Ignoring the last few days, our unseasonably warm winter has brought on a quickly temperate spring time. All this has pushed forward the grandest of D.C. days: the first day of patios and rooftops. With even an inkling of 70-degree weather, Standard’s benches begin overflowing, Marvin’s porch starts bumping, and Public starts rolling again. What’s a recovering snowbird to do?
Luckily, Masa 14 has come to the rescue with a brand new rooftop deck and bar just for the occasion. While the restaurant itself has occupied its 14th Street location for what seems like an eternity, its upstairs setup debuts today (a fact that surprised me, having seen their apparent stairs to nowhere for almost two years now). Still, it seems to have taken a page out of the playbook of its sister restaurant and neighbor El Centro D.F.: rooftops and good food means a good time.
Unlike El Centro and its other contemporaries, Masa’s rooftop does it better by taking advantage of its geography and understanding a central truth of rooftops: the more sun the better. Its outdoor section of wooden-bench two-tops forms a U around the central staircase, which itself is decked in a set of flower beds and bar rails. The decor is intentionally and successfully minimalist, with straight lines of sleek wooden finishing.
But perhaps most importantly, the rooftop completely opens up the street-side half, which means the setting sun will almost always be theater at every happy hour. This floods the space not only with blessed warmth, but a picturesque backdrop, and sets Masa apart from practically anywhere else. After all, who goes to a rooftop to be underneath a hutch? If the game is called on account of rain, then the rooftop’s inside portion, a mirror image of the bar downstairs, offers ten seats to wait out the weather.
What’s more, Masa’s rooftop menu impresses, curating its offerings into a limited list of successful dishes from the Latin-Asian fusion menu downstairs. A bay scallop ceviche of jicama, pineapple, red onion, and yuzu-sriracha vinaigrette offers a refreshing bite perfect for the impending heat, while two house-made hot dogs (The Rising Sun — teriyaki beef and wasabi, and El Tigre — spicy chorizo with sriracha) bring a savory counterpoint. Moreover, the cocktails provide a wonderful splash of flavor and punch to the space, especially the French and Strawberry-Basil caipirinhas.
Upon leaving, my companion turned to me to say, “We should savor this. This might be the last time we see this rooftop this empty.” Given all that it has to offer, I tend to agree.
Disclosure: Kim Vu attended the Tuesday-night preview of the Masa 14 rooftop deck and was comped on food and drink as part of the event.