Like the Staff Picks you found at the precursor of what we know as Netflix–Blockbuster Video–we’ve hand-picked our recs on where to day-eat and day-drink during the warmer months:
This year, I’m excited about Matchbox’s new whooping 90-seat patio on 14th Street, which hopefully will alleviate some of the crowds. (Or not.) It’s right in the middle of all the 14th Street action, with a fire pit on cooler nights, tasty desserts, plus one word: Proseccoontap. 1901 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.328.0369
I hate to admit it, but I’ve enjoyed The Reef’s rooftop patio. It has a great bird’s eye view of bustling Adams Morgan. But because I’m getting old and ornery, I like it during the weekdays when there’s no fear of being vomited on–from myself, mostly. 2446 18th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.518.3800
I love the outdoor “living room” at J&G Steakhouse. It’s on a big ol’ bustling corner of Pennsylvania Avenue, with luxurious couches, plenty of shade, a great wine selection and tasty nibbles. W Hotel, 515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.661.2440
Blue Duck Tavern’s cozy 42-seat terrace is very elegant (and very clean!), plus the food and drinks are always exceptional. It’s amazing how quiet that corner is even in the middle of rush hour traffic. 24 and M Streets NW, Washington, DC. 202.419.6755
I really like the cool, shaded courtyard at Biergartenhaus in the summer. It’s pretty big, and so are the beers. Admittedly I’m not a big beer drinker, but I do love the sausage. 1355 H Street NE, Washington, DC. 202.388.4053
I’m not the target audience at Nellie’s Sports Bar, but I just love rooftop
decks, and Nellie’s has great views. And I do mean great…views. Plus, I can accept a drink there without having to put out. 900 U Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.332.NELL
Poste is one of my favorite outdoor spaces year-round. Entering the quiet, enclosed courtyard is like arriving in Narnia, with creeping vines, the Chef’s Garden, and lots of plush nooks for intimate conversations. And fire pits, of course. And while I’ve never been to Narnia (I don’t like to cross the American Legion Bridge), I imagine there’s Smokin’ Bacon Hot Chocolate there. 555 8th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.783.6060
I gotta give SW some love, and although this place is divey and barnacle-encrusted, Cantina Marina is on the water, and it beats day drinking next to a plastic kiddie pool. 600 Water Street SW, Washington, DC. 202.554.8396
My favorite divey roof deck is the Big Hunt in Dupont Circle. It’s definitely less pretentious than other Dupont establishments, offering a really casual atmosphere. They have a great rotating draft list (including the increasingly popular Bells Oberon) and decent buffalo wings, which is really all you need for a Sunday Funday. There’s no bar on the roof, but it’s just around the corner, and there are tables and wait service. 1345 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC. 202.785.2333
Favorite hidden gem is American Ice Company. My favorite hidden gem is American Ice Company in the U Street Corridor. It’s perfect for a spring day if you’re looking to sit at picnic tables, drink great beer out of Mason jars, and eat delicious pulled pork. I’ve been known to take a deck of cards with me and settle in for an entire afternoon. 917 V Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.758.3562
If the cookies haven’t already had you stalking this Florida Avenue locale, the no-frills patio at Blind Dog Cafe is worth checking out during nice weather. The small outdoor space tucked away in the back is quiet and perfect for “me time,” as long as you don’t mind strangers a few feet from you doing the same. 944 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC.
Picnic benches, liter beers, and fried pickles? Duh. I love the baby biergarten at Standard, especially when the Donut Guy is there or when I’m hanging out on a balmy summer night. 1801 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. 1801 14th Street NW, Washington, DC.
Level One’s disco brunch is best enjoyed on the patio when it’s warm out, the waiters are wearing glittered rompers, and your mimosa glass continues to refill itself magically. Come hungry, be fabulous, and leave drunk. 1639 R Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.745.0025
The fancy-schmancy Bar DuPont has happy hour from 4-6 pm on weekdays, with plenty of delicious cocktails to choose from for just $6. I usually drink them outside on the comfortable lounge sofas and chairs to look and feel important. 1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC. 202.797.0169
Stu Davenport, bear-in-chief at Big Bear Café, built that patio with own bear hands. It’s the most thoughtfully designed and lovingly curated spaces in all of the District, and the only place to be a warm day, next to the rosemary, glass of rosè in hand, please and thank you. 1700 1st Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.643.9222
Perry’s is hands down my favorite outdoor dining space. This one holds a special place in my heart. It’s smaller, feels more intimate and dare I say, romantic; a rarity in DC. Although popular, it tends to be a subdued crowd and always feels like you’re in on some kind of secret. 1811 Columbia Road NW, Washington, DC. 202.234.6218
The Georgetown waterfront–generally a fun place to day drink with several so-so food options. Let’s be serious, this is all about the drinking. Hence the abundance of college coeds. Water Street NW, Washington, DC.
There’s a mini back patio courtyard at Stetson’s that holds about 25 seated and crams much more than that standing and, for a moment, makes you forget you’re in the middle of all the U Street hustle and bustle. I can’t really attest to the food, but it’s a great place to happy hour. I mean, they do have pub quiz, which is tough to beat. 1610 U Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.667.6295
Brunch in Eastern Market. What could be better? I like to spin at nearby Biker Barre then reverse my hard work with a giant waffle at Belga Café. 514 8th Street SE Washington, DC. 202.544.0100
Although I’m admittedly not cool enough to hang at the large, swanky hotel rooftop bar at Donovan House, I still think it’s fabulous on a warm evening for a post-work drink and snack. I’ve never been on a weekend, but I imagine the crowd is filled with Kardashian look-a-likes. 1155 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.737.1200
Solly’s is divey and delicious. They just introduced a food menu, and it’s a great place for cheap beers in cans. It’s totally unpretentious, which is typically what I want when eating greasy food, watching sports and drinking tallboys. 1942 11th Street NW Washington, DC. 202.232.6590
The coveted bocce court at Vinoteca is something hard to find in DC, and the real oyster-shell bocce ball court is the perfect spot to play. The drinks at the European courtyard bar are always creative and delicious, and the patio offers a secluded place to enjoy them. Plus, you can get a half-smoke and bubbly for $12 ($9 during happy hour!). Or a burger and a draft for $13 ($10 during happy hour). 1940 11th St NW Washington, DC. 202.332.9463
Veranda on P comes to mind, mostly because it’s a stone’s throw from my apartment. The main attraction here is the really great outdoor seating area. Lots of things are popping up in the Shaw neighborhood these days, but this is one of the few places between Shaw and Logan Circle that has outdoor seating. The food is good–not great–but who cares when you’re downing Bloody Marys on a beautiful morning?! 1100 P Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.234.6870
Am I biased because I work at Union Market? Yes. When the weather is nice, the huge garage doors that flank the whole front side of the market get rolled up and tables are set up in the front driveway. You can get some of the best coffee in DC from Peregrine, an amazing smoked salmon sandwich from Neopol, and some of Buffalo & Bergen’s famous NY sandwiches. A little later in the morning, grab a 6-pack from Cordial, some cheese from Righteous Cheese, a dozen oysters from Rappahannock, and maybe some baguette from Lyon. There’s everything for everyone! 1309 5th Street NE, Washington, DC. 301.652.7400
Shaw’s Tavern reopened about a year ago after a few problems with staffing and their liquor license, and though it’s been a little slow to gain notoriety, I think it’s a solid neighborhood spot. Inside, there is a beautiful bar, long wood tables and great windows that look onto Florida Avenue. Their food is great, service is friendly, and they are starting to serve their brunch on an outdoor patio area on 6th Street. So excited to make this place my go-to joint once the weather is nice. 520 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC. 202.518.4092
Cafe Saint Ex was one of the first places I visited in DC 5 years ago, when I would come down to visit friends we’d inevitably stop into this place–either for a drink or a bite to eat. The brunch at Saint Ex is varied and delicious–I’m not one for eggs, so I’m always pleasantly surprised when there’s a hefty salad and sandwich portion on the menu. Everything I’ve had there is simple and satisfying. Plus, people-watching on 14th street on the 54-seat umbrella-covered terrace is hard to beat. 1847 14th Street, Washington, DC. 202.265.7839
Lost Society’s bar is right there on the deck. Don’t miss the the Bottle Service Brunch Party Saturdays from 1-5 pm with a DJ spinning house music and Top 40, live musicians and a bottomless buffet with bottomless champagne mimosas for $40. 2001 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. Make your reservation by texting 202.RESERVE (202.737.3783).
Masa 14’s rooftop deck is only a short stumble away, plus has table service if you’re lucky enough to score one of them. 1825 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.328.1414
Photos courtesy of the establishments