The Columbia Heights neighborhood is home to a lot of Latin American immigrants, who settled in the area in part due to the many embassies nearby. Especially on 14th Street, there are a number of businesses catering to that community, and my favorite are the bakeries. Some are mainly for wholesale, but all of them are fun to stop in and grab a quick, inexpensive sweet.
There are a few within a few blocks of 14th, and Pan Lourdes at 3407 14th Street NW is the flagship: a retail shop and bakery, they have a wall of baked goods, though like most of the Latino bakeries nothing is labeled so you’ll have to ask what’s what. Also like the other bakeries, they sell other food like tacos and tamales – ask what’s available at the time. I’m a fan of the pineapple turnovers and the chicken tacos.
Mi Casita at 14th and Newton is another option with good, sugary donuts and tacos too, plus a big patio. There’s often a good crowd.
Zometa’s at 14th and Spring is another option with baked goods and a buffet of Latin American food.
So give it a shot: it’s a unique, tasty and cheap experience!