The weather is beautiful, and we are all ready to dine outdoors in the Washington, D.C. area! Outdoor dining is a favorite amongst Washingtonians, and we have rounded up the leading restaurants you should try!
This article includes restaurants that are diverse, and they are all outstanding. From wine gardens to unpretentious cafes to rooftops, we’ve got it all! Keep reading to determine if you will need to bring a picnic blanket along or if the recommended restaurants with outdoor dining options have giant pillows for you to get comfortable on.
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006
Located in the heart of Downtown, Washington, D.C., Immigrant Food is a fantastic restaurant with a spacious outdoor dining area. Immigrant Food is a casual dining restaurant that embraces the positive impact Immigrants have made in our country. The menu is globally inspired and representative of the goal of bringing cultures together. Chef Enrique Limardo is quite the talent, and has received accolades throughout Washington, D.C., and nationwide. We love the Havana Sandwich and West African Gumbo options for lunch and the Shakshuka for brunch. Immigrant Food offers brunch on the weekends, lunch during the week, and dinner service. They are closed on Mondays. Since Immigrant Food is located downtown, it is in an ideal location for sightseeing after your meal. The area is walkable and a couple of blocks away from the White House.
Upper West Side Cafe
2233 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037
Hidden in the West End of Washington, D.C.,Upper West Side Cafe is a true gem. Attached to a squash club, Upper West Side is unique because the atmosphere is casual and inviting, yet the decor is chic and modern. Upper West Side has the “feel” of a members only club where all are welcome. Their outdoor cafe is the perfect place to gather with friends for one of their trivia nights, or for their creative cocktails. If you are not wanting a cocktail, enjoy one of their fresh smoothies! Their menu is always changing, but order the Impossible Sliders if you see them! If you thought for a minute that Upper West Side Cafe was not unique enough, think again! They also offer events such as Barre and Standup Comedy on their private rooftop. They encourage you to partake in their Happy Hour and bring your drink up to events to fully enjoy the experience. Keep an eye out for such events on their website and social media!
Lulu’s Wine Garden
1940 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Located in the Shaw area of Washington, D.C. Lulu’s Wine Garden is located directly off U Street. Lulu’s is an unbelievably whimsical wine garden with beautiful dining areas in both the front and the back of the restaurant. In the front of the restaurant, the “streetery” provides coverage from the sun, and is a prime location for people watching. The back patio leaves you believing you had been transformed to a beautiful European wine garden, complete with a running water fountain. Between the music, the scenery, and the under $50 wine list they offer, Lulu’s has such great “vibes” and you will enjoy every minute. The White Queso and the Shrimp Tostada are absolutely winners in our book for menu items. Lulu’s can also serve as your local wine shop, and the staff are all knowledgeable about wine offerings. Lulu’s is a fantastic place to gather with friends, and we highly recommend making reservations. For weeks with predicted beautiful weather, we recommend making those reservations as far in advance as possible.
Laos in Town
250 K St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Located near NoMa in Washington, D.C., Laos in Town is a restaurant that hits it out of the park, in every category. .Laos in Town serves unbelievably delicious Lao Food in an upscale casual setting. The inside of the restaurant is decorated beautifully, and is reminiscent of street vendors in Laos, which inspired the owner. Their outdoor dining patio is spacious, and diners will have privacy and be able to engage in comfortable conversation with their dining companion while under twinkling overhead lights and greenery. You cannot visit Lao in Town without trying their Grilled Whole Fish. The sauce in the Mekong Clams is so good, we wish it could be bottled up. The service, setting, and food is all exceptional at Laos in Town. It comes as no surprise that this Washington, D.C., restaurant received a 2020 Michelin Bib Gourmand. The emphasis on customer service is always highlighted. Be sure to order a crafted cocktail as you enjoy the outdoor vibes while you dine.
3903-3905 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20011
DC Corazon is a Woman owned, Mexican restaurant located in the Petworth area of Washington, D.C. You truly will not be able to find a more decorative and colorful restaurant in the Washington, D.C., area. Their food is outstanding, and is a new pick of ours for top Mexican Restaurants in the District. If you are looking to bring out of town guests to a restaurant in D.C. that will impress, this is the place. Josefina, the owner, has shared her Grandmother’s recipes that they cooked together in Mexico City. What to try on the menu? Anything with their authentic Mole sauce. This sauce is indeed one of the recipes brought to the restaurant by Josefina from her Grandmother. One of the most delicious dishes you will ever have is the Salmon Con Mole. Be sure to also get tacos to share. DC Corazon also offers private events in addition to their indoor and outdoor dining. Reservations are recommended, and you will want to arrive early if you hope to score an outdoor seat.
1155 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Hedy’s is the rooftop bar and restaurant located on the top of Hotel Zena, in Logan Circle.
Hedy’s rooftop is an upscale rooftop restaurant where diners dress to impress. The restaurant was named as a nod to Hedy Lamarr, the actress who also had breakthroughs in radiofrequency which later became the blueprint for Bluetooth. The space is stunning, has a movie theater size screen perfect for watching games, and even has a rooftop pool. While the vibes of this outdoor dining experience is the star of the show, the cocktails are delicious, as is the food! The Crab Dip is wonderful, as are the truffle fries. After you enjoy dinner and cocktails on Hedy’s Rooftop, be sure to check out the fun decor at Hotel Zena, where the concept of Women’s empowerment continues. You will see art inspired from the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., as well as a gigantic art piece of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Reservations are required. Consider splurging for the Cabana experience and enjoy your private firepit and couches to lounge with friends.
818 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
Equinox Restaurant is located in Downtown, Washington, D.C., near McPherson Square.Equinox Restaurant is a family owned and operated upscale dining restaurant. The cuisine is innovative, and they are dedicated to providing a plant forward menu to diners. The offerings are based on seasonal flavors, and this contributes toward a goal of Equinox, which is sustainability. While the menus change weekly, our current favorite is the Local Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry. The outdoor dining area of Equinox Restaurant is an extension of the interior – classy, and beautiful. Equinox has received many accolades including the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and has been Zagat rated. They have also received 5 nominations for the James Beard Foundation for best Mid-Atlantic Chef.
1346 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Located close to the U Street area of Washington, D.C., Compass Rose is tucked into a rowhouse, offering an eccentric patio. Since Compass Rose is located in a rowhouse, the vibes are casual, warm, and inviting. Their menu is globally inspired, served small plates style, ideal for sharing. The patio gives diners a moroccan feel, donned with colorful accents and comfortable pillows. The menu serves food that the restaurant promises will transport you to new destinations. Their menu changes regularly, though we love the Octopus Salad that is reminiscent of Portugal and the Khachapuri, inspired from Georgia. Compass Rose used to accept only walk-in diners, however, they now accept reservations. Reservations are highly recommended due to their popularity.
50 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001
Calico is located on Blagden Alley in the Mt. Vernon Square area of Washington, D.C. Blagden Alley is known for being the home of restaurants that are absolute gems in the District. Calico is casual, and unassuming. Described as an “urban background” setting, Calico hosts friends in a fun and coveted after work outdoor dining experience. Offering elevated cookout fare, Calico also offers fun drinks including Adult Juice Boxes in addition to regional beers and wines. The Buffalo Cauliflower Dip is fantastic, and don’t leave without trying some of their unique cocktails including the “Why Must I Be Mango.” Calico’s backyard dining area has been recognized by locals and publications such as the Washingtonian as one of the best bars in D.C. Reservations are recommended.
1513 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
There are three locations of Duke’s Grocery within Washington, D.C. – Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Woodley Park. Duke’s Grocery describes themselves as laid back and unpretentious, and we agree! Their Dupont Circle location is made complete with a beautiful and sunny patio, perfect for grabbing a beer with friends. It is inside of a historic row house, and comes with charm and an inviting feel. Their chalkboard menu is updated regularly to reflect items made with the freshest ingredients. Their sandwiches and macaroni and cheese are not to miss!The Woodley Park location of Duke’s Grocery is located across the street from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. If you choose to dine on the outdoor patio at this location, make sure you have enough time to wander around the zoo after your meal.
1309 5th St NE Rooftop, Washington, DC 20002
Located on the roof at Union Market in Washington, D.C., Hi-Lawn is a winner for rooftop dining. Thanks to Hi-Lawn being directly over Union Market, diners have the advantage of bringing food from the many diverse restaurants from the market to enjoy on the rooftop. The views are spectacular, and diners can also enjoy outdoor games in this spacious setting. Alcohol is available for purchase on the rooftop and cannot be brought upstairs from Union Market. Reservations are needed to enjoy Hi-Lawn. While picnic tables are available for those with reservations, you may also receive a designated “lawn” area – therefore, ensure you bring a blanket in case you are assigned one for the most comfortable dining experience.
5 Cameron St, Alexandria, VA 22314
With locations across the United States, Blackwall Hitch is ideally located on the waterfront in the Old Town, Alexandria area of Washington, D.C. While the interior of their restaurant is spacious and light filled, decked out in nautical finishings, Blackwall Hitch has an unbelievable outdoor dining atmosphere. The outdoor dining patio is spacious and has its own bar as well as large screen televisions. Outdoor seating can be requested when making a reservation, though you should arrive early for the coveted couches which have personal fire pits in the middle. Their happy hours held during the week are widely popular. Keep Blackwall Hitch on your radar and on the top of your list for events such as New Year’s Eve and Alexandria’s First Night – which is typically the weekend after the Fourth of July. Both days call for a large celebration, and Blackwall Hitch offers a front row seat of the show. You will have a perfect view of the fireworks over the water.
Ruthie’s All Day
3411 5th St S, Arlington, VA 22204
Ruthie’s All Day is located in the Arlington, Virginia area of Washington, D.C. Highly recommended for their food and outdoor dining experience, Ruthie’s All Day is a family owned and operated restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is light filled from their open floor plan and large windows. Their outdoor patio is dog friendly and has heaters for chilly days and nights. Offering breakfast daily, they also serve innovative menu items for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Their Hushpuppies and Veggie Bennie are two items not to miss! In addition to receiving many accolades, Ruthie’s All Day has recently captured the attention of Washington Post Writer Tom Sietsema. What began as his meal over a holiday weekend has extended to a virtual love fest between Tom and Ruthie’s, and we love to see it! Please know, just because this restaurant is listed last, this is merely because of the ordinal format of our articles. Ruthie’s All Day is a restaurant recommended to all, each and every time!