stop by for the food and stay for their open-mic nights, again adding to the thought-provoking and involved atmosphere of the Brookland region.

Recent real estate developments, such as the Monroe Street Market apartments, have brought in several young adults, and serve as off-campus housing for many Catholic University students. Scattered through the Monroe Street Market community are several fast, casual dining options, such as Chipotle, &pizza, and Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop, as well as Wardman Wines’ wine markets and an experimental Starbucks Reserve location, a popular study spot among Catholic University, Howard University, and Gallaudet University students alike. Communities such as Monroe Street Market also hosts Monroe Street Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from April 20 to December 14 along The Arts Walk, where visitors are free to purchase fresh produce while listening to live music and participating in yoga practices. 

Arguably one of the best parts of Brookland is that as you grow here at CUA, the neighborhood grows around you, as well. In my two years here in Brookland so far, I’ve personally experienced the growth of the Brookland community tremendously, and look forward to seeing what’s to come.