Washington DC

19 Outdoor Dining Spots to Enjoy in DC This Spring

Covered patios, waterfront seating, and pretty garden courtyards.

Ada’s on the River
Ada’s on the River | Photo Courtesy of Ada’s on the River
Ada’s on the River | Photo Courtesy of Ada’s on the River

Spring-like weather has arrived in Washington DC, and restaurants and bars are turning down their portable heaters to make way for seasonably refreshing patios, rooftops, alleyways, and even roadways, known as “streateries.”

While some restrictions have loosened around the region and many still are eagerly embracing the opportunity to regain a modicum of normalcy by sitting on a patio for a glass of rosé or a chef-prepared meal, business owners are still facing the reality that COVID-19 and several variants may impact their bottom line in 2021.

But we have come a long way since a year ago. After some pendulum swings back and forth, restaurants and bars are once again allowed to serve indoors operating at a capacity limit of 25 percent. Still, many people feel more comfortable dining and drinking outdoors, which is why you’re continuing to see restaurants get creative with outdoor lights, fire pits, and landscaping.

While a lot has changed in a short amount of time, what shouldn’t change is your loyalty to some of your favorite restaurants and bars. The simple fact is that restaurants need your support, now more than ever. Here are several outdoor dining options to enjoy around Washington DC this spring.

Ada’s on the River opened in Old Town just in time for spring weather, and even added 100 outdoor seats to its waterfront area. The restaurant is a homage to 19th-century mathematician Ada Lovelace and offers a sweeping view of the Potomac with wood-fired prime steaks, fresh seafood, and vegetarian fare. The wood-burning oven is a central component to the open-concept kitchen, nestled under a sweeping hull-like wood panel, and accented with vibrant red tiles. The culinary team is led by Chef Randall Matthews and includes a range of menu options from delicious hors d’oeuvres to multi-course plated meals. The most recent addition is the weekday lunch service from 11:30 am to 4 pm.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Bourbon Steak

Georgetown

The Four Seasons reopened Bourbon Steak after a kitchen fire temporarily shut down the restaurant last summer. Safety is taken very seriously here. All guests are temperature checked upon entering the hotel and paper and QR-code menus are used to place orders. The patio has also increased in size to accommodate more outdoor diners. And available from Wednesday through Sunday, Bourbon Steak offers a private dining experience including four different cocktails and Champagnes by Moët Hennessy. You’ll also stay cozy with more than a dozen fire pits and individual blankets washed for each use. It’s a great place to celebrate an anniversary, birthday, or some other special occasion. Just don’t forget to order dessert. Tableside s’mores come served in a smokey effect.

Calico

Shaw

Calico’s urban backyard in Blagden Alley was made for outdoor dining. The walled-in, multi-level space—with a wooden deck terrace and a turf lawn below—is equipped with picnic tables, string lights, lush planters, and a metal greenhouse frame, epitomizing the neighborhood cookout vibe. The menu follows suit, with loaded tots, Philly-style tomato pie, watermelon salad, BBQ brisket sandwiches, plus draft and frozen cocktails. And timed reservations, plus contact tracing, is in full effect for your personal safety

Comet Ping Pong

Chevy Chase

Comet Ping Pong has stood firm to its neighborhood clientele through thick and thin, and it continues to be one of the best family-friendly pizzerias after more than 15 years of service. Outdoor tables are always an option here, and ping pong is back for some youthful distractions from a sitdown dinner of build-your-own pies and craft beer on draught. 

Duke's Grocery

Multiple locations

With two locations in Dupont Circle and Woodley Park, each with see-and-be-seen outdoor seating, Duke’s is an easy option for burger cravings or a boozy patio brunch. You certainly can’t go wrong with the proper burger, just be sure to add an egg on top, or if you’re craving some late-night eats, the “after hours” menu offers Vietnamese fried rice and truffle mac-n-cheese. Reservations are required in advance.

La Famosa
Photo Courtesy of La Famosa

La Famosa

Navy Yard

La Famosa features the flavorful cuisine of Puerto Rico. A wrap-around patio makes this highly anticipated restaurant a safe bet for outdoor dining at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Inside there is an all-day menu and walk-up coffee counter serving a variety of savory and sweet-fried turnovers called Pastelillos, as well as locally roasted beans from Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis. For happy hour, the bar leans into tropical-inspired drinks, like piña coladas, guava smashes, and nonalcoholic batidos aka tropical fruit blended with milk, sugar, and ice.

It’s the patio everyone in upper Northwest has been talking about, and it’s one of the latest additions to the namesake neighborhood, open for breakfast and dinner. On most weekdays, people gravitate to Glover Park Grill for the no-fuss cafe menu, which includes homemade pastries and bagels paired with coffees. Meanwhile, the dinner menu is family-friendly. There’s an expansive kids’ menu plus nostalgic dishes, such as roasted chicken, shrimp and grits, and wood-fired pizzas sure to satisfy every eater.

HalfSmoke

U Street

The patio at HalfSmoke is a shady, secluded spot with sofas, picnic-style seating, and globe lights hanging overhead. The entire menu is available outside, but the main event is as the name suggests: a bevy of sausages that can be customized with toppings and sauces of your choosing. The barbecue spot also has snacks like crab fries and mac and cheese bites, plus sandwiches, flatbreads, cocktails, and fully loaded alcoholic milkshakes, ready for their Instagram close-up.

Hi-Lawn
Photo Courtesy of Hi-Lawn

Hi-Lawn

Union Market

The rooftop of Union Market is the perfect place to meet friends in a safe socially distanced space with a view of the Capitol Building. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance—tables book up fast here. This spring, chefs Greg Algie and Nathan Beauchamp are pulling out all the stops, including raw oysters, tomato soup and grilled cheese, charcuterie plates, and brunch items like French toast, lox platters, and mimosas.

Immigrant Food
Photo Courtesy of Immigrant Food

With very little foot traffic downtown these days, Chef Enrique Limardo’s Immigrant Food continues to serve food for a cause at lunch and dinner. The space helps raise public awareness of immigrant communities and frequently hosts fundraisers and events for local nonprofits in support of refugees and immigrants. The fast-casual menu and cocktails span several countries’ cuisines. Try a salad bowl that pays homage to the Jamaican and Indian heritage of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Makan

Columbia Heights

Looking for a weekend brunch to transport you thousands of miles away? Then, book a table at Makan, which has an outdoor patio and serves Malaysian cuisine mixed with brunch staples, like biscuits topped with a coconut egg jam called Kaya. Chef James Wozniuk and his team are known for serving up curry and noodle dishes filled with spice and heat flavors. Even the Bloody Mary here packs some spice, thanks to the addition of Belacan sauce—or Malaysian-style sambal with dried shrimp, fresh, and dried chilis.

Moon Rabbit
Moon Rabbit | Photo Courtesy of Moon Rabbit

Moon Rabbit

The Wharf

Named for the virtuous rabbit in the Buddhist Jataka tale, this modern Vietnamese restaurant has its own virtuous eats and views of the Potomac River. Moon Rabbit’s heated patio is front and center at The Wharf, plus the menu features the talents of Chef Kevin Tien, who serves up a love-letter to his heritage as a first-generation Asian American. The menu is a mix of family nostalgia, with dishes such as milk buns (a family recipe) plus some critically acclaimed dishes like hamachi crudo, grilled prawns, and lemongrass pork blade.

Nina May
Nina May | Photo Courtesy of Nina May

Known for its seasonal Mid-Atlantic menu items, Nina May recently debuted an all-weather glass, covered patio that adds 55 seats to a heat-adjusted dining environment, perfect for those chillier spring evenings. And as the warmer weather approaches, the roof can be retracted and the glass sides lowered for a total outdoor seating of 70 people, plus limited indoor and rooftop dining as well.

Reverie

Georgetown

After a short break as a to-go restaurant, serving up some of Georgetown’s best pizza, Reverie is back to its fanciful and fine cuisine served by Chef Johnny Spero. The back patio off Grace Street is the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary or take a break with an intimate date night. The restaurant, which is rooted in Mid-Atlantic, farm-fresh ingredients, is featuring an eight-course tasting menu that must be reserved and prepaid for in advance through Tock. Dishes rotate weekly and recent features include smoked Wagyu brisket, puffed cod topped with spruce honey, and Belon oysters topped with granita.

The Roost
Photo By Stacey Windsor

The Roost

Capitol Hill

Opening a food hall during a pandemic comes with several challenges. Fortunately, the new 12,500 square-foot space from Neighborhood Restaurant Group was designed to be an enormous space and there are COVID-19 safety procedures. Enjoy heated patio space outdoors and distanced indoor space between stalls that currently include tacos, coffee, pizza, a butcher shop, sushi, and an ice cream sundae bar. Most folks gravitate to the outdoor beer garden, which serves Bluejacket beers on tap. We especially appreciate the flexibility of ordering food directly to the table using a QR-code menu.

The Salt Line

Navy Yard

The venue of choice for Nat’s victory celebrations continues service on its massive patio, serving up New England-meets-Chesapeake coastal fare. Chow down on fried clam bellies, seafood towers, Nashville hot soft-shell crab sandwiches, lobster rolls, and New England smash burgers. Add a few draft beers on a football Sunday or Saturday brunch.

Taqueria Al Lado

Adams Morgan

The vacant Osteria Al Volo is now a Mexican-style taqueria serving up street foods you might find in Oaxaca. The restaurant opened in early March and has an entire back half of dining that is roofless for heated outdoor dining. Chef Rolando Frias is grinding corn by hand into masa. You’ll find almost a dozen different tacos—including pork, chicken, beef, fish, and vegan options —plus trendy birria-style tacos, braised then served on a tortilla soaked in the meaty broth.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Taqueria Las Gemelas
Taqueria Las Gemelas | Photo Courtesy of Taqueria Las Gemelas

Taqueria Las Gemelas is a new taqueria offering tacos, quesadillas, tlayudas, churros, and soft-serve ice cream, as well as a selection of pantry items like tortillas and mole to take home for DIY-dinners. Also find $9 margarita, and canned Latin wines, available to order from a walk-up window alongside some sidewalk seating. Nearby neighbors will certainly want to plan their visit early for breakfast tacos and $2 coffee from Counter Culture, served daily from 7:30 to 10:30 am.

Tiki TNT

The Wharf

The vacant Osteria Al Volo is now a Mexican-style taqueria serving up street foods you might find in Oaxaca. The restaurant opened in early March and has an entire back half of dining that is roofless for heated outdoor dining. Chef Rolando Frias is grinding corn by hand into masa. You’ll find almost a dozen different tacos—including pork, chicken, beef, fish, and vegan options —plus trendy birria-style tacos, braised then served on a tortilla soaked in the meaty broth.

Tim Ebner is a contributor for Thrillist. 
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