No, You Can’t Really Dine All Night During DC’s “Dine All Night”

Art events may carry on after midnight, but most restaurants are sticking to their regular hours.

This weekend’s Art All Night, a citywide after-hours art festival, is also the culmination of the first-ever Dine All Night. But don’t get your hopes up about DC’s late night food offerings expanding. “Dine All Night” isn’t exactly what it sounds like— you won’t be able to feast on Michelin-starred meals, Ethiopian food, or blue crabs at 4 AM. While the painting, spoken word, and performances will carry on into the wee hours on Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30, few full-service restaurants are extending their hours. 

Of the dozens of establishments that have registered with the DC government to stay open late during the event, the vast majority are clubs, lounges, and adult entertainment clubs. They include Heist, Sax, Trade, and Public Bar. Meanwhile, more than 60 officially participating restaurants are sticking to normal hours and offering special menus. Some are offering their takes on a cocktail called the “Night Owl.”

“Dine All Night gives us an opportunity to turn the public’s head back to restaurants,” says Kristi Whitfield, director of DC’s Department of Small and Local Development. “It’s an invitation to remember to celebrate the culinary arts as we think about art.”

Thanks to emergency legislation by the DC Council, businesses that registered in advance with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration are allowed to remain open 24 hours a day until October 1, but most applicants so far are clubs and lounges, where drinking and DJ sets are the focus, more than dining. The few food destinations, notably 14th Street Indian eatery Pappe and Shaw’s Right Proper Brewing Company, aren’t offering special menus. While they’re permitted to be open up to 24 hours a day, call to check hours. 

At the same time, more than 60 restaurants in DC—many of them near Art All Night venues—are participating in a parallel Dine All Night program that encourages them to highlight favorite dishes and concoct special drinks. Among the notable restaurants participating are China Chilcano, DCity Smokehouse, Hedzole, El Techo, and Ghostburger. These restaurants’ special menus don’t necessarily come with later hours, though. 

At Capitol Hill newcomer Ruta, for example, chef Dima Martseniuk says his bartender is working on a special “Night Owl” cocktail for Art All Night revelers. But he said his traditional Ukrainian restaurant would be unlikely to register for extended hours, because business slows down too much. “It’s not for us,” he says. “Even if we got permission, probably we’re not going to stay so late.”

This is Dine All Night’s first year, and Whitfield is hopeful that in subsequent years, more full-service restaurants will actually extend their hours.

Ike Allen
Editorial Fellow