We want to help you enjoy the Washington area to its fullest. That's why we take reader questions every Thursday at 1 p.m. If you're seeking a new happy hour spot, wondering which museums will entertain visiting relatives or trying to find a restaurant that can accommodate a crowd, we'll try to help you out. (Submit a question now, or join us at 1 p.m. to offer your own advice.) Here's one:
Situated on two rivers, one would think that D.C. would have some great riverfront restaurants or bars. Do you have any recommendations beyond the Georgetown waterfront and Indigo Landing on Dangerfield Island? Ideally, it would have easy parking to accommodate a stop on the commute home.
You'd think we would, wouldn't you? But the truth is that we don't, and probably never will. From Georgetown, the Potomac runs past the southern tip of Rock Creek Park, the Kennedy Center, and then all the memorials (Lincoln, the Memorial Bridge, etc.), then Hains Point and Bolling Air Force Base. On the Virginia side, you have Roosevelt Island, Arlington National Cemetery, the narrow strip between the river and the George Washington Parkway, and then National Airport. Even in Old Town, the river frontage is mostly parks. You're not going to convince the government to ruin views from Memorial Bridge to give us some cool waterfront bars.
We do have a few options in D.C. along the Washington Channel in Southwest. There, you'll find Cantina Marina, a divey dock bar with an interesting mix of people, from 20-somethings eating fish tacos to residents of the neighboring houseboats. Also on the same stretch of water is the Phillips crab house, which is a tourist trap.
It might be easier to look outside of D.C. In Alexandria, there's the Chart House, which is one of the few places right on the water. Sadly, the chain restaurant is more noted for its views than its food, though the outdoor deck isn't a bad place for a beer. You can see the Potomac from upstairs at Virtue Feed and Grain, but that's not the same thing.
Across the river at National Harbor, McLoone's Pier House has tables right on the dock, with great views of the Wilson Bridge and Potomac through the grove of sailboat masts. Good happy hour, too, with half-price appetizers and discounted drinks.
Depending on how far your commute home takes you, you might try Madigan's Waterfront in Occoquan, which has a big outdoor tiki bar with TVs.
For the best waterfront atmosphere, though, you have to head pretty far outside the Beltway, to a place like Skipper's Pier, Jimmy Cantler's, Pusser's Landing, or even Hemingway's, at the eastern end of the Bay Bridge.