19 Standout Places to Eat and Drink Outside in DC Right Now
From waterfront seafood restaurants to lush gardens, there’s an al fresco spot for every occasion.
DC is a city full of awe-inspiring sights, from giant monuments on the National Mall to picturesque blocks in idyllic, tucked away neighborhoods. So when the weather cooperates, it’s almost a given that you should book a table to eat or drink outside.
With rooftop bars offering views of the entire city and laid-back seafood restaurants opening up patios along the Potomac River, DC restaurants are catering to outdoor dining enthusiasts so there’s something for everyone. So check out our list of the best places to eat and drink outside in DC this season, and get out there.
Bark Social Bethesda
If you want to meet friends for happy hour without leaving your furry friends behind, Bark Social is the place for you. This bar and restaurant meets dog park offers 30,000 square feet of space with plenty of adirondack chairs and picnic tables for humans, and plenty of green space running off-leash. The space’s indoor and outdoor bars have treats for you and your pup like Maryland-made drafts from brewers like Denizens and Port City Brewing, wine and hard seltzers, coffee from Ceremony Coffee, and even a few brews made for dogs by Good Boy Dog Beer.
Calico’s urban backyard in Blagden Alley is one of The District’s best known spots for outdoor dining—no matter the season. The walled-in, multi-level space has a wooden deck terrace and turf lawn below equipped with picnic tables, string lights, lush planters, and a metal greenhouse, epitomizing the backyard hangout vibe. The menu follows suit, with laid-back bar bites: Loaded Tots, Philly-style Tomato Pie, Buffalo Cauliflower Dip, and refreshing cocktails served in cute pouches.
Dacha Beer Garden
Both the Shaw and Navy Yard locations of one of DC’s favorite beer gardens offer ample outdoor space to sip and take in some prime people watching as you savor the seasonal temps. Dacha’s menu focuses on German beer with dozens of options to choose from, but the bar also stocks some local DC brews and a menu of Bavaria's best from bratwurst and schnitzel to oversized pretzels.
Just as you’d see in the city it's inspired by, outdoor eating (and especially drinking) is king at Dauphine’s. The New Orleans-inspired restaurant from chef Kristen Essig has a covered bar and seating area outdoors where revelers can enjoy specials on beer, wine, cocktails, and snacks including Black-Eyed Pea Falafel and local Harris Creek oysters, alongside a menu that melds Creole- and Chesapeake-inspired cuisine.
Sunset views pair perfectly with happy hour at The Imperial—a restaurant that faces west and overlooks the intersection of 18th Street and Florida Avenue in Adams Morgan. The rooftop bar’s menu includes $9 bar snacks like Lump Crab Deviled Eggs with lemon, tarragon, and Old Bay seasoning, as well as Mini Shrimp Rolls tossed in lemon sherry dressing with celery and capers. Add cocktails to your tab, like the Ice Cold Sunshine, a sparkling drink with Amontillado Sherry, sweet vermouth, and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon plus Trinity bitters—it’ll pair perfectly with sunset views.
From the lamp-lit stone entryway to the back courtyard with wisteria vines, Iron Gate is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city and was practically made for dining al fresco. Chef Anthony Chittum, who has helmed the restaurant since it opened nearly a decade ago, offers up a menu of Mediterranean dishes that match a wine list of Greek and Italian varietals. It’s an instant trip to Greece without jet lag.
If you’re looking to host a garden party with friends but lack the outdoor space, book it to Lulu’s Wine Garden. The open and airy space is accented by warm, earthy color tones, natural woods, twinkling string lights, and glowing candles, making it hard to pick between the adorable streetery or the expansive backyard. Golden hour is a particularly appealing time to visit the wine garden—especially considering the wine, cocktail, and food deals on weekdays from 5 to 6 pm, Fridays from 4 to 6 pm, and Sundays from 3 to 8 pm.
You may have spent summer days leisurely lounging on the steps of Adams Morgan’s see-and-be-seen hotel or dining on fresh, farm-to-table dishes inside at The Line’s lobby restaurant, No Goodbyes. But this year as the weather warms up, the hotel is kicking off a new happy hour series on the steps where you can order discounted drinks and the restaurant’s beloved Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich to enjoy al fresco. Stay tuned for details about other summertime happenings on the steps, including ice cream socials courtesy of DC’s very own Happy Ice Cream.
Nicholas Stefanelli’s waterside restaurant comes packed with outdoor options spread over three stories. On the ground floor, shoppers can peruse the olives, prosciutto, and other take-home goods at an indoor-outdoor artisanal market and cafe. Meanwhile, the second floor features a full-scale restaurant with sweeping views of the Potomac focused on bold flavors of southern Italy, and the top floor houses a rooftop bar and private dining space for special celebrations.
How to book: Via Tock
What was once a kitschy, cozy, and historic tavern, known as Mrs. K’s Toll House, is now a maximalist beer garden and restaurant that caters to 20- and 30-somethings. In the garden, you’ll find picnic tables plus elevated pub fare like Cheesy Chesapeake Crab Dip, but the indoor space also plays host to a barrel room with an extensive wine menu, plus dozens of Maryland craft beers.
How to book: Via Tock
Situated along the W&OD Trail, Caboose Tavern is an excellent option for the outdoorsy type who wants to get some sweat equity in before cooling off with a relaxing pint of craft beer or one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in town. The brewpub’s menu leans toward Appalachian cuisine (think Venison Burgers, Braised Wild Boar, and Crab Hushpuppies) with several seasonal veggie options, too. You can enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner on the patio, which is open year-round, while watching walkers, joggers, and bikers coming down the trail.
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. And to continue with the worldly theme, the streetery and tent in the backyard of the restaurant is decorated in tribute to Ukraine this season.
The next stop on the red line is a one-way trip to some outdoor fun. Metrobar is a transit-oriented, adult playground that includes food trucks, art, and a bar with a sprawling balcony. The space is centered around an old Metro car, and beyond exploring the space, Metrobar hosts fun recurring events like trivia night on Thursdays, live music on Fridays, and routine yappy hours for dog lovers.
With three locations in Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Woodley Park, Duke’s Grocery is an easy option to cure burger cravings or indulge in a boozy patio brunch. Each location has ample outdoor seating options, and the menu has dishes for every season including the famous Proper Burger, Vietnamese Fried Rice, and Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese.
To feel the warmth of Puerto Rico no matter what’s going on with DC’s weather, La Famosa delivers with outdoor seating 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 covered patio that adds about 55 seats to the restaurant, plus a streetery pavilion 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 perfect for when your group can’t seem to decide what to order.
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 ample 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
Whether you’re channeling game-day energy in the off-season or celebrating a Nats victory, The Salt Line is a lively go-to near Nationals Park any time of year. With a menu of New England meets Chesapeake coastal fare including Fried Clam Bellies, Seafood Towers, and Nashville Hot Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches and plenty of brews on draft, it’s sure to please. The waterside eatery offers a covered patio and bar area for that inevitable rain-delayed game and you can also kick back in an Adirondack chair for a leisurely afternoon.
St. Vincent Wine
This wine garden occupies an enormous backyard that’s filled with revelers leisurely sipping from bottles of wines sourced from around the world. It’s an appetizing entree for warmer weather, especially since the charcuterie and cheese boards can be built to your custom specifications. Did we mention this bar routinely hosts live jazz? It’s a sure bet for your spring social agenda.