How do you avoid the Fourth of July crush on the National Mall? Spend the evening at a restaurant with fireworks-friendly views (check out more watching spots over on After Hours). The action in the sky starts at 9:10 PM, so reserve accordingly.
The Georgetown Waterfront (Nick’s Riverside Grille, Sequoia, Tony & Joe's Seafood Place)
Nick's Riverside Grille, 3050 K St., NW, 202-342-3535; Sequoia, 3000 K St., NW, 202-944-4200; Tony & Joe's, 3000 K St., NW, 202-944-4545
All three of these restaurants have indoor and outdoor seating areas with Potomac River views, and the Bud Light-slinging bars on the patios tend to be crowded. Sequoia (entrees, $18.95 to $32.92) accepts reservations for a table inside, but the outdoor deck and bar are walk-in only. It's the same deal at Tony & Joe’s (entrees, $20 to $36) and Nick’s Riverside Grille (entrees, $18 to $26), so arrive early to catch an al fresco table, then dig into steaks and seafood from each restaurant's regular menu while you wait for the fireworks.
1 Marina Dr., Alexandria; 703-548-0001; IndigoLanding.com
This Lowcountry-inspired waterfront dining room, ranked on our 100 Best Restaurants list, offers great views of the fireworks and their reflections in the Potomac. In honor of the Fourth, they’re offering two indoor seatings and a special menu. Choices include crab gazpacho, roasted oysters, fried flatfish, citrus-barbecued chicken, bacon-and-molasses-braised baby back ribs, and to finish things off, several traditional Southern pies. The first seating, between 5 and 6:30 PM, is $50 a person, and you can bring a blanket and watch the fireworks from the lawn by the water. The second seating is from 7 to 8:45 PM and costs $75 a person–and you can keep the table for the evening.
Sky Terrace at the Hotel Washington
515 15th St., NW; 202-638-5900
Anywhere you sit at this rooftop restaurant, you’ll have a clear vantage point for the fireworks. Inside, the windows stretch from floor to ceiling. Outside on the canopied terrace, you can see for miles. For $125 per person, you’ll get a seven-course dinner featuring beef tenderloin, crab cakes, and a chocolate firecracker dessert. There are two seatings– 6:30 and 7:30–but you can stick around after dinner to watch the show.
If you’re looking for a bite near the Mall…
For a true all-American experience, seek out a reservation at this slick Hill steakhouse (also on our 100 Best Restaurants list) for an Americana-themed cocktail party and unbeatable proximity to the Mall. Canapes include lobster corn dogs, Kobe beef hot dogs with chow chow, fried clams, and pulled pork barbecue sandwiches. Carving stations will serve up roasted Angus sirloin and suckling pig. Sweets take their cues from the carnival:caramel apples, malted waffles, and cotton candy. The party starts at 6:30, and wraps up at 9:30 PM. $39 per person (includes beer, wine, and specialty cocktails); $15 for children under 13.