The Wharf: Where DC Meets the Water

An ariel view of the District Wharf.
Monty Hoffman. Photo Andrew Lightman

Oct. 12 marks the debut of entirely new riverside neighborhood, Phase One of “The Wharf.” This $2 billion renovation of Southwest’s waterfront required several acts of Congress and the DC Council as well as $80 million of public monies. The result is a sparkling new entertainment destination sure to draw visitors from throughout the DMV area to its bars, restaurants, shops and music venues.

The Wharf marks its opening with four days of festivities from Oct. 12 to 15. The full schedule of the grand opening is elsewhere this month’s Hill Rag. In the meantime, here is a peek at what to generally expect where “DC Meets the River.”

Erykah Badu

Lovers of live music will be heading to The Wharf this fall. The development boasts three new performance venues: The Anthem, The Pearl Street Warehouse and Union Stage. (Check out full listings of October’s performances at first two venues in this month’s Hill Rag Calendar.)

The Anthem, from I.M.P., the wizards behind the 9:30 Club, is a 57,000 square foot, $60 million facility that can accommodate up to 6,000 music lovers. With nine bars on three levels and boasting the best acoustics on the East Coast, the club has already attracted headliners such as Bob Dylan, O.A.R. and The Lumineers. The club is booked through the new year.

Tickets for the Foo Fighters, who open the venue on Oct. 12, sold out in less than 60 seconds. There are lots of other great acts coming, however. Don’t miss LCD Soundsystem on Oct. 17 and 18 or The War on Drugs on Oct. 23. DC’s very own Thievery Corporation headlines the club’s New Year’s show. A full schedule is available at

The Anthem. Photo: Andrew Lightman

In addition to the Anthem, The Wharf hosts two smaller venues. Brought to Southwest by the owners of Cantina Marina, The Pearl Street Warehouse, located at 33 Pearl St. SW, can accommodate crowds up to 300 with a mix of seats and standing. The venue will focus on local acts and new artists.

Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. and the MGs, launches Pearl Street on Oct. 12. Singer-song writer Amy Helm, daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm, follows the next evening. Patterson Hood, the front man for the Drive-By-Truckers, is booked for two shows in December. For a full schedule, visit

Union Stage (740 Water St. SW) will join Pearl Street and the Anthem later in the fall. The 450-person, 7,500 square foot venue is brought to the District by the Brindley brothers, owners of Vienna, VA’s Jammin’ Java. Expect everything from standing room only rock concerts to intimate, seated nights with singer-song writers. A performance schedule has not yet been posted.

Aside from the three major venues, Kirwan’s Irish Pub (749 Wharf St. SW) will host Irish music. The Wharf also has a floating stage anchored off the Transit Pier for free outdoor concerts. Visitors can also expect to see buskers, musical pop-ups and other street performers.

The words “fine dining” and “Southwest” have rarely been uttered together especially since the closing of City Zen. District residents mostly identify the neighborhood as the home of the Municipal Fish Market, “the place” to buy steamed crabs by the bushel. On Oct. 12 that perception will forever change.

Chefs Mike Isabella and Jennifer Carroll are leading the Southwest culinary invasion with The Requin (100 District Sq. SW), a 4,500-square foot, seafood themed restaurant modelled on their existing Mosaic District venue. Not to be outdone, Chef Roberto Santibañez brings Mexican cuisine to the water’s edge at Mi Vida (98 District Sq. SW). James Beard award winner Chef Fabio Trabocchi celebrates the seaside town of Mallorca at Del Mar (791 Wharf St. SW) his two-level Spanish seafood restaurant.

Del Mar Exterior Rendering. Courtesy: PN Hoffman

Dine on bivalves at either Jamie Leeds’s Hanks Oyster Bar (701 Water St. SW) or later this spring in the historic shed at the Municipal Fish Market operated by the Rappahannock Oysters Company. Dig into delicious moules and frites at Florentjin (11 Pearl St. SW), a Belgian bistro, owned by a former Belgian embassy chef. Sample French-Mediterranean fare while enjoying stunning water views at La Vie (80 District Sq. SW). Delight in the small plates of Southeast Asia at Kaliwa (751 Water St. SW).

Not all dining is “fine.” Jenny’s, a neighborhood favorite, returns to The Wharf with their family-style Chinese menu. Get a quick bite at Shake Shack (975 Wharf St. SW) or Taylor Gourmet. Get a cup of java at either District Hardware and Bike’s Velo Café or Blue Bottle Coffee. On hot days, grab a sorbet or gelato from Dolcezza.

There will be plenty of places to raise a glass at The Wharf. The Potomac Distilling Company operates a two-story tavern offering Todd Thrasher’s inhouse rum and artisan cocktails. Cantina Bambina, a neighborhood favorite, is perched above the Transit Pier. Stroll down to The Brighton, a gastropub operated by brothers behind The Gibson and The Brixton.

District Square Rendering. Courtesy: PN Hoffman

The Wharf’s establishments will be joined by a three-story Italian market later this spring located near the Fish Market. The yet-to-be-named establishment is the brainchild of Chef Nick Stefanelli of Masseria fame. Eat at the rooftop bar or shop for olives, oils, prosciutto and other southern Italian delicacies. Order dessert at from local chocolatier Harper Macaw.

Aside from eats and dining, visitors to The Wharf will have the opportunity to patronize a variety of retail establishments most of which will be located on the District Square. Get a closet organizational consultation at A Beautiful Closet. Order the perfect piece of contemporary French furniture or lighting at Ligne Roset’s 2,749 square foot showroom. Add sheets, towels and blankets from Patrick’s Fine Linens and & Home Décor. Need a nail or a bicycle repaired? Visit District Hardware and Bike.

Find the perfect set of spectacles at Blink Optical. Become a member of Blush Med Skincare, a 1,500-square foot “health club for your skin,” offering a unique mix of organic skincare and makeup products. Pickup a novel at Politics & Prose.

The Wharf is more than your run-of-the-mill mixed-use development. Its developers have taken the mission of “meeting the water” to heart. To wit, the site contains four piers, where for the first time in history, the public can walk out onto the Washington Channel and enjoy entertainment, drinks and just watching the boats go by. The water is not a simple backdrop to The Wharf; it is incorporated into the project’s DNA.

  • The Market Pier, on the development’s western end, provides waterside access for boaters and other visitors to the Market Square and Fish Market.
  • The Transit Pier is the site of the new Water Taxi system that will connect The Wharf to Alexandria, Yards Park, National Harbor and Georgetown. It also will be the site of winter ice skating and summer concerts on a nearby floating dock.
  • The District Pier, ending in the iconic Harbor Master’s Headquarters, is the longest dock. It provides a dramatic gathering place and site for watching fireworks.
  • The Recreation Pier right off the Seventh Street Park allows visitors to get right to the water’s edge to enjoy kayaking or take a jitney right over to Hains Point.

Getting There
The Wharf is easy to get to from Capitol Hill and the Capitol Riverfront. The two closest metro stops within walking distance are at Waterfront and L’Enfant Plaza. Visitors can catch the free SW Neighborhood Shuttle which will run daily service at 10-minute intervals from the corner of Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue SW, the National Mall at Seventh Street and Independence Avenue SW) and at L’Enfant Plaza on 10th Street SW. The Circulator also runs along the National Mall from east to west.

One of the best ways to get to The Wharf is on two wheels. There are five Capital Bikeshare stations at The Wharf as well as at D and Seventh Street and Fourth and M Streets SW. During the Grand Opening, there will be bike valet service. On a regular basis, there are 900 spaces for bike parking both below and above ground.

The Wharf will have dedicated areas for car-sharing options such as Lyft and UBER. The Wharf’s new Water Taxi will take passengers from the Transit Pier to Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria, National Harbor and The Yards (seasonally).

Neighborhood parking options are very limited. While visitors are strongly encouraged not to drive, The Wharf does have two parking garages with approximately 600 spaces. Note that capacity signs at the entrances will let drivers know whether there are spots available. Additional public parking is available in two garages on the 1100 block of Fourth Street SW and under L’Enfant Plaza.

There is one more option–stay at The Wharf. The development boasts three hotels. Hyatt House (725 Wharf St. SW) is an extended stay accommodation that includes all the comforts of home. The InterContinental (801 Wharf St. SW) is a luxury hotel whose accommodations offer a unique combination of contemporary style and sophistication. The Canopy by Hilton (975 Seventh St. SW) is a boutique hotel for those who value the local and artisanal.