I first entered Soho Tea and Coffee in the summer of 1998. It’s a place with a history for the Dupont Circle neighborhoods, a place I remembered sitting up until the wee hours of the morning while sipping coffee with friends and thinking: “This is what city life is like.” While DC has changed since my arrival in ’98, Soho has managed to preserve its independent coffee house feel. Owners Helene Bloom and Fran Levine have overseen the operation for more than 11 years, providing a warm and comfortable atmosphere for a clientele of all ages with an extensive menu of specialty coffee drinks, desserts and sandwiches.
There are a lot of reminders why this is not another cut-out copy of the Starbucks conglomerate. Here, it’s about quality, not quantity. The layout is spacious with bright walls of windows on two sides with a large patio for outside seating. The coffee bar is overstocked with options, almost too many to take in during one visit. Coffee is always fresh and traditional espresso drinks are made to order in oversized mugs for a decent price. Even their chocolate drinks are upscale in comparison, using only Ghirardelli Chocolate from San Francisco. But it’s their in-house specialty menu that raises the bar high above the other DC coffee chains. The Hello Gorgeous Macchiato is decadent, espresso with steamed milk or cream dressed with vanilla and caramel flavors, topped off with whipped cream. The Soho Mocha takes the delicious flavor of chocolate and coffee a step further with a hint of blueberry and cream while the Bahama Mama is described as a caffeinated (non-alcoholic) Piña Colada. Even manager Sami Antoine has his own specialty, Sami’s Choo-Choo which incorporates fresh peanut butter, chocolate and steamed milk. All specialty coffee drinks are served as large (16 oz.) and are only $4.27 each, making them large, luxurious and affordable. Tea lovers will always find over a dozen options. For non-coffee drinkers, plenty of alternatives are always in stock, such as Italian Sodas, bottled beverages and smoothies made with fresh fruit.
Here, breakfast is served all day (and night!) with a variety of bagels, croissant and egg plates, breakfast wraps and omelets. Other appetizing dishes include a variety of homemade pastas, with pesto, sundried tomatoes and other natural ingredients and variety of Sami’s special soups. Try the veggie chili, which is thick and hearty with fresh tomatoes, beans and peppers, always served hot and never too spicy. A regular favorite is one of the salad plates. For only $7, you get a healthy amount of made-from-scratch tuna or chicken salad over a bed of lettuce and assortment of vegetable slices, or a 3-Way Platter, which combines both the tuna and chicken helpings with a pasta side. Sandwiches are available for under $6 with ham, turkey, chicken and vegetarian selections and your choice of bread. And to satisfy an eager sweet tooth, the display case always has multiple choices of chocolate and cheesecake slices. Most food items are offered all night, making this a wonderful venue for a 3 a.m. coffee and snacks binge on a Saturday.
Sohos is truly a neighborhood treasure that originally served as one of the few LGBT-friendly establishments. Over the years, it has become a popular venue for local residents, tourists, students and Capitol Hill workers. During the daytime hours, families will find a spacious and bright café, perfect for book clubs, studying and light conversations. Their late-night hours, open until 1a.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, accommodate a louder scene, always playing independent music and filled with an energetic crowd of rockers, artists and bohemians. With free wireless internet, students literally flock during exam periods with their laptops and Monday’s Comedy Open Mike Night always guarantees a good laugh. But most importantly, Soho encourages the diversity of their clientele to make themselves at home, sit back with good friends and enjoy a mocha.
Soho Tea & Coffee
2150 P St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20037
Sun. – Wed.: 7:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Thurs. – Fri.: 7:30 a.m. – 4 a.m.