The weather is perfect for some outdoor day drinking (just as long as you don’t mind your G&T coming with a side of thunderstorms). This is why, every SPRING/SUMMER season, we publish a handy outdoor drinking (and eating) guide. A lot of last year’s selections are still very much applicable and partially used here, but we’ll focus on places we’re especially pumped for this season. Check it out.
IMPORTANT LINK TO PERUSE BEFORE DIGGING IN:
- Check out our EAT + DRINK SECTION for the latest new restaurants, food news, drink diaries and how-tos with the pros and then some.
Categories we’re about to cover below are:
- New Kids On The Block
- Great Happy Hours
- Food (because it tastes good)
- Date/Intimate Spots
- Lots of Action/People Watching
- Forever Favorites
So, let’s dig in
(all photos: Shauna Alexander, Oliver Bendorf, Kimberly Cadena, Dakota Fine, Sarah Gerrity, Steve Jeter, Nicholas Karlin, Priya Konings, Svetlana Legetic, Franz Mahr, Jeff Martin, Britt Elyse Nelson, Cesar Olivares, Shira Stoll, Clarissa Villondo unless otherwise noted)
America Eats – The menu at America Eats is American food. A hush puppy recipe that originated in Arkansas. A vermicelli mac ‘n’ cheese that originated in Pennsylvania. An AET burger recipe that originated in New York. On the menu nearly all of the mains and most of the starters list the place of origin for the recipe of each item. And since America Eats is about American food, they’re all American recipes. Check out more about America Eats here…
Bombay Street Food 2 – Culled from owner Asad Sheikh’s memories of growing up in Bombay, the menu is stacked with (you guess it) a cornucopia of street food. From the huge Thali plates to a monsoon based menu, the variety can’t be beat. And neither can the price. Appetizers start at $5 and peak at $7. Entrees start at $8 and top out at $18. The most expensive thing on the menu is the Thali for two, which will set you back $35. For two people, our meal cost about $36 and we both took home decently sized leftovers. To be fair, neither of us drank, but you can get a house wine for $6 or down a Blue Moon for $5. Craft brews like DC Brau and 3 Stars will cost you $6, but I’ve certainly paid more for beers from both of those breweries in this city. Sometimes it feels like D.C. is trying to nickel and dime you at every turn, which makes restaurants like these even more important. Check out more about Bombay Street Food here…
DIRT – DIRT is not a vegan restaurant. It caters to meat-eaters, vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans, gluten-free diners, and even those on the paleo diet. But unlike other restaurants that serve meat, the majority of the menu is vegan or vegan-izable, while the meat options take a backseat. The vegan options reign supreme, with choices ranging from the ever-popular impossible burger to vegan pancakes and beyond. Check out more about DIRT here…
Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill – If you prefer an outdoor table on the C&O Canal, take a seat. Once the canal has water in it again it’ll be even prettier. Check out more about Dyllan’s here…
El Sapo – This indoor/outdoor Cuban restaurant is you a brand new reason to go to Silver Spring. Based on their spacey patio, convenient outdoor bar and the ability to purchase mojitos by the pitcher, El Sapo is going to thrive this summer. This is a great spot to hit up before you catch a movie at AFI, after you see a show at the Fillmore, or if you’re tired of getting pale in the basement of Quarry House. The drinks are tropical and boozy, the kind that pack a soft punch, but the food isn’t to be missed either. Whether you’re in the mood for empanadas, croquetas or yuca, you’re in good hands. If you have a big enough group, I highly recommend you spring for the street food sampler, dotted with all of the above and including some mini cuban sandwiches. You’re going to need something to soak up all those pitchers.
Kennedy Center – The Kennedy Center is old, but their rooftop happy hour series is brand new. The Kennedy Center’s rooftop is an underutilized space. The views can not be beat. It’s rarely an ‘official’ bar, there are three more happy hour events scheduled for summer 2019 (Hey Kennedy Center, if you’re reading this, more happy hours, please), but nothing is stopping you from wandering around the roof before or after a show. This is an especially a good plan if you’re attending a Millennium Stage show. The 6 p.m. start time is great for a pre-show drink and a post-show drink with spectacular sunset. This recommendation will be even greater in September, when The REACH opens.
Laos In Town – For years, Thip Khao has been the only Lao restaurant in the District. Now, we finally have some competition (which is a good thing for anyone like me who wants to eat this spicy southeast cuisine all the time). Because there are so few Laos restaurants in town, a comparison is inevitable. Laos in Town, like Thip Khao, is casual, reasonably priced (with most entrees between $10 and $15) and offers food that will have you coming back repeatedly. Check out more about Laos in Town here…
Little Havana – “Life is beautiful, you must live it” are words by Cuban superstar Celia Cruz. It’s no coincidence that this is one of the lines scrawled throughout Little Havana, 14th and Spring’s newest resident for Cuban/Caribbean fare. The latest offering from Chef Alfredo Solis (of Petworth’s own Mezcalero Cocina Mexicana fame) is serving up more Cubano spice than the name alone suggests. Murals by Ernesto Zelaya saturate the small space meant to seat 60 people with some of Cuba’s most renowned descendents, including Cruz, Che Guevarro and the Washington National Gio Gonzalez. Check out more about Little Havana here…
Lupo Verde Osteria – Why would you hop on the 80 bus and take that slow, long trek out to the Palisades? 1. Because trying new things is fun and 2. You can finally fully enjoy Lupo Verde without battling the crowds on U Street or without having to step a foot onto The Wharf. Lyfts and taxis and buses exist. With the right planning, there’s no excuse not to go anywhere anymore. Check out more about Lupo Verde Osteria here…
Mikko – D.C. Owned an operated by Chef Mikko (what a shocker), the shop focuses on Nordic cuisine, drawing inspiration from classic dishes and ingredients (expect a lot of dill and a lot of rye bread). If you’re not spending your summer traveling to Iceland, Finland or Norway (like everyone else on Instagram), Mikko is definitely the next best thing. You might even be able to fool your friends with a well lit herring shot. Check out more about Mikko here…
Mission Navy Yard – In addition to a perfect baseball stadium adjacent location and a large, two story footprint, another thing that sets Mission Navy Yard apart from other nearby new additions is its happy hour. Running every day from 4 to 7 p.m. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to close, Mission will be the most affordable place to drink good beer before and after games. During happy hour, the DC Brau Dos Brau, a beer exclusive to the restaurant, is only $5.50 for 16 ounces. Their on tap margaritas are $8. Check out more about Mission here…
Napoli Pasta Bar – Napoli is an experience of highs and lows. The location and venue, a cozy spot in Columbia Heights with a charming patio, is a high. The sound absorption in the main dining room is a low. It was so loud inside, I was literally screaming across the table at my husband. But, you can avoid that by snagging a patio spot when the weather is nice. Check out more about Napoli Pasta Bar here…
Nicoletta – Taking over the short lived Morini Piccolo space, Nicoletta is bringing (more) pizza, frozen negronis and an insanely good chicken parm sandwich to Navy Yard. If you’re looking to grab some booze and food before a baseball game, Nicoletta has your back. If you’re looking to get day drunk on frozen negronis and pizza, Nicoletta also has your back. If you’re a parent who is trying to get loose while your kid plays in the nearby wading pool, Nicoletta was made for you. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would absolutely park myself at one of their long tables, feed my kids pizza and watch them splash the day away while I downed in a pool of negronis and chicken parm. Speaking of the chicken parm sandwich, it’s amazing. Order it. If you have to get a pizza, you won’t be disappointed, but the chicken parm sandwich has our hearts.
Officina – After visiting the first two floors, you should go to the rooftop. This is my favorite part of Officina. The market is interesting, the cafe is casual, the dining room offers a view and tasty Italian bites, but the rooftop is what will take your breath away. It has loads of comfy couches for seating, gorgeous fire pits, music, and views of the city. You could literally spend all weekend here day drinking and subsequently, night drinking. Check out more about Officina here…
Pie Shop – Climb the stairs at Dangerously Delicious Pies and enter the Pie Shop, a music venue / bar / place where you can eat pie on a rooftop. If you’re looking to catch some good local acts, drink some solid booze and sneak in a slice of Baltimore Bomb (DDP’s classic pie made with Berger cookies), this is the spot for you.
Pisco y Nazca – Pisco y Nazca passed the only test that matters. It pleased our Peruvian photographer. I am not the expert in Peruvian food. He is. I asked him questions about the piscos and ceviche and everything else. They passed his test. I’ll be back. He will too. Check out more about Pisco y Nazca here…
Punch Bowl Social – The first thing you need to know about Punch Bowl Social is that it’s huge. No, seriously. Whatever size you’re thinking, double it. Standing tall at three full stories made up of 25,000 square feet, this is the kind of place you could get lost in. And that’s almost by design. Small, tucked away hallways lead to lounges with floor to ceiling windows. Round a corner and you might find an old time-y photobooth or a miniature bowling lane. A patio situated on the third floor is almost an afterthought, but its Arlington views and bocce lanes will draw people outside regardless. If you’re meeting friends here, you can’t tell them to meet you at the bar. There are (at least) four of them. Check out more about Punch Bowl Social here…
Zeppelin – Get the opening riff of “Immigrant Song” out of your head. Zeppelin, D.C.’s newest sushi, yakitori and cocktail bar, isn’t a reference to your chill uncle’s favorite band. Instead, the restaurant (which has taken over the old Shaw Bijou space) is both modeled after the golden age of real, live zeppelins and works as a love letter to Japan. The mixture creates a restaurant that feels vintage (the old Godzilla posters, the intricate laser cut bar) and modern (the clean lines, the moody lighting) at the same time. If this doesn’t become the District’s new go-to first date restaurant, I’ll be shocked. Check out more about Zeppelin here…
12 Stories – Do you want to drink at the Wharf? Do you want to be really high? Not high on weed, but physically high? Like many stories above the ground? Like 12 stories above the ground? You’ve come to the right place.
Ambar – Get some INSANE house infused vodka and delicious Balkan tapas while you’re expertly people-watch at Eastern Market spot right on 8th Street. The best part? You’ve got outdoor drinking options. Choose between the sidewalk patio (which only seats 10 so get there fast) or the rooftop patio. Oh, and did we mention there’s happy hour? $4 drinks, $4 small plates. All the best things. Check out more of Ambar here…
Arcuri – Get cozy on Arcuri’s 16- seat patio. Try some of the new additions to the menu like Spanish Octopus, Crispy Fried Artichokes and Spaghetti Primavera. Just want to get drinks after work? Come for happy hour at 4pm – 7pm on Monday through Friday. Happy Hour deals include $2 off draft beer, house wine or draft Prosecco, $4 rail drinks and $3 house-made “cello” shots.
Bar Charley – Great cocktail classics for $5 or $6, food specials starting as low as $1.5 and that perfect 18th street location (With the bonus that the patio is tucked in the back).
Bastille – Bastille beverage director Michael Williams is great. He’s nice and knowledgeable and clearly loves his job. Due to his niceness and knowledge and love customers will benefit from ordering wines and liqueurs they never would have considered. This may be the only place we’re recommending due to the beverage director. -Brandon Wetherbee
Biergarten Haus – Venture down H Street NE and step into one of the city’s most fun and bizarrely authentic outdoor drinking experiences available–Biergarten Haus is home to multiple delicious draft beers, be it Pilsner, Hefe-Weizen, or Lager. Happy hour is Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m., $5 Franziskaner Hefe-Weizen, Paulaner Pils, Becks Maibock, $5 House Wine (White, Red), plus $5 Loaded Fries, Hamburger Sliders, Garden Currywurst.
Chaplin’s – This 1920’s themed Japanese restaurant has a patio seating up to 80 guests. The cocktail menu, created by the Wilder brothers, is great, and the ramen does a great job of soaking up the booze you are consuming (bonus: there are some lighter, summerier versions available now too). Want to go the extra mile, pick out something from their Adult Only menu called “Drunken Masters” with dishes such as the “28 day Dry Aged NY Strip” that was soaked in Yamizake 12 year old scotch for 7 days! On a budget? They also have happy hour at 5-7pm Monday through Friday with half off draft cocktails, beer and wine by the glass. -Mykalee Mcgowan
DC Reynolds – There’s a great patio bar, and the happy hour deal is pretty amazing: 5-9pm, it’s a BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE situation and a perfect start to a swell outdoor drinking season.
Duffy’s – This pre and post 9:30 Club spot was closed and now it’s open and it’s pretty much the same. Their Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour features $5 Guinness, $3 glasses of Pinot Grigio and Malbec (do not go to Duffy’s for wine), $5 rail drinks, $2 off drafts and $3 off pitchers. There’s a weekend happy hour that features grilled cheese. Who doesn’t like grilled cheese?
El Centro D.F. – What goes better than margaritas and guacamole on a hot summer day? Absolutely nothing, we tell you. Enjoy some of the city’s best guac, tequila and tacos in the sunshine. Featuring a taqueria in the front with a taco and burrito ordering station and a sit down dining area (“tequileria”) in the back and downstairs, El Centro D.F. is here to serve up all your Mexican inspired cravings, delivered right to your patio table. Happy hour is daily 4-7 pm, $5 Margaritas, rocks & frozen, Sangrias Mexican Beers, Red & White Wine. 5-9pm, $6 Guacamole, Tacos & more.
El Chucho – Happy hour. Every day. 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. All tacos half price, PLUS anything on tap is $4. This place is responsible for all bad decisions made when I’ve left work at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. Usually ending up passing out in Meridian Hill Park. Memories.
Ghibellina – From 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., sit in the Ghibellina’s window seats, enjoy $4 beer, $5 wine (including a currently very seasonally appropriate Rose), $6 cocktails (including one of the best white wine sangrias around) and a plethora of delightful, Neapolitan pizzas for under $10. This may be our favorite happy hour in the city.
Jack Rose Tiki Bar – Warm weather means the Jack Rose Tiki Bar is reopened. The small, third floor bar within a bar is the somewhat companion bar to the small, basement bar within a bar at Jack Rose, Dram & Grain. Unlike the basement bar, you’ll most likely be able to get a seat at the Tiki Bar. And you’ll be able to enjoy their very good “Tiki Thursdays” happy hour, which runs from 5 to 9 p.m. and features 1/2 prices cocktails and bites. -Brandon Wetherbee
Johnny Pistolas – Mostly a nightmare but Adams Morgan is full of nightmares when it comes to outdoor drinking so it fits right in. It’s the cheapest of the nightmares, so that’s nice. -Brandon Wetherbee
Larry’s Lounge – $3 rails, $3.50 draft special, $4.50 Absolut drinks. And the wine is cheap, too. Basically living the dream. A very sticky dream. They have so many flavored vodkas.
Lincoln – Lincoln’s prime downtown location makes for excellent people-watching, while its focus on small plates makes for the perfect bite to share with friends while you lounge outdoors sipping a glass of wine and taking in the scenery (read: characters). The happy hour specials are solid, and the hours are long (4-7 p.m. every day). Expect $5 PBRs, $5 DC Brau, $6 Lincoln Spirits, and a $35 Emancipation punch which serves 8.
Mussel Bar & Grille – With locations in Bethesda and Arlington, Mussel Bar & Grille offers the best of seafood and American cuisine with its mussels, oysters, brick oven pizza and crab cakes. Enjoy the outdoors at either location, with patios and expansive outdoor seating. The wine menu is impressive and, pro tip, swing by on Monday nights for ½ price bottles. But the beer selection really takes the cake at Mussel, with 140+ bottled options at the Bethesda location and 99 bottled options at the Arlington location, as well as tap and canned selections. What more do you need? -Ruby Rose Lee
Nellie’s – Nellie’s is a whirlpool for intersecting currents of the city, which also happens to have a badass Beat the Clock Happy Hour: beer and cocktails 5-6 pm $2, 6-7 pm $3, and 7-8pm $4. On the rooftop you can see all the way to the National Shrine, there’s a big screen projector that is usually playing something embarrassing, and their bartenders all call you “babe.” The food is quite bomb, and if you get there at dusk, there is sometimes a man at the corner of 9th and U, in front of an office building lobby, shadow boxing his reflection in the glass door.
Pearl Dive – Monday-Friday 4-7pm, the little indoor-outdoor bar/patio is a veritable raw bar oasis. Food and drink specials occur on a rotating basis. But also: Oyster Mania Mondays in both the bar and dining room starting at 4pm to close. All of Pearl Dive’s signature hot oyster appetizers are $7.00. Raw bar oysters on the half shell are 1/2 price.
Red Derby – Get a prime seat on the rooftop with $1 Natty Bohs and other classy specials during happy hour. This is our favorite neighborhood bar to watch Fourth of July fireworks.
Roofers Union – What was once Adam’s Morgan’s The Reef is now Roofers Union, a restaurant and bar committed to the finer things in life, namely gourmet sausages, award-winning punches and a killer beer list. Formerly helmed by Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Chef Jenn Flynn has been in charge of the menu for a while now and it’s just as good as ever. The rooftop bar has one of the best views of 18th Street you’ll find in the city, plus a rotating punch list and full cocktail menu, as well as daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Get a better look here.
Takoda – There is a new patio in Shaw (they’re calling it a beer garden, but lets be realistic) and it’s kind of magical. Takoda is everything we want in an outdoor space. Some coverage (to protect you from the inevitable D.C. spring downpours). Lots of light and non covered seating so you can soak up the sun on a good day. Plus loads of beer (seriously, this place is stocked) and fun neighborhood specials like, half priced burgers and beer on Thursday or half price whiskey and wings on Wednesday. It does seem to get rowdy at night (when I went it was packed) but if you’re into people watching that might just be a plus.
Teddy & The Bully Bar – Celebrate patriotism and freedom with Teddy Roosevelt (or at least in the spirit of) at Teddy and the Bully Bar’s lovely patio with weekday happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., which features $9 cocktails, $5 beers, $6 spirits and $8 wine by the glass. Full first look/gorgeous cocktailporn here.
Tupelo Honey Cafe – If you’re going to go all the way out to Virginia to visit the Tupelo Honey Cafe. Go during happy hour (4 – 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday), craft pints are $3 (which is insane) and select small plates are $6 (which is less crazy but still worth it).
Aperto – We’re truly spoiled in this city. You could have an amazing Italian meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner without blinking an eye, but if you find yourself on K Street and you’re craving a fine Italian meal, Aperto is a very good bet.
Bar Deco – First off, Bar Deco is huge so you should never really have a problem grabbing a seat (which is good news in a city filled with the tiniest baby patios). Second, they have a smoker and they are not afraid to use it. Third, there is a draft rosé gin and tonic. After you drink that, order another. Watch the sun set. Enjoy yourself.
Beuchert’s Saloon – A patio this size is a rare find on this part of The Hill.
Bibiana Osteria Enoteca – Indulge in signature Italian dishes and drinks while soaking up some sun on Bibiana Osteria Enoteca’s 20-seat seasonal patio. The spring dishes are sure to please. For drinks make sure to check out the cocktail-heavy bar menu that includes specials like the Amaro Punch with montenegro, tagliatella, cardamaro and brandy. Happy hour is also offered Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with $6 wines and cocktails. -Ruby Rose Lee
Blue Duck Tavern – We will just point you towards this patio food porn post because these photos TRULY DO speak more than a 100,000,000,000 words.
Boqueria – A perfect Dupont spot for outdoor small plates and sangria. The small plates trend has been reigning supreme in our city for as far as our food team can remember but the newest addition to this young professional outing staple is refreshingly back-to-basics and focuses on good, simple food and drink done well in a setting where everyone can feel comfortable.
Boveda / Caucus Room – If ever you weren’t sure of the Latin speakeasy style eatery and its killer menu, let us reassure you. You’ll find great meals while you spend your afternoons and evenings outdoors surrounded by an herb garden and a serene fountain. How could it get better? the menu extends for all three meals AND cocktail hour. Working in West End suddenly got all sorts of better.
Brasserie Beck – Channel your inner-European at this belgian-themed hotspot, which boasts a huge patio that seats over 130, and sip on one of the many drink options. The biggest draw is hands-down the extensive beer menu, which includes over a 100 different bottled selections from around the globe, and wine offerings. And with ½ price wine bottles on Tuesday nights, you can enjoy some of the best labels without hurting your wallet. Main dishes such as Steak & Frites and Crispy Skate Wing are also worth checking out, because nothing is better together than a great drink and delicious food. Also, the Gaithersburg location features live music on its patio, so you should check that out too. -Ruby Rose Lee
Buena Vida – From our review: The menu at Buena Vida features the trifecta of success for a Mexican venue: strong margaritas, fresh guacamole and damn good tacos.
The Carolina Kitchen – For a hint of southern hospitality this outdoor drinking season, head to The Carolina Kitchen where you’ll sip on mixologist JP Caceres’s creations on a 28-seat outdoor patio. This spring you’ll find concoctions like the Punch of the Day (with Absolut Wild Tea, fresh lemon, strawberry syrup, maraschino liqueur and Prosseco) and the Sangria, made from a combination of merlot, lemon syrup, vodka, orange juice, strawberry syrup, apples and seasonal fruits. Get a better glimpse here.
Cava Mezze Restaurant – This Eastern Market spot offers not only an outdoor patio but a rooftop, as well. It makes for great people watching and an especially great spot to enjoy their Mediterranean cuisine outdoors. (Trust us, always order the pork belly.)
Compass Rose – Compass Rose is one of those places you wish there were a 1,000 more of in DC. Great, innovative menu, a fun and sophisticated cocktail list, and both a front AND back patio perfect for whether you want to watch the 14th and T action or, you know, hide from it. No judging. BONUS: NOW ALSO SERVING BRUNCH (including the all important catchaturri (aka “the cheese kayak”).
Cortez – From our review: If you’re going with a group, order the entire menu. If you’re going with one person we liked the beer batter fish taco and the cochinita pibil taco (all the tacos are $5). The Balandra Bowl, meant for two, is the bluest drink on the menu and most likely will be the most popular. One of the reasons we liked 1905 was the roof bar. Cortez has the same roof bar, it’s just a lot more colorful. Similar to TAKODA, once it’s nice outside, the roof will be packed. When it’s packed you’ll be able to order from the bar and get beer from a separate seller.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar – In Penn Quarter? Want a mojito?
Due South / Due South Dockside – This restaurant patio and satellite water-side bar is a pure dose of southern comfort. Their bourbon list is a mile long and they’ve got a really nice selection of beers on tap, featuring local favorites like 3 Stars and Right Proper, along with their own homemade brews. Their cocktails are fun, creative variations on classic cocktails with elevated ingredients. But the shining star is their frosé, which is refreshing, tart, and strong. It’s a great compliment to their rich, fantastic southern food. It’s pretty much the perfect all-day drink. If you want something a bit more low key and a bit more pre-game friendly, head to Due South’s outpost Dockside, which is right by the water and steps to Nats Park. The little sister location serves up more typical bar fare like nachos and hot dogs but still has all those yummy drinks. They have the Nats games up on TVs so you can hear the roar of the stadium while you take in the river views and breeze. The ideal day drinking for the fancier sports fan. – Diana Metzger
Duke’s Grocery – Bringing the “Taste of East London to DC,” this is the 17th street gem that you MAYBE haven’t been to yet. D.C. needs more casual, delicious, centrally located restaurants like this. Also, DC’S BEST BURGER. FOR REALLY REAL.
El Rey – We did a First Look & Taste Test for the 14th street restaurant, which you can read about here, when it opened. Go enjoy tacos and margaritas in the bar patio–flanked by shipping containers–which has a retractable roof they open for the spring and summer. It’s still packed.
El Techo – From our review: Hit up this adorable rooftop bar for new twists on old classics like his Mojito, served with grapes and the Pepino Caipirinha made with cucumber and some spicy Mexican seasoning. But, the best drink by far is the spicy margarita. Pairing mezcal, pineapple and habanero is always going to be a winning combination.
Et Voila! – A true neighborhood gathering place in D.C.’s Palisades neighborhood, Et Voila’s charming six-seat patio offers a wonderful outdoor dining experience under the sun and stars. This popular Belgian bistro serves authentic Belgian fare with French influence in a charismatic atmosphere. A great place to enjoy a fresh pot of mussels and refreshing small-batch Belgian beer, Et Voila’s patio is a favorite of neighborhood locals and foodies alike looking to dine at this hidden gem.
Etto – Neapolitan pizzas by the folks behind 2Amys, great charcuterie game and a prime 14th and Q corner people watching location, without the Le Diplomate lines (at least at press time).
Farmers Fishers and Bakers – Get your tiki time on with a Potomac River view. While their brunch (and brunch drinking) is the big standout at this location, it’s their tiki cocktails that are the unsung hero. They even have funny, funky tiki mugs you can take home. Yes, there are cheaper scorpion bowls in town, by why not get blitzed on good, tasty high quality booze bowls like zombies with plantation original rum and Founding Farmer’s homemade pisco. Their patio is perfect for the sweaty days but they also provide blankets and have nice heat lamps for unseasonable chill. The Georgetown waterfront location makes it an impressive place to take tourist friends that want a traditional DC experience, while getting to down some quality and creative beverages. For more traditional drinkers, they have a nice wine list too. Which means more Mai Tais in a bowl for you. – Diana Metzger
Fiola – We here at BYT are just over-the-moon in love with this restaurant, and it’s clear to see why; it’s also clear why they routinely get voted as one of the top dining spots in the city. Fabio Trabocchi’s modern upscale Italian cuisine is divine, using the freshest of ingredients with an impressive cocktail and wine list to boot. Luckily for us, they doubled their gorgeous patio’s seating capacity (look at those flowers!!), making room for 70 prime outdoor wining and dining spots.
Fish by José Andrés – From our review: FISH is odd. It feels bigger than any other Andrés restaurant and attracts a different clientele than what you’ll typically find in Penn Quarter. From large groups of young people playing with someone else’s money to elderly couples to groups out-of-towners in town for a conference, the spot attracts all kinds. It’s like multiple restaurants with one address. There’s the Fry Bar, a lounge area at the bar, multiple dining areas and an outdoor patio. The spaces allow for a choose your own adventure dining experience.
Hawthorne – If you have an insatiable craving for mussels, then this is the rooftop bar you want to hit up. Not to mention cocktails like the Rosemary Gin Fizz and the Old Forester 86 practically scream summer. If you’re hangout out on U Street and you’re tired of the same old haunts, this is a good excuse to mix it up.
Hazel – From our review: Hazel is exactly the type of restaurant every neighborhood deserves. You can go after work or on an anniversary date. It’s good for brunch and a late night dinner. It’s fine for sharing or solo dining. The staff is welcoming without bordering on snobby. The entrance is slightly back from the street so you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of a busy street with a packed rock club across the street and condos everywhere else. Each return visit reminds you why you like the place. The one poor mark is their lack of happy hour. But if I ran Hazel, I wouldn’t do it either. Just because I want it doesn’t mean the restaurant needs it. They’re doing perfectly fine making their indoor/outdoor space welcoming for all ages.
Hotel Hive – We enjoy this very new addition to the drinking scene. We like the roof. We like the frozen cocktails. We like being in Foggy Bottom without feeling like we’re in Foggy Bottom. And we like that we can order &pizza while we sip frozen margaritas.
Local 16 – The 16th and U classic now serves a very enticing looking Afghani menu.
Lupo Verde – Looking to get day drunk on 14th Street? Lupo Verde’s 40-seat gated outdoor patio should do just the trick while you’re nibbling on Burrata and sipping on the A’ Malademmina Cocktail, a mix of mezcal, Don Ciccio & Figli Prickly Pear, aperol and a splash of grapefruit juice. Hellooooo, warm weather. Check out our first look here.
Masa 14 – When Masa 14 opened their rooftop four years ago, we were very excited. This spring, we’re still just as excited to see Chef de Cuisine Stephen Hartzell’s new bar menu of Latin-Asian small plates. With dishes like the Hoisin & Chipotle Glazed Salmon with cilantro-mint rice, red Thai curry-coconut sauce and bean sprouts, the food is the star of this show. Pair it with some drinks during their happy hour, Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesdays, from 4 p.m. to close. Oh, and on Tuesday evenings you can get a sampling of $4 to $7 small plates is between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. You know where we’ll be. -Anagha Srikanth
Mezcalero – More than 50 mezcals tucked away behind the bar and an outdoor patio for you to sip them on. Pair the mezcal with a quesadilla or burrito and drink up.
Mintwood Place – Show up early and snag an al fresco brunch spot on a weekend and never leave.
Osteria Morini – Capitol Riverfront’s working all sorts of magic this spring/summer and much of it is thanks to Osteria Morini and its outdoor seating with picturesque views, to boot. The only thing that could rival the view? THE FOOD.
Oval Room – The Oval Room completed its $1 million renovation a few summers ago, and now you can try out the new Executive Chef John Melfi’s cuisine on the Oval Room’s 40 seated patio. Spring dishes include the Stone Bass “Suzuki” Crudo and the Rack of Lamb with charred eggplant. Guests can wash down their food with cocktails such as the Oval Room Manhattan and The Lady Michelle priced between $12 and $14. -Mykalee Mcgowan
Pamplona – If you’re looking to enjoy some frosé or frozen sangria until the late hours of the evening, Pamplona is your place. Pick your frozen beverage poison and snag a seat out on the patio before ordering some traditionally Spanish snacks, like serrano ham.
Rasika West End – Try the Mango Shrimp and the Tuna Chutneywala created by Group Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam. Try one of over 150 international wine selections to complement your meal. Want a cocktail instead? Check out some seasonal favorites like Padma, the Divya or Beefeater, priced at $12 each. -Mykalee Mcgowan
Republic – Head on up to Chef Jeff Black’s Takoma Park spot for A++ patio wining and dining, an awesome late night menu, and great (AND FREE) live shows. Order some oysters while you’re at it. You can thank us later. Bonus: for all the dog-lovers out there, Republic now offers Yappy Hour, which features $5 salty dog cocktails and complimentary treats for your pup.
The Royal – Even though it just opened this year The Royal already feels like a forever favorite because it’s right by the office, it has delicious arepas (and burgers), the drinks are oh so fine, and the staff is some of the nicest in the area. If you want a quality experience in a laid back environment, this is the perfect place. There isn’t a lot of outdoor seating, so be prepared to fight for that, but what is available is worth it, especially on a lovely day.
RPM – This paragraph from our First Look is applicable for the RPM patio: RPM Italian is the first generation Macbook Air of restaurants. Everything it’s supposed to do, it does well. Incredibly well. But it’s not made for everyone and that’s exactly the point. This is a restaurant that is proud of the fact that half of the dining space can be reconfigured and split into different private rooms that all happen to contain flat screen TV’s and VGA hook ups. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it certainly sets a tone. Everything is black, from the bar to the dining room. There are a few bright spots of white marble, but the shortage of windows and dark color palette don’t make it feel like the kind of place you can stop in for some appetizers before a movie.
The Salt Line – If you’re heading to a Nats game or are just one of the thousands of people who is moving to the Navy Yard, you’re going to be spending a lot of your time at The Salt Line. The highly anticipated restaurant from Chef Kyle Bailey has opened to rave reviews and whether your looking for lobster rolls or you’re on a purely liquid diet, this is a safe bet.
Station 4 – Executive Chef Orlando Amaro’s modern American cooking shines at this restaurant, with dishes like Smoked Oysters and Crackers, Artichoke Salad and the Salmon en Papillote. The best time to dine here? Happy hour, when dishes like The Die Hard are offered for just $4 to $9 along with $4 draft beers, $5 house red and white wines by the glass, $5 house liquors and $5 Absolut Vodka, Pinnacle and Captain Morgan mixed drinks. Our drink recommendation is the jalapeno margarita, which will give you a little kick to start off your summer dining. -Anagha Srikanth
Summer House Santa Monica – So you find yourself stuck in the Maryland suburbs, hungry and bored and wondering if it will be possible to find a decent meal and a stuff drink. Fear not my friend, because the new shopping center at Pike & Rose has everything you need. In addition to a gym, several shops, and an iPic theater, the shopping center is also home to Summer House Santa Monica, a Los Angeles-themed restaurant with a clean, white décor, plenty of outdoor seating, and a range of delicious American and international fare. Basically a vacation in the shape of a restaurant. Read our whole taste test here.
Sushiko – You know what Japanese food is, but how often do you get to try Japanese drinks? At Sushiko, not only can you enjoy traditional Japanese dishes, but also Japanese beer, wine and sake (a rice wine of sorts). Even their cocktails take inspiration from the island country, with drinks like a Thai chili infused vodka with ginger infused lemonade and the Ozaki’s Blossom, which is garnished with a cherry blossom. Oh, and the patio is dog-friendly, so bring your pooch and get your drink on. -Anagha Srikanth
Taco Bamba – From our review: After you’re done filling yourself up with some of the best tacos in D.C., check out their small and solid cocktail menu. If you’re a real jerk (like me!) go for the Smoked Meze Al Negroni, which comes on a wooden board and requires some assembly. All of your friends will want to Instagram it. Looking for something lighter? The Some Pulp is a play on a Paloma, combining tequila and grapefruit juice with vanilla and lime, for a drink that goes down incredibly easy. This is something we could drink anytime of day.
Toro Toro – Richard Sandoval’s Pan Latin steakhouse not only serves up tangy and impressive food; it’s also a purveyor of handcrafted cocktails, which you can enjoy on a 40-seat outdoor patio. The drinks–made with premium Latin spirits–sounds just perfect for warm weather, like the Raspberry Collins with Bombay gin, fresh lime juice, fresh raspberry simple syrup, and Champagne, or the Tinta Roja made with red wine, brandy, Licor 43, fresh apple, fresh mango and orange liqueur.
Umaya Izakaya – From our review: General Manager Christian Mallea curated the drink menu, which includes Japanese whiskey; cocktails with Japanese flavors like the rye-based “Smoked Ginger;” infused sake; and rare Japanese beer. Mallea was even able to find Japanese vodka—a shot of Kissui reveals a product that’s smoother than its Russian counterparts.
Villain & Saint – All the way out in Bethesda, this rock ‘n’ roll music hall offers the best of shows, food and drinks. Hearty dishes such as buttermilk fried chicken, burgers and chili will satisfy all food cravings, and vegetable dishes like salt roasted beets will keep your nutritional period in check. The patio has TVs and Sunday brunch jazz, so you can enjoy the open air while staying entertained. And of course, what would be rock ‘n’ roll without some alcohol? Check out the drink menu for a selection of whiskeys, draft beers and cocktails that will make you ready to let loose and rock out. -Ruby Rose Lee
Whaleys – The Navy Yard’s newest bar and restaurant has opened their patio. This year to add to the fun, Whaleys will feature a rosé garden to try a selection of the pink-hued wine. Enjoy some beautiful seafood while checking out those sweet D.C. river views.
Agora – The Turkish and Greek restaurant Agora in Dupont serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch at its sidewalk café. Order a few small plates and pair them with one of the many offerings from Agora’s extensive wine list. If wine doesn’t do it for you, opt for a Mediterrean beer, Turkish Raki or Ouzo instead. For a wallet-friendly option, swing by during the day for Agora’s fixed price, three-course lunch menu, all for only $14.99, which means you’ll have more money leftover for drinks. -Ruby Rose Lee
Agua 301 – Capitol Riverfront has instant cred when it comes to the outdoor drinking game this year; Agua 301’s massive waterside patio has not only spectacular views but also its own churro cart and (occasionally boozy) popsicles when the weather gets hotter. From our full first look piece: “Stephen Briggs, who also owns Zest Bistro, knew the Riverfront was the perfect spot for his new concept. ‘When you have an opportunity to be on the water, it’s ideal,’ he said. ‘When we’re next to the water we like to drink a margarita.'” We couldn’t agree more.
Barcelona – One of 14th Street’s many outdoor patio watering holes, this is everything you want and need and more–Barcelona’s gorgeous front patio feels part garden, part restaurant, part private home. Here you’ll find full table seating, reclaimed wood, flowers, an extensive wine menu, an outdoor fireplace for those chilly nights and even some blankets to go along with it. SOLD. Take a bigger, better look here.
Chez Billy Sud – This Hilton Brothers owned Georgetown bistro opened in fall of 2014, and it’s a nice contrast with the original Chez Billy in Petworth, which is still a great go-to for happy hour specials. The Georgetown space is absolutely beautiful, and a perfect date destination if we ever saw one. French entrées such as Steak Frites and steamed mussels, accompanied by $12 signature cocktails, make for a perfect evening, and the courtyard seating is hard to resist. -Ruby Rose Lee
Crimson View – From our review: Crimson is made up of Crimson View, a rooftop bar with hanging gardens and a limited food menu based around light snacks with a Southern bent. With gorgeous views, ample seating space, and some damn good cocktails, this should rapidly emerge as one of downtown D.C.’s favorite rooftop bars. (And those house made chips… Ridiculous.)
Del Frisco’s – Sandwiches or Steak? Either way, Del Frisco’s has a location for you with outdoor seating. Their upscale Double Eagle Steakhouse in CityCenterDC has a courtyard patio as well, but those who choose to sit downstairs at the bar can still enjoy the view through glass walls. Pair your steak with a glass of wine for a luxurious self-indulgence, or an impressive first date. Feeling cheap? No worries, Del Frisco’s Grille in North Bethesda serves comfort food and American classics with fresh seafood and local produce. Either way, you’ve got an ideal menu of food and drinks for a night out, however you choose to have it. -Anagha Srikanth
District Commons – Washington Circle stand-by District Commons recently opened its outdoor seating space, and with views of Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s just as great for drinking and eating as it is for looking at the street action. The menu offers delicious American cuisine, including the hot pretzel baguette that we swear by, and its drinks are equally impressive. Whether choosing a beer, spirit or cocktail, District Commons has enough options that you won’t have to order the same thing twice ever, unless you come here daily, in which case you probably know the drinks better than we do. The brunch drinks menu is especially promising, with eye openers such as God Save the Queen, and mimosas and bloody mary’s are bottomless for $16 with purchase of an entrée. -Ruby Rose Lee
District Winery – From our review: Focused on new American cuisine, the menu is both designed to go well with the wines or allow you to completely ignore them, depending on your preference. It’s clear that executive chef Michael Gordon and chef de cuisine Benjamin Lambert have had fun with this menu. All of the dishes, no matter how simple they seem, have a their own little creative twist, from the more subtle and locationally appropriate crab beignets to the beautifully presented charred broccoli steak. Although we’ve only tasted one dessert (the Passion Fruit Entremet), we can tell you right now, this is not the kind if place where skipping dessert is optional. Not to mention, there’s also a strong cocktail and beer menu, if you’re looking to mix it up.
Gaslight Tavern – The newest Hilton Brothers’ offering is an old row house turned new, old looking bar. The two distinct spaces each have a fireplace, vintage (or at least vintage looking) wallpaper and woodwork and stand out in a good way on 9th near U. It’ll be interesting to see if it attracts 9:30 Club or Brixton spillover or cater to a more discerning cocktail crowd.
The Gibson – Gibson has a perfect tiki patio where you’ll find a separate summer cocktail menu for the back and a bunch of fun food and drink events during the outdoor season. Nothing not to like.
Hill Prince – Nick Wiseman’s newest bar is your newest spot to drink outdoors. The H Street watering hole is small and intimate, making it a great place to sip on a good libation and catch up with friends.
Iron Gate – Iron Gate is, in essence, a fairy tale, and where we’d like to do all our outdoor drinking when we’re feeling whimsical or even plain old romantic. In day or night this patio is stunning with grape vines draping over tables and glass lanterns perching on steps. Since it’s been commandeered by Neighborhood Restaurant Group, you know you’ll enjoy cocktails and punches from Spirits Director Nick Farrell. More photos and info right this way…
POV Lounge – Want to impress your date with a nice view? POV has the best view. -Brandon Wetherbee
Primrose – From our review: Drinking is where Primrose really shines. Their wine list focuses on natural wine in both France and Virginia, including Zutant’s very own Lightwell Survey. His Riesling and Petit Manseng blend was one of the highlights of the night, leaning powdery and sweet while still being incredibly drinkable. Another favorite was Les Vins Contes Pineau d’Aunis, which reminded me more of a more delicate sour beer than anything else. If you need a break from wine, there’s also a decent beer and cocktail list, including the effervescent Bruit Fort with cognac, prickly pear liqueur, lime sugar and orange bitters.
Quill – Perfect for spring and summer, Quill has an interior design and outdoor terrace steeped in Jeffersonian inspiration lending a historical bent to its cigars and cognacs. Enjoy house-made mixers and herbal-infused alcohols as well as a dynamic wine list in the open air.
Red Light – 14th Street’s dessert (although it has plenty of savory options now too) and cocktail bar should be a perfect spot for outdoor drinking needs this spring and summer. From our first look: “Come warmer weather you’ll find boozy Sno Cone concoctions on the 45-seat patio and a few other surprises along the way, making it a perfect date spot to grab a drink before or after dinner, or a bite of something sweet any time of the night.” Check out the full piece here.
Room 11 – That little patch of land that triples Room 11′s capacity in warmer months is both a godsend and a perfectly intimate, neighborhood hang out. Their cocktails are masterful or, in you’re in the mood for coffee with your sunshine, Room 11 serves via individual french press–a fresh, personal batch for your table’s enjoyment. (And have you tried their brunch? Might we suggest the shrimp and grits?)
Tabard Inn – The back patio is really quite charming (that parachute!) and the staff is knowledgeable and non intrusive. From the back patio you can hear the soft occasional din of live jazz from inside the Inn’s restaurant without feeling too overwhelmed by it. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing drink with friends, a glass of wine and a book by yourself, or a bite to eat (again, brunch).
Truxton Inn – From our review: Just like their sister restaurant, McClellan’s Retreat, the Truxton Inn focuses on the classics. Half of their cocktail menu is devoted to tried and true favorites like negronis, martinis and manhattans. If you only stick to the classics, you’ll have a good time here. If you’re feeling a little adventurous flip to the Recommendations page, where they present their own takes. The No Sé-groni features mezcal, Peychaud’s aperitivo and Punt E Mes instead of the classic gin, campari and vermouth mixture. It’s smoky, but retains that beautiful sweet bitterness you get from a well crafted negroni. I could drink these until the day I die.
The Brig – This Barracks Row beer garden has everything you need in a beer garden and nothing you don’t: huge beer list, brats, a giant projection screen, and live music.
Bardo – Walking into Bardo’s at Navy Yard is a 10-minute walk into an apocalyptic Williamsburg under an overpass where keg urinals, their dog mascot Bardog, and beer brewed outside are simply roadside attractions. But all of it is awesome, quirky, and endearing because you never feel like any of it was planned or done to be “different.” While all of this hits you, Bardo’s eclectic soundtrack of traffic overhead and obscure twangy Johnny Cash-inspired music helps you settle into plundered red pleather booths draped in Americana. There isn’t another bar like this in D.C. and Bardo’s location tucked away from Nationals Park makes it feel like the tattooed bastard child of D.C. bars. -Ruben Gzirian
BEACON HOTEL Rooftop – Beacon is traditionally a super popular event space. Art Soiree started hosting their Sunset performance series there and for good reason–it is LOVELY.
Blackwall Hitch – A lovely addition to the Old Town Alexandria waterfront, it’s huge (plus 105 patio spots plus 315 seats), nautical, patio-ed, and has an impressive menu featuring lots of seafood. The entire restaurant, but particularly the Crow’s Nest (their hilariously named upstairs bar / lounge), has killer near-360 views of the surrounding area, from the Washington Monument to National Harbor. Dining at Blackwall is like being on a ship without the seasickness or killer ankle-breaking dolphins. We’re not usually that impressed by Old Town establishments, but this is seriously a nice place. -Melissa Groth
Bourbon Steak – An ideal patio for lounging the summer away, Bourbon Steak’s outdoor seating is the perfect for bourbon, cigars and the restaurant’s signature fine cuisine. On chillier nights, fire pits can lend a glow to your evening plans. The all-brick patio and the sette in the far right-hand corner provide a perfect place to catch the afternoon sun, while cooling off with a flute of something tantalizingly crisp and bubbly. Come nightfall, you can catch us still seated there or perhaps at one of the other lounge seats with one of those fab, glass-like fire pits in front of us, cocktail in-hand.
Brixton – When Brixton opened, it was exactly the kind of packed madness you’d expect. Now, they have a solid stream of live and DJ music up there, a chiller but still busy crowd and brunch on weekends. PRO TIP: with a 9:30 Club stamp, it is ALWAYS happy hour up there.
Calico – From our review: The space is bright and airy. The back bar and patio space is good for groups and all weather. There are heaters for November nights that aren’t in the 60s. But since the world is melting, you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoor spaces of Calico year round.
Centrolina – Effortless simplicity seems to be the motto of Amy Brandwein’s Centrolina. Neither the drink or food menus feature anything too complicated or over the top. To get straight to the point, it’s simply quality. Here’s my recommendation, grab a seat out on the patio, watch tourists drop hundreds of dollars on designer clothing, order a Negroni (or the Italian Derby if you’re into bourbon, both are personal favorites), have the cheesemonger fix up a plate for you, and relax. You’re in good hands.
Dacha Beer Garden – We’re absolutely sold on this fun and flirty beer garden at the corner of 7th Street NW and Q. A giant mural of Elizabeth Taylor will look (but not judge) as you order a boot of beer (or two) from a great selection of German beer and, if you’re lucky enough to get there when the grill is out, maybe even a brat or some pretzels with cheese. Check out more photos right over thissaway…
Declaration Nats Park – From our review: Larger than its original Shaw location, Declaration Nats Park also has a much bigger menu that brings handmade pasta into the fold, as well as charcuterie and a couple of new pizzas. Designed by Roxanne Christie, it feels like the opposite of their Shaw location, with tall ceilings, large windows and a much brighter color scheme, making it feel more casual and laid back. In the spirit of many Navy Yard restaurants, they’ll also have their own version of a to-go window. On sunny days, they’ll open the glass windows behind the bar and serve drinks and food.
Dew Drop Inn – It’s an amazing neighborhood bar. If you like the Looking Glass Lounge and the Wonderland Ballroom, you’ll feel right at home here. There are always quality beers on tap, the staff is very friendly, and the patio is never too crowded. I spent last 4th of July watching neighborhood kids set off fireworks in the street at this spot and it was perfect.
Dirty Habit – Feel like being outside? (Of course you do.) Hit up the patio, with its focus on social drinking, beers, and lighter cocktails. Enjoy fishbowls? Move into the atrium, a large, glass-walled room with an additional menu of cocktails. Feeling fancy? Head all the way in to the restaurant’s foot bar, industrial and chic, with yet another, deeper cocktail menu… The restaurant and bar has a strong focus on social interaction, with a bar-centric food menu equally suited for happy hours, sit-down dinners, and late-night bites. Check out more about Dirty Habit here…
DNV Donovan House – Great views, beautiful people, plus a delectable spring menu from Zentan make for a scene-y vibe that may seem intimidating to some but we suggest you don’t worry yourself too much about it and just lounge away.
The Rooftop at The Embassy Row Hotel – You can’t beat a rooftop bar. They have everything a regular bar has except a ceiling. Take advantage of the extra space! Look up! Look around! It’s gorgeous! We’ll be there Friday, June 28. Join us. It’s happy hour too!
The Graham Hotel’s Observatory – Georgetown’s first rooftop bar–check out our full report on it here–is always, always packed but with a view like that, how can you be surprised? Ask about the $500 cocktail.
Franklin Hall – It’s big. There’s beer. What more do you want?
Maketto – To me, Maketto’s appeal has always been how well it retains an aura of being current, modern, and minimal without any of the suffocating pompacity that can hinder each. It does that through a space that effortlessly flows from front to back, segmented by an airy clothing store and a bar as capable as the high-proof liquor behind it. All of this comes together to create a space that imparts itself onto you, making you feel like you’re at the right place at the right time and suddenly more relevant. Everything at Maketto feels effortless, from the inventive cocktails to the ice cold Tiger beer, and their coffee upstairs is the perfect stimulant if your outdoor drinking involves lots of Billie Eilish. -Ruben Gzirian
Millie’s – Yes, it’s down in the Spring Valley/American University Park area (typically rampant with college kids), but its massive outdoor patio makes it prime spot to spend an afternoon outdoor drinking.
Morton’s – From our review: The steak house chain is world’s above places like Outback but their reputation isn’t as posh as Bourbon Steak or the new RARE. They’re like a fancier Fogo de Chão. It’s perfectly acceptable to have long business lunches at both, but it’s not acceptable to smoke a cigar with your meal at Fogo de Chão. It’s fine at Morton’s. There are still ashtrays on the outdoor tables at the Morton’s on Connecticut Avenue.
Penn Commons – It has a patio but just drink indoors and look outside. One of the best beer happy hours in the city. Ideal pre-Verizon Center events. -Brandon Wetherbee
Piazza Beer Garden – Meeting new people and making new friends is a lot easier when you’re drunk, so if you’re feeling social, head over to the Piazza Beer Garden. With new beers each week from local breweries in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, you can bond with other beer lovers over bar food like sliders and pretzels. Plus, the garden often holds events like the International Beer Day Party (which we were at) that give you an opportunity to try a range of beers all in one place. -Anagha Srikanth
Jack Rose – As you might have noticed, we here at BYT are a little obsessed with Jack Rose since it opened. Whether it’s their delicious men, their enormous selection of whiskey, or their constant stream of fun events and promotions (ESPECIALLY beer wise), we’re all about it. So of course we love the idea of enjoying any one (or two, or three) of these things on their spacious patio, enjoying the faint mesquite smell of their barbeque sandwiches occasionally drifting through the air.
Marvin– Marvin will NEVER BE NOT PACKED. The sooner you realize that/embrace it, the sooner you’ll be ok. Pro tip: check out their Sunday daytime Sun Tea Parties.
Satellite Room – This U Street bar’s outdoor bar area offers 9:30 Club concert-goers a brief respite from the chaos that is the dance floor on busy nights. Belly up to Satellite’s outdoor bar and grab yourself one of their 10 alcoholic milkshakes and maybe even venture inside for a round of pinball. Still not sold? Read all about it in our full story.
Sauf Haus – If 16 different German beers on tap doesn’t bring you here, then the 2-pound Bavarian pretzel will. Sauf Haus Biergarten’s 2000 sq. feet rooftop deck is the place to be after work but come through early! The space can get packed really quick especially during happy hour with specials such as $8 half liters and$14 full liters. -Mykalee Mcgowan
Suburbia – Multiple frozen cocktails and a consistently rotating beer list. Grab food from any Union Market vendor and enjoy on the picnic tables painted by local artist Marcella Kriebel.
Vinoteca’s Outdoor Plaza Bar – Vinoteca has been around for a while and their front patio has been a long time go-to, but they’ve stepped up their game with a Spanish/Tuscan/General Adorableness-inspired Plaza Bar. Click here for a full report and insane photos of their springtime menu and more, all right off of the chaos of U Street, including hot dogs (and veggie dogs) with bubbly pairings, rounds of bocce, and some serious relaxation. The orderly line starts here.
Wet Dog – Conveniently located across the street from 9:30 Club, Wet Dog is big. It’s outdoor space is ideal for large groups that desire loud conversation. Order a burger, drink a slightly overpriced quality draft beer and people watch those going to the two outdoor bars next door.
American Ice Co. – They’ve got the sweetest hidden patio in town and if you get there early enough, you can try out the lunch menu, drink for a while, then order dinner. They’ve got fantastic cocktails and make for the perfect pre/post-9:30 Club stop.
Atlas Brew Works – Our favorite brewery has some outdoor seating. Go for the Rowdy, stay for the Rowdy, someone please buy me a Rowdy.
Big Bear Cafe – The Bloomingdale classic has a beautiful patio, great food, and a fantastic staff. This is always an A+ choice.
Café Saint-Ex – A neighborhood mainstay on D.C.’s popular 14th Street, Café Saint-Ex’s always-packed patio is often full of hungry brunch-goers, leisurely lunchers and those merely looking for a delicious meal under the sun. Drawing a diverse mix of neighborhood locals and visitors alike, Saint-Ex’s 54-seat umbrella-decorated terrace offers an expansive corner location right on trendy 14th Street. The pet-friendly patio also invites guests to bring their pups to enjoy the gorgeous weather as well. Diners can enjoy seasonal fare like their popular Roasted Beet Salad with watercress, feta and grapefruit two ways, or keep cool with their signature Poptails, icy booze-infused cocktail popsicles.
City Tap House – If you’re looking for a patio with an excellent beer menu, City Tap House is your guy. Its roster of 60 local, national and international beers rotates frequently and seats 40 outdoors. The Chinatown/Penn Quarter spot’s also been known to hold the occasional beer-menu collaboration (most recently a DC Brau brunch series) so keep an eye out for great events posted on their web site. Take a peek inside over here.
Colada Shop – Combine tropical drinks with outdoor seating and instantly transport your self to an island vacation (in your head, at least). This 14th Street eatery has brought Cuban food to the neighborhood along with tropical beverages for you to enjoy. Their newly updated rooftop deck even includes a retractable roof, so you can keep the party going no matter the weather.
Columbia Room – Not necessarily a newcomer, but Columbia Room does have outdoor seating at its Punch Garden. Before heading outside to drink, enjoy items off of the new spring menu (available in the Tasting Room) and fill up on some good food.
Cork – As we mentioned NUMEROUS times, the 14th street outdoor drinking scenario is spiraling slowly but surely out of control. So it is nice to be able to sit and watch the hustle and bustle of 14th street from the relative serenity viewpoint of Cork’s intimate patio. The avocado bruschetta and the mimosa flights at brunch definitely help, too.
DC9 – When we go out boozing with friends, conversation is often as important as a steady buzz. On a typical Saturday, most D.C. bars are too packed or too loud for such an opportunity. DC9′s roof deck, on the other hand, is a sight for sore eyes… and ears… and wallets. Anyone’s who has gone to a show there knows how friendly their bartenders are, and upstairs they’re even more relaxed and willing to chat. There’s plenty of space, the drinks are cheap, and the crowd is always chill. They even get the small details right – once you open a tab, the bartender returns your card promptly – we’re sure this will be a favorite spot as the summer continues.
Denizens Brewing Co. – If you find yourself in Silver Spring with an appetite for great beer and a little sunshine, Denizens is an oasis. Outside of Scion and Quarry House, there’s not much else popping in the Montgomery County business (and apartment) hub’s beer scene, and neither of those places has a sprawling beer garden like the Maryland brewery. In fact, no other local brewery has a space like Denizens. With seating for over 250 people, it’s one of the DC area’s biggest and best beer gardens. It doesn’t hurt that Denizens has one of the area’s most diverse programs, either. From broadly appealing flagships (like its Born Bohemian Czech-style pilsner) to an ambitious sour program (read about it here!) to rotating hoppy offerings, there’s something for every palate and preference. And the brewery is the only place you’re guaranteed to find limited releases. So, maybe don’t wait until you happen to find yourself in Silver Spring – when the weather is right, take a quick Lyft ride or Metro trip up to Denizens.
Dodge City – Tucked behind one of BYT’s favorite bars in town, the DODGE CITY back yard is never too packed, never too loud, never too anything-just perfect for catching up with your friends over a nice cold one (+ the same could be said for Velvet Lounge too).
Fiola Mare – Those who know D.C. dining know Fabio Trabocchi doesn’t mess around, so for most it should come as no surprise that his newest addition to the Fiola family is, as they say, practically perfect in every way. Fiola Mare offers exquisite cuisine and cocktails, all enjoyable on a glassed-in patio on the Georgetown Waterfront (with its walls of windows open in perfect weather) and, soon enough, directly on the boardwalk with waterside patio seating. From our review: “The cocktail menu and selection is almost overwhelming in its comprehensiveness, and Fiola Mare’s wine menu features some of Chef Trabocchi’s favorites as well as anything you could ever want to complement his outstanding cuisine.” Check out our full piece over here and brace yourself for outdoor drinking bliss.
Garden District – If you haven’t noticed yet, I really liked Garden District. This place has so much character that it’s easy to overlook how packed it can be on any day over 70 degrees. I’ve been coming here since it opened in 2011 and, aside from a name change (formerly Standard), this place continues to do the basics exceptionally well; the beer list is small but focused and the communal seating means you’ll either meet someone new before you leave or be privy to some of the best people watching in the city. Are there places in D.C. that are bigger or fancier? Sure. But few places come close to the neighborhood vibes running through every beer, every conversation, and every visit to Garden District. -Ruben Gzirian
Hank’s Oyster Bar – Is there a better way to spend your Sunday afternoon than sipping white wine and eating oysters and peel and eat shrimp at the Hank’s in Dupont? We don’t think so.
Le Diplomate – check out our full first look and taste test story here. But, to quote: “Le Diplomate is precisely where you’ll be all spring and summer long, whether you’re seated in their pristinely decorated bistro or their picturesque patios”. Place is GORGEOUS and while it is currently being MOBBED by the hungry 14th street masses at all times and meals, show up early or make a reservation and live like you’re in a movie for a few hours.
Little Miss Whiskey’s – An oldie but a goodie, this H Street staple has a lovely second level to its back patio. How could this get even better? Both levels allow use of the bar’s large propane grill for the ultimate spring/summer experience. (Just remember to order The Awesomeness, LMW’s vodka iced tea slushie.)
Pitango – From our review: If the Adams Morgan Pitango was just doing more gelato, it’d be fine. We’d stop in whenever we had a sweet tooth for a small treat. But the reason why this is a welcome addition to the neighborhood are all the non-gelato related features. The space is large and comfortable, ideal for actually working in not-exactly-a-coffee-shop.
The Pub & The People – This laid-back neighborhood bar has a great patio, a solid food menu (the chef came from Proof!) and cold drinks. Start or end your night with a Family Banquet (a Coors Banquet & shot of Old Grand Dad). Happy hour is every weekday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and midnight to 2 a.m. with $2 off drafts and wine and $4 rail drinks.
RedRocks – What’s not to love? Picnic tables on the patio, plentiful umbrellas, reasonable waits, they never forget the slice of orange, the spinach salad makes us want to actually eat salad and they serve some of the best pizza, calzones and bottomless brunch mimosas in the city.
Perry’s – Adams Morgan gets a ton of flack for the overall bridge-and-tunnel vibe it has these days, but the Perry’s rooftop is a local constant and the patio equivalent of a friend you can always rely on: peaceful, spacious, classy, always there for you. Plus, those twinkly lights are VERY flattering.
Rock and Roll Hotel – Home to not only some of the best shows and trivia in the District, Rock and Roll Hotel has one of our absolute favorite rooftop bars. Whether you’re grabbing a drink post-/pre-show or stopping by for a casual cocktail (or alcoholic slushie) for no particular occasion, it’s a great spot to sit and chat with friends; bonus points for porthole windows.
Wonderland Ballroom – Home of the annual Sundress Fest and dogs. So many dogs.
THOSE ARE OUR PICKS. TELL US YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS.