Literary Hub with Grub

Arlington’s Busboys and Poets satisfies the body and the mind.

Michael Ventura / Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo


M2H39F USA Washington DC Food Busboys and Poets restaurant bar cafe and bookstore

From book club meetings to poetry slams, Busboys and Poets—a combination bookstore, bar, restaurant, and event space—has become a lively cultural hub for artists, writers, readers, and thinkers.

The brainchild of Anday Shalla, who opened the first location in D.C. in 2005, Busboys and Poets now has nine locations, including a Virginia outpost in Arlington’s Shirlington Village. The name references poet and playwright Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel during the 1920s.

The place attracts literary stars including Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Rita Dove, and others, who have given readings here. Also popular are open mic nights, spoken word performances, karaoke, and author readings. Busboys and Poets supports both local and national authors and partners with local arts and literary organizations.

Each Busboys and Poets location also exhibits work from local artists, much of it for sale, with an open invitation online where artists can submit work for consideration for future shows. More than a restaurant, more than a bookstore, Busboys and Poets creates a space where intellectual, cultural, political, and social issues flourish through discussion that benefits everyone.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review,, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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