Food

12 Great Restaurant Patios for Weekday Lunch Around DC

Modern Mex, Laotian, French, Japanese—we've got you covered

Iron Gate's outdoor seating. Photograph by Scott Suchman

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Destino
1280 Fourth St., NE
The excellent mezcal- and tequila-centric cocktails make this La Cosecha spot from the team behind Espita a fun place to day drink (or not—they’ve also got some amazing non-alcoholic cocktails). The modern Mexican lunch menu is small, with just a handful of appetizers and entrees, but includes some standout vegetarian options like a mushroom-stuffed quesadilla. 

The Freshman
2011 Crystal Dr., Arlington
The all-day spot in Crystal City (er, National Landing) offers an eclectic mix—veggie pakora fritters, shrimp toast, steak frites—plus breakfast for lunch. The roomy 50-seat covered patio is a pleasant perch for a coffee or cocktail too.

Iron Gate
1734 N St., NW
The wisteria-canopied garden of this Dupont Mediterranean destination is one of the most enchanting places to dine al fresco in DC. The newish lunchtime menu brings fancy tuna melts, hearty Caesars, and focaccia pizzas. Try the version with fennel salami and charred pineapple (yes, we’re Team Pineapple on Pizza).

Laos in Town
250 K St., NE
Take in the vibrant, spicy flavors of Laos from this vast (though mostly uncovered) NoMa patio. Among the highlights: several papaya salads, lemongrass-infused pork sausages, and charcoal-grilled chicken with vinegary chili dipping sauce. A dedicated vegan menu is available too.

Lapis
1847 Columbia Rd., NW
The Adams Morgan Afghan restaurant serves its full menu for lunch on its lowkey side patio. Sample aushak (leek dumplings topped with ground beef), plentiful vegetable dishes, grilled kabobs, and so much more alongside refreshing beverages (like a booze-free pomegranate, rose water, soda mix). 

Le Diplomate
1601 14th St., NW
One of the more bustling midday destinations around, the popular French brasserie is excellent for both people-watching and onion soup. The lunch go-tos: a warm shrimp salad with lemony beurre blanc or the famed burger Américain. Request one of the “streetside chateaus” (ahem, streatery tables) when possible.

Pennyroyal Station
3310 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier
Chef Jesse Miller has a way of making American comfort foods even more comforting. For lunch on the sail-covered patio, check out snacks like fried green tomatoes and crabby deviled eggs, plus “sammies” stuffed with buttermilk-fried chicken and ramp ranch or cornmeal-crusted fish with remoulade. 

Rakuya/Raku
1900 Q St., NW; 3312 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 7240 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda
Craving sushi without an expense account? These mid-priced spots with slightly varying menus—in Dupont Circle, Cathedral Heights, and Bethesda—hit the spot. Generous bento boxes are a deal for lunch, but the chirashi bowls are a worthwhile (modest) splurge. 

Ruthie’s All-Day
3411 Fifth St. S., Arlington
The spacious umbrella-dotted patio serves up elevated Southern staples with the help of a custom wood-burning hearth. Skillet cornbread and deviled eggs make for a satisfying start. The smoked brisket is also a standout—either on a sandwich or as part of a meat and two (or three) platter. 

Spanish Diner
7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda
José Andrés’s newest local spot—with a 48-seat patio—celebrates eggs and potatoes, alongside other Spanish comforts. At lunch, find a $30 three-course prix-fixe with options like gazpacho and pressed ham-and-cheese sandwiches, plus flan for dessert.

Tabla
3227 Georgia Ave., NW
The casual Georgian restaurant’s planter-lined patio is a surprising refuge from the bustle of Georgia Avenue, Northwest. The newly launched weekday lunch menu, with QR code ordering, offers staples such as khinkali (soup dumplings) and khachapuri (cheese-filled breads), plus sandwiches and a lamb burger.

The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse
1356 Okie St., NE
The seafood restaurant’s affiliation with neighboring supplier ProFish means you know you’re getting quality catch. From the sunny deck, enjoy crab cakes and fried shrimp po’ boys. The house-smoked fish—which you can sample with bagels—is particularly popular.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.

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