“Snowpocalypse”, the crippling snowstorm that essentially shut DC down in February 2010, is now, happily, a distant memory. Warmer temperatures and an extra hour of light (courtesy of daylight savings time) have brought Washingtonians out in droves, relishing the return of enjoyable weather. Not surprisingly, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating are particularly popular, now that the idea of eating outside doesn’t elicit shivers. Here are some of Washington’s top spots for dining and drinking al fresco.
1. Vinoteca Wine Bar & Bistro – nestled in the middle of the busting U Street corridor, this sleek wine bar has a surprisingly large outdoor seating area; stake a spot at one of the tables and enjoy tuna sliders and other small plates with your wine.
2. Evening Star Cafe – this lovely little neighborhood restaurant in the Del Ray area of Alexandria offers funky American cuisine, a varied wine and beer list, and live music; let the sounds of the restaurant and its surrounding area waft over you while you enjoy a drink and a bite to eat on the partially covered outdoor patio.
3. Black’s Bar & Kitchen – part of the esteemed Black restaurant empire, this Bethesda spot serves fresh grilled fish and its oyster bar is one of the best in the area. Enjoy happy hour out on the patio or take advantage of the restaurant’s Sunday night wine special. You’re only three blocks from Bethesda Metro, so getting to and from here is easy.
4. Room 11 – one of the newer jewels in Columbia Heights’ bar/restaurant crown has a spacious stone patio complete with heat lamps for when evening weather gets a bit chilly. Much on cheese, olives, risotto or specialty panini while you watch the passers-by.
5. Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar – arguably Capitol Hill’s classiest wine bar, this venue has a few small tables facing out onto Pennsylvania Avenue; the wine list is superb and the bar menu is exceptionally satisfying (think pizza and charcuterie). On warm days, these outdoor tables fill quickly, so you’ll need to get there early to stake your spot.