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Veal ravioli from Officina
Veal ravioli from Officina
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Where to Eat and Drink on D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront

Find oysters, blue crabs, cheesesteaks, and more at the Wharf development and beyond

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Veal ravioli from Officina
| Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Anchored by the oldest fish market in the U.S. to the south and the new International Spy Museum to the north, D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront has boomed in recent years with a wealth of drinking and dining options that swing from casual places for happy hour beers or ice cream cones to high-brow options for A5 wagyu rolls or rooftop Champagne. The Anthem, a 6,000-seat live music venue, is open again and booked almost nightly, which drives traffic to bars and restaurants peppered throughout the Wharf development. The booming mixed-use project will soon welcome two anticipated openings: an all-day French option in Bistro du Jour, and a location of NYC Lebanese restaurant Ilili. Here are 17 places to stop in for a fancy meal or a quick drink.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Southwest Soda Pop Shop

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This nostalgic, family-owned ice cream parlor commands a loyal following for whimsical waterfront treats like a $5 “chipwich” with a choice of ice cream flavors that include vanilla, chocolate, birthday cake, mint chocolate chip, and butter pecan. Soft serve flavors include vegan mango and raspberry — in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate — with toppings like brownie chunks, various cereals, sprinkles, and gummy candy.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: A line of patrons snakes outside Sout Timothy Nwachukwu for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Officina

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Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s tri-level Italian complex greets visitors with an airy, European-styled cafe and bar drenched in sunlight. That’s followed by a second-level restaurant serving casual Southern Italian fare and stellar Negronis. Its prized rooftop terrace, dressed with sleek furniture, fire pits, and greenery, woos diners with aperitivos, seasonal cocktails, small bites, and an expansive Champagne list.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar

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Located in a restored oyster shed steps away from the Maine Avenue fish market, Rappahannock’s menu centers around its celebrated shellfish — right down to vodka and tequila oyster shooters. Other options include ceviche, a burger, seared Outer Banks scallops, and whole branzino.

The crab cake from Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Wharf
The crab cake from Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Wharf
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf

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Dating back to 1805, the Municipal Fish Market claims to be the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the U.S. (beating NYC’s Fulton Fish Market by 17 years). Seafood fans flock here daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for  bushels of blue crab, shucked oysters, clams, shrimp, and freshly caught fish from longstanding vendors like Captain White’s Seafood City and Jessie Taylor Seafood.

DC Wharf’s Fish Market Opens With New Social Distancing Rules Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company

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Nationally recognized mixologist Todd Thrasher’s massive rum distillery and tiki bar attracts tourists, locals, and service industry-types alike. The multi-level tiki bar and happy hour spot (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays) offers cheeky, frozen rum and Coke in a can, classics like a Zombie or Mai Tai, and an extremely potent T.N.T. Problem Forgetter (bourbon, Thrasher’s spiced rum, overproof rum, apricot liqueur, coconut cream rum, honey, lime). Potomac Distilling Company released its sixth rum this summer, called Relaxed Rum, that’s aged in barrels for 24 months.

The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The Grill

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This sophisticated surf-and-turf spot from Knead Hospitality + Design sports South Florida vibes. Chef Roberto Santibañez, the culinary lead behind sibling Mexican restaurant Mi Vida nearby, developed a menu of seafood, meat, and veggie plates that sizzle over charcoals and pecan wood on a Barcelona-made Josper Basque Grill. The glitzy venue, which landed on the Wharf right before the pandemic, also features a lengthy wine list housed behind a glass-encased wall and long list of gins and vodkas for customizable martinis.

NaRa-Ya

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Eaternity Hospitality Group debuted a splurge-worthy restaurant for flower-filled “neo-traditional” Japanese dishes below its Mediterranean spot La Vie last year. The evolving enterprise added brunch and a la carte dinner dishes like an A5 Japanese wagyu roll with Alaskan king crab and purple sweet potato, green tea soba noodles, and foie gras nigiri. Suntory highballs and theatrical smoking cocktails are joined by a large and luxe sake list curated by a general manager who worked at Nobu. The team recently added a fast-casual shack out front with the opening of Yatai, serving steamed buns, dumplings, sushi rolls, and other grab-and-go items.

A NaRa-Ya roll with Alaskan king crab, purple sweet potato, and A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
A NaRa-Ya roll with Alaskan king crab, purple sweet potato, and A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Cantina Bambina

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The two-story successor to dearly missed dock bar Cantina Marina is perched right on the water. Head upstairs to the open-air bar slinging Mexican beers, margaritas, a handful of packaged snacks, and $6 Truly seltzers on game day.

Grazie Grazie

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Taylor Gourmet founder Casey Patten launched a second act with this Philadelphia-style sandwich shop in 2019. The tiny store has quickly amassed a devoted following for fried chicken cutlets, cheesesteaks built with grass-fed beef and Cooper sharp provolone, and sporadic pan pizza pop-ups with help from local restaurants.

A Philly Special cheesesteak from Grazie Grazie shows off layers of grass-fed beef, Cooper sharp provolone, lettuce, red onion, and tomato on a golden roll
A Philly Special cheesesteak from Grazie Grazie
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Moon Rabbit DC

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The modern Vietnamese restaurant inside the luxe Intercontinental had big shoes to fill when it replaced James Beard Award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Afro-Caribbean fine dining destination Kith/Kin. Chef Kevin Tien, of short-lived Emilie’s and nationally recognized Himitsu, stepped in with a medley of impressive dishes like thin slices of kombu-cured scallops in a lime and coconut tom kha broth and mountainous portions of ga chien, an upscale riff on chicken wings sold by street vendors. On the lighter side, a green mango salad leans on other sweet fruits with a welcome addition of lychee and stone fruit.

A super spicy condensed milk and chile sauce comes alongside prawns grilled in garlic and Thai basil butter at Moon Rabbit
A super spicy condensed milk and chile sauce comes alongside prawns grilled in garlic and Thai basil butter at Moon Rabbit
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Colada Shop

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The perennially packed, all-day Cuban cafe from 14th Street NW has expanded on the strength of its coffee, rum-based cocktails, and Caribbean finger foods. Its location at the Wharf introduced a bigger menu full of ropa vieja bowls, chorizo and chickpea egg bakes, and guava-apricot frosé slushees from partners Daniella Senior and Juan Coronado. The mood-lifting location lined with tropical leaves also serves Cuban espresso drinks and batidos (smoothies) with accompanying snacks of pastelitos, fried empanadas, and croquetas. 

Chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong pay homage to Southeast and East Asian cuisines with a mix of Korean, Thai, and the Philippine dishes at this upscale restaurant. Find staples like lumpia and more creative options like adobo brisket sandwiches. Grilled delights include marinated short ribs with Korean ssamjang and a section of rice and noodle dishes like khao pat (Thai fried rice with chicken, fried egg, and holy basil).

Kirwan’s on the Wharf

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This relatively new addition to the D.C. Irish pub scene is one of the more laid-back, casual options in the Wharf development. It’s known for potent Irish whiskey cocktails, $8 Guinness pours, and beer-battered fish and chips. The owners also run Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub In Arlington.

Kirwan’s owner Mark Kirwan
Mark Kirwan/Kirwan’s

Whiskey Charlie

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The Canopy hotel’s 10th-floor rooftop bar is a scenic spot to sip margaritas, mules, frozen orange crushes, and local draft beers to go along with finger foods like tuna poke, wings, and baked pimento dip. The sprawling setup overlooks bobbing boats below. An outdoor rooftop deck dotted with soft seating complements an indoor lounge dubbed the Cabin.

Hank's Oyster Bar (Multiple locations)

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Chef Jamie Leeds’s local group of timeless seafood restaurants added a fitting location right on the water in 2017. Hank’s serves East and West coast oysters and local favorites like Eastern Shore crab dip and seasonal soft shell crabs. The brand’s beloved lobster rolls are a go-to order here.

Masala Art (Multiple locations)

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An offshoot of the original in Tenleytown, Atul Bhola’s Southwest restaurant lures diners in with lamb, chicken, and chickpea biryani, tandoori specials, and $6 samosas during daily happy hour at the bar (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.). A pre-theater menu served before 6:30 p.m. includes a prix fixe special for $35 and half-off bottles of wine.

Masala Art
Bhelpuri from Masala Art
Yue Wu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Point D.C.

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This anticipated seafood spot and wood-burning grill on the Buzzard Point waterfront opened in spring 2021 under executive chef Benjamin Lambert’s watch. Seafood dishes swing from simple (peel-and-eat shrimp) to novel; order the buttery, savory doughnuts that have been lightened up with potato starch, piped full of crab dip, and dusted in Old Bay seasoning. Diners can also enjoy salmon, tuna, and hamachi at a newly added sushi bar. The picturesque venture outfitted with fire pits comes from family-owned Fish & Fire Food Group (Nick’s Riverside Grill, Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place, The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse).

The point’s savory doughnuts are stuffed with crab dip and coated in Old Bay
The point’s savory doughnuts are stuffed with crab dip and coated in Old Bay
John Rorapaugh/Leading DC

Southwest Soda Pop Shop

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: A line of patrons snakes outside Sout Timothy Nwachukwu for The Washington Post via Getty Images

This nostalgic, family-owned ice cream parlor commands a loyal following for whimsical waterfront treats like a $5 “chipwich” with a choice of ice cream flavors that include vanilla, chocolate, birthday cake, mint chocolate chip, and butter pecan. Soft serve flavors include vegan mango and raspberry — in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate — with toppings like brownie chunks, various cereals, sprinkles, and gummy candy.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: A line of patrons snakes outside Sout Timothy Nwachukwu for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Officina

Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s tri-level Italian complex greets visitors with an airy, European-styled cafe and bar drenched in sunlight. That’s followed by a second-level restaurant serving casual Southern Italian fare and stellar Negronis. Its prized rooftop terrace, dressed with sleek furniture, fire pits, and greenery, woos diners with aperitivos, seasonal cocktails, small bites, and an expansive Champagne list.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar

The crab cake from Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Wharf
The crab cake from Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Wharf
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Located in a restored oyster shed steps away from the Maine Avenue fish market, Rappahannock’s menu centers around its celebrated shellfish — right down to vodka and tequila oyster shooters. Other options include ceviche, a burger, seared Outer Banks scallops, and whole branzino.

The crab cake from Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Wharf
The crab cake from Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Wharf
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf

DC Wharf’s Fish Market Opens With New Social Distancing Rules Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dating back to 1805, the Municipal Fish Market claims to be the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the U.S. (beating NYC’s Fulton Fish Market by 17 years). Seafood fans flock here daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for  bushels of blue crab, shucked oysters, clams, shrimp, and freshly caught fish from longstanding vendors like Captain White’s Seafood City and Jessie Taylor Seafood.

DC Wharf’s Fish Market Opens With New Social Distancing Rules Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company

The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Nationally recognized mixologist Todd Thrasher’s massive rum distillery and tiki bar attracts tourists, locals, and service industry-types alike. The multi-level tiki bar and happy hour spot (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays) offers cheeky, frozen rum and Coke in a can, classics like a Zombie or Mai Tai, and an extremely potent T.N.T. Problem Forgetter (bourbon, Thrasher’s spiced rum, overproof rum, apricot liqueur, coconut cream rum, honey, lime). Potomac Distilling Company released its sixth rum this summer, called Relaxed Rum, that’s aged in barrels for 24 months.

The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The Grill

This sophisticated surf-and-turf spot from Knead Hospitality + Design sports South Florida vibes. Chef Roberto Santibañez, the culinary lead behind sibling Mexican restaurant Mi Vida nearby, developed a menu of seafood, meat, and veggie plates that sizzle over charcoals and pecan wood on a Barcelona-made Josper Basque Grill. The glitzy venue, which landed on the Wharf right before the pandemic, also features a lengthy wine list housed behind a glass-encased wall and long list of gins and vodkas for customizable martinis.

NaRa-Ya

A NaRa-Ya roll with Alaskan king crab, purple sweet potato, and A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
A NaRa-Ya roll with Alaskan king crab, purple sweet potato, and A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Eaternity Hospitality Group debuted a splurge-worthy restaurant for flower-filled “neo-traditional” Japanese dishes below its Mediterranean spot La Vie last year. The evolving enterprise added brunch and a la carte dinner dishes like an A5 Japanese wagyu roll with Alaskan king crab and purple sweet potato, green tea soba noodles, and foie gras nigiri. Suntory highballs and theatrical smoking cocktails are joined by a large and luxe sake list curated by a general manager who worked at Nobu. The team recently added a fast-casual shack out front with the opening of Yatai, serving steamed buns, dumplings, sushi rolls, and other grab-and-go items.

A NaRa-Ya roll with Alaskan king crab, purple sweet potato, and A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
A NaRa-Ya roll with Alaskan king crab, purple sweet potato, and A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Cantina Bambina

The two-story successor to dearly missed dock bar Cantina Marina is perched right on the water. Head upstairs to the open-air bar slinging Mexican beers, margaritas, a handful of packaged snacks, and $6 Truly seltzers on game day.

Grazie Grazie

A Philly Special cheesesteak from Grazie Grazie shows off layers of grass-fed beef, Cooper sharp provolone, lettuce, red onion, and tomato on a golden roll
A Philly Special cheesesteak from Grazie Grazie
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Taylor Gourmet founder Casey Patten launched a second act with this Philadelphia-style sandwich shop in 2019. The tiny store has quickly amassed a devoted following for fried chicken cutlets, cheesesteaks built with grass-fed beef and Cooper sharp provolone, and sporadic pan pizza pop-ups with help from local restaurants.

A Philly Special cheesesteak from Grazie Grazie shows off layers of grass-fed beef, Cooper sharp provolone, lettuce, red onion, and tomato on a golden roll
A Philly Special cheesesteak from Grazie Grazie
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Moon Rabbit DC

A super spicy condensed milk and chile sauce comes alongside prawns grilled in garlic and Thai basil butter at Moon Rabbit
A super spicy condensed milk and chile sauce comes alongside prawns grilled in garlic and Thai basil butter at Moon Rabbit
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The modern Vietnamese restaurant inside the luxe Intercontinental had big shoes to fill when it replaced James Beard Award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Afro-Caribbean fine dining destination Kith/Kin. Chef Kevin Tien, of short-lived Emilie’s and nationally recognized Himitsu, stepped in with a medley of impressive dishes like thin slices of kombu-cured scallops in a lime and coconut tom kha broth and mountainous portions of ga chien, an upscale riff on chicken wings sold by street vendors. On the lighter side, a green mango salad leans on other sweet fruits with a welcome addition of lychee and stone fruit.

A super spicy condensed milk and chile sauce comes alongside prawns grilled in garlic and Thai basil butter at Moon Rabbit
A super spicy condensed milk and chile sauce comes alongside prawns grilled in garlic and Thai basil butter at Moon Rabbit
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Colada Shop

The perennially packed, all-day Cuban cafe from 14th Street NW has expanded on the strength of its coffee, rum-based cocktails, and Caribbean finger foods. Its location at the Wharf introduced a bigger menu full of ropa vieja bowls, chorizo and chickpea egg bakes, and guava-apricot frosé slushees from partners Daniella Senior and Juan Coronado. The mood-lifting location lined with tropical leaves also serves Cuban espresso drinks and batidos (smoothies) with accompanying snacks of pastelitos, fried empanadas, and croquetas. 

Kaliwa

Chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong pay homage to Southeast and East Asian cuisines with a mix of Korean, Thai, and the Philippine dishes at this upscale restaurant. Find staples like lumpia and more creative options like adobo brisket sandwiches. Grilled delights include marinated short ribs with Korean ssamjang and a section of rice and noodle dishes like khao pat (Thai fried rice with chicken, fried egg, and holy basil).

Kirwan’s on the Wharf

Kirwan’s owner Mark Kirwan
Mark Kirwan/Kirwan’s

This relatively new addition to the D.C. Irish pub scene is one of the more laid-back, casual options in the Wharf development. It’s known for potent Irish whiskey cocktails, $8 Guinness pours, and beer-battered fish and chips. The owners also run Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub In Arlington.

Kirwan’s owner Mark Kirwan
Mark Kirwan/Kirwan’s

Whiskey Charlie

The Canopy hotel’s 10th-floor rooftop bar is a scenic spot to sip margaritas, mules, frozen orange crushes, and local draft beers to go along with finger foods like tuna poke, wings, and baked pimento dip. The sprawling setup overlooks bobbing boats below. An outdoor rooftop deck dotted with soft seating complements an indoor lounge dubbed the Cabin.

Hank's Oyster Bar (Multiple locations)

Chef Jamie Leeds’s local group of timeless seafood restaurants added a fitting location right on the water in 2017. Hank’s serves East and West coast oysters and local favorites like Eastern Shore crab dip and seasonal soft shell crabs. The brand’s beloved lobster rolls are a go-to order here.