The Best Outdoor Dining in Washington, D.C.

Staff Writer
Fresh air is an important offering at the District's restaurants this time of year
Facebook/Vinoteca DC

Vinoteca's outdoor area offers bocce ball and more.

Whether it’s a picnic in the park, a backyard cookout, or a leisurely meal at a sidewalk cafe, we all love to dine al fresco. But views of the White House, the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol,  and D.C.’s other amazing sights take outdoor dining to another level. Here are the top 10 Washington spots to dine outdoors.

1. P.O.V. Roof Terrace

On the 11th floor of the ultra-elegant W Hotel, the P.O.V. Roof Terrace requires reservations and “casually sophisticated” attire, but it offers the ultimate bird’s-eye views of the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Get comfy on plush banquettes and sample cocktails like the gin with house-made citrus marmalade and small plates like spiced chicken samosas as you watch the city lights blink on.

2. Sequoia

Sequoia, a restaurant and bar on Georgetown’s bustling Washington Harbor, is impressive for both its menu and its architecture: Just ask anyone who’s watched the sun slip slowly into the Potomac from a table on the tri-level outdoor terrace. The raw bar and seafood tower are justifiably famous, as is the applewood-smoked New York strip. 

Outdoor dining at Sequoia (credit: Facebook/Sequoia)

3. Vinoteca

The authentic bocce ball court and aperitifs at the bar in the outdoor plaza at Vinoteca transport diners to the Tuscan countryside. With a menu made up largely of small plates and cheese and charcuterie boards that are perfect for sharing, this gem in the U Street Corridor also has a nice wine selection and an inventive cocktail menu. They fire up the outdoor grill during happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. daily.

4. DNV Rooftop Lounge

The DNV Rooftop Lounge, the crown atop the sophisticated Donovan House hotel, becomes a cool, adults-only oasis at night with a stunning view of the historic National City Christian Church and the traffic lights ringing Thomas Circle. Find a comfortable spot on the patio surrounding the small, glowing pool and enjoy a selection of Asian-inspired dishes from the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Zentan, as well as some of the most innovative cocktails in the district.

5. Biergarten Haus

If you’re feeling particularly festive, check out Biergarten Haus in Capitol Hill’s up-and-coming Atlas District. Like the restaurant itself, the patio is huge, as is the beer selection and, perhaps just as important, the beer steins. Picnic-style tables help to foster a convivial spirit, and live oompah bands roll out the barrel on Friday and Saturday nights. And one more thing – their wursts are the best.

6. Poste

Life doesn’t get much better than dining in the courtyard garden at French brasserie Poste, where executive chef Dennis Marron cultivates an assortment of herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the  restaurant and bar. With its abundant greenery and shady nooks and crannies, it’s hard to believe that this enchanting getaway is in the heart of Penn Quarter. Try the onion soup burger or the steak frites with blue cheese butter, bernaise, or tomato jam.

7. Kafe Leopold

The sun-dappled brick courtyard at Georgetown’s charming Kafe Leopold has an unmistakably European vibe. Tucked off of M Street in Cady’s Alley, the courtyard – with its tables sprouting umbrellas like sunflowers – invites diners to slow down and savor the food, and they do. The café has a surprisingly extensive menu and gets everything right. Try the wild mushroom tart with carmelized onions or the apple strudel with hot vanilla sauce.

The courtyard at Kafe Leopold (credit: Facebook/Kafe Leopold)

8. Perry’s

The rooftop terrace at Perry’s is a great place to sample a variety of sakes while taking in the sights of Adams Morgan. With a canopy of lights lending a golden glow in the evenings, the place takes on a  decidedly romantic tone, and while popular, it generally attracts a mellow crowd. The restaurant has an extensive sushi menu and also specializes in Japanese cuisine, including luscious pork belly grilled on bamboo skewers and served with house-made teriyaki sauce.

9. Art and Soul

Even the dogs in D.C. like to schmooze, and the pretty, dog-friendly patio at Art and Soul offers a special pooch menu featuring non-alcoholic Bowser beer, raw bones, and other delicacies for its four-legged patrons. Those on the other end of the leash enjoy a great view of the Capitol, Southern-inspired dishes like duck and Andouille gumbo and, for dessert, the Great Debate Cocktail, consisting of Frangelico, vanilla vodka, cinnamon, coffee, and cream.

10. Taverna Cretekou

One of the most charming patios in the D.C. area also happens to be at one of the best Greek restaurants — Taverna Cretekou, just across the Potomac River in historic Old Town Alexandria. With tables shaded by grape arbors and flowers overflowing their pots, the family-owned restaurant feels both homey and special. The service is outstanding and the food is glorious. You can’t go wrong with any of their braised or roasted lamb shanks and the saganaki (kasseri cheese sauteed until crispy and then flamed at the table in a final triumphant flourish), is a must.

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