Where to Eat and Drink on the Waterfront in DC
Crab shacks and upscale seafood restaurants with epic riverfront views.
One of the best ways to experience DC is by way of water. From Navy Yard to The Wharf and Georgetown, several neighborhoods offer outdoor dining with epic views of the nearby rivers, plus some pretty memorable dining experiences.
Many of these waterfront destinations serve up local seafood, including crabs and oysters from the Chesapeake Bay, with views of the Anacostia. While further adrift in Old Town Alexandria you’ll find a floating Spanish tapas bar and a bar serving tropical cocktails overlooking the Potomac River. So when the DC summer gets stifling, flag down a water taxi and check out these 15 must-try waterfront restaurants in the DC area.
After winning over Washingtonians from its original location in Shaw, All-Purpose Pizzeria is now open in Navy Yard along the waterfront. Overlooking the Anacostia River, the restaurant features close to a dozen pizzas, all cooked to crispy perfection in the deck’s pizza oven. Aside from great pies, you’ll also find the cocktail of the moment here. All-Purpose is making a Dirty Shirley with housemade grenadine and pomegranate juice, plus orange bitters, Tito's, lemon-lime soda, fresh lime, and a Luxardo cherry on top.
BARCA Pier & Wine Bar
In an area teeming with great restaurants, many of which are situated along the water, BARCA Pier & Wine Bar takes it up a notch. This floating bar on the Potomac has unobstructed views of the DC skyline—and you can’t get much more quintessential Old Town than that. The bar and restaurant focuses on Spanish-style tapas like patatas bravas, jumbo garlic shrimp, and octopus prepared like you might order in Barcelona. On the drinks side, you can also do as the Spaniards do and order up a fancy gin and tonic or a Rioja wine.
Captain Billy's Crab House
For Marylanders, a visit to the crab shack is a rite of summertime passage. So to get an authentic crab house experience without straying too far from DC, head to Captain Billy’s. While there are crab destinations right in the District proper, none offer the same dockside vibe along the Potomac River as this spot. Order up freshly steamed Chesapeake Bay crabs doused in Old Bay seasoning, and you can tack on some jumbo lump crab cakes, traditional Maryland crab soup, or a not-so-traditional crab pizza. It’s the perfect place to learn that yes, Maryland does in fact put crab on everything.
CUT by Wolfgang Puck
CUT by Wolfgang Puck is a buzzy Georgetown bar and restaurant with a steakhouse-centric menu. The dining room has a luxurious and tranquil feel with outdoor seating along the C&O Canal towpath. While the restaurant itself is nestled in the heart of Georgetown, head to the rooftop bar, CUT Above, for striking views of the neighborhood’s famed waterfront. The glam bar is set against the capital's iconic skyline and outfitted with plush lounge furniture, offering a stylish space for elevated bar fare, refreshing cocktails, and striking views.
The views and the seafood towers can’t be beat at Fiola Mare, a longtime favorite nautical restaurant on the Georgetown Waterfront. The menu features upscale Mediterranean dishes, including fresh Italian pastas like stuffed seashell pasta and a seafood pasta with cockles, middleneck, and surf clams. Whether you’re seated on the balcony or near a waterfront window, you’ll have excellent views of mega-yachts docking along the Potomac River.
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Hank's Oyster Bar
With multiple locations in the DC area, Hank’s Oyster Bar is a sure bet no matter which neighborhood you’re in—but the most iconic experience can only be found at The Wharf.
Here you can slurp freshly shucked oysters or order up an oversized raw bar plateau with a side of views of the water taxi and pier or start your day off sampling the brunch menu.
Meaning “wharf” in Japanese, Hatoba is serving up Hawaiian-Japanese dishes that can be enjoyed indoors or along the Anacostia River. The restaurant recently released a new menu featuring coconut shrimp with honey-coconut sauce and steamed broccoli, pulled pork sliders on King's Hawaiian Rolls, and a vegetarian Caesar salad with rice crisps, pecorino, black garlic dressing, and nori.
Hummingbird Bar & Kitchen
Award-winning chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong have returned to Alexandria for a second act with Hummingbird. The restaurant is tucked away inside Alexandria’s Indigo Hotel and has sweeping views of the river and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It’s a menu full of seafood delights including a clambake special, fish fries, and roasted oysters. And the menu goes with the flow, changing by season, and sourcing ingredients from local Mid-Atlantic farms.
Situated at the tip of Buzzard Point, where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers meet, this expansive restaurant is located in the former U.S. Coast Guard headquarters. Top dishes include the warm crab donuts, Ivy City fish board, and a whole steamed lobster shipped in from Maine. Inside you’ll find accents of sturdy fisherman equipment throughout the space, while the outdoor patio and open-air bar seats more than 140 guests with terrific views of the waterfront.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar
What started as an oyster shucking outpost in DC’s Union Market has now turned into a flagship restaurant in The Wharf neighborhood, the location of the historic Southwest Municipal Fish Market. Rappahannock Oyster Company is one of the most lauded oyster producers in the Chesapeake Bay region, hailing from Virginia’s Northern Neck region. Expect tasty small plates and entrees, including arguably the best crab cakes in town, as well as tuna tartare and oysters served on the half shell or fried to perfection. The beer and wine lists are impressive, and the cocktail program highlights seasonal flavors and local distillers.
The Salt Line
While this spot is a local favorite for fueling up near Nationals Park, the top-notch seafood menu makes it a good pick whether the Nats are at home or away. With a menu of New England meets Chesapeake coastal fare including fried clam bellies, seafood towers, 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.
For a tropical vacation feel without leaving behind views of the Jefferson Memorial and East Potomac Park, head to Tiki TNT. This bar and distillery hybrid has three levels of seating, plus a craft rum distillery on the ground floor offering tastings and tours. As such, most of the cocktails showcase Thrasher’s Rum, which is made right on site, and fall into the category of classic tiki cocktail riffs. Head to the waterfront bar during happy hour, and you’ll find high energy, daiquiris flowing, and a signature pour of Thrasher’s with a mixer for only $5.
Foggy Bottom may not be known for scenic views, but if you find yourself in this bustling college neighborhood or over by the Lincoln Memorial, take an easy walk north to The Kennedy Center’s Victura Park. The recently opened venue features ample greenspace and a wine and beer garden, all atop the iconic performing arts venue. The grilling station features simple but tasty options from brats to burgers and chicken sandwiches, in addition to a phenomenal drink list. Whether you BYO picnic blanket or romp around with a leashed furry friend, this sprawling space is a new summertime favorite.
Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge
Vola’s Dockside Grill is another favorite located along Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront. The restaurant features a slate of local oysters and other fresh seafood, alongside cocktails, beer, and wine in a relaxed waterfront setting. After noshing on crab cakes and Virginia oysters, head next door to Hi-Tide Lounge to finish off your night sipping tropical cocktails on the riverside.