20 notable DC-area rooftops for outdoor dining and sipping

Conservatory, the rooftop bar above Gravitas in Ivy City. (Courtesy LeadingDC)

Summer is here, and with that comes the opportunity to enjoy rooftop restaurants and bars at all price points. For some of the best high-up dining and sipping, WTOP has you covered with the following list.

For the ritzy and the stylish: Top of the Gate at the Watergate is a rooftop lounge with some of the best 360-degree views of the Potomac River and the rest of the D.C. skyline. For more light bites and cocktails, consider Officina at The Wharf and Moonraker at the Pendry. The latter option features a Japanese-inspired menu, while the former has Italian-inspired offerings. Conservatory in Ivy City, located above Gravitas, also offers some of the best seasonal produce and herbs in their drinks and food options. Summit the Rooftop at Conrad in downtown D.C. is a great gathering spot with seasonal cocktails. Lady Bird, THE Rooftop at the Kimpton Banneker Hotel often hosts unforgettable events on their rooftop. For one extra option, VUE Rooftop DC on the 11th floor of Hotel Washington has a stylish ambience alongside D.C. skyline views.

For those in need of a boot: Alexandria Bier Garden in Alexandria, Virginia, and Sauf Haus Bier Hall in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood are two biergartens in the region that are worth searching for if you’re a lover of German beer and snacks, paired with sky-high views.

For premium cocktails: Whiskey lovers should consider Jack Rose Dining Saloon for its extensive collection. At The Wharf, Whiskey Charlie atop the Canopy by Hilton hotel also pairs expansive views with cocktails that have ingredients made in house and juices that are fresh squeezed daily. For those seeking rum and frozen drinks, Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company has a selection of classic tiki cocktails to enjoy. Next up, consider The Imperial for some of the best house favorites.

For those searching for worldwide flavors: El Techo in Shaw, otherwise known as “The Adult Treehouse,” is an enclosed tropical oasis with Latin-inspired cocktails and entrees. The Cuban cafe and bar Colada Shop on 14th Street has a wide variety of options to sip on, from slushies to batidos (Cuban-inspired smoothies) and beyond. Ciel Social Club at The Wharf is a great spot for Mediterranean bites as well, while the rooftop of O-Ku DC includes views of Union Market and the Capitol along with Japanese flavors.

For classic or dive-y options: Enjoy views of the bustling U Street corridor at Whitlow’s on their “Beach Bar” rooftop. For something more dive-y, head to Red Derby‘s rooftop, which is “all-weather” and heated. If you need some extra space, Hi-Lawn in NoMa is a great choice, with reservations available for up to 20 guests and walk-ins welcome, too.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story had misidentified the venue as the Lady Bird at the Kempton. This story has been changed to reflect the correct name of Lady Bird, THE Rooftop at the Kimpton Banneker Hotel. 

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Michelle Goldchain

Michelle Goldchain’s reporting has focused primarily on the D.C. area, previously working as Editor of Curbed DC for Vox Media and Audience Growth & Engagement Editor for Washington City Paper. She is the author of “D.C. by Metro: A History & Guide.” She also reports for 'Artsplained' on YouTube.

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