DC finally got a taste — albeit brief — of spring weather this weekend. And with April officially here, there’s no better way to ring in the season than with a meal or a drink outside. Thankfully, there are several restaurants in the area (some new, some old) that have patio and rooftop outdoor spaces.
Here at Borderstan, we write about outdoor dining quite frequently. (What can we say? We like it.) To make it easier on you, here is a master list of some of the areas best outdoor dining — and drinking — spots. Of course there are many more. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comment section.
The Borderstan Patio and Rooftop Guide
Our three-dozen spots in the neighborhood:
- 1905 Garden, 1905 9th Street NW
- American Ice, 917 V Street NW
- Bar Dupont, New Hampshire Avenue/Dupont Circle NW
- Bar Pilar, 1833 14th Street NW
- Brixton, 901 U Street NW
- Cafe Saint-Ex, 1847 14th Street NW
- CIRCA, 1601 Connecticut Avenue NW
- Commissary, 1443 P Street NW
- DGS Delicatessen, 1317 Connecticut Avenue NW
- Donovan House, 1155 14th Street NW
- El Centro D.F., 1819 14th Street NW
- Hank’s, 1624 Q Street NW
- Jack Rose, 2007 18th Street NW
- Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW
- L’Enfant Cafe, 2000 18th Street NW
- Lauriol Plaza, 1835 18th Street NW
- Le Diplomate, 1601 14th Street NW
- Level One, 1639 R Street NW
- Local 16, 1602 U Street NW
- Logan Tavern, 1423 P Street NW
- Lost Society, 2001 14th Street NW
- Mandu, 1805 18th Street NW
- Marvin, 2007 14th Street NW
- Masa 14, 1825 14th Street NW
- Matchbox, 1901 14th Street NW
- MOVA, 2204 14th Street NW
- Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U Street NW
- One Lounge, 1606 20th Street NW
- Sette Osteria, 1666 Connecticut Avenue NW
- Solly’s U Street Tavern, 1942 11th Street NW
- Standard, 1801 14th Street NW
- Tabaq, 1336 U Street NW
- Trio Fox & Hounds, 1537 17th Street NW
- Ulah Bistro, 1214 U Street NW
- Vinoteca, 1940 11th Street NW
- Zorba’s Cafe, 1612 20th Street NW
I have to confess; I walk past Ulah Bistro almost every day but never think of it when picking a restaurant. I finally stopped by for dinner, and have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
The restaurant, which is located right by the U Street metro, has a cool space with two floors, separate bar areas and a decent size patio, which is an ideal spot for the perfect summer evenings we’ve been having lately.
It is a great Happy Hour destination, too — $5 margaritas, rail drinks and wine, $4 beers and food offered as well.
The dinner menu is varied and extensive, offering up traditional American bistro fare with a wide range of price points. I found myself thinking it would serve large groups and picky eaters well — the kind of place where there is something for everyone, be it a sandwich, pizza or a full entrée.
Our drinks and appetizers both came out very quickly, although the restaurant was almost full at the time. The mussels were fresh and plentiful, and the white wine and garlic sauce that they were prepared with hit the spot. After polishing off every last bit of bread and broth, we eagerly awaited our entrees, looking at the long line of tourists lining up at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which is literally right across from Ulah. But we didn’t have to wait as long as they did!
I got the roasted chicken, and my dining partner got the fish of the day. Both of us had requested substitutions on the sides that were offered with our dishes, which our server graciously accommodated.
The chicken, served with a red wine sauce was simple but flavorful and the portion was large, I could only finish half of it. The fish of the day, grilled salmon in a mushroom broth was fresh and tasty. Our accompaniments — sautéed bok choy, mashed potatoes and the house salad — were all good and came in large portions.
While the flavors were delightful, the freshness of the ingredients and the exceptional service we received through our meal stood out. We left satisfied and full, concluding that Ulah would be a great option the next time we are looking for a comforting bistro meal that does not break the bank.
If you have been, what do you recommend we eat the next time we go?
Ulah Bistro: The Details
- Where Am I Going: 1214 U Street NW (Between 12th and 13th on U)
- When Am I Going: Monday to Friday: 11am to 11pm (2 am on Fridays); Saturday and Sunday, Brunch from 10 am to 3pm. Happy Hour and late night menus offered.
- Paycheck Pain: Pizzas and sandwiches priced at about $13. Entrees cost $17 to $24.
- Say What?: Tables are fairly close together and the place gets busy and loud late at night. Upper lounge area is good for large groups, lower floor good for smaller groups and for conversation.
- What You’ll Be Eating: American bar and bistro food.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
There’s no time left. Or so it seems. You’ve no plans for Valentine’s Day. No reservations and like writer’s block when you’re on deadline, the best date you can think of is “dinner and a movie.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with dinner and a movie. But you can do better. And you don’t even have to try that hard. I polled the Borderstan contributors about where they’d like to be taken for their ideal Valentine’s Day meal — and as much one would think we’d all pick mainstream spots, there were some truly great off-beat spots that made the list too.
So, just how are these plans of yours going to come together at the last minute? Because honestly, word on the street is that reservations for the night of are all booked up, and this weekend and next aren’t looking great either. Here we go:
- Call them now. No really, now!
- When they tell you there’s no reservation, hit OpenTable and City Eats just in case.
- Consider an off-night. Monday being the best day to start with.
- Go early. Way early. You might feel like an AARP member eating dinner at 5:30 pm, but hey, you’re eating dinner.
- Screw dinner. Hit the bar and just do cocktails/appetizers. A boozey, long brunch is always fun. Or how about a coffee/dessert outing after a well thought out dinner at home.
And now, where will you do these things? Coming in at the top of the list, with multiple votes each:
- Hank’s Oyster Bar
- Bistro Du Coin
- Tabbard Inn
- Thai X-Ing
- Little Serow
- Home (no, that’s not a restaurant, that’s your couch)
Still high on the list:
- Birch & Barley
- Al Crostino
- Level One
The ones in green? They’re all in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area.
Consider your predicament an opportunity to try somewhere new together. Or take a walk on the wild side and put together a date that doesn’t start at 7 pm! After all, eating good food and spending some ooey gooey time together is the goal.
And remember: If you can’t get into any of these great V-Day date restaurants on Tuesday, they are still great places to take a date — or on any other occasion.
Brunch in D.C. is a thing. A sacred rite. Time to catch up with friends, carb load, share stories of the previous night and maybe have a mimosa or three.
As with most things in D.C., everyone you ask has their own strong opinion(s) about brunch spots. We’re lucky to live in a part of the city with such a dearth of brunch options, but I often find myself either overwhelmed by the choices or stuck in a rut with the same spots.
Borderstan Brunch Guide to the rescue! We polled our entire team (nine responses) for their favorite local spots, which in our humble opinion provides a pretty accurate and detailed guide to brunching in Borderstan. Which establishments got more than one mention?
- Cafe Saint-Ex (4)
- Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (3)
- Bar Pilar (2)
- Commissary (2)
- Darlington House (2)
- Scion (2)
Now just one question remains: Do you order eggs or go for pancakes?
- Darlington House
- Open City (technically outside of “Borderstan” but it’s good so we’ll let this one in).
- The Diner (same thing — not too far away in AdMo).
- Busboys and Poets
- Birch and Barley (“very savory” says Ashley).
- Cafe Saint-Ex
- Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe: “A classic.”
- Commissary: Mike thinks its well-priced, delicious AND he’s a big fan of their sustainable practices.
- Bonus: he’ll also leave the ‘hood for his favorite brunch in town at Georgia Brown’s.
- Urbana: “Urbana’s prices for food are extremely reasonable, the food is delicious, and it’s one of the broadest menus (eggs bennie and frittatas to sweet and savory pizzas to waffles and pancakes and italian sausage and oysters) I’ve seen around. That’s all a rationalization, though — the $16 bottomless build your own bellini with actually tasty-on-its-own champagne bottles deposited on your table combined with your choice of about seven different fresh fruit purees… that’s the stuff Sunday dreams are made of.”
- Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
- Bar Pilar: “A no brainer — the food is great, the ambience is great and its hands down the best bloody mary I’ve had in our hood.”
- Bar Pilar
- Café Saint-Ex
- Tabard Inn
- Next on Tom’s list: Cork brunch
- Florida Avenue Grill (recently profiled by Alejandra) because “They have biscuits and sausage gravy on the menu!”
- Café Saint-Ex: “The food is simply very good and so are the Bloody Marys.”
- Commissary: “Great prices and healthy choices on the menu.”
- Darlington House: “A good choice on Connecticut Avenue.”
- Annie’s Paramount Steak House: “You want meat? Here it is.”
- Karmer Books & Afterwords Café
- L’Enfant Café
- Dolcezza for a breakfast snack
- Café Saint-Ex
- Mandu: “Really, words can’t even express how much I love Mandu. At any time any for any occasion. But particularly for brunch. It’s out of control good.”
- New Orleans Cafe “My newest brunch obsession. Good when you need something slightly greasy.”
- Birch and Barley “Good for out of town visitors.”
- Cafe Dupont