Cherry blossom season may be over, but there’s still much to enjoy about outdoor dining in Washington, D.C. Discover waterside seafood towers, historic hot cakes, and margaritas al fresco — all with the added benefit of being the safer way to dine right now with social distancing measures in place.
Here’s where to get your restaurant fix while outdoors in Washington, D.C., with links to book reservations.
For guides to the best outdoor dining in other cities around the U.S. and Canada, head here.
For upscale Indian: Punjab Grill
One of Punjab Grill’s many draws is its luxe interior, completely built in India and shipped whole to D.C.’s Penn Quarter. The restaurant brings that upscale feel outside with gold chairs, marble tabletops, and colorful votives. Some of the modern Indian fare available on the patio includes vegan “goat” biryani made with jackfruit, curry lamb shank, and tuna tartare with ginger and caviar.
For award-winning Caribbean: Kith/Kin
Outstanding international cuisine — including Nigeria, Jamaica, and West Africa, the Caribbean, and New Orleans — on the waterfront is Kith/Kin’s promise. The patio overlooks a harbor, with a menu that right now evokes Caribbean takeout spots, with dishes such as smoked jerk wings and three types of Trinidadian curry (chickpea, goat shoulder, and chicken leg).
For Paris vibes: Le Diplomate
From renowned restaurateur Stephen Starr, Le Diplomate — affectionately referred to as “Le Dip” — feels like being transported to Paris. All the brasserie classics are here, from French onion soup and steak frites to escargot and Niçoise salad. Outside, the expansive patio sits alongside the bustling 14th Street corridor, with picturesque wicker chairs, flower boxes, and a red awning.
For rooftop tacos and margaritas: Mi Vida
Mexico City native chef Roberto Santibañez is known as an ambassador of regional Mexican cooking in the U.S., and his Mi Vida furthers that. On the patio, dine on dishes such as braised chicken enchiladas, crab and shrimp empanadas, tacos, and churros con chocolate in a colorful, waterside setting — all offset by six types of margaritas and an considerable mezcal and tequila list.
For historic soul food: Florida Avenue Grill
Florida Avenue Grill has been a D.C. fixture since 1944, proudly serving up soul food in the nation’s capital. The restaurant has a rich history that includes feeding major politicians and Black leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Joe Biden. Right now, the patio is open for breakfast Friday through Sunday. Tuck into dishes such as sweet hot cakes, fried catfish and grits, and sausage gravy-smothered buttermilk biscuits. Walk-ins only.
For seafood by the water: The Salt Line
New England vibes abound at The Salt Line, a sustainable seafood spot on the Anacostia River known for its baseball-loving crowd — thanks to its prime location near Nationals Park. Feast on oysters, clam chowder, lobster rolls, crab dip, seafood boils, stuffies (baked clams topped with smoked sausage and parmesan), and wide selection of beer, while taking in the river views.
For Japanese: Zeppelin
Dine in Shaw underneath twinkly lights and next to a lifesize Godzilla mural at Zeppelin, where fish is aged on site by sushi heavy hitter Minoru Ogawa. The second-generation, Tokyo-born chef serves up all sorts of maki, sashimi, nigiri, and chirashi, and he goes beyond raw fish with yakitori, too. The drink menu is extensive, with a strong focus on sake. Walk-ins only.