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)

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.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

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