As a Caribbean woman, I was not born to dine outdoors in cold weather. However, after a year of minimal dining out I was missing the DC restaurant scene.
So, I’ve put together a list of the most comfortable and safe outdoor dining setups I have come across and enjoyed on days the sun is shining and the weather is above 45F/7C. These restaurants have gone above and beyond to adapt and create safe dining experiences.
Some considerations before dining out:
· Be considerate, always wear your mask when interacting with restaurant staff.
· Remain conscious of sanitizing your hands before and after your meal.
· Tip well, and in cash if you can.
1522 Wisconsin Ave NW
French food with a casual atmosphere. I wish I had known about this Georgetown gem sooner, this simple straightforward menu is filled with delicious delights. I was impressed by their winter outdoor setup. The individual greenhouses are weatherproof and available for 90-minute reservations with a $25pp deposit. The deposit will be applied to your bill. There is a heater inside that makes it quite cozy. The sliding door allows you to leave it cracked open for fresh air circulation. I noticed that they had even propped open a panel on the “roof” to increase airflow.
Cinn’s pick: The croque madame and the burger.
651 Florida Ave. NW
This pop up is an extension of the Shaw restaurant HalfSmoke. The outdoor space is located in front of a beautiful mural and has personal heated igloos. Compared to other costly igloo options in the city you could say this is the budget-friendly version. You know how they say you get what you pay for…well don’t expect the most luxurious of igloo experiences but do expect good food and drinks.
The igloos can be reserved for breakfast, lunch or dinner all week long. There is a $50 booking fee Fri-Sun but, there is no cost for reservations Mon-Thurs so bundle up and enjoy. Be sure to be specific with your reservation request as there are open-air picnic tables in the space as well.
Cinn’s pick: Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice cocktail.
Currently, Butter Me Up, has a breakfast sandwich concept at Halfsmoke serving breakfast sandwiches and coffee from 8 am to 3 pm daily. According to FeedtheMalik you want to get the fried chicken sandwich for breakfast
1601 14th St NW
One of DC's most beloved restaurants, Le Diplomate meets the hype. A go-to neighborhood spot for everything from a café au lait, brunch on the weekend, a birthday dinner or for a glass of champagne with a friend. The breadbasket alone keeps me coming back. Order yourself the steak frites and a glass of champagne and let yourself be transported to Paris for a few hours.
I shouldn’t be surprised that one of my favorite restaurants would take outdoor dining to this level. They have essentially built 3 wall roofed structures on the sidewalk to provide comfortable safe outdoor dining for the winter months. Be specific in your reservation request as regular outdoor tables are still available.
385 Water Street SE Lobby
Listen, there are beautiful, amazing igloos I could recommend all across the city but they come with a hefty price. This is one of the better options in my opinion. A deposit of $100 will be required upon booking, but unlike other igloos this fee will go towards your bill, so it ends up being more so a $100 minimum. Your booking is for 90 minutes and can fit up to 6 people. Booking are only 90 minutes to allow 30 minutes for sanitation and airing out before the next reservation. Additionally, guests have the option of having food and drinks delivered on a table outside the igloo to minimize interaction. On warmer days you can also enjoy outdoor seating next to their fire pits.
1250 5th St NE
The best way to explain how good St.Anselm is is to tell you that when I brought a friend here for dinner she made reservations to come back for brunch the following day. While technically steak is the star at this gentleman’s club-esque restaurant I am here to tell you that Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley has mastered the most perfect biscuit on Earth. They are some sort of blend between the flakiness of a croissant with the richness of a biscuit. Trust me there is a reason they started offering an at home biscuit baking kit. Now offering safe warm outdoor seating.
Chimineas at Lulu’s Wine Garden 1940 11th St. NW
Previously known as Vinoteca, Lulu Wine Garden took over to fulfill wine lover dreams. Casting aside the idea that wine bars are only romantic date night spots this small family-owned business is embracing a group-friendly beer hall style. Long picnic tables are designed for groups with a bottle friendly menu.
This is a favorite year-round so I am thrilled to see the winterized garden patios updated with heaters and a “warm up” menu to enjoy during the winter months. You can enjoy the front patio semi-sheltered “streatery” overlooking 11th st with heat lamps or the beautiful courtyard in the back. All orders and payments are made via the QR code located on your chair. Cute blankets are available for purchase.
1120 Maine Avenue SW
The Terrazza at Officina at the Wharf is one of my favorite outdoor spaces in that area. Overlooking the Potomac this beautiful space is open year-round offering great drinks in a luxe environment. Stop by Wednesdays for their $11 pasta special.
You can make reservations at the uncovered fire pit lounge area or the covered terrace area. What is nice about the terrace in the winter months is while the doors are closed the roof has angled openings allowing fresh air to circulate but a little warmer than sitting directly outside with the wind.
Cinn Tip: Great date night spot.
1430 Rhode Island Ave NW
Located at the new Viceroy Hotel this spot is still a hidden gem. Stop by for a smore latte and enjoy this cozy outdoor space with warm firepits. Not into coffee? No worries, they just upgraded, on Fridays & Saturdays, BPM turns into a wine bar. Keep this spot on your list for the warmer spring months as it is a beautiful space to grab a coffee and work remotely.
Viking Village at Hook Hall 3400 Georgia Ave. NW
Okay, so I haven’t been here but if I hung out with groups of friends this is the first place I would go. Hook Hall has gone all out for all their outdoor experiences this year and the winter setup does not look like it would disappoint.
Roaring fires, mulled wine, and faux fur throws are all part of the viking setup at Hook Hall. Guests can reserve the “huts” starting at $125.00 for 2.5 hours. Your reservation includes a bottle of champagne to start. Note there is a cheaper $15 per person option but I personally wouldn’t consider it. It’s just an awkward skinny bench in front of a fire pit.
BONUS: Alexandria, Virginia
This place is worth a venture across the bridge and has so much to offer.
401 E Braddock Rd, Alexandria VA
This spot has been my dining oasis. It was my first dining experience after months of only ordering take away. It could not have been a better first experience, this neighborhood favorite has gone above and beyond to create inviting outdoor spaces. Below you have a list of choices of several spaces to enjoy within the restaurant.
They kicked off last summer by converting their parking lot into Lena’s Oasis. The first time I visited I felt like I had been transported to a hip beach club in Tulum. This beautiful space, now with heaters is just as enjoyable in the winter months.
With heaters and a fire pit stop by for happy hour and enjoy this relaxing outdoor space. Snacks and their famous wood-fired pizzas available to order as well.
If you are open to indoor dining venture upstairs and check out the new winter lodge. The 4,500 sq. ft loft has been transformed into a unique and socially distant experience channeling Aspen-lodge winter vibes with spacious ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and every health precaution possible. Read about their safety measures here.
Come hungry because the wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas are excellent. I never miss a chance to order arancini if it’s on the menu, be sure to order!
Cinn’s pick: Di Carne pizza
Please let me know if you make it to any of these spots this winter. Tag me on insta @ontheroadwithcinn or use the hashtag #eatwithCinn Would love to hear about your visit!