Gradually our beloved Mid-City is coming back to life. Local restaurants and bars with patios, rooftops, and gardens have reopened for wining and dining. This outdoor option is the city’s first sit-down service since Mayor Muriel Bowser banned dine-in service in mid-March.
Yes, there are restrictions, lots of them: Outdoor tables must be placed six feet apart and may seat only six persons. Most restaurants require reservations, usually on-line. (Also, as Phase Two took effect June 22, some places have reopened for indoor dining with 50 percent capacity.) Before heading out, be sure to call or consult websites for up-to-date information, and don’t forget to tip generously. Here is a partial list of places offering al fresco service.
As Washington’s shutdown loosens, things are hopping in the Shaw neighborhood. Besides providing patio and (limited) indoor dining, neighborhood restaurants are filing an application to create outdoor service in Blagden Alley. The space would be called “Streatery.” So far Columbia Room, The Dabney, Lost and Found and Tiger Fork have signed on. Stay tuned.
Beau Thai, 1550 Seventh St. NW (). This cleverly named Asian hot spot—with its nifty patio—offers such classics as crispy calamari, panang curry, pad Thai and the popular dessert: mango sticky rice. Open daily. 202-536-5636. www.beauthai.com
Next door is Chaplin’s, 1501 Ninth St. NW (This “Raman House & Cocktail Bar” features a comfy patio, which is first come-first-served. The largely Asian menu showcases various kinds of gyoza (dumplings), fried chicken katsu, pork ribs, fried tofu and a hot pot serving two or more. Open daily. 202-644-8806, www.chaplinsdc.com
Bistro Bohem, 600 Florida Ave. NW, is serving its Czech-centric menu on its roomy patio. Besides several kinds of Czech beer, the menu offers beet carpaccio salad, pierogi (house-made dumplings with various fillings), beef goulash, chicken schnitzel waffles. Open daily. 202-735-5895, www.bistrobohem.com
On its sprawling patio, Dacha Beer Garden, 1600 Seventh St. NW, offers an eclectic menu with a Teutonic twist: fried pickles, “monster” pretzels, chicken schnitzel, pulled pork sliders. 202-350-9888, www.dachadc.com
Maxwell Park, 1336 Ninth St. NW, a wine bar with a nice patio, showcases Chef Michael Rafidi’s menu of smoked trout dip, hummus with smoky beets, cheese and charcuterie board. The wine list is amazing. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Co-owner Brent Knoll also opened his Navy Yard patio last month. 202-792-9522, www.maxwellparkdc.com
Nina May, 1337 11th St. NW. This popular Shaw hot spot, with a pleasant patio, specializes in seasonal soft shell crabs as well as prosciutto-wrapped rabbit sausage, pan-seared Maryland rockfish, carrot cake. Closed Monday. 202-518-3609, www.ninamaydc.com
Shaw’s Tavern, 520 Florida Ave. NW (). Heading this Southern-style patio menu are fried green tomatoes, grilled wings, hush puppies, and a house favorite: chicken chipotle pasta. Open daily. 202-518-4092, www.shawstavern.com
The Spanish outpost, Barcelona Wine Bar, 1622 14th St. NW, was the last restaurant we visited before the pandemic shutdown almost four months ago. Now you may sit on the patio and order tapas: shrimp and grits; pulpo (octopus in fino/sherry sauce); bacon-wrapped dates; mahi-mahi ala plancha. Among other options are Spain’s dry-aged ham and regional cheeses. Open daily. 202-588-5500, www.BarcelonaWineBar.com
Le Diplomate, 1601 14th St. NW. This taste of Paris, complete with a delightful sidewalk café, offers pate de campagne, escargot, trout amandine, bouillabaisse, crème brulee. Delicious house-baked breads and extensive wine list. Open daily including lively Sunday brunch. Expect a wait, but it’s worth it. 202-332-3333, www.lediplomatedc.com
Sette Osteria, 1634 14th St. NW. This Italian charmer has nine tables by the sidewalk. To avoid using disposable paper menus, customers order with their phones‑-great idea! On the weekend brunch menu, I love the Sette brunch tart—a pastry shell packed with avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella, scallions with two sunny-side up eggs and crisp bacon strips. Other options are crabcake eggs Benedict, myriad pastas (including carbonara and linguine with baby clams), and artisan pizzas. Open daily. 202-290-1178, www.setteosteria.com
Big Bear Café, 1700 First St. NW (). Known mainly for coffee drinks and hearty breakfast dishes, Big Bear also sports a charming, vine-covered patio. Favorite dishes include breakfast bagels, veggie platters, sweet almond pancakes. Open six days a week for breakfast and lunch or brunch, closed Mondays. 202-643-9222, www.bigbearcafe-dc.com
King Street Oyster Bar, 22 M St. NE, dispenses its signature bivalves–plucked from both U.S. coasts and Canada–plus spinach and artichoke dip, chilled king crab legs, scallop carpaccio, lobster rolls and other delights. King Street has also unveiled an eight-table patio. 202-621-8513, www.kingstreetoysterbar.com
Gravitas, 1401 Okie St. NE is a Michelin-rated City destination with a newly-expanded first floor patio lounge and rooftop bar. Both venues present elegant tasting menus which might include tuna sashimi, Vietnamese spiced quail, poached halibut, and buttermilk panna cotta. 202-763-7942, www.gravitasdc.com
Ivy City Smokehouse and Tavern, 1345 Okie St. NE, has opened its outdoor seating; the Tavern with its patio is upstairs from the Smokehouse shop. Besides house-smoked fish (we love the hot-smoked salmon “candy”) the menu offers shrimp po’boys, hearty salads (try the Cobb or the wedge), crab cakes, house-smoked ribs. 202-529-3300, www.ivycitysmokehouse.com.
Next door is City Winery, 1350 Okie St. NE (202-250-2531), where the festive rooftop has reopened. We enjoyed a brunch there before the shutdown. The menu: burrata with roasted beets, cheese and charcuterie plates, BLTs, “Impossible” (vegan) burgers. Good local wines are available by the glass and bottle. Hours vary. 202-250-3300, www.citywinery.com
Mount Vernon Triangle
Farmers & Distillers, 600 Mass. Ave. NW. On this majority farmer-owned restaurant’s patio, guests may explore the menu of “Chinatown favorites” like kung pao chicken, cashew fried rice, cumin lamb, spicy dan dan noodles, plus homemade pastas. Open daily. 202-464-3001, www.farmersanddistillers.com
U Street Corridor
Alero, 1301 U St. NW, is a Tex-Mex enterprise that boasts a shaded patio and extensive menu: nacho platters, tortilla soup (chicken based), tres chiles calamares, fish tacos, sizzling fajitas and Guadalajara platter with steak, chicken, shrimp and pork ribs. Open daily. 202-462-2322, www.alerorestaurant.com
Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, 1114 U St. NE. Among Washington’s numerous Ethiopian eateries, Dukem is a favorite, and it has a spacious (covered) patio. Spongy, fermented injera is topped with spicy lentils, cabbage and greens, or tibs (lamb or beef), kifta (ground beef), chicken, fish. Open daily. 202-667-875, www.dukemethipianrestaurant.com