9 Places to Drink and Dine By the Water in Washington

These delightful spots offer everything from crabs on a rustic dock to burgers at a chic lounge.

Cantina Marina. Photograph by Amanda Voisard/Washington Post.
Grilled tuna with watermelon and hazelnuts at Osteria Morini. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Waterside Cocktails

We could knock back Dark & Stormies, spicy micheladas, and cans of Tecate for hours at Cantina Marina (600 Water St., SW; 202-554-8396), a laid-back deck strung with lights on DC’s Southwest waterfront. You could be fooled into thinking you’re in the Florida Keys, were it not for the Washington Monument looming behind you. On the terrace of Sterling’s sprawling Bungalow Lakehouse (46116 Lake Center Plaza; 703-430-7625), which peers onto a manmade lake, settle into one of the loungey sofas and graze on craft brews and bar snacks including crispy rock shrimp with a trio of dipping sauces or nachos loaded with Terlingua chili and jalapeños.

Summer in the City

The Potomac River views at Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola Mare (3050 K St., NW; 202-628-0065) on the Georgetown waterfront may be stunning, but it’s his beautifully turned-out seafood—overflowing frutti di mare platters, a twirl of spaghetti with littleneck clams—that steals the most attention. More cravings for an Italian feast with a river vista can be satisfied at glass-enclosed Osteria Morini (301 Water St., SE; 202-484-0660), which is overseen by New York chef Michael White and specializes in the robust pastas and ragus of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.

Wit on the Water. Photograph by Christian Horan.

Pretty as a Picture

The views of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are postcard-worthy at Wit & Wisdom (200 International Dr., Baltimore; 410-576-5800), Michael Mina’s rustic-chic lounge and dining room in the Four Seasons Hotel. Grab a couch on the patio (Wit on the Water) and dig into lovely shellfish platters and hulking cheddar-laden burgers. It’s a quieter scene at Inn at Perry Cabin Belmond on the Eastern Shore (308 Watkins La., St. Michaels; 410-745-2200), where the views of the tranquil Miles River are gorgeous. The dining room, which would look at home in an episode of Barefoot Contessa, features spiffed-up classics like crabcakes with asparagus vinaigrette and oysters on the half shell with lemon-vodka granita.

Photography by Scott Suchman.

Get Cracking

If you’re an Old Bay fanatic, you likely know about Cantler’s Riverside Inn (458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis; 410-757-1311), still our top choice for cracking blue crabs at a picnic table overlooking Mill Creek. Your crabs won’t always hail from the Chesapeake, but they tend to be plump and flavorful, and the steamed corn is always sweet. Across the Bay Bridge, you can catch sunsets over the water from the Masthead at Pier Street Marina (104 W. Pier St., Oxford; 410-226-5171) while digging into a mess of steamed crabs or sweet soft-shell clams. Or watch boats pull up with their catch at the historic Crab Claw Restaurant (304 Burns St.; 410-745-2900) in nearby St. Michaels. Try the fried chicken for a change from crustaceans.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.