Dinner and a Movie and a Picnic Blanket

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘erin m’

Summer in Washington is full of many things we dread–humidity, mosquitoes, interns, makeshift rain ponchos–but there are those summer treats that make us swoon. For me, one such treat is the outdoor movie. And baby, D.C.’s got ‘em. And what goes better with a semi-obstructed view of Meet Me in St. Louis or Shrek? Food. And lots of it. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a good picnic wasn’t built on Chipotle and Whole Foods hummus alone–there are many more options for the noshing movie viewer.

The District is booming with outdoor movie sites this year, though the old stalwart has and always will be Screen on the Green. Fight the crowds and jerks who bring chairs with a sandwich or hunk of delicious cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. Or if you’re in the mood to feel more European, head over to Cafe du Parc for some pastries. If, like me, your idea of a picnic involves all four food groups, your best bets are the bakery at Potenza and Ebbitt Express, though be forewarned these are primarily lunch spots and tend to close on the early side. Though you do need to plan on getting down to the Mall sometime around dawn on the day of the movie to secure a spot within a mile of the screen, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Also within the city limits is the NoMa Summer Screen, though an up and coming area some might consider more coming than up, it is not without its food options. A Litteri is a perennial Washington favorite, known only to those who are willing and able to find it nestled among the warehouses north of Florida Ave., but well worth the trek for their amazing hoagies. Newish to the area is Pound Coffee, and if you’re nasty–Five Guys. Another former off the beaten path location houses the Capitol Riverfront Outdoor Movies this summer. Don’t worry–there are options outside the stadium. Area favorites such as Cornercopia and Justin’s Cafe will fill your salad and sandwich needs, while if you’re willing to walk or take a quick Metro ride the Maine Avenue Fish Market offers all the seafood your heart desires. It’s a day at the Bay in the shadow of the Nats stadium. And if you’re making your way to the U St. Outdoor Movies, you’re best bet is a stop beforehand at Cork Market or JJ’s Cheesesteaks. Between those two you’ll without a doubt find something for everyone. Or you can follow my lead and go with a combo of the two–a cheesesteak with brie or something equally intriguing/disgusting.

Fear not suburbanites–you have your share of balmy movie nights ahead too. The Alexandria Outdoor Film Festival is smack in the middle of some great options. My first choice would be Eamonn’s for some fish and chips and British candy bars, but a stop in at BGR for the Greek burger (my personal favorite) will do the trick as well. If you’re heading to the Crystal Screen Outdoor Film Festival, you’re going to want to stop at Kabob Palace beforehand for tasty food that is so cheap it makes a free movie look pricy. And if you’re in Rosslyn and don’t mind a little exercise, you’re not far from Ray’s Hell Burger or Tacklebox for seafood that’ll knock your socks off. And don’t fret Bethesda! If you all need a snack for the Bethesda Outdoor Movies, you needn’t look further than Vace (Warning, site plays accordion) for out of this world hoagies or Moby Dick House of Kabob for all your kabob needs.

So pack a blanket and some binoculars, but leave the food to the professionals. And don’t forget the bugspray, it is summer after all.

Ashley Messick

Ashley is a born and bred Washingtonian who left for college but came running back to the District as fast as her little legs could carry her. By day she is a Capitol Hill brat, but by night she is a lean, mean, eating machine. It’s her goal in life to steal Anthony Bourdain’s job…by whatever means necessary. Contact her at Ashley (at) welovedc (dot) com or follow her on Twitter.

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