Al Fresco Dining in Borderstan (and People Watching, Too)

by May 11, 2011 at 10:36 am 3,712 0

These are a few of our favorites patios. (Luis Gomez Photos)

This post was co-authored by Alejandra Owens and Laura Herman. You can follow them on Twitter at @frijolita and @lmhhabs. You can also follow Alejandra at her food and cooking blog, One Bite At A Time.

Our posts on great places to wine and dine outdoors in Borderstan continues with the second installment of a two-part series! Last week it was our favorite rooftop bars/restaurants in the area.

Today we’re back with our favorite patios in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. We have our Top 11 for you, plus 11 favorites from the Borderstan editors, Luis and Matty… and finally a list of 16 other patio spots to keep in mind.

There are so many patio dining and drinking options in Borderstan you can’t help but feel lucky to live or play in our neighborhoods. You can pick a patio for every day of the week, every mood you could conjure up and every occasion or event going on. And it’s not just patios, it’s the accoutrement that goes along with them — street views in eclectic neighborhoods, bocce courts and wooden decks with thumping music.

Where are you guys excited to be drinking and dining this spring and summer?

Alejandra’s 5 Faves

  • Bar Pilar, 1833 14th Street NW. Fight for the tiny patio and people watch all night long over bourbon and some confit duck, white anchovies and exotic mushrooms with braised leeks. More info? Here’s my review.
  • Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW. With great beers on tap, a unique wine list and some seriously killer mac ‘n cheese, Afterwords has been a favorite patio of mine for six years and running.
  • L’Enfant Cafe, 2000 18th Street NW. Boozy crepes and champagne on a weekend afternoon — how can you go wrong?!
  • Vinoteca Wine Bar, 1940 11th Street NW. $5 glasses of wine, sliders and some bocce ball to blow off some steam after a long day at work — Vinoteca’s happy hour wins every time. And they have happy hour bocce ball — on the back patio.
  • Zorba’s Cafe, 1612 20th Street NW. I’ve spent many a summer night on the patio at Zorba’s huddled over their fire feta, buttery pita and warm falafel. An added bonus is their cheap carafes of wine and very large pizzas in case you’ve got a crowd you need to feed after a long day of sight seeing.

Laura’s 6 Patio Picks

  • American Ice Co., 917 V Street NW. This new spot has a great patio that’s been calling my name all winter long. I can’t wait to hang here with a beer before a night out on U St or on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You can check out my review from when they first opened here.
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar, 1624 Q Street NW. This great seafood restaurant is currently undergoing an expansion (check out Tom Hay’s Borderstan coverage of the ongoing story) that will double the size of their current patio dining area. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail from there expanded menu, oysters, and other fishy fare on a nice night. Also… see what Alejandra orders when she goes to Hank’s.
  • Larry’s Lounge, 1836 18th Street NW. Larry’s is a local favorite for happy hour or a nightcap, complete with excellent people-watching on 18th street.
  • Mandu, 1805 18th Street NW. Mandu has a fantastic street-facing patio where you can catch a great happy hour until 7 pm (sojutinis and $2 dumplings, anyone?) and then stay put for dinner.  It’s also one of my favorite neighborhood outdoor brunch spots and Alejandra did a review of Mandu recently.
  • Stetson’s, 1610 U Street NW. This long-time favorite of mine has a back patio and garden is hidden from street view and is a little oasis on bustling U Street — it’s one of my go-to places to head with friends on a warm Saturday night.
  • Jolt and Bolt Coffee & Tea House, 1919 19th Street NW. Grab your book, newspaper, or computer and snag an outdoor table in their lovely garden patio. Enjoy the sun, great coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, and serenity…because sometimes you need a break from happy hours.

Matt & Luis’ Top 10 Patio Spots

  • Azi’s Cafe, 1336 9th Street NW. A very nice, shaded patio that is perfect for sunny days (it’s on the O Street side). Great staff, excellent coffee and one of the best selections of magazines and reading material you will find at a local cafe.
  • Cafe Saint-Ex, 1847 14th Street NW. Good food and a very pleasant patio on the T Street side of the restaurant, which often puts you in the shade on hot summer days.
  • Commissary, 1443 P Street NW. Right on the Logan-P Street strip. Reasonably priced food and you can tie your dog to the iron fence while you eat.
  • Caribou C0ffee, 1400 14th Street NW. A large outdoor patio with lots of umbrellas at a great intersection for people watching (14th and Rhode Island).
  • Fox & Hounds, 1537 17th Street NW. Loud and noisy. The crowd is young and it seems that every few years a new generation of post-college residents discovers this dive hangout.
  • Java House, 1645 Q Street NW. A neighborhood favorite since the early 90’s. You know the owners and you know the staff, and chances are very good you will run into someone you know. BTW, the lox are excellent (they have been for a long time).
  • Level One, 1639 R Street NW. People-watching… strategically located at 17th and R… downstairs from Cobalt.
  • Logan Tavern, 1423 P Street NW. Part of the strip of eateries on the 1400 block of P Street, the patio is always crowded in good weather so have a back-up plan.
  • Ulah Bistro, 1214 U Street NW. Good, reasonably priced food with a very nice view of the U Street corridor, you are just far enough from the sidewalk foot traffic.
  • Veranda, 1100 P Street NW. A big patio at this 11th and P neighborhood spot. Veranda is better known to Borderstanis who live east of Logan Circle or on the western side of Shaw.

16 More Patios in Borderstan

  1. Bar Dupont, New Hampshire Avenue/Dupont Circle NW
  2. Big Hunt, Connecticut Avenue NW
  3. Circa Dupont, Q Street/Connecticut Avenue NW
  4. Cork Wine Bar, 14th Street NW
  5. Dupont Italian Kitchen, 17th Street NW
  6. La Frontera, 17th Street NW
  7. Lauriol Plaza, 18th Street NW
  8. Masa 14, 14th Street NW
  9. Pizza No. 17, 17th Street NW
  10. Pointe Chaud, 14th Street NW
  11. Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro, 18th Street NW
  12. Standard, 14th Street NW
  13. Solly’s, U Street NW
  14. Steam Cafe, 17th Street NW
  15. Trio Restaurant, 17th Street NW
  16. Veritas Wine Bar, Florida Avenue NW


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