We’re in that precious window between Polar Vortex and hot-as-balls vortex, so seize the day Newsies-style and get yourself to DC’s best outdoor imbibing/ face-stuffing atmospheres. Think bocce, punch bowls, and grill borrowing. Here’s a 'hood-by-'hood guide on where to soak up some sun AND calories.
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Adams Morgan: Roofers Union
Think The Reef used to have the best roof deck in the city? Well duh, the view’s the same, but Roofers Union is a MAJOR upgrade. Start with one (or both) brightly colored tropical punches available on the roof only. Then, admire the view while discussing important topics like gentrification in between bites of andouille corndogs and beer brats from acclaimed Chef Marjorie-Meek Bradley.
Logan Circle: Le Diplomate
The Le Dip patio straight up transports you to Paris. You’re at a sidewalk café on Boulevard St. Germain, only without the pressure to produce French words. Given the amount of cool points anointed to those who nab a patio seat, you’ll have to plan WAY ahead with a reservation. Hopefully you’re not afraid of commitment. Or foie gras parfaits, because that’s what you’ll be eating.
H Street: Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar
LMW takes the H Street title because they’ll let you use their grills as if they’re your own -- as long as you reserve the space for a private party and pay $20 for propane. Beyond this big bonus, LMW put some elbow grease into beautifying their two patios. We’re talking antique fountains and 30-foot black bamboo. Since they don’t have food, you can bring in your favorite snacks or hold out for one of their crawfish boils.
U Street: Vinoteca
It’s all about dogs, burgers, and bocce on the Vinoteca plaza. Perfect Summertime picks include Who Dat Doggy: a boudin pork dog with grilled red onions and remoulade, and the Holy Mother of Pork Burger topped with Gruyere, fig, and bacon jam. There’s also a host of new Spring cocktails to try on the plaza in between games of bocce. You can lawn bowl Wed-Fri from 5pm-close, and Sat-Sun 11am-close.
Thomas Circle: DNV Rooftop
While you were in hibernation this Winter, the roof of the Donovan House Hotel got even more roof-tastic. You can now get Asian tacos and other street food from Zentan’s Chef Jennifer Nguyen, paired with equally exotic cocktails like the Tokyo Gimlet, made with your choice of booze and house-made yuzu-lime cordial. Just remember, no lifeguard on duty.
Petworth: Chez Billy
Head here after work Tue-Thur (5:30-7:30pm) and plop down on the partially enclosed patio for $3 PBRs and half price "Royal with Cheese" burgers -- 6oz natural beef burgers with Gruyere cheese, bread & butter pickles, smoked bacon, and special sauce on a sesame seed bun. The CB patio is a solid pick at other times too, thanks to the restaurant’s arsenal of classic and original cocktails and German beers on draft.
West End: Blue Duck Tavern
You can eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the BDT terrace that also serves as the restaurant’s herb garden. Those who play well with others should sit at the 12-seat communal table because it’s carved from a 50,000 year-old slab of an ancient Kauri tree. While you’re there, drink something botanical like the Ramos Gin Fizz, a New Orleans classic made with Bombay Dry Gin, fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, half and half, egg white, orange flower water, and club soda.
The Poste patio is always bumping, and never lets you down when it comes to people watching. The playful patio menu has a section called "Fun Stuff", where you’ll find dishes like a chicken liver parfait or a crazy-good pickle plate, but you can also get old standbys like the onion soup burger, chorizo mussels, beer clams, and truffle frites. Sip on a seasonal gin and tonic or three.
Woodley Park: Open City
Swing by this neighborhood gem that’s a coffeehouse, diner, and bar. It’s by the same folks who brought us The Coupe, Tryst, and The Diner, only the patio at Open City slays it. They have a special set of "Patio Sippers" to enjoy with the sun on your shoulders, like the Mexican Radio with cucumber, pineapple juice, mezcal, simple syrup, and soda. There are plenty of opportunities to snag a coveted seat because they’re open 6am ‘til close.
Dupont Circle: Tabard Inn
This charming courtyard will score you big points on a date, so make sure you play this outdoor dining card at just the right time. It’s cozy in a secret-garden sort of way and Tabard Inn is no stranger to slinging impressive cocktails. So go ahead and gaze at each other over Sazeracs or Chorizo Manhattans because yea, those exist. Tabard serves light fare on the patio every day starting at 4:30pm.
Columbia Heights: Red Derby
Your laid-back outdoor option has arrived. If the martini-sipping, suit-wearing experience of some of these other spots makes you wince, just head to Red Derby where $10 or less will buy you a beer and shot combo and a good time. Oh, and in case you’re wondering: mac and cheese wedges DO taste better outside.
Another unpretentious option for outdoor imbibing is the roof at 1905. It’s a sharp contrast from the medieval/church/French thing the dining room has going on. So head on up for bar snacks and libations in a more modern setting where you can see the Washington Monument. The beer selection shouldn’t disappoint you.
Bloomingdale: Boundary Stone
Sidewalk seating on Rhode Island Ave, a simple menu that caps off at $16, and a whole lot of whiskey make Boundary Stone a good outdoor option in up-and-coming Bloomingdale. Their chili cheese half smoke is miles ahead of Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Bacon (Jam) Burger is banging. Take your time going through their 100+ whiskey list.
Georgetown: Farmers Fishers Bakers
Founding Farmer’s waterfront friend is the best place to drink outside in G-town thanks to its never-ending supply of tiki drinks. Scorpion bowls? Check. Mai Tais? Check. Daquiris? Check. And then some. The drink list is almost as long as the something-for-everyone food menu, and that’s saying something. So pull up a sidewalk seat and go on a brief vacation.
Glover Park: Bourbon
They have two patios and just completed some renovations that debuted this month -- like adding a TV for starters. Visit on Wednesdays when you can get a 22oz bottle of Goose Island Matilda at half price. Or, go with what their name suggests and try one of six different whiskey flights. They also serve brunch 11:30am-4pm on the weekend.
1. Roofers Union2446 18th St NW, Washington
2. Le Diplomate1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC
3. Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar1104 H St NE, Washington
4. Vinoteca1940 11th St NW, Washington
5. DNV Rooftop Pool Bar1155 14th St NW, Washington
6. Chez Billy3815 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC
7. Blue Duck Tavern1201 24th St NW, Washington
8. Poste555 8th St, NW , Washington
9. Open City2331 Calvert St NW, Washington
10. Tabard Inn1739 N Street NW, Washington D.C
11. Red Derby3718 14th St NW, Washington
12. 1905 Garden1905 9th St NW, Washington
13. Boundary Stone116 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington
14. Farmers Fishers Bakers3000 K St NW, Washington
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.
Le Diplomate is a Logan Circle brasserie from acclaimed restaurateur Stephen Starr, meaning you can count on its classic French dishes to be consistently tasty. From hors d'oeuvres like steak tartare with quail egg to entrees like moules frites, the menu is brimming with traditional and delectable choices. They even have a killer burger on a house-baked brioche bun. Be sure to grab a sidewalk seat for that extra Parisian feel.
Bathed in the violet glow of black lights and serving up an adult slushy called "Awesomeness", Little Miss Whiskey's is a New Orleans-themed haunt with a sticky floor and a good heart. Keep it a little more relaxed downstairs or head up a floor to a DJ-fueled dance party.
U Street's favorite wine hideaway comes with a back "plaza" featuring an old-world fountain-clad, brick-enclosed bocce court, plus a bar pouring their extensive wine list and taps like Kronenbourg 1664 and Allagash White.
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.
A French bistro seated just north of the Georgia metro, Billy homages its previous tenant (Billy Simpson's House of Seafood & Steak), keeping its original marble floor & wood-burning fireplaces, while adding the vintage appeal of antique couches, chandeliers, and a wall-mounted goose -- so get down there.
A popular brunch, lunch, and dinner spot inside the West End's Park Hyatt, the Blue Duck Tavern offers up hearty fare with the likes of pork belly, short rib hash, and apple pie on the menu. Herald the arrival of spring by brunching al fresco on their outdoor patio, where you might sneak a peek at some seasonal flora and fauna (including a small family of those eponymous ducks!).
Poste has you covered for delicious local beers and craft cocktails ON TAP, like the "That Ginger is a Peach" -- made with bourbon, peach nectar, and Osterwies Hard Ginger Beer.
This Woodley Park gem is a three-in-one coffeehouse, diner, and bar that serves all your favorite American comfort foods from 6am to midnight every day (until 1am on Saturdays and Sundays). The bar menu is heavy on wine and cocktails, especially caffeinated drinks like a brandy-infused chai latte.
After 90yrs of excellence, the Tabard Inn has finally made it -- "it" being our list of Favorite 5 Winter Drinking spots -- thanks to its cozy, fireplaced, mahogany hunting lodge vibe, and cocktails like the pisco/ Allspice Dram/ apple cider Cuzco Mass, and a spiced rum /cinnamon/ orange/ nutmeg mulled cider, which they've clearly put a lot of thought into.
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.
A project three years in the making, the Garden's design mirrors 1905's semi-Victorian interior that's somehow both elegant and homey (is this what rich people's homes are like?), with stained glass and a vine-covered trellis accenting a 60yr-old cypress and steel framing from a Wyoming barn.
Named for the mile markers that once shaped the city, Boundary Stone encapsulates DC style with exposed brick, original tin ceilings, oak bars, and even a stained glass DC flag. The Bloomingdale American restaurant boasts a menu of snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees, with favorites including daily changing deviled eggs and the honey hot chicken with honey hot sauce, bleu cheese, lettuce, and fries. Try one of the eight drafts on tap as you slide into one of the rustic, charcoal-colored wooden booths.
Yes, you guessed it, there are farmers, fishers, and bakers involved in this Georgetown restaurant to bring you fresh seafood, sushi, steak, and baked goods (like beignets with raspberry coulis, hot fudge sauce, and bourbon caramel sauce). A true farm-to-table set up, Farmers Fishers Bakers has a partnership with the North Dakota Farmers Union to provide a seasonal menu of regional farm-sourced comfort food.