Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café

Bar / Café / Culture / Live Music Venue / Bookstore
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café A combination independent bookseller and high-end Café, Kramerbooks & Afterwords has become a DC staple for an eclectic and hyper-literate clientele. Washington, DC United States 38.910864 -77.043827
4.33 12
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café - Bar | Café | Culture | Live Music Venue | Bookstore in Washington, DC.
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Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review A combination independent bookseller and high-end café, Kramerbooks & Afterwords has become a DC staple for an eclectic and hyper-literate clientele. Lined with classics, rarer finds, novelty books, and a wide selection... ... read full review

  • Metro:

    Red Line: Dupont Circle

  • Phone:

    Bookstore: 202-387-1400
    Café: 202-387-3825

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    M–Th, Su 7:30am–1am, continuous hours F 7:30am to M 1am

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café Review

The Scene

A combination independent bookseller and high-end Café, Kramerbooks & Afterwords has become a DC staple for an eclectic and hyper-literate clientele.

A combination independent bookseller and high-end café, Kramerbooks & Afterwords has become a DC staple for an eclectic and hyper-literate clientele.

Lined with classics, rarer finds, novelty books, and a wide selection of politically-minded literature, the bookstore offers a pleasant place for smartly-dressed patrons to browse, meander, and read as they wait for a seat at the Afterwords Café in back.

Although daytime sees a steady flow of shoppers and casual young urbanites in the store, the vibe shifts gears at night in the dimly-lit café, when crowds of well-dressed young professionals show up to savor unique specials like coconut Maui Mahi, curried goat, and dozens of specialty beers and cocktails.

A contingent of upscale bohemians joins the mix on live music nights when acoustic artists take the stage on the second floor, providing the perfect backdrop for patrons lingering over the last bites of their intricate desserts.

Both spaces stay open for twenty-four hours straight from Friday to Saturday morning, and more than a few trendy book lovers have been known to treat themselves to a long night among the stacks, only to return for Sunday brunch. Reservations for large groups are encouraged, especially on warm days when the café’s patio quickly fills to capacity.

With its unique beer and menu selections, live music, and stacks of offbeat literature, Kramerbooks & Afterwords has a distinct charm that keeps its bookish clients returning time and again.

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Tip from Emma:

This place is great just about any time, but you’ll get the best bang for your buck if you go for brunch on Saturday or Sunday. It’s hard to beat the mimosa specials – $1.50 for the first and $3 each after that.

  • Crowd

    Hip and trendy book lovers, urbanites, and young professionals, 20s to 40s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Independent bookstore. Live music (varies) Wednesday through Saturday nights.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Creative menu featuring specials like the Barack Obamlet, coconut Maui Mahi, and curried goat. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served all day.

  • Prices

    Brunch $15–$20, appetizers $7–$9, entrées $12–$25, desserts $7–$9. Beer $6–$12, wine $6–$10/glass or $29–$45/bottle, cocktails $7–$11.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes: shorts and sneakers allowed, though shoppers and diners are usually dressed on the trendier side.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Wednesdays through Saturdays for live music, or Saturdays and Sundays for brunch.

  • Close By

    Dupont Circle one block south is a good place to sit and relax with a new book, while Café Japone (2032 P Street) offers nightly karaoke.

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café User Reviews

Average rating:
Jerry Seinfeld Works Here
Nate S. Aug 9, 2013
OK I promise I won't lie again. Jerry does not work here. Let me make it up to you. Kramer's is a bit of a landmark located in the heart of Dupont Circle. Aside from it's quirky book niche the place offers quite a bit off the menu. With two separate sections, a bar and also a section for tables to enjoy drinks and food, the place far exceeds any "Starbucks Inside a Barnes and Noble." This place is inviting and offers a decent selection off the breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktail menus. They've covered their bases fairly well and their dishes are prepared characteristically to the store. I often find Kramers to be most desirable during the late evenings because their drink cocktails are the perfect nightcaps (e.g., Hot Toddy). However, if you're a brunch lad or gal try this place out. It won't break the bank account and it will satiate the appetite. The seating arrangement is quite small so make sure you make a reservation. Bottom line, you would find this type of place in a number of locations in NYC, if you catch my drift.
Books & Food: A Killer Combination
Kelly M. Mar 27, 2013
My Take: When it comes to bookstores in the D.C. area, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café is a spot that cannot be missed. Whether you’re in the mood for a book on why Americans love France but hate the French or are looking for some of the best carrot cake of your life, this multi-functional venue in DuPont Circle is the place to go. From a street glance, it looks like a basic book store but once entering, one learns it’s so much more: Kramerbooks features some a myriad of local writers, a small yet delicious restaurant in the back of the bookstore, and a cozy bar adjacent to Afterwords Café. The café featured a wide variety of delicious foods; personal dinner favorites include the butternut squash ravioli and the fettuccine New Orleans. The Scene: Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café’s crowd is quite diverse. Being that the venue is right off of the lively DuPont Circle, many visitors of the city like to explore the store. It’s also a hotspot for regulars who are looking to support local authors and musicians. Cocktails & Cuisine: Afterwords has a wide variety of foods; even the pickiest of eaters would be pleased with the menu choices. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and brunch on the weekends as well as a wide collection of wine, beer, and specialty drinks. The café’s specialties are often crab based such as the crab cake sandwich, crab quesadilla, and crab cake pasta but Afterwords offers many other options as well including a wide variety of pastas, salads, and even some Asian cuisine. Prices: Afterwords is moderately priced; it’s not the best option for a college student looking to save money but it’s not too expensive overall. Most entrees range from $15-20 and if you’re looking to drink with your meal, your check is going to be quite hefty. The best time to go price wise is for weekend brunch where Afterwords has mimosa specials and complimentary sides with your meal. What to Wear: Kramerbooks & Afterwords have a wide variety of customers, so the clothing choices vary. The most popular look is jeans and a nice top for the restaurant but all in all, anything goes. There is no dress code, but to blend in seamlessly with the regulars of the bookstore and café, I’d recommend trendy yet casual attire. Insider Info/When to go: If you were looking to eat at the café, I’d recommend making a reservation beforehand since the café has limited seating. However, one perk of waiting for a table is getting the opportunity to explore Kramerbooks. The bookstore haves live music in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday, so if you’re looking for some local talent, you should definitely head to the DuPont hotspot for the evening!
Who Could ask for More?
Sarah W. Feb 22, 2013
It’s easy to lose track of time in Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. Any one of the store’s bookish customers could arrive at 7:30 on Friday morning, grab a coffee in the cafe and stay lost in the stacks for the entire weekend, since this literary hot-spot stays open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. Popping into Kramerbooks is something like popping into the library of an ancient castle run by literate bohemians bent on establishing a community feeling within their domain. Since opening in 1976, the bookstore and cafe, located just off Dupont Circle, has become an institution, “serving latte to the literati.” The independent bookseller’s selection runs the gamut from politics, to science, to philosophy, to literature to art. As the “first bookstore/cafe in the country to feature cappuccino, espresso, a full bar and food” the adjoining Afterwords Cafe and its outdoor patio also makes it easy to linger. The food, desserts and drinks are delicious and on Wednesday through Saturday evenings, live music trickles down from upstairs.
Amazing bookstore!
Christina W. Dec 11, 2012
I love this bookstore. It is perfect. An independent bookstore with a hilarious collection of politically correct, incorrect, and satirical stories about the city it lives in. In addition, they pretty much always have what you are looking for. The layout is pretty cool and unique, while simultaneously easy to navigate. On top of the book collection is the cafe! One option is going in the afternoon and buying a bunch of books, and then sitting in the cafe reading over a latte while listening to some live music. Another option is brunch (my favorite), because their crab eggs benedict is unbeatable. Try it, you won't regret it.
Books, Drinks and Food...What more could you want?
Lauren M. Dec 10, 2012
Browse some deliciously non-mainstream books, follow it up with an equally delicious burger and a cocktail, take your new book and read it in the circle by the fountain - DC's recipe for a perfect summer day!
Best Bookstore in DC
Tara R. Dec 8, 2012
As soon as I go on an anti-corporate-booksellers kick, Kramerbooks is the first place I stop by in DC. There’s something satisfying about purchasing from an independent bookstore, and I have in fact spent almost an entire day between the bookstore and the Afterwords café. The food at Afterwords is good—surprisingly so—and if you manage to catch live music, it’s a rare treat. The selection of books is impressive, and taking one from the shelves to the café is a favorite pastime of mine. I come here anytime I’m in DC and I never regret it. You won't either.
Great Desserts / Chill Scene
Jimmy D. Nov 23, 2012
A DC landmark right off Dupont Circle. If you are looking to chill, read a paper or book, and enjoy a good dessert and/or coffee. Kramerbooks is a must stop on your list. Its set in a bookstore in DC so you can imagine the scene is not a terribly exciting one. However, its the right fit for certain moods. Very convenient to the metro. just a block from the Dupont station.
It's a DC landmark
Sherry M. Aug 6, 2012
Kramerbooks is a DC landmark. You should go at least once to experience it. First time I went was for a work-related networking lunch. So, you'll see the whole spectrum there - from professional lunches to casual first dates, drinks with friends, etc.
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