If the weather isn't getting you down, there are two new places to have a drink al fresco on H Street NE. Sol Mexican Grill officially opens its upstairs bar and patio tonight with mariachis and margaritas, while Vendetta's secluded back patio is a quiet place to have a drink with friends.
Sol is a restaurant success story, growing from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar store. And the H Street NE spot, which opened in April, has just expanded to the second floor of its building, opening a "cantina" with a full bar and covered back patio. The official opening party is tonight at 7 p.m., with mariachis and all-night drink specials. Mexican beers are $3, whether you want a bottle of Bohemia or a draft Modello Especial or Dos Equis. The house lime margaritas are $5. (You can get fancy with a frozen strawberry or mango margarita, too.) Free chips and housemade salsa come with every order.
While downstairs is a fast-casual restaurant with a focus on tacos and burritos, upstairs has a longer menu of enchiladas, fajitas and other entrees, plus bar snacks. The rear patio has picnic tables and plenty of standing room, and will be open until 2 a.m. nightly, with the kitchen serving food until 11 p.m.
Vendetta's patio, which opened July 5, isn't fancy. It's also not very well marked. So head to the upstairs bar, look for the exit sign along the back wall and push open the heavy door. You'll find a secluded deck surrounded by high wooden walls, which have been painted the colors of the Italian flag. Four heavy iron tables are surrounded by metal stools and protected from the weather by large Peroni umbrellas.
There's not much to look at – markedly different from the carnival of Vespas and bocce indoors – but it's a decent place to hang out with friends. When I've been by, it's been completely empty. I don't know how long it will stay that way.