No matter where you look in Washington, D.C., you’re bound to recognize something. Boasting one of the most iconic skylines in the world, the capital is home to landmarks and scenic vistas galore. Whether you want a bird’s eye view of the city, a waterfront outlook, or a picture perfect vantage of some of the District’s best-known buildings, you can have it while you enjoy a memorable meal. Here’s where to dine with a view in D.C.
Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place
With an enviable waterfront address overlooking the Potomac River, it’s a perennial favorite for tourists and locals alike. If the weather permits, grab a seat on the terrace for primo people watching and a view of the passing yachters and kayakers, though the tall windows ensure pretty fantastic views from inside as well. Begin with a seafood tower, little neck clams, or the Colossal Crab Cocktail. Crab cakes, deep-fried soft shell crab, or a steamed Maine lobster make for memorable mains. Make a reservation at Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place.
Farmers Fishers Bakers
Come for the food and the drinks, stay for the view. That should be the motto of Founding Farmers’ sister spot on the banks of the Potomac. During the summer months, you get a front row seat for the center courtyard fountain, which transforms into a skating rink during the winter months. Either way, the gently flowing river remains in the background like a tranquility-inducing screensaver. The epic menu veers from burgers and salads to tacos and sushi. Our favorites include Hawaiian-inspired tuna poke salad, the cedar plank salmon with accents of apricot and sorghum, and the savory-sweet Whirley Pop kettle corn. Make a reservation at Farmers Fishers Bakers.
Charlie Palmer Steak
If you book a rooftop event – or beg/bribe the maître de – you will be treated to the restaurant’s unparalleled view of the U.S. Capitol, which feels close enough to reach out and touch. Even on the ground level, diners have a good vantage to observe where the action happens, as well as views of the Upper and Lower Senate Garden and the northern tip of the National Mall. Dish highlights include bacon-wrapped monk fish with corn and fava beans, a clever Caesar salad hiding under a disc of parmesan tuile, and truffle-amped agnolotti slightly sweetened with summer corn. For dessert, the peanut butter terrine should delight anyone with a penchant for Reese’s Cups. Make a reservation at Charlie Palmer Steak.
You’ll find some of the best Italian food in D.C. down by the Anacostia River and adjacent to Nationals Park. Request a table on the patio or at one of the many window seats for the best views, though it’s also a treat to sit by the open kitchen to watch chef Ben Pflaumer at work. Load up on carbs: corn and parmigiana-filled agnolotti, cappelletti brimming with truffled ricotta, and bucatini nero with scallops, calamari, and bottarga. Don’t forget to save room for the desserts, which deftly balance comfort and creativity. Make a reservation at Osteria Morini.
Vola’s Dockside Grill
Adjacent to the Torpedo Factory Art Center in the heart of Alexandria’s waterfront district, the casual restaurant-lounge has an unfettered view of Washington, D.C. on the other side of the Potomac River. So it’s no surprise the patio seating is always in high demand. The menu emphasizes seaside shanty standards found wherever there are boaters: fried calamari, conch fritters, crab cakes, peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, and Atlantic cod fish and chips. To wash it all down there are rum-based, on-tap cocktails including Don’s Hemingway and The Hi-Tide. Make a reservation at Vola’s Dockside Grill.
Situated on Lafayette Square, the D.C. dining institution faces the White House. You might not be able to peer down into the Oval Office and see what POTUS is doing that day, but you will get a great view of the grounds and its iconic façade. The white tablecloth restaurant is under the watchful eye of executive chef Nicolas Legret, who offers both French favorites – foie gras torchon Dover sole – with continental cuisine, such as lobster salad and beef tenderloin. Make a reservation at The Lafayette.
The four-story U Street boîte-bistro boasts four bars, more than a dozen televisions, and a dance floor. However, it’s the top floor that’s the real draw. Covered by a retractable glass rooftop, guests get a 360-degree look-see of the District, including views of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol. Expect bar favorites: Buffalo wings, cheffed-up disco fries, crab hushpuppies, pork belly mac ‘n’ cheese, a brisket burger. If you take an Instagram of your meal, make sure you incorporate the best backdrop ever. Make a reservation at Hawthorne.
When you want to take in the scenery in D.C., where do you go? Let us know here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.