Food

Socially Distanced DC-Area Rooftop Bars and Restaurants to Rise Above It All

Al fresco spots with sky-high fire pits, happy hours, and of course, great views.

Gather around fire pits with "s'mores service" at Wild Days in the Eaton hotel. Photo by Scott Suchman

Anchovy Social
221 Tingey St., SE
Restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Navy Yard seafood restaurant Maialino Mare is still on pandemic hiatus, but sister rooftop bar Anchovy Social swam back into action recently. Go for seafood towers, Maryland crab deviled eggs, fancy tinned seafood, and coastal cocktails—stay for pretty Anacostia River views.

Brixton
901 U St., NW
You only have until October 31 before this longtime U Street favorite closes for the foreseeable future. In addition to the usual lineup of pub-style drinks, chef Casey Bauer pops up on the weekends with Mediterranean eats like maneesh flatbreads and za’atar spiced tater tots.

TTT Rooftop (previously Buena Vida)
2900 Wilson Blvd Suite 103, Arlington
Channel warmer weather with margaritas and tacos atop restaurateur Ivan Iricanin’s three-level Mexican dining complex in Clarendon. Removable awnings protect diners from the elements in the open-air space. On Saturday and Sunday, head up for all-you-can-eat $34 brunch plus 25 cent brunch drinks.

The colorful TTT Rooftop, where you’ll find free-flowing margaritas and tacos. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Cortez
1905 Ninth St., NW
The beach-y Mexican spot from the owners of Takoda reopened over the summer. Expect fish tacos, frozen margs, and plenty of space to lounge in the sunshine—plus daily happy hour from 4 to 7 PM and all day Sunday. 

El Techo
606 Florida Ave., NW
Shaw’s “adult treehouse” is full of tropical plants and hanging flowers for an island-style vibe. Heaters keep things warm, and there’s a retractable roof for when the temperature really dips. Diners can load up on margaritas, mojitos, tacos, and more during 90-minute table reservations. 

The new rooftop at Fiola, available to guests before and after dinner. Photograph by Fabio Trabocchi

Fiola
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Chef Fabio Trabocchi recently reopened his Michelin-starred Italian flagship as “Fiola 2.0,” a farm-focused restaurant serving $85 prix-fixe dinners in the dining room or outdoor garden patio. Guests can begin or end the evening with drinks and bites on the freshly renovated rooftop, which offers sweeping city views (note that the rooftop is accessible to dinner guests only).

Hi-Lawn
1309 Fifth St., NE
The massive all-outdoor bar and restaurant atop Union Market is ready for al fresco fun with pouched cocktails, beer buckets, backyard grill fare, and picnic baskets stocked with snack-y items like cheeses/meats and dips, or high-brow fillers such as lobster rolls and caviar with potato chips. Walk-ins are accepted, though on nice days it’s a good idea to book distanced tables or designated picnic spots on the turf lawn in advance.

Hi-Lawn, an outdoor picnic spot and bar on the top of Union Market. Photograph courtesy Hi-Lawn.

Ivy & Coney
1537 Seventh St., NW
We’re hesitant to call out the back deck atop this no-frills bar, because it still feels like a hidden gem. The pandemic has brought a few changes, including credit cards, reservations, and special packages for (seated, socially distanced) sports fans. Thankfully the chill vibe and chili dogs are still a go. 

Imperial
2001 18th St., NW
Happy hour gets an upscale twist at the newest concept from the Jack Rose team, which boasts a roomy rooftop. Drop by for “tower hour” (Wednesday through Friday, 4 to 6 PM) when shellfish plateaus or picnic versions loaded with dips, spreads, and rillettes go for $21. A full dinner menu is available al fresco alongside low-ABV cocktails and seasonal wines.

The rooftop at Imperial is a sunny space for happy hour. Photograph courtesy of Imperial

Jack Rose
2007 18th St., NW
An open-air rooftop terrace at Adams Morgan’s whiskey mecca isn’t just for sipping bourbons and Scotches. A wood-fired grill turns out casual eats, and guests can head up for a Sunday brunch of Southern-leaning fare like a fried green tomato BLT or shrimp n’ grits.

Officina
1120 Maine Ave., SW
One of the prettiest rooftops can be found atop chef Nick Stefanelli’s Italian emporium at the Wharf. Groups of up to six can reserve fire pits for two hours—perfect for sipping Negronis and snacking on antipasti, salumi, and cheeses—or opt for four-person tables in the enclosed terrace, which is hung with greenery and flowers for an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Book a fire pit table at Officina’s rooftop. Photograph by Scott Suchman

O-Ku
1274 5th St., NE
An atmospheric rooftop and creative Japanese plates make this a popular destination near Union Market. Go for the sushi happy hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights when rolls are half-off and cocktails and wines are discounted by $3.

Perry’s
1811 Columbia Rd., NW
Perry’s roof deck is well worth the climb, and if it’s chilly you can warm up under heat lamps. Rooftop reservations are available in 1 hour 15 minute increments for sushi and Japanese small plates under the twinkling string lights.

Perry’s gorgeous rooftop (pre-pandemic). Photograph courtesy of Perry’s

Pitchers
2317 18th St NW
Not only does this Adams Morgan gay bar boast a rainbow-hued streatery—the rooftop is brightly appointed with spaced tables for catching sports and show tunes on the televisions.

Takoda
715 Florida Ave., NW
The covered rooftop of this American bar and restaurant is largely enclosed (side windows make it breezy). If you’re looking for open air, head out to one of the tables on the small terrace for daily happy hour and a $25 weekend bottomless mimosa brunch.

Sip tiki drinks on the rooftop of Tiki TNT (photo taken pre-pandemic). Photograph courtesy of Tiki TNT.

Tiki TNT
1130 Maine Ave., SW
The tropical rooftop of Todd Thrasher’s rum distillery at the Wharf is open for sipping tiki cocktails in the sun. Guests can graze from an all-day menu of Hawaiian-style eats, or go in for bottomless weekend brunch where mimosas are mixed with pineapple, guava, and other tropical juices.

Wild Days
1201 K St., NW
The atmospheric rooftop of the Eaton DC hotel is open for outdoor seating only with reservations. Guests can book fire pits and order “s’mores service,” or tables for cocktails, wine, and a limited food menu of snacks and pizza.

Rooftop the luxe new Riggs DC hotel. Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

Rooftop at Riggs
900 F St., NW
The stylish new Penn Quarter hotel opened just before the pandemic. Head to the top floor—reservations are recommended—for a light snack menu of homemade chips and dips, shrimp cocktail, and cocktails such as warming hot toddy with cognac, rum, and chocolate bitters.

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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.

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