Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Kristin

outdoor dining spots in DC
Photo: Fiola Mare

On the hunt for outdoor dining spots in Washington DC? This has become one of the top priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re coming to the nation’s capital, don’t forget to pack your appetite. Without a doubt, the nation’s capital has gained a well-deserved reputation for having one of the best culinary scenes in the country. With waterfront dining, swanky rooftops and outdoor patios, al fresco restaurants are as abundant as the city’s historical attractions. Here are some of the best places for open-air dining in the District.

Fiola Mare (3050 K St. NW, Suite 101; 202.525.1402), Georgetown

The name means “star of the sea,” and swanky seafood restaurant Fiola Mare lives up to the hype with spectacular views of the Georgetown waterfront. The clientele is indeed star-powered; Michelle and Barack Obama have been spotted here. Of course, reviewers appreciate the outdoor seating and waterfront views, with “nice outdoor seating perfect for social distancing” according to one Google user. In addition, several Yelp reviewers rave about its “outstanding” seafood like the “perfect” branzino and sprawling seafood towers.

The Salt Line (79 Potomac Ave. SE; 202-506-2368), Navy Yard

This New England-style oyster shack along D.C.’s southeast riverfront is the perfect place to kick back before a baseball game at Nationals Park across the street. Moreover, the Salt Line serves up some of the capital’s freshest seafood with stunning views. “Come here before the game and you have a great view of the water,” one TripAdvisor user suggests. OpenTable diners say The Salt Line is a catch, eating “awesome” and “delicious” lobster rolls in the “very casual, fun” open-air atmosphere. They also noted the restaurant’s attention to COVID-19 procedures and “outstanding” service.

Le Diplomate (1601 14th St. NW; 202-332-3333), 14th St. Corridor

Winning high marks for both location and atmosphere, Le Diplomate is just north of Washington D.C.’s monuments and museums in the 14th St. Corridor. Fans also rave that one of the best outdoor dining spots in Washington DC delivers exceptional food. “If you’re on the hunt for textbook-perfect escargots, shellfish towers or beef bourguignon,” says Washington Post food critic Tom Sistema. With the atmosphere an authentic French café, the sprawling patio offers classic bistro chairs for a prime perch for people-watching. TripAdvisor diners also loved that the “adorable” patio was heated, and advise making a reservation due to its popularity. “This restaurant definitely lives up to the hype,” one Yelp reviewer declares.

Iron Gate (1734 N St. NW; 202-524-5202), Dupont Circle

Certainly one of the most charming outdoor patios, the Iron Gate’s terrace is shrouded by leafy, tangly wisteria vines. In this fairy tale-like setting, you can enjoy farm-to-table Mediterranean dishes like heirloom tomato panzanella and spicy feta dip. Unsurprisingly, OpenTable reviewers say this “beautiful, canopied courtyard” and “wonderful outdoor terrace” is the perfect place to enjoy a socially-distanced meal. “With its rotating menu and beautifully constructed plates, you will want to return time and time again,” one Google reviewer says.

Café du Parc (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-942-7000), Metro Center

You can’t beat a more centrally-located patio than Café du Parc, a contemporary French bistro with a sprawling terrace of big, blue umbrellas brushing up to The White House. Recommended by the Forbes Travel Guide, this restaurant in the stately Willard InterContinental hotel can tame even the most tired tourist’s appetite. TripAdvisor reviewers love Café du Parc’s “excellent” breakfast with coffee and decadent omelets and the “best lunch near the White House.” Some diners did note that the service and prices could be improved, but it remains one of the best outdoor spots to grab a bite after sightseeing.