Ed Note: IT’S SO DAMN WARM OUTSIDE. USE YOUR BIKESHARE YEARLY MEMBERSHIP, YOUR FEET, WHATEVER, AND GET TO DRINKING (OUTDOORS) NOW. Thanks.
We love you and we know you love drinking outdoors. This is why, every SPRING/SUMMER season, we publish a handy outdoor drinking (and eating, we guess) guide. A lot of 2012 selections are still very much applicable and partially used here, but we’ll focus on places we’re especially pumped for this season. Still, check it out:
BYT’s 2012 OUTDOOR DRINKING GUIDE-STILL USEFUL
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, lets dig in (all photos: Stephanie Breijo, Jeff Martin, Shauna Alexander, Dakota Fine, Franz Mahr, Oliver Bendorf, Britt Elyse Nelson, Cesar Olivares, Rachel Eisley, Kimberly Cadena, Ben Droz & Steve Jeter for BYT -unless otherwise noted)
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK:
- The Graham Hotel’s OBSERVATORY– Georgetown FINALLY gets its first rooftop bar. Check out our full report on it here, but lets just say that if you hear a stampede in the distance, it is probably heading this way the weekend of May 3rd, when it opens. Ask about the $500 cocktail.
- Capella Hotel– check out our full report on the Grill Room & Rye Bar at Capella Hotel here. But, to quote: “Featuring a picturesque canal-front patio, creative menus and a well-designed interior, The Grill Room and The Rye Bar are helmed by Swedish Chef Jakob Esko, specializing in the preparation of hand-cut, bone-in, artisanal meats, bracingly fresh seafood and memorable tableside preparations. From plate to glass and ambiance to service, the experience at The Grill Room and The Rye Bar appeals to all senses”
- 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.
- Del Campo – read our full report on Victor Albisu’s new eatery here (which opened this Monday, April 22nd). But, to quote: “Just in time for spring, Del Campo will offer a happy hour and a 40-seat patio a few weeks from now, along with an entire Grilled Cocktail selection–think grilled pineapple syrups and, somehow, grilled lemon juice”
- Vinoteca’s Outdoor Plaza Bar – Vinoteca has been around for a while and their front patio has been a long time go-to, but this year, they’re stepping their game up with a Spanish/Tuscan/General Adorableness inspired Plaza Bar. Click here for a full report and insane photos of their springtime menu and more that you can find in this enchanting oasis right off of the chaos of U Street, here are some things you can expect from the 60 person capacity patio: hot dogs (and veggie dogs) with bubbly pairings, rounds of bocce, and some serious relaxation. The orderly line starts here.
- Chez Billy – Just in time for their 1 year anniversary (time flies!) the Petworth bar unveiled their new outdoor bar. The wooden bar benches are inviting and the happy hour deal is solid: $5 pints of Stella Artois, $5 glasses of wine and a cocktail of bartender’s choice until 7:30 p.m. Washington Post has more of the said scoop.
- DC Reynolds JUST opened their SWEET NEW OUTDOOR patio bar, and the happy hour deal is pretty amazing: 5-9pm, it is BUY ONE GET ONE FREE situation. A perfect start to a swell outdoor drinking season. (photo via Thrillist, which has even more scoop on this place)
- Farmers Fishers Bakers – where you should eat ALL OF THIS.
- Patio @ Boveda/ Caucus Room – the Westin indoor patio is probably one of the city’s best kept quiet oasis. This year, the team behind Caucus Room and Boveda (check out our full first look of the Latin speakeasy style eatery here)are stepping their game up a little: an herb garden is coming in, the serene fountain is making it all the more serene after the chaos of every day, and the menu will extend for all three meals AND cocktail hour. Working in West End suddenly got all sorts of better.
- Matchbox on 14th – some may say that 14th street doesn’t need another patio. Those people are lying, and I have the refugee camp level of packed chaos at pretty much every 14th street outdoor seating/standing place to show for it. So, we welcome the well appointed 14th and T patio by Matchbox this season with open arms and bellies hungry for those mini sliders.
- also keep an eye out for MALMAISON in Georgetown and their garage style semi-open space coming your way in a few weeks.
GREAT HAPPY HOURS:
- 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 5-7pm, $4 Margaritas, rocks & frozen, Sangrias Mexican Beers, Red & White Wine. 5-9pm, $6 Guacamole, Tacos & more
- 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, 4-7pm, $5 Franziskaner Hefe-Weizen, Paulaner Pils, Becks Maibock, $5 House Wine (White, Red), plus $5 Loaded Fries, Hamburger Sliders, Garden Currywurst.
- RED DERBY – rooftop. $1 natty bohs and other classy specials during happy hour.
- LARRY’S LOUNGE – $3 rails, $3.5 draft special, $4.5 Absolut drinks. And the wine is super cheap too.Basically living the dream.
- BOURBON – 6-7:30pm, $3 Drafts; Specials on Selected Bourbons; Cocktail Specials
- 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 $6.00. Raw bar oysters on the half shell are 1/2 price.
- Veranda – never packed, always there. Which is crazy (the non-packness) since the happy Hour specials are VERY solid: Mondays features $4 sliders, Tuesdays are the 1/2 priced bottles of wine, Wednesday bring $4 Sangrias, Thursdays $4 mojitors, Fridays $5 martinis and Saturdays 1/2 off mussels.
- J & G Steakhouse -on Wednesday, April 24th (TODAY!) J&G Steakhouse is launching their new happy hour with $5.15 specialty cocktails such as the Cherry Yuzu Rickey and the Ginger Margarita. DONE!
- 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 $1, 6-7 pm $2, and 7-8pm $3. 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.
- 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 (4-7pm every day). Expect: $3 PBRs, $5 DC Braus, $5 Lincoln Spirits, and a $39 Emancipation punch which serves 8.
- Et Voila! –A true neighborhood gathering place in DC’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.
- Blue Duck Tavern – we will just point you towards this patio food porn post because these photos TRULY DO speak more than a 100000000000 words.
- Mintwood Place – I mean, DELICIOUS. Show up early and snag an al fresco brunch spot on a weekend and never leave.
- Art and Soul -the restaurant just got a revamp (read the full story on that here), but fingers crossed the crab boils of last summer make a return. BONUS: the Liaison Hotel’s pool is upstairs
- 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.
- Poste –Poste Brasserie, tucked inside–and sort of behind–the expansive Hotel Monaco, has long been a BYT favorite: we love their roasts, the extensive menu (especially the seafood), and the fact that it always seemed to maintain a certain non-hotel-like integrity and identity of its own. But their biggest upside? The gorgeous, spacious patio in the summer is a terrific date spot, place to sit and read or catch up with friends be it at a gardenside table or on their couch-like outdoor seating.
- 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 just doubled their gorgeous patio’s seating capacity (look at those flowers!!), making room for 70 prime outdoor wining and dining spots.
- Proof – Proof also has a great patio and the forever delicious menu by chef Haidar Karoum. BONUS: every summer guests can enjoy a War of the Roses, where the restaurant offers a selection of their bar’s roses on the patio and lounge.
- 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.)
- GIBSON –Gibson has a perfect tiki patio. The Gibson usually does a separate summer cocktail menu for the back and a bunch of fun food+drink events during the outdoor season. Nothing not to like.
- Little Miss Whiskey’s – tucked in behind the general raucousness of LMW’s strong drinks/great dance parties/madness is a tiny, tucked away oasis where you can sit on wrought iron chairs, drink slushies, and never ever be bothered by the unwashed masses (unless you want to). Pretty sure they’re available for private events too.
- 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.
- 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). (photo courtesy of Tabard Inn)
LOTS OF ACTION/PEOPLE WATCHING:
- BEACON HOTEL Rooftop – Beacon is traditionally a super popular event space. Art Soiree started hosting their Sunset performance series there last year and are back in 2013 with more. The series kicks off on Thursday and while the first edition is sold out, keep an eye on their website for more updates and dates. (photo: Rachel Eisley)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firepits in front of us, cocktail in-hand. (photo, courtesy of the restaurant)
- Cantina Marina – this year, on May 9th Cantina Marina is celebrating 10 years of strong margaritas, good crowds, and being DC’s only waterfront bar. Happy Birthday Cantina Marina, we hope you’re around for a 100 more.
- Donovan House – great views, beautiful people, and sushi from downstairs 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 (photo, courtesy of the hotel)
- Hotel Helix – on May 29th, Helix is bringing back their BACKYARD BASH, with 5-7 food and drink special and the Helix Burger Bar. Be there.
- Wonderland – save the date for May 5th and the annual Wonderland Sundress bash, which kicks off a packed season on their front patio.
- 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.
- Standard –Everyone’s been to Standard on 14th and S NW, at least once by now right? The thing we love most about Standard is not the barbecue or the beer (though of course those don’t hurt); it’s the fried pickles. These things are heavenly. Instead of doing pickle chips like we’re used to, Standard does the whole spear in a batter that’s not too heavy, and not too light. This fried spear of Americana is a warm invitation to summer, and even if you don’t like it, at least you’ll be in the perfect place to eat it.
- Café Saint-Ex – A neighborhood mainstay on DC’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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Red Rocks – 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.
- 1905 –Combined with an intimate bistro vibe, 1905 creates a one of a kind dining experience that works just perfectly on its patio. Step right up to the outdoor bar for an absinthe cocktail or a glass of wine from their wide-ranging wine menu. Bonus: their new executive chef, Joel Hatton, is pumping up Tuesday nights at the restaurant with an ongoing Mussels Night special (starting at 5:30pm). For just $15, you’ll get a heaping bowl of steaming mussels accompanied by a mound of house-cut fries and a can or bottle of beer of your choice from 1905‘s stellar list. #WINNING
- Rock and Roll Hotel –Home to not only some of the best shows and trivia in the District, Rock and Roll Hotel has now expanded toward the heavens with it new rooftop bar. Whether you’re grabbing a drink post-/pre-show or stopping by for a casual cocktail for no particular occasion, it’s a great spot to sit and chat with friends (we also dig the porthole windows).
- 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 an oasis of comfort. 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.
- 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. (photo courtesy of the restaurant)
- Hank’s Oyster Bar –We absolutely love fresh seafood over ice on a hot day and at Hank’s patio–which, kudos to them, accommodates up to 40 guests–you can get your fresh fix at weekend brunch, dinner , and lunch on Fridays.
THOSE ARE OUR PICKS. TELL US YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS