What better way to relish languid, D.C. summer days than from above, with an Aperol spritz in one hand and ice water in the other? Because if you are going to be outdoors, the best way to cut the heat is with a rooftop breeze and a refreshing beverage.
The area has plenty of bars and restaurants with excellent views, from the Washington Channel to the Washington Monument, where you can grab a tasty snack or a full meal, while passing the time listening to local DJs or even playing mini golf. Without further ado, here’s your guide to the top…
New spots to add to your rotation
2436 18th St NW
Adams Morgan just got another rooftop restaurant. This one offers great deals on California-style Mexican food during happy hour (4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays), including $6 margaritas and $4 tacos. I spent $16.90 for a pear sangria and queso fundido (melted cheese with chips), plus tax and tips, during a recent visit. Baja Tap’s chef, Greg Lloyd, worked at Le Diplomate for nearly seven years. A notable menu item: Taki pies (think Frito pie, the Tex-Mex casserole, but with Takis tortilla chips).
Upstairs at the Morrow
1208 3rd St NE
This is one of D.C.’s newest hotel rooftop bars. Not only do you get a solid view of the Capitol and Washington Monument but food prepared by Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli. The rooftop is billed as having a more casual vibe than Stefanelli’s downstairs French restaurant, Le Clou but still, it’s lavish. You can order Champagne and elevated shots, including a cucumber and mint pickleback, while taking in panoramic views of the city from the NoMa neighborhood.
2915 Wilson Boulevard
The three-story Arlington restaurant has been around since 2017. However, the ten-thousand-square-foot space just underwent a million dollar renovation, doubling the size of the rooftop. It now has a retractable roof, so it can stay open rain or shine. It’s massive, seating a total of 500 people, including 150 outside. Big fan of brunch? On Sundays, it goes until 6 p.m., so order $18 chicken and waffles and $9 Bloody Marys until late in the day.
Somewhere to take in the view
960 Wharf St SW
This is a bar right at the dock of the Southwest waterfront. You’ll find a great view of the Washington Channel. You won’t find a full meal, only snacks like spiced pork skins and pimento cheese. The dock bar offers classic cocktails, like a Dark and Stormy, and original creations like Dockside Donkey (a twist on the Moscow Mule). This is a good place to start if you plan on having a day or night at the Wharf.
Top of the Gate
2650 Virginia Ave NW
The bar is atop the Watergate Hotel, hence the name. You get a 360 view of the Kennedy Center, the Potomac River, Washington Monument, and the rest of the D.C. skyline. It’s one of the more iconic hotel views the city has the offer. For that reason, the hotel highly encourages people to make a reservation. Expect cocktails, wine, and small bites like a charcuterie board and chicken wings.
515 15th St NW
Another hotel bar, except this one is just across the street from the White House. Treat yourself to a fancy occasion here, enjoying iconic, historic views alongside a full meal — from a whole roasted bronzino with broccolini to a lamb rack with oyster mushrooms.
If you’re in it for the food
920 Blagden Alley NW
Amazonia/Causa is the most talked about new restaurant in D.C. right now. Causa has a tasting menu downstairs and is nominated for a Michelin star. Amazonia is a la carte. The pair share the same roof and chef, Carlos Delgado, who serves up delightful Peruvian food. Not only does the rooftop restaurant offer a colorful, jungle-themed ambiance but the best selection of Pisco cocktails to pair with a delicious meal.
1401 Okie St NE
This is the rooftop bar and lounge to the Michelin-star restaurant Gravitas. Meaning, celebrated chef Matt Baker is behind your meals. While the menu is not fixed like downstairs, you can still expect a decadent meal. (There’s caviar.) You can also enjoy local, seasonal offerings like Maryland crab cakes.
1811 Columbia Rd NW
This is a decades-old institution. At the helm now is Masako Morishita, a Japanese native. She’s cooking up classic sushi options, plus “one of the best salads in recent memory,” according to Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema: crisp Japanese apples dressed with gochujang.
Dancing, music, and drag brunches
1940 9th St NW
Want a spot where you can start and end your night? This is a place to consider. The venue offers live performances, from local bands to DJs on the second floor. On the third floor, find the roof deck. It’s mostly covered, but there are parts where it isn’t (and where you’ll find the smokers section). The deck also occasionally hosts events like Dyke Night Tea Party.
1201 K St NW
Condé Nast says this hotel rooftop bar in downtown makes you feel like you’re in Miami, and it’s true. It’s very sleek, outfitted with potted plants and classy furniture. People are dressed to the nines. There is always something happening on the rooftop, which is indoors and outdoors, especially DJ sets. Local, Black-run events are frequently hosted here.
H St Country Club
1335 H St NE
If dancing isn’t your groove but you want to move, this bar is for you. Play all your favorite arcade games, from mini golf to skeeball, before heading upstairs to the roof. That’s not all — there’s also drag brunch on Sundays.
Chance of a summer storm? We’ve got you covered.
3718 14th St NW
If there’s a dive bar on this list, it’s this one. It’s a very casual vibe, where you can play board games (although pieces might be missing) and enjoy great deals (the shot and beer combos are solid). It’s where you want to be for a summer thunderstorm, with a solid covering. People do smoke on the deck, hence the ashtrays on tables.
Ivy and Coney
1537 7th St NW
Enjoy one of the best hot dogs D.C. has to offer at this rooftop deck. TVs are scattered throughout the bar, which dishes Midwestern-style hotdogs and pizza. So if there’s a high-stakes game on, the bar is probably showing it, especially if it’s the Chicago Cubs or the Detroit Tigers. The bar also knows how to celebrate Hanukkah, so if you want to celebrate partially outside, this is the place.