Two truisms about DC: this city is gorgeous, and loves its booze. But while you can see the Washington Monument from just about anywhere within Northwest, rooftop bars offer a little special something extra... have you ever looked over the river into Virginia at sunset with a sage-infused margarita in hand? Yeah, it's a pretty glorious experience, and it can be yours: DC provides a lot of rooftop options, and we rounded up the best choices for your particular tastes.
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This spot has one of the best rooftop views in the city, plus a totally decent cocktail menu, plus a super-cheap happy hour ($4 Sapporo!), plus not-outrageously-priced bars snacks, plus a pool. Like, the kind you can swim in. Yeah. Add to that their Thursday-night live music series (every week at 7pm), and you’re kind of in rooftop bar heaven.
This place is pretty much a classic bar that happens to be on a rooftop. While the Derby’s beer menu has continued to grow over the years, it remains a no-frills, easy-on-the-wallet option for the Columbia Heights set. There’s a charm to the local feel of the crowd, which doesn't seem as trendy. On weekends, Red Derby offers a no frills rooftop brunch, with cocktails on the "are you joking" side of inexpensive ($3 bloodies, y'all). This is the place to blow your entire Sunday, rooftop drinking and taking in the sun.
Jack Rose is a Hogwarts’ library of whiskey: the stacks of dusty bottles climb high to the ceiling, and the whiskey menus are thick enough to thud heavily on the bar. But climb up the stairs, and you'll find a different space entirely: Jack Rose’s surprisingly hip rooftop open-air bar. The view aims uphill, and the sights and sounds of Adams Morgan are there to behold (for better or worse). The open air of Jack Rose’s roof is the perfect place to enjoy a flight of whiskeys with a few friends... while the plebes line up below, clamoring to get into another Miller Lite bar.
The Observatory, atop the Graham Georgetown, offers a very DC rooftop experience. While the views over the ledge are stunning, the real vista is all around the bar itself: The Observatory is a gathering spot for the Gala Set, the power movers and shakers. Most of the politicians, lobbyists, and K Street lawyers that tend to populate this place aren’t coming here for the drinks or food -- they're coming here for the scene, but you can just pop up here for the view over the river into Virginia.
This is one of those absolute gems that make the trek out to H Street worth it. The primary appeal: cornhole, the Official Outdoor Game of People Who Drink Too Much Before Sporting Events. H Street Country Club offers a casual atmosphere and a decent bar menu to boot; what's better for day drinking than a plate of nachos and a pitcher of inexpensive margaritas? With city living depriving many of a decent patch of grass or even a parking lot, H Street Country Club presents the next best option to feeding your summer lawn game addiction.
This isn’t the bar where you come to for the view; this is the bar where you come to drink. Roughly translated as "The Place to Knock 'Em Back," Sauf Haus does not mess around. They've got happy hour discounts on liters of beer, pretzels the size of your head, and the constant, joyous (to some!) tones of oompah music, which creates an atmosphere of non-stop celebration. In here, every day is Oktoberfest... just be prepared for the crowds.
OK, this place is gorgeous (both the interior and views), and as good the next morning as it is the night before -- at $27, their two-hour bottomless brunch is kind of a steal, with drinks that are actually delicious. Go for one of their brunch cocktails, order the spicy lamb sausage pizza, sit back, and soak in booze and sun simultaneously.
The rooftop bar at the Brixton is either exactly the bar for you or you avoid it like the goddamn plague. The crowd skews young, the drinks skew expensive, the cocktails skew towards vodka tonics, and the line tends to wrap around the block on Friday nights. Expect an unofficial dress code, and a lot of well-groomed 20-somethings on display. If that's your jam, this place is just far enough off the beaten path to feel pretty cool.
Hit up this spot for mussels, a good Belgian beer selection, and a super-chill atmosphere. Marvin tends to attract a late-20s, early-30s crowd, and the roof deck gets pretty packed at happy hour later in the week, so if you're looking to throw down, it's good on a Thursday, but if you're up for a date night, go earlier in the week. The neighborhood isn't too hustle and bustle, but it's not too far out of the way... on a good night, you can hear music from the nearby clubs, and still hear your dinner companions speak.
This no-frills rooftop bar spins hipster tunes and feels like a version of the scene at the Black Cat -- expect plenty of facial hair, ink sleeves, and people drinking their rye straight and their craft beer in cans. The view isn't breathtaking, but it's pretty and very DC.
In a market of increasingly pinpoint-specific and obtuse themes for bars and restaurants, it’s becoming rare for a venue to call itself multi-purpose. El Centro, against the odds, presents viable options as a bar, a restaurant, and a club when the lights go down. The best iteration of all three happens on Sundays on the roof: come for the bottomless brunch, featuring unlimited margaritas and carne asada tacos, then stumble over to the rooftop bar for a summer afternoon full of music, dancing... and perhaps one or two more margaritas. This place captures the feel of an outdoor club, and feels far from the inherent intensity of DC.
This is kind of an inherently cool venue. RNRH books great acts to play downstairs, and the music up on the roof deck is fun and danceable. There are DJs up here on Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm-8pm... and while the roof itself isn't wildly remarkable (aside from the fact that the floor feels kind of shakey when it's packed), and there's literally no view... the scene here feels pretty intimate and relaxed.
The joint replaced The Reef, and it's become a pretty cool cocktail bar, with a really beautiful view of the city, reasonably priced drinks (including punch bowls), good snacks (twice-fried fries!), and a pretty chilled out scene. Be forewarned, however: the happy hour extends to the first and second floors only. Trust us -- ask the bartender to make you something special and off-menu, then bring your drink upstairs to enjoy the breezy weather.
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1. DNV Rooftop Pool Bar1155 14th St NW, Washington
2. Red Derby3718 14th St NW, Washington
3. Jack Rose Dining Saloon2007 18th St NW, Washington
4. The Observatory1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington
5. H Street Country Club1335 H St NE, Washington
6. Sauf Haus1216 18th St NW, Washington
7. Local 161602 U St NW, Washington
8. The Brixton901 U St NW, Washington
9. Marvin2007 14th St NW, Washington
10. DC9 Roofdeck1940 9th St NW, washington dc
11. El Centro D.F.1819 14th St NW, Washington
12. Rock & Roll Hotel1353 H St NE, Washington
13. Roofers Union2446 18th St NW, Washington
On hot days, this sexy rooftop bar at Thomas Circle is the perfect oasis away from the humid city streets. Cool off poolside with Asian-inspired bites and summer-themed cocktails, sake, and chilled wine.
DC’s Red Derby is a local staple that combines all the necessary ingredients for an optimal night out, including a rooftop, board games, bar snacks, and reasonable prices. The dinner menu consists of American comfort food, like the crowd-favorite sweet potato fries and chicken tenders, tacos, burgers, and a gooey grilled cheese. Be sure to head to the Derby rooftop for brunch, complete with sweet and savory options, like breakfast bowls and French toasts sticks.
With over 2,400 kinds of whiskey lining the brick walls of this high-end saloon, Jack Rose has one of the largest whiskey libraries in the country. The spacious, bi-level Adams Morgan establishment offers a relaxed dining experience downstairs, and a spot to enjoy drinks and watch sports upstairs. Food-wise, the fried chicken skins are a fan favorite, and more adventurous items like rabbit & beans, wild Atlantic rockfish, or Broken Arrow Ranch venison make the staff's expert cocktail pairings an absolute pleasure.
The Observatory is a 3000sqft lounge on top of the luxury boutique Graham Hotel. Enjoy a well-curated menu of hand-crafted cocktails while taking in sweeping panoramic views of DC & VA. You'll wanna make sure you look sharp before you just waltz in, though: reservations are strongly encouraged, and there’s a business casual dress code.
Sorry Bethesda Country Club, rooftop deck + 25 tequilas + mini-golf > 18 holes in the sweltering sun + one gin fizz.
With 16 German drafts (non-German beer is not welcome here!), giant pretzels, and a sweet outdoor space with long, communal tables, Sauf Haus is all that you could ask for in a beer hall. Oh, and they've got foosball and brandy, too.
A sweet rooftop, a $20 bottomless brunch (unlimited mimosas, bellinis, and bloody Marys), and awesome dance parties make Local 16 a smart call at any time of day.
This sexy English pub is decked out with antler chandeliers, stuffed animals (the cool kind), and lots of Old World touches sure to make you feel like a true gent. Take in some gourmet pub grub on the wood-heavy middle level, or sip one of their inspired beer cocktails (like the Cider Snakebite: lager, cider, and black currant liqueur) on the elegant and spacious roofdeck.
This DC mainstay is exactly what you think it is: a bistro that pays homage to Marvin Gaye and serves up Belgian and Southern cuisine. OK, maybe it's not exactly what you thought. A little history lesson: the legendary soul singer-songwriter was born in DC and later spent a period of self-imposed exile in Belgium to rehabilitate and reflect. At Marvin, you'll find dishes like Belgian moulles-frites and southern-style shrimp, plus grits and fried chicken over Belgian waffles. There's a roof deck perfect for sipping cocktails on, too.
U Street's favorite venue's just unveiled an all-new, all-wood roofdeck nicknamed "The Sauna Bar": it's got a 20'x30' standing area, will host occasional DJ'd concert after-parties, and has a fully stocked bar pumping the same happy hour specials as downs
Seeking a new adventure, the masters behind Masa 14 opened Centro to challenge themselves to capture the energy of Mexico City. That energy, apparently, comes straight from superb tacos and tequila. With three floors of raw concrete, walls adorned with Aztec masks, and tables glossed with vintage Mexican newspapers, Centro is undoubtedly a success -- and that's before we even talk about the menu, which features great fish tacos, chicken tamales, and a host of tequila tasting menus. Mexico City rules.
H Street's Rock & Roll Hotel offers DC something that is needed in any music scene: a dive bar with great shows. It’s crowded, has no frills, and it makes no excuses for what it is. So leave your inhibitions behind, drink some cheap beer, and prepare to stand shoulder-to-shoulder listening to rising music acts.
Roofers Union Restaurant marries German and American tastes in a beer-focused Adams Morgan gastropub. You can’t come without ordering a trio of sausages stuffed in-house: one beer-poached brat on sauerkraut, one veal heart wiener on caraway-purple cabbage slaw, one boudin blanc with red onion confit and cranberry. You can always go more American with a bacon burger or fried chicken sandwich, though. The three-storied building is diverse: the first floor plays hosts to an affiliated wine bar called Jug & Table, the second-floor dining room boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and four-top seating, and a covered third floor rooftop is ideal for street-gazing and lapping punch bowls.