Food

A Beachy, Family-Friendly Boardwalk Bar Opens at the DC Wharf This Weekend

Cotton candy for kids, daily happy hour for adults, games for everyone.

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade opens at the Wharf. Photography by Dan Swartz

It still feels like winter, but Boardwalk Bar & Arcade is going for summer vibes all year long. The huge hangout at the Wharf from Better Hospitality Group opens Friday, February 18 at 4 PM with over 30 arcade games, carnival-inspired food and drink, and a waterfront patio that can seat 70 in warm weather.

Chase a cocktail “flight” with a giant soft pretzel. Photograph by Dan Swartz

BHG founder Ryan Seelbach is known for youthful Shaw hangouts Takoda and Cortez, but Boardwalk will partly cater to an even younger demographic: kids (accompanied, of course, by a guardian). “You see families walking up and down the waterfront, but they don’t have anywhere to go,” says Seelbach, who has a two-year-old of his own. In addition to the regular menu’s nostalgic treats for all ages like corn dogs, cotton candy, and boardwalk-style pizza, the restaurant will launch a dedicated kid’s menu soon after opening (also look for weekend brunch).

Fun drinks include a cotton candy collins, pina colada, and candy apple spritz. Photograph by Dan Swartz

That’s not to say the place can’t be an adult playground—with 640 total seats and three bars, including a large indoor/outdoor one at the entrance, there’s a little something for everyone. BHG executive chef Julio Estrada is behind more grownup fare that conjures the coast like fish tacos, and Cuban and club sandwiches. Bartenders get whimsical with drinks like a cotton-candy collins (vodka, lemon, spun sugar), and there are pina coladas, mojitos, and a sizeable list of beers by the glass or pitcher. Happy hour will run daily (4 to 7 PM, Monday through Friday, and 2 to 5 PM on the weekend) with deals like $5 beers or hot dogs, or a “happy meal” combo: a 10-ounce High Life, shot of whiskey, and popcorn for $8.

Food for all ages: corn dogs. Photograph by Dan Swartz

The neon-hued interior, split with a mezzanine, has plenty of space to accommodate large parties, no booking fees or minimums required (plus two areas with bars for private events). Guests can occupy themselves with Dance Dance Revolution, Pac Man, Buck Hunter, pinball, Skee-ball-esque tournaments, shuffleboard, and more.

Boardwalk is just the beginning for BHG in the area. Easy Company, an indoor/outdoor bar and rose garden, will open nearby at the Wharf this summer. Meanwhile a second Takoda is bound for Navy Yard across from Nationals Park in the spring.

Love a club. Photograph by Dan Swartz

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade. 715 Wharf St., SW.

Check out the opening menu below

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.