Food

DC-Area Restaurants Extend Outdoor Dining Season This Winter with Igloos, Lodges, and Yurts

Where to find private al fresco options for brunch and dinner.

Waterfront igloo at luxe Spanish seafood spot Del Mar. Photograph courtesy of Del Mar

In addition to heaters and fire pits, restaurants around DC hope to extend the outdoor dining season this winter with the help of semi and fully enclosed structures like faux igloos, yurts, cabanas, tents, and greenhouses. Air flow varies by structure; for fully enclosed setups like plastic bubbles, it’s probably a good idea to only dine with members of your immediate household.

Igloos at Del Mar
791 Wharf St., SW
It’s 2020, so enjoying paella in a faux igloo is completely normal! The luxe domes are set up on the second-floor terrace of Trabocchi’s Spanish restaurant at the Wharf, so you’ll have a water view along with your seafood and tapas. There’s a $150 rental fee, and a food and beverage minimum of $75 per person.

Winter lodges at Bresca. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Winter lodges at Bresca
1906 14th St., NW
As part of its reopening for dining this month, Michelin-starred Bresca set up six two-person “lodges” on 14th Street for those hesitant to venture indoors. (Reservations require a $20 per person deposit but no additional charge.) Diners a deux can go a la carte, opt for a four-course $75 prix-fixe dinner, or splurge on a European-style Sunday lunch filled with decadences—think canapes, caviar, Champagne, and suckling pig ($65 per person).

Yurt Village at Fiola
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Yurts—not just for glamping any more. Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Michelin-starred Italian flagship teamed up with American Express for an 11 “yurt village.” (So, caveat: there’s no reservation fee, but all diners must reserve through Resy and pay with an AmEx card.) “Immediate family or friend” groups of four-to-six can book the luxe tents for five-course menus ($135) starring produce from Chancellors Rock Farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia. They open in early December. 

A viking hut at Hook Hall. Photograph by Fredde Lieberman.

Viking Huts at Hook Hall
3400 Georgia Ave., NW
The Park View bar went with a fierce viking theme for this pandemic winter—think fires, mead, and turkey legs. Patrons can book themed huts for $125 that come with a bottle of Champagne, heaters, and retractable curtains. Groups can opt for special food and drink packages filled with items like warm Bavarian pretzels and Scandinavian beers.

Snow Globes at Ted’s Bulletin
505 Eight St., SE; 1818 14th St., NW
For a more casual enclosed experience, try the plastic bubbles outside Ted’s Bulletin on 14th Street or Barracks Row. The little domes are available for no extra charge on a first-come, first serve basis—perfect for enjoying your homemade pop-tarts and diner fare outdoors (kinda).

The greenhouse at Inn at Perry Cabin. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Greenhouses at the Inn at Perry Cabin
308 Watkins Ln., St. Michaels
The luxe Eastern Shore escape lets guests and diners book a tiny greenhouse set with a table for two, a sitting area, and lots of greenery. Bonus: a view of the Chesapeake Bay.

More greenhouses at Rakuya
1900 Q St., NW
Dine on sushi in the sunshine at the Dupont streatery outside this Japanese restaurant, which offers seating in two leafy greenhouses as well as open-air patio tables. Both lunch and happy hour bring good deals (go for bentos at the former, rolls and izakaya-style small plates at the latter).

Even more greenhouses at Belga Cafe
514 Eighth St., SE
Chef Bart Vandaele’s longtime Barracks Row Belgian spot boasts several cute little greenhouses that guests can call and reserve for brunch (we’re fans of the sweet and savory waffles) or dinner. Parties of up to four can opt to enclose the huts entirely or keep panels open.

Beer garden cabanas at Wunder Garten. Photograph courtesy of Wundergarten.

Cabanas at Wunder Garten
1101 First St., NE
NoMa’s huge outdoor beer garden is in full, socially distanced Fall Fest mode, with rotating food vendors and special events like a holiday market. In addition to fire pit seating, parties of up to six can reserve airy, German-style cabanas (prices vary by day and time).

Tents at Field & Main
8369 W Main St., Marshall, VA
Ashby Inn vets Neal and Star Wavra restored this gorgeous Federal-era house in Marshall, which boasts new private outdoor tents for parties of two-to-six who prefer lunch outdoors. Chef Neal’s afternoon menu proffers comforting dishes like a homemade “pigstrami” and shrimp n’ grits, while dinner focuses on seasonal items from the wood-burning hearth such as charred broccoli with caper-raisin vinaigrette or ember-roasted salmon. 

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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.