The 5 New DC Watering Holes and Pop-Ups That Might Just Save Summer
Delicious, innovative spots perfect for the season
While there’s no way to delude ourselves into thinking that the rest of this summer will feel normal, or to totally forget about that long lost summer trip, we can at least sip some margaritas and take in the sunshine in one of DC’s brand new outdoor drinking locations — the very next best thing, in our opinion. From pop up spots with human-sized frozen-drink machines to the new Blagden Alley “streatery,” here’s where you can find us this month.
This Park View bar has kept itself more than busy this year, leading a groundbreaking hospitality-industry relief initiative that saw “Hook Hall Care Packages” packed with canned foods and other pandemic necessities delivered to those in need. Now they’re finally reopened and better than ever with a reinvented patio, complete with astroturf and plants galore for a tropical feel. Private cabanas with fans are available to rent for up to six diners for $100, and the reservation includes a complimentary bottle of champagne.
If you choose not to go the cabana route, the 7,000-square-foot space is also full of hanging chairs and Oktoberfest-style benches upon which to sit and drink. Expect a coastal-themed menu from chef Ryan Gordon that includes items like fish tacos and Hawaiian pizza (controversial, we know), as well as refreshing drinks like grapefruit crushes and margaritas.
This British pub-influenced restaurant by the Hilton brothers was essentially known pre-pandemic for always being packed. It’s no wonder why, either, with a laid-back attitude that attracted big parties and a prime location at the Wharf. Since reopening, their location has only gotten more prime, with the addition of the Brighton Beach pop-up, named after the beach town on England’s south coast. Located on Market Pier, the temporary weekend-only restaurant is tented to provide patrons with some much-needed shade, and beachy decor like paper lanterns add to the vibe. Their small menu is reminiscent of what you might expect to see at an upscale backyard barbecue in Maryland — hot dogs, cheese fries, sliders, a chicken sando and a lobster roll. Wash it all down with their selection of tall boys.
Since July 10, D.C.’s favorite hidden restaurant row has been turned into a bonafide “streatery,” with the alley now being closed off to all traffic in an effort to allow restaurants to expand their outdoor seating for hungry customers. Among the spots that have taken advantage is the Hong Kong night market themed Tiger Fork, which added 48 outdoor seats onto their new patio.
Expect old favorites from chef Nathan Beauchamp on the menu, like their signature bubble waffle and dan dan noodles, as well as new additions like chili crab made with Chesapeake blue crab. Summery cocktails include Asian-inspired ingredients such as ginger and ginseng, some with added healing benefits.
To help out essential workers and those without access to food, Columbia Room’s Paul Taylor first created Get a Hero, Be a Hero, a philanthropic sandwich shop that matches every purchase, Toms-style. Now Taylor has taken his love for sandwiches to the next level with pop-up Your Only Friend, a place where sandwiches and cocktails are temporarily joined in holy matrimony.
Located on the cocktail bar’s shaded patio and two dozen “streatery” seats in Blagden Alley, the pop-up includes a drinks menu that mixes inventive boozy and virgin drinks that patrons can pair with their sandwiches, such as a Celery gimlet, a Nordic Old Fashioned or a good old-fashioned frosé.
Shows at the Kennedy Center might be canceled through the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean brunch is. Now open at the REACH, the center’s less than a year old immersive arts and learning center, is a collaborative culinary effort between the Hilton Brothers & Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto and ABC Pony.
Named Victura Park after John F. Kennedy’s sailboat, the pop-up winery covers more than 20,000 feet of outdoor space, complete with shady picnic and café tables — some that overlook the Potomac River and Roosevelt Island. Patrons are also invited to bring their leashed dogs, spread out a blanket and enjoy their wine on the grass, so the vibe is pretty relaxed.
Expect a rotating menu from Yang that is expected to change week to week, with snacky picnic fare such as a charcuterie board and smoked salmon rillettes as well as a drinks menu that includes beer and wine by the glass or bottle.
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