Luncheon of the Boating Party? The beautiful people in Pierre-Auguste Renior’s Impressionist 1881 painting were definitely NOT social distancing as they relaxed beside the Seine. But social distancing is what we’re doing—al fresco—as restaurants gradually return to life. Adhering to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Phase Two, DC establishments with patios, rooftops and gardens now offer outdoor service.
Yes, there are restrictions, lots of them. Tables must be placed six feet apart and may seat only six persons. Many restaurants require reservations, usually on-line. Servers wear masks; utensils are single-use only; no shared condiments. Be sure to call or consult websites for up-to-date information (many restaurants still limit service to carryout/delivery). And don’t forget to tip generously.
For our first sit-down restaurant meal since the shutdown, Peter and I celebrated my birthday at Joselito de Comidas. Joined by two friends, we dined on the sidewalk café. We were the only customers, so we felt special. Choosing from the abbreviated menu, we ordered gazpacho, fisherman’s rice, duck breast, codfish fritters, lovely Spanish wines. Open daily, Joselito is at 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Call 202-930-6955 or visit www.joselitodc.com.
Across the street, Mr. Henry’s has reopened its spacious sidewalk/patio. It’s also added an “annex,” nine tables in the parking lot out back. More good news: Mr. Henry’s popular burgers (half-price on Mondays), are now available outside. Located at 601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Mr. Henry’s is open daily, including weekend breakfast. Call 202-546-8412 or visit www.mrhenrysdc.com.
Baseball season is still suspended, but the Salt Line has reopened its outdoor bar and dining area near Nats Park. Chef Kyle Bailey’s menu showcases clam chowder, lobster rolls, pan-seared halibut, Portuguese stew, pimiento crab dip. Located at 79 Potomac Ave. SE, Salt Line is open daily. Call 202-506-2368 or visit www.thesaltline.com.
Nearby is District Winery, 385 Water St. SE (202-484-9210). Served on the patio to accompany local wines, the menu is currently limited to “light bites” like marinated olives, spiced nuts, soy-glazed chicken bites, fried Brussels sprouts. Seating is first come, first served, no reservations. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Visit www.districtwinery.com.
At All-Purpose Pizzeria, 79 Potomac Ave. SE (202-629-1894). the patio was hopping on a Saturday, as patrons munched Jersey-style pizza, “garlic knots,” Caesar salad (the best I’ve tasted!), eggplant Parmesan. Closed Monday. Visit www.allpurposedc.com.
Sharing the riverfront space is Dacha Navy Yard, 79 Potomac Ave. SE. The sprawling, German-style patio/garden dispenses grilled veal sausage, shrimp-and-grits, Dacha burgers, house-made pimento cheese. Plus beer, wine and cocktails. Call 202-919-3800 or visit www.dachanavyyard.com.
Not far away is Bluejacket DC Brewery & Restaurant, 300 Tingey St. SE. (202-524-4862). Seated on the front patio, customers devour “everything pretzel” with mustard and beer cheese, salads (try the Cobb), Maryland-style po’boys. Open daily; visit www.bluejacketdc.com.
Also in “the Yards” is Shilling Canning Company, which has re-opened its “culinary garden” for dinner. Seatings are at 6 and 8 p.m Wednesday through Saturday, Sundays 5 and 7 p.m. Owner/executive chef Reid Shilling’s $55 multi-course menu might feature cucumber salad with Chesapeake Bay blue crab, trout Amandine, potato-ricotta gnocchi and chocolate pot de crème.
Shilling Canning Company is located at 360 Water Street SE; for reservations call 202-554-7474 or visit shillingcanning.com or call 202-554-7474.
At Kirwan’s Irish Pub, 749 Wharf St. SW, enjoy fish-and-chips, corned beef sandwiches, burgers, chicken tenders and beer on the front patio. Open daily; call 202-554-3818 or visit www.kirwansonthewharf.com.
Mi Vida Restaurante, 98 District Square SW, retains its authentic Mexican menu: tuna ceviche, enchiladas de mole negro; cod Veracruz-style. Open daily; call 202-516-4656 or visit www.mividamexico.com.
For more District Wharf restaurants with outdoor seating, visit www.wharfdc.com.
Tortuga Caribbean Bar and Grille, 514 Eighth St, SE (202-507-8143), has reopened its sidewalk café and festive rooftop bar. Heading the tropical menu is ceviche, tuna poke, conch fritters, Calypso wings, rum drinks. Open daily, call 202-507-8143 or visit www.tortugadc.com.
Belga Café and rooftop gin bar, Betsy (named after Chef Bart’s pet hen), 514 Eighth St. SE (202-544-0100). Plywood window coverings are gone, and the sidewalk patio is open six nights a week (closed Monday), plus weekend brunch. Bart’s menu showcases Belgian whitloof (endive) salad, mussels mariniere, Flemish beef stew, steak frites. Visit www.belgacafe.com.
Ophelia’s Fish House, 501 Eighth St, SE, has a tented patio running all along E Street. The menu showcases catch-of-the-day, plus favorites like crab cakes, shrimp-and-grits, calamari. Look for new dishes as well. Call 202-543-1445 or visit www.opheliasfishhousethehill.com.
Valor Brew Pub, 723 Eighth St. SE (202-547-8459), attracts military personnel and other neighbors. Sip a brewski with homemade hummus and veggies, wings, buttermilk marinated chicken thighs on the front patio. Open daily; visit www.valorbrewpub.com.
Lavagna, 539 Eighth St. SE (202-546-5006). Now serving on the sidewalk patio, the kitchen turns out Italian classics like calamari fritto, spaghetti carbonara, pappardelle lamb (my favorite!), closed Monday. Visit www.lavagnadc.com.
Bombay Street Food 2, at 524 Eighth St. SE. Seated on the front patio, patrons choosing from (mostly) North Indian dishes like spicy tandoori wings, goat curry, biryani (with choice of protein), a generous dish which easily serves two. Vegetarian options. Visit www.bombaystreetfood.us/bs2/
Ted’s Bulletin, 505 Eighth St. SE (202-544-8337), has added six tables to its sidewalk seating with flowers and ferns. On the homespun menu: deviled eggs, mac-and-cheese, fried chicken, burgers and milkshakes, including “boozy” versions. Visit www.tedsbulletin.com.
Las Placitas, 1100 Eighth St. SE (202-543-3700), near the Marine Barracks. This long-time neighborhood favorite serves Tex-Mex and Salvadoran fare (try the signature pupusas) for lunch and dinner. Patio seating is spacious. Visit www.lasplacitasrestaurant.com.
Eat Brgz, 250 7th St SE, has reopened its sidewalk area. Burgers are pre-mixed with various spices and nestled into a potato or cauliflower bun, or plopped atop a kale bowl. Topped with house-made sauce, varieties include Mexico City, Memphis BBQ, Italian and “Classic Brgz. Call 202-450-5074 or visit www.eatbrgz.com.
Tunnicliff’s Tavern, 222 Seventh St. SE. Located across from Eastern Market, “Tunny’s” has added several tables to its covered front patio. We recommend jumbo lump crab cakes, spinach Caesar salad and Sunday brunch (try the breakfast burrito!) Open daily; call 202-544-5680 or visit www.tunnicliffstavern.com.
Near Union Station
Café Berlin, 322 B Mass. Ave. NE, This Teutonic favorite has reopened its spacious patio. Ask about Sunday Suppers or mixed salad (or smoked fish) plates, Sauerbraten, Jaegerschnitzel, interesting asparagus dishes. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Call 202-543-7656 or visit www.cafeberlin-dc.com.
Montmartre, our beloved French bistro near Eastern Market, has departed, a victim of the shutdown. Over the past 20 years, we’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries there. Proprietors Chris Raynal and (chef) Stephane Lezla, didn’t feel it made sense to remain open. Sister restaurant Seventh Hill pizza has also closed. We will especially miss Montmartre’s rabbit leg with olives and truffled linguine.
Capitol Cuisine adds
After an extensive makeover, Ambar, 523 Eighth St. SE, has reopened for carryout, patio and rooftop dining. The menu will include the popular Balkan “dining without limits,” an array of victuals including pita bread, beet tzatziki, shrimp (or chicken) skewers, stuffed cabbage, Balkan-style tres leches. Carryout is available Sunday-Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon ‘til 9 p.m. The patio and (new) rooftop are serving Sundays from 4:30 to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday from 4 to 10, Friday 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday 4:30 to 11. For reservations (recommended) call 202-813-3039 or visit www.ambarrestaurant.com.
Dio, Stacey Khoury-Diaz’s all-natural wine bar at 904 H St. NE, has folded. During the shutdown, her Atlas District venue had morphed into a bottle shop. But after break-ins and vandalism, she decided to close shop entirely. Hopefully, when the pandemic shutdown is over, she might reopen.