The clouds are parting—both literally and metaphorically—as summer approaches and vaccines take hold. And although we may be a little too familiar with eating outside, a meal overlooking a sparkling river or churning bay never gets old. Here’s where to find just that.
Where to Go If You Want . . .
A Fancy Dinner
Chef/restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi has the lock on splurge-worthy waterfront dinners and gorgeous seafood towers, whether at Italian Fiola Mare (3050 K St., NW) in Georgetown or Spanish Del Mar (791 Wharf St., SW) at the Wharf. Also at the Wharf is Officina (1120 Maine Ave., SW), home to Nick Stefanelli’s robust pastas and roasts, plus an amaro collection that’s as impressively sweeping as the rooftop view.
A Boozy Brunch
Have your Benedict amid the seagulls at the Old Town branch of Blackwall Hitch (5 Cameron St., Alexandria), where’s it’s all about the prime patio—and five-buck mimosas. If you’re wavering between lunch and breakfast, go for a gravlax-laden BLT, plus a three-spirit iced coffee, at nearby Hummingbird (220 S. Union St., Alexandria).
A Seafood Lunch
The lobster roll gets all the love at Hank’s Oyster Bar (701 Water St., SW; open for lunch/brunch Friday through Sunday) but the fried-fish sandwich deserves attention, too. And while coconut shrimp often have a bad rap, they’re redeemed at Vola’s Dockside (101 N. Union St., Alexandria; open weekdays for lunch, weekends for brunch) in Old Town.
Old Town’s waterfront now has an upscale steakhouse with foie gras doughnuts, plus a neighboring Spanish-themed sister bar. 2 and 3 Pioneer Mill Way, Alexandria.
This Deco-meets-diner all-day restaurant in Navy Yard began serving appletinis and meatloaf in early April. 1201 Half St., SE.
Kevin Tien has taken over the Wharf dining room that formerly housed Kith and Kin, bringing Vietnamese-accented crudo and turmeric catfish. 801 Wharf St., SW.
Southwest DC’s next big waterfront development is Buzzard Point, which just got a restaurant from the Ivy City Smokehouse crew. 2100 Second St., SW.
What’s on the Way
Having Rehoboth withdrawal? Corn dogs and Skee-ball are coming to a giant space at the Wharf later this year. 715 Wharf St., SW.
Grab a Drink
The rooftop at this pizzeria now has a weekday happy hour for $5 beers and $8 Italian-ice cocktails. 79 Potomac Ave., SE.
You can DIY wine flights on the patio of this Occoquan hangout. 311 Mill St., Occoquan.
Fans of the late institution Cantina Mari-na will find lots that’s familiar at this offshoot, with its cans of Tecate and flip-flop-friendly vibe.960 Wharf St., SW.
There’s a vast range of cocktails—Palomas, hurricanes, frozen gin-and-tonics—at the $5-a-drink happy hour. 3000 K St., NW.
The swank dining room now offers an outdoor happy hour with citrusy spritzes and Negronis. 3050 K St., NW.
Head to this mod-American spot for the weekday happy hour, with pitchers of punch and top-shelf martinis. 99 Market Sq., SW.
Did you know that the Pentagon has a lagoon? It’s home to this hidden, Florida-feeling spot. Columbia Island Marina off George Washington Pkwy. (no address).
The New England–inspired restaurant’s daytime Friday happy hour features shandies, crushes, and oysters on the cheap. 79 Potomac Ave., SE.
Ed Lee’s Southern-meets-Korean place at National Harbor boasts a top-notch bourbon selection. 186 Waterfront St., National Harbor.
Todd Thrasher makes his own rum at his often-packed Wharf distillery/bar. Try it in a $5 happy-hour frozen rum-and-Coke. 1130 Maine Ave., SW.