It's so disappointing to arrive at your favorite watering hole after a long day at your desk only to be met by a two-hour wait, or a patio so packed you can’t hear yourself think.
With so many exciting additions to the Washington scene in the last few years, there’s no reason you should find yourself in a dining rut. But if you do, these underrated patios — from intimate, string-light-strewn date spots to laid-back beer gardens where you can catch the next game — have you covered.
Not just a rowdy spot to hit on a Saturday night, H Street's Hill Prince is perfect for a low-key happy hour on the back patio. The unique venue is located in a former carriage house, and the outdoor area features a rustic, dark wood bar, soft blue tile and hanging plants. “We’ve added lots of plants and hung lanterns to create a lush space, an escape from the bustle of the city,” owner Nick Wiseman says. The best time to go? According to Wiseman, it’s “on a week night for a chill oasis.” 1337 H St. NE.
This vibrant rooftop brings the flavors of Spain and the Caribbean to Shaw. The menu is an elevated twist on what you can find at Rito Loco, the burrito spot downstairs. Dine on such dishes as fried avocado tacos and shrimp or white fish ceviche with a cocktail in hand. Grass walls adorned with gold mirrors enclose the space, and planters full of leafy greenery are in abundance. The roomy bar features tropical-inspired cocktails such as a floral concoction of cachaça, hibiscus, and lime called the Caipirinha de Hibisco — mixed up by Bryan Tate of Tiger Fork and Founding Farmers. 606 Florida Ave. NW.
This women-owned wine bar is a hidden gem in Bloomingdale. Go for the charming, grapevine adorned patio and chic minimalist interior — stay for happy hour specials, a bottomless rosé brunch and a thoughtfully curated wine list. Half of the pet-friendly patio is covered with a retractable awning, so don’t let D.C.’s finicky weather deter you from sitting outside. Also, owner Jordan Stahl takes pride in the fact that Tyber Creek has become a neighborhood spot and even hosts the occasional wine tasting with regulars. 84 T St. NW.
Attached to the Mason and Rook Hotel, Radiator's large outdoor patio has ample seating and a robust cocktail menu, and is great for after-work drinks with a large group. Another pet-friendly patio, the bar has craft cocktails, elevated bar food and life-size games. Decorative touches such as string lights and birdhouses make for a cute date spot, while menu items such as the combo of their signature burger with truffle fries, a beer, and a shot for $22 could definitely help get the party started. 1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
Ever been to a rooftop gin garden before? Didn’t think so. Tucked behind Capitol Hill’s Belga Café, Betsy has a selection of 50 types of gin, which can be mixed into innumerable amounts of gin and tonics. The herbs are freshly picked from their planters and are used for concoctions such as a “floral” G&T with Hendrick’s, flower petals, orange twist and Fever Tree Indian Tonic. The ambiance on the rooftop is homey and intimate, with quirky elements such as brightly-painted cans with herbs. (Fun fact: The inspiration behind the bar’s name was chef Bart Vandaele’s favorite chicken out of the coop he keeps in his backyard.) 514 Eighth St. SE, back alley.
Even the Brig's website describes the space as “D.C.’s secret beer garden.” Located near Navy Yard, it’s a laid back, spacious spot for a round of beers, and you can also catch a game on the bar's 25-foot projector. Despite being entirely outdoors, the Brig is open year-round, and features a classic picnic table setup. Expect ample options of German and American brews — 20 on tap to be specific — as well as local beers; taps are updated seasonally. 1007 Eighth St. SE.