This article originally appeared in July, 2020. It has not been edited. Please double check to make sure locations are open.
Restaurants and bars across the DC-area have reopened their patios, rooftops, and terraces for on-premise customers for the first time in nearly three months. The landscape has changed significantly—features like widely spaced tables, capacity limits, reservations, abundant sanitizer, and no-contact systems are the new norm. That being said, you can still enjoy a cold drink in the sunshine like in the old days. Here are a few of our al fresco favorites, with more to come.
Fresh to the scene
Albi and Maxwell Park
1346 Fourth St., SE
Chef Michael Rafidi had just opened his Navy Yard Mediterranean restaurant when Covid hit. Now, in addition to takeout, guests can reserve dinner seats on the summer patio for an a la carte menu of homemade breads and dips and wood-grilled meats and seafood. There’s an extensive wine list from Maxwell Park somm Brent Kroll; the adjoining wine bar also has a few new outdoor patio seats (ditto for the original location Shaw). Just-opened cafe Yellow operates during the day. Reservations—Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 8 PM—are available via Resy.
523 Eighth St., SE
Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin shuttered his Barracks Row Balkan restaurant in January for a major $3 million renovation. The revamped space has reopened with plenty of outdoor space on the patio and terrace as well as new, more curated menus—don’t worry, the all-you-can-eat-and-drink offerings still stand.
301 Water St., SE
Former Maydan co-chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison are behind this brand new Caribbean restaurant in the former Whaley’s space. They just opened a waterfront patio for pina coladas, jerk chicken, and Jamaican chef de cuisine Nico Leslie’s signature goat curry.
The Bethesda “Streetery”
Norfolk Ave., between St. Elmo and Del Ray aves.; Woodmont Ave., between Elm St. and Bethesda Ave.
Recently, the Bethesda Urban Partnership closed down a few blocks in the downtown area to create an outdoor dining space. Socially distanced tables (maximum four people) are available to anyone who orders takeout from a restaurant in the neighborhood. It’s open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM.
801 Wharf St., SW
After closing in mid-March due to Covid, chef Kwame Onwuachi has reopened his Afro-Caribbean restaurant at the Wharf for patio dining Friday through Sunday. Onwuachi’s new menu is “indicative of the Caribbean take out spots I grew up eating”—think jerk chicken, Trinidadian curry, coconut rice, and island-style rum drinks. Customers can reserve patio tables (from noon to 8:30 PM) via OpenTable.
1143 New Hampshire Ave., NW
All-day breakfast tacos, grilled pizzas, and frozen drinks are on tap at the new “sorta South American” cafe from the Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza owners. This week, the counter-service operation is only doing takeout, but they plan to expand to patio seating on Saturday, June 20.
Picnic at The Lane
1408 Okie St., NE
Ivy City’s massive “family social club” was open for exactly one month of business before closing due to Covid. Now their rooftop has reopened as a family-friendly beer garden with local brews, wine, hard seltzer, and picnic-style fare. Check out the lineup of socially safe events geared toward kids (a tie dye party) or adults (mixology class).
Spacious beer and wine gardens
25 Potomac Ave., SE
Navy Yard’s massive waterfront beer garden spans an acre and holds 750 outdoor seats, so you’ll have plenty of room to social distance (also: no stadium crowds). Bring your own mask and sanitizer—the bar has plenty of beer brewed on premises and plastic cups to go around.
1355 H St., NE
The longtime H Street beer garden is back in action with German brews and brats (reservations are available by phone). There are generous weekday happy hour menus for food and drinks as well as weekend brunch.
1007 8th St., SE
While no longer packed to its near 400-person capacity, this Capitol Hill beer garden can accommodate 100 socially distanced guests (and their dogs). Look for a deep draft list of German and craft beers and a limited food menu.
1600 Seventh St., NW; 79 Potomac Ave., SE
Both the Shaw and waterfront Navy Yard locations of the German-inspired beer garden are open for distanced socializing, cold brews, and casual fare like pretzels, sandwiches, salads, and weekend brunch. Open daily for walk-ins only.
Denizens Brewing Company
1115 East West Hwy., Silver Spring; 4550 Van Buren St., Riverdale Park
Both the large Silver Spring beer garden and roomy Riverdale Park taproom patio are open for cold, fresh beers from this Maryland brewer (reservations are encouraged at both for afternoons and evenings). In addition to seasonal beers, look for a casual menu of sandwiches and bar snacks.
3400 Georgia Ave., NW
In addition to leading a major hospitality-industry relief effort during the pandemic, this Park View venue has just opened their outdoor summer garden. Groups of up to six can book cabanas with lounge furniture, ceiling fans, and optional perks like bottle service (pricing starts at $100 for 2 1/2 hours). Pre-reserved picnic tables accommodate parties of two to four people and start at $10.
Lulu’s Wine Garden
1940 11th St., NW
The team behind the Royal had just transformed the former Vinoteca space into an indoor/outdoor “wine garden” before the pandemic. Now, its roomy front patio and rear courtyard garden are open for al fresco dining, frozen drinks, and a wallet-friendly list of wines by the bottle. Guests can reserve seats for Wednesday through Sunday via Resy (orders are contact-free too).
3181 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
The longtime Clarendon bar boasts a rear beer garden and sidewalk patio for drinking beer and frozen cocktails. To eat: brats and beer-cheese, natch.
1101 First St., NE
NoMa’s huge outdoor beer garden is open for guests at first-come-first-served picnic tables or reservable garden cabanas for up to six guests (prices vary by location and time, and generally range from $75 to over $200).
Al fresco cocktails
50 Blagden Alley, NW
After a 12 week closure the Blagden Alley backyard bar is back and slinging tots, adult juice boxes, and frozen pina coladas. Reservations are currently required via Resy for up to 1 1/2 hours.
2226 18th St., NW
The Middle Eastern cocktail bar just reopened after a months-long closure. Customers can reserve tables on the small outdoor patio or get signature concoctions like mint-lemonade, the Janissary Corps, or “f$%^ Trump” punch to-go.
El Sapo Social Club
8455 Fenton St., Silver Spring
Silver Spring’s Cuban destination opened their tropical “mojito garden” for the minty rum drinks. Don’t forget lots of tasty Cuban food—we’re big fans of the empanadas, ropa vieja, or a Cuban street food platter.
926-928 U St., NW
Shaw’s leading cocktail and fried chicken joint is now able to cater to the outdoor crowd thanks to an extension into a park across the street.
1521 17th St., NW
The Dupont Circle cocktail bar recently built a small front patio for tikis and Szechuan fare. Chili wontons and a painkiller hit the spot.
2007 18th St., NW
The second-floor rooftop terrace is back in action with a decreased 38-person capacity to ensure social distancing and a no-smoking policy (as opposed to its previous cigar program). Also new: a summer cocktail and grill menu, and multiple early and late-night happy hours on weekdays and weekends.
1337 11th St., NW
Logan Circle’s seasonal American restaurant has gone all-in on takeout, delivery, and walk-up drinks. Now its lovely rooftop and sidewalk patio are up and running for brunch and dinner—think Mid-Atlantic-inspired soft-shell crabs, roast chicken, and homemade pastas.
1120 Maine Ave., SW
Chef Nick Stefanelli’s atmospheric rooftop reopens today at the Wharf with a new “Alice in Wonderland” floral theme. Couches have been replaced with tables for sipping spritzes and dining on Italian pastas and roasts. Diners will use a QR code to order from the menu and pay online.
606 Florida Ave., NW
Shaw’s “adult treehouse” is back in action with tropical plants and drinks like frozen margaritas and frosė. Round out the evening with tacos from Rito Loco, located below.
Celebratory occasions (yes, just being outside counts)
974 Palmer Alley, NW
The CityCenterDC Italian restaurant’s patio just reopened for Amy Brandwein’s three or four course Italian menus starting at $56 per person (must be reserved online in advance).
442 Maple Ave., E., Vienna
Jonathan Krinn has been one of the most forward-thinking chefs we’ve seen during the pandemic. He recently launched “A Lot of Clarity,” an open-air tasting-menu restaurant, in his parking lot. The tented tables are distanced nine feet apart. His to-go operation is still going strong, and you can now dine inside, too. Reserve the $90 tastings here.
1401 Okie St. NE
Chef Matt Baker’s Ivy City tasting-menu destination just reopened its pretty Conservatory space for cocktails and a shortlist of a la carte snacks (mint-and-ramp falafel; Chesapeake oysters with apple mignonette). Reserve via Resy; it’s open Tuesday through Sunday.
1601 14th St., NW
The yellow cafe tables are out at this French bistro in Logan Circle—it serves lunch or brunch and dinner daily. The menus are nearly as extensive as in the old days.
3050 K St., NW
The lobster ravioli is back in action at Fabio Trabocchi’s elegant Georgetown waterfront dining room. The a la carte menu includes other longtime hits like his burrata and brodetto.
2208 14th St., NW
The garden rooftop of chef Enrique Limardo’s 14th Street pan-Latin hotspot is open for dinner and lunch on weekends with a contact-free menu/ordering system. Ticketed reservations ($50 per person) are required through Tock and go towards a la carte food and beverage (cancellable up to 24 hours in advance).
1250 Fifth St., NE
The neo-steakhouse near Union Market just reopened its patio for dinner and brunch. Regardless of when you go, get the buttermilk biscuits on the patio.
Casual Outdoor Eats
Chez Billy Sud
1039 31st St., NW
The charming courtyard patio of the French brasserie is now open for dinner, Thursday through Sunday, with a seasonal menu of dishes like gazpacho and salmon Nicoise.
3704 14th St., NW
Chef Alfredo Solis’ coastal Mexican restaurant in Columbia Heights is open for takeout and patio seating. Fish tacos and a mezcal margarita are a great go-to.
651 Florida Ave., NW
Craving frozen cocktails? The Shaw restaurant launched a new patio pop-up stand, Friday through Sunday, with frosé, piña coladas, and margaritas (all $10). Match them with signature sausages or all-day breakfast sandwiches from the Butter Me Up pop-up.
2000 18th St., NW
Alex McCoy’s burger bar now has a lush outdoor patio with string lights and a cover for inclement weather. Lucky some things never change: arm-dripper burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, and tiki drinks.
1813 Columbia Rd., NW; 801 O St., NW
The sister French brasseries in Adams Morgan and Shaw both boast lovely patios (Mintwood is dinner-only for outdoor, while Convivial is open for lunch, brunch, and dinner). Reservations are available via Resy
The Salt Line
79 Potomac Ave., SE
Navy Yard’s New England-style seafood restaurant is open for stuffed clams, lobster rolls, rum drinks, and more on its wraparound waterfront patio. Guests can make reservations via OpenTable.
1309 5th St., NE
The District’s largest food hall reopened their outdoor patio seating (also check out the rooftop). Get pickup food and drinks from vendors like Laoban Dumplings, Puddin’, District Doughnut, Cucina Al Volo, The District Fishwife, and many more before relaxing outdoors.