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Posted at 11:17 AM ET, 08/22/2011

Taking it outside: U Street’s rooftop and patio explosion

Crowds fill standard, the outdoor beer garden and barbecue joint that opened at 14th and T streets earlier this summer. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)
Today’s beautiful weather — and Tom Sietsema’s recent column about Lost Society, the steakhouse and rooftop bar at 14th and U streets, got us thinking about U Street’s outdoor drinking and dining options, and how it went from a desert of al fresco options to one of the most loaded neighborhoods in the city. Check out our map of all the outdoor bars and restaurants for proof.

When Local 16 opened its rooftop bar in 2002, it instantly became a draw in a neighborhood where the only options were the hidden back patio at Stetson’s and the row of streetside tables on the sidewalk next to Polly’s Cafe (now Desperado).

The next few years since saw a few major additions -- the ever-popular rooftop space at Marvin, the expansive roof at Nellie’s, the chilled-out back patio at the Gibson, Policy’s second-story patio -- but the last 12 months have seen a veritable explosion of outdoor spaces.

In addition to Lost Society, DC9 opened its rooftop, Dodge City opened a two-level back patio and Blackbyrd Warehouse unveiled its Marvin-esque roofdeck bar. A few short blocks off U, the standard beer garden and American Ice Company both began serving beer and barbecue on comfortable patios, El Centro opened a rooftop deck with two bars (and cheap frozen margaritas) and Vinoteca started a bocce league on a pair of courts on its back patio.

There’s even more on the way to the neighborhood. Piola -- the pizza chain that already has a location in Rosslyn -- has applied for a 40-seat rooftop deck at its forthcoming restaurant at 2008 14th St., and Mova, the gay lounge that was replaced by Number Nine on P Street, has applied for a 50-seat outdoor “summer garden” at 2004 14th St. Earlier this year, the Hilton Brothers, who run Marvin, the Gibson and Blackbyrd, announced plans for an outdoor taqueria called El Rey next to Dodge City, which is expected to open next spring.

Which are your favorite warm-weather bar destinations? Tell us in the comments.

By  |  11:17 AM ET, 08/22/2011

Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Restaurants

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