Summertime in the nation’s capital can be brutal. When the temperatures climb, escape the heat at one of the many D.C. area waterfront restaurants to enjoy some delicious food and refreshing libations.
Locals and visitors alike can enjoy outdoor dining, spectacular views, and prime people-watching, especially when the sun goes down. The waterfront is a prime spot to catch the sunset or enjoy the dazzling night sky. Diners can enjoy a cool breeze and the calming sound of the water, providing an escape from the city. Some of the best al fresco dining in the DC area is along the waterfront with remarkable views of the Potomac River with the beautiful backdrop of the national monuments. Here are some of the top restaurants with waterfront views.
Some of the best views of DC landmarks and the Potomac River are from The Washington Harbour (3000 K St., NW) along the Georgetown waterfront. In the summertime, happy hour along the Georgetown waterfront is a place to see and be seen. Sequoia’s three-tier outdoor terrace offers stunning views of the waterfront with the flotilla of boats and kayaks passing by along with panoramic views of the Kennedy Center, the Watergate, and the Key Bridge. If you prefer to stay out of the humidity, the rear facade of two-level restaurant is nearly all glass, allowing diners to enjoy the view of the river without suffering from the heat or the crowds. Sequoia offers modern American cuisine, a formidable wine list, and a renowned River Bar. Don’t miss out on the fresh oysters! Be aware, all of Sequoia’s reservations are for inside only, while dining on the patio is seated on a first come, first serve basis.
Next door, offering fresh seafood, Tony and Joe’s, large 200-seat patio offers incredible views of the Kennedy Center, the Key Bridge and Roosevelt Island. Try one of their enormous sandwiches served with a mound of crispy golden fries, seasoned with Old Bay, and tangy coleslaw. Nick’s Riverside Grill (3050 K St., NW), which is often less crowded offers a more comfy atmosphere, with their spacious patio spilling onto Washington Harbour’s boardwalk with a prime view of the large fountain. Be sure to arrive early! A spot under one of their bright-blue umbrellas to watch the sun go down is a coveted seat.
Also in Washington Harbour, Farmers Fishers Bakers, an upscale casual restaurant with an in-house bakery, sushi bar, full bar with 24 beer tap, and patio with water views. Like well-know sister restaurant, Founding Farmers, they also “support the American Family Farm” along with made-from-scratch food, delicious hand crafted drinks, and green practices all around. The Washington Harbour is a great option for waterfront dining; there is a something for everyone.
Fiola Mare, (3100 K St., NW), by award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi, specializes in sophisticated fresh seafood, prepared with elegant simplicity. Enjoy fine hospitality, amazing wine, craft cocktails all in a luxe setting with enchanting river views.
Although not technically waterfront, Sea Catch restaurant (1054 31st St., NW) offers visitors a charming patio overlooking the beautiful C&O Canal. Take advantage of their complimentary valet parking and their fresh seafood simply prepared in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
On the opposite side of the city, the historic Southwest Waterfront, along Washington, DC’s largest waterfront expanse, is being revitalized. The Wharf located at 7th and Water Streets, SW (1100 Maine Ave. SW), is one of the few surviving open air seafood markets on the east coast. In operation since 1805, it is the oldest continuously operating fish market in the United States. You’ll find everything from rare fish to Maryland Blue Crabs.The Wharf is currently undergoing an extensive renovation but the fish market and many of the restaurants remain open for business.
Cantina Marina (600 Water St., SW), a place that you’d expect to find in Miami, a fun waterside bar with draft beers in plastic cups and Jimmy Buffett playing on the speakers.
It’s a place to go and have a margarita and watch the sun move over the water. Enjoy authentic Cajun dishes, such as, the gumbo, catfish, and po’ boys or try the Baja-California-style tacos. Their Crab balls, which are a cross between croquettes and crab cakes are a must have. Besides delicious seafood, you can enjoy mouth-watering barbecue at the Southwest Waterfront. King Ribs Bar-B-Q, a local institution of the community for over 40 years, Bufus Buchanan offers arguably the best BBQ ribs in the city. His amazing ribs, chicken and steaks have a loyal following among longtime residents, and his location along the waterfront also makes it a great spot to enjoy a summer evening. Stop by on Thursday evenings from 5-8 p.m. and enjoy live Jazz, or on Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. where the 7th Landing hosts a variety of live music.
Nearby, the brand new and more upscale, located in the new Yards Park, OsteriaMorini (301 Water St SE,) offers authentic Italian fare from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Morini’s menu offers a wide array of smaller plates, cured meats, signature pastas, and simply grilled meats and spit roasts.
Enjoy the views of the beautiful new modern Capitol Riverfront neighborhood while sipping a glass of wine from their list comprised of selections from the North Central regions of Italy.
Just outside of DC, the National Harbor, rising from the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, MD, is a 350-acre mecca for shopping, dining, and more with five hotels (including the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center), over 30 restaurants, shops, and fully functioning marina.
There is no metro, but enjoy Water Taxi service to and from Old Town Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and Georgetown. McCloones_Deck-shot-with-great-sunset.jpgWhat a fun way to travel! The National Harbor offers a wide array of restaurants ranging from elegant waterfront dining to family-friendly and casual eating establishments. At McLoone’s Pier House (141 National Plz), where counting down to sunset is cause for celebration. A very lively happy hour spot with live music daily starting at 7 p.m., you can watch the sun set over the flotilla of sails and masts, while sipping on your specialty cocktail and enjoying bowls of their peel-and-eat shrimp. Dine al fresco on their outdoor patio with a breathtaking view of the sunset. Menu highlights include while fresh salads or pasta, savory crab dip, fresh sushi, mouth-watering burger, or steak – you’ll have a hard time choosing! Known for its fresh seafood, McCormick and Schmick’s (145 National Plz), offers stunning views of the river and features more than 30 varieties of fresh fish and seafood delivered daily from local and international waters.
Or if you’re lucky, snag a table on their outdoor patio overlooking the water and enjoy picturesque sunset over the river while enjoying a fresh crab cake or dry-aged steak. Don’t miss their antipasto bar with house-made cheeses or desserts buffet.
Enjoy upscale, modern and authentic Mexican cuisine at Rosa Mexicano (153 Waterfront St.) while enjoying a refreshing pomegranate margarita and guacamole, prepared tableside, on the outdoor patio overlooking the water. The National Harbor is a great place to spend the day. There are tons of shops, outlets, restaurants, and activities for all ages, even an entire store devoted to Peeps! In fact, the skyline of National Harbor has a dramatic new addition: The Capital Wheel, a 180-foot-tall, 42-car Ferris wheel that holds as many as 336 riders.
Just outside of the District, the historic Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia offers striking views of the riverfront. Located on the historic Potomac River at the foot of King Street, The Chart House (1 Cameron St.), the area’s only waterfront dining location boasts panoramic views of the river, as well as, other DC landmarks. With nightly entertainment, enjoy a relaxing evening with while watching the sunset on the water. Situated on Daingerfield Island, adjacent to the Washington Marina, enjoy watching the boats set sail on the Potomac at Indigo Landing, (1 Marina Dr.) Their 100-seat outdoor deck and location along the water is the perfect setting for a night out. Find refuge from your long day of museum hopping in the bustling city and enjoy the tranquility of the naturalistic setting while viewing the monuments from your relaxing chair. Instead of waiting in line, you can enjoy the views of DC over your favorite cocktail, specialty drink, or a glass of fine wine from our international wine list.
Also in Virginia, visit Madigan’s Waterfront (201 Mill St. Occoquan, VA), located right on the Occoquan River. Their expansive partially covered deck and tiki bar is especiallyattractive on summer evenings, where you can enjoy live entertainment, drinks and fresh seafood, and watch for Ospreys flying down the Occoquan River.