Spring Fever: Rooftop Bar Guide

Photo courtesy of
‘Dinner at Perry’s’
courtesy of ‘starbuck77’

DC is an al fresco city. I live for the few weeks of the year like this one that are warm, yet humidity-free. I adore waking up on a sunny Saturday and knowing that most of my day will be spent outside, and hoping that the warmth will last into the night so I can stay outside as long as possible. I’ll spend mornings running or on my bike, lunches on the patio, afternoons lazing in the park and then dinner seated street-side along Wilson Boulevard or out in Dupont. So by the time it gets to be night, I’m ready for something beyond a patio.

In fact, tons and tons of places in DC have a patio, what I crave is a rooftop. I want to look out over my city, and risking the cliche, I want feel on top of the world as I drink or dance the night away with friends. So in my quest for the ultimate rooftop bar, I’ve rounded up some possibilities for you.

Photo courtesy of
‘Beacon Hotel’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

Let’s start with The Beacon Hotel’s Martini Sky Bar. Talk about a view, you can see all the way to the National Cathedral. On my new year’s resolution list, it’s a bit pricey, but the wine list is extensive, and there’s even a fountain. And you know me – being on the water/along the water/water features make everything better. Open Wednesday through Saturday.

The Reef is one of the most popular choices, and gets insane certain nights. Right on 18th in Adam’s Morgan, this popular bar serves up drinks in what some would consider a tragedy: plastic cups. And out of necessity, the bar gets super-crowded at night – I would recommend it for happy hour.

The picture that opened this post is from Perry’s. Also in Adam’s Morgan, Perry’s is a sushi place that gets hopping during the weekend. Strands of lights fan out across the sky, creating a gorgeous nighttime atmosphere for drinks.  Side note: they also host a drag queen brunch on Sundays that I’ve heard is quite fabulous.

Photo courtesy of

‘Comida’ courtesy of ‘Daquella manera’

While I realize Lauriol Plaza is hotly debated – and I may lose points with you for saying this – I ADORE Lauriol, adore. Sorry, haters. I think the swirly margs are delicious, and I’m usually completely happy to stand smooshed elbow-to-elbow with prepsters and the Dupont gays just to get a chance to gobble up a burrito. The roof bar is small, but lovable, and they’ll give you chips with your margs while you gaze out over Dupont and Kalorama.

While not exactly a rooftop bar, the fourth floor terrace at Domaso in Rosslyn meets my standards. Overlooking the Potomac, Roosevelt Island, and Georgetown, you can sip wine from their extensive wine list and snack on cheese with fresh baked bread.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘ShannonEvans/Sevan’

Local 16 is famous for their rooftop. With a long, full bar, and a few tall tables, this is another totally packed rooftop bar in Adam’s Morgan along U street corridor. Sometimes the patio gets a bit smoky for my tastes, but if I’m in the mood to go out and meet cute boys (Side note: hello, cute boy, my name is Katie and I’m single) or dance the night away, Local 16 is a good reliable option.

For a classic, sporty bar with a rooftop, Cleveland Park Bar & Grill is your option if you’re not looking to throw on your heels or polo shirt. Less than one block away from the Cleveland Park is a great option for meeting friends who need the metro.

I’ve waxed poetic before about really great bread and butter, and while I don’t generally like Old Glory‘s food, and wouldn’t recommend it usually, I do love the mini cornbread muffins and honey butter there. I’m drooling, not kidding, thinking about it. They also serve up huge sodas, if you’re not looking for an alcoholic night out. So, combine that with a rooftop patio, Old Glory is a great happy hour standby in Georgetown.

Photo courtesy of
’10th St N & N Daniel St, Arlington, VA 22201, United States’
courtesy of ‘Somewhat Frank’

Also in Arlington, the new Clarendon hot-spot Eventide boasts a rooftop patio. Split into two sections – the restaurant and the bar, the patio gets a little squishy sometimes, only fitting about twenty to thirty people. The eats served on the bar revolve around all things I love about this season – cold food, summer beers, and white wines.

Also classing it up, Tabaq Bistro has a glassed in patio with a retractable roof. Let me warn you: this place is pricey. Signature martinis will cost you $13, and mojitos are between$9 and $10. Even the beer is a titch pricey at $6.36 for your average brews. But then again, this is about the view, right? And that they have.

There are few more in the DC area: Marvin, Third Edition, Ardeo (which is not a bar but has rooftop seating), but this post is lengthy already and I’ve already got my flip flops and my purse and am practically out the door on my way to the rooftop, so I’ll leave this where it is.  I’m sure my fearless commenters will let us know about any favorite spots with a view I’ve missed. Cheers!

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

6 thoughts on “Spring Fever: Rooftop Bar Guide

  1. 1) Lauriol lovers unite!

    2) While not exactly on a roof, the back deck/patio area at the Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) is always high on my list.

    3) Marvin has become so crowded that it’s only enjoyable on a week night, IMO.

    4) When all else fails, I go to my roof deck.

  2. You start drooling while thinking about Old Glory? Funny, I actually start *sneering* when I think about Marvin. I could rant about the top 100 reasons to hate that craphole, but since that’s not what ya asked for, lemme just say: if you’re near U St try Nelly’s – try the Gibson – but unless you love pain & pretension, do avoid Marvin.

    Oh, and thanks for the list!

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