16 Heated Outdoor Seating Options for DC’s Coldest Winter Days
From heated courtyards to winterized tents with cozy blankets, here are DC’s warmest outdoor dining options.
Got the winter blues? As winter deals us one punishing blow after another with snowy weather and chilly temperatures, it can be hard to get off the couch underneath all those blankets. Fortunately, some of DC’s best restaurants and bars are enticing you to pay them a visit with heated patios and courtyards, plus winterized tents, cozy blankets, warm beverages, and fire pits to keep you toasty all winter long.
The fact is in the DMV region, restaurants are still facing the reality of COVID-19 and variants which may impact their bottom line. All the more reason to get out there—yes even if the temperature is below freezing—and support your favorite establishments and new additions to the city. So bundle up and check out this list of 16 restaurants offering the warmest outdoor dining in DC this winter.
Just as you’d see in the city it's inspired by, outdoor drinking is king at Dauphine’s. The New Orleans-inspired restaurant has a winterized bar outdoors where revelers can enjoy happy hour specials on beer, wine, cocktails, and snacks including deviled eggs, black-eyed pea falafel ($6), and local Harris Creek oysters ($2 each), alongside the standard menu from chef Kristen Essig outside the 5 to 6:30 pm happy hour window.
The next stop on the red line is a one-way trip to some good vibes and heated outdoor fun this winter. Metrobar is a transit-oriented, adult playground that includes food trucks, art, and a bar that’s heated through winter. You’ll find an old metro car parked here next to the bar, plus winterized elements like heated tents, deck lamps, fire pits, and hot cocktails. People really turn out for trivia night (Thursdays) and monthly karaoke, which includes hot cocoa this winter.
This restaurant inside the Four Season Hotel has created a winter wonderland in its courtyard for an alpine getaway experience where you can reserve a heated dining chalet suite for up to six people. These custom-built chalets, named after iconic Four Seasons Ski Resorts, offer one of the best heated and outdoor dining experiences in the city. The full menu is available for dining including its signature burger and french fries and a wide array of prime beef and seafood options.
For French-style fine dining and a cozy greenhouse experience to set the mood for a romantic date night, book one of the outdoor glass enclosures at Bresca. These private seating areas will protect you from the elements and blankets can help keep you cozy as chef Ryan Ratino prepares a decadent chef’s tasting menu with the option to add on caviar or foie gras.
This brewery is situated along the W&OD Trail making it an excellent option for the outdoorsy type who wants to get some wintertime sweat equity in, then cool off with a relaxing pint of craft beer or one of the best options for a fried chicken sandwich in town. The Caboose Tavern menu leans to Appalachian cuisine (think eggs and grits) with several seasonal veggie options too. You can enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner on the heated patio, which is open year-round. It’s also the perfect spot to watch walkers, joggers, and bikers coming down the trail, plus it’s pet-friendly.
Calico’s urban backyard in Blagden Alley was made for outdoor dining—even in the winter months. The walled-in, multi-level space has a wooden deck terrace and turf lawn below, and this winter, the space is equipped with heaters, picnic tables, string lights, lush planters, and a metal greenhouse, epitomizing the backyard hangout vibe. The menu follows suit, with homestyle options: loaded tots, Philly-style tomato pie, buffalo cauliflower dip, and warm beverages like hot toddies and spiked cider.
Comet Ping Pong
Comet Ping Pong has stood firm as a neighborhood favorite, and it continues to be one of the best pizzerias in the city after more than 15 years of service. Outdoor tables are always an option here (with a fire pit and outdoor bar added for the colder months), and ping pong is back for some youthful distractions after a sit-down dinner of build-your-own pies and craft beer on draft.
Logan Circle's casual neighborhood cafe serves an all-day menu of breakfast and brunch, plus lunch, dinner, and snacks and smoothies for a mid-afternoon boost. The streetery along P Street is a cozy place to people watch, stay cozy under blankets, and enjoy comforting dishes like shakshuka served in a bubbling skillet with roasted tomato sauce, red peppers, baked eggs, and onions.
Rose Previte and her team worked hard to bring an around-the-world vibe to a restaurant known for dishes inspired by travel destinations. From Georgian khachapuri to handcrafted cocktails from Argentina, this spot has something for every wanderlust—especially this winter, when you’re yearning to hop on a plane to a warmer destination. A streetery in front of the restaurant is meant to feel as if you’re riding the rails of the Trans Siberian Railway, and out back, a private patio is primed for intimate get-togethers.
With three locations in Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Woodley Park, Duke’s is an easy option for burger cravings or a boozy patio brunch. Each location has see-and-be-seen seating that’s heated and protected to keep you warm and snug. The menu has some comforting options as well, including the famous proper burger, Vietnamese fried rice, and truffle mac ‘n cheese.
To feel the warmth of Puerto Rico without going anywhere near Reagan or Dulles, La Famosa delivers with a heated patio and the flavorful cuisine of the island. The spot’s wrap-around patio offers plenty of room, making this highly anticipated restaurant a safe bet for outdoor dining at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. An all-day menu and walk-up coffee counter serve 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.
Known for its seasonal Mid-Atlantic menu items, Nina May features a winterized and covered patio that adds about 55 seats to the restaurant, plus a streetery pavilion with personal heaters and blankets, plus a roof to keep you protected from unpredictable weather. It’s a popular option particularly during weekend brunch service when you and your friends can let the kitchen call the shots with a chef’s choice menu offering family-style portions reasonably priced at $26 per person.
Opening a food hall during a pandemic comes with more than a few challenges. Fortunately, the new 12,500 square-foot space from Neighborhood Restaurant Group was designed to be an enormous space that also includes heated outdoor seating. Grab a spot on the patio and vendors that cover tacos, coffee, pizza, a butcher shop, sushi, and an ice cream sundae bar.
The Salt Line
This may be the venue of choice for celebrating Nats victories, but in the off-season, it’s a cozy place to keep warm thanks to heated and covered space. The Navy Yard location is a waterside eatery that has a 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 smash burgers. Add a few draft beers on a football Sunday as you sit on the waterfront patio, or check out their most recent addition: a Ballston location with ample space for social distancing.
There is nothing more satisfying than a bubbling cauldron of fondue when the temperatures dip. H Street’s Swiss-style restaurant and bar serves just that with an experience like you might get it in the Alps. The streetery exudes an apres-ski experience complete with cozy blankets to help keep you warm as you dive deep into a traditional fondue pot with three kinds of cheese: Schlossberger Old, Schlossberger Young, and Vacherin cooked with garlic and white wine.
St. Vincent Wine
This wine garden is always hopping regardless of how cold it is outside. That’s because the entire backyard is heated and filled with revelers who are also staying warm with bottles of wines sourced from around the world. It’s an appetizing way to get through winter, especially since the charcuterie and cheese boards can be built to your custom specifications. Did we mention this bar routinely hosts live jazz music? It’s a sure bet to help get you through even the darkest of wintertime blues.