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The number of outdoor patios, beers gardens, and rooftop bars has boomed in recent years. In fact, there’s hardly a restaurant or bar around where you can’t drink al fresco. Whether you want to drink a beer at a picnic table or some Sicilian orange wine in a wisteria-covered garden, here are six spots worth seeking out to sip in the sunshine.
Read more from our summer guide here.
A Sophisticated Garden: Iron Gate
1734 N St. NW
Head past the arched carriageway bar at Iron Gate, and you’ll find a tranquil garden patio that will transport you to Greece. Chef Anthony Chittum serves up squid ink rigatoni, homemade focaccia, and family-style grilled meats, while Beverage Director Brent Kroll has curated an eclectic mix of lesser-known Greek and Italian wines. Another must-try is the Nicolaki, a creamy, tangy cocktail that combines vodka, honey, lemon, rosemary, and Greek yogurt. (Trust us.) Best of all, the outdoor space is covered by a canopy of wisteria that was originally planted more than a century ago.
Margaritas By The Water: Cantina Marina
600 Water St. SW
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It doesn’t quite feel like summer until you’ve had a margarita overlooking the Washington Channel at Cantina Marina. Whether you’re downing a few beers before a Nationals game or wasting away a sunny afternoon with fish tacos, Cantina Marina is a reliably laid-back place to pretend you live somewhere a little more tropical. Micheladas and dark and stormies are staples, but specials rotate daily from $8 Painkillers on Mondays to $10 Corona-ritas on Sundays. No matter what you order, everything tastes better with a waterfront view.
See-And-Be-Seen Beer Garden: Garden District
1801 14th St. NW
On a nice day, this beer garden gets so packed it can feel almost like a hip nightclub. But don’t be shy about squeezing in, elbow-to-elbow, at one of the picnic tables and making friends with your neighbors. The pulled pork and brisket sandwiches are as delicious as any barbecue in the city, and the American craft and German beers are large enough to occupy you for a while. Any friends passing by on the always-bustling 14th Street NW will want to squeeze in too.
Bring Your Dog Beer Garden: Bardo
1200-1216 Bladensburg Road NE
Bardo is one of the largest beer gardens in the city with 500 seats, cornhole galore, and plenty of space to let your dog run around. The drinking outpost even has its own resident pet who you can follow on Twitter (@bardawgdc). Humans can sit back with a wide-range of beers made on site. Many recipes hark back to the 1990s when brothers/owners Bill and Andrew Stewart ran the wacky Bardo Rodeo in a defunct Oldsmobile dealership in Arlington. Beyond beer and sunshine, there’s not much more on the patchy grass and concrete lot than some picnic tables. But good luck finding an outdoor beer garden with fewer pretensions.
Hip New Rooftop: Takoda
715 Florida Ave. NW
Rooftop bars are all the rage, but Takoda has one of the prettiest. The new restaurant and bar’s third floor “beer garden” lives up to the descriptor with plenty of greenery. The U-shaped bar carries a collection of 50 whiskies plus 24 draft beers. Daily happy hour specials, available from 5 to 7 p.m., include half-price “basic beers” and “basic burgers” on Thursdays and half-price whiskey and wings on Wednesdays. The rooftop is technically enclosed, but a skylight pours in light, and the glass doors open up to a small balcony. You can enjoy it year-round, no matter the weather.
Frozen Cocktails From an Airstream Trailer: Suburbia
1309 5th St. NE
The best frozen cocktails in D.C. come from a refurbished 1960s Airstream trailer in front of Union Market. “Mixtress” Gina Chersevani (who also owns Buffalo & Bergen) makes a mean piña colada and other icy concoctions with fresh juices rather than commercial syrups. If for some crazy reason that’s not your style, the trailer serves beer too. Grab some tuna poke from District Fishwife or tacos from TaKorean and enjoy your drinks around colorful umbrella-shaded picnic tables. Chersevani and Hank’s Oyster Bar barman Jason Strich will also be opening another outdoor drinking destination, Neal Place Tap & Garden, just a block away over Memorial Day.