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The Best Places to Eat on the Southwest Waterfront
Your guide to DC dining with a riverfront view in this evolving neighborhood
The Southwest Waterfront has long been a place where local seafood lovers visited on weekends to snap up fresh fish and other seafood at the neighborhood’s open-air seafood market. While that tradition continues, the neighborhood has become a whole new destination with the opening of The Wharf, a huge dining, entertainment and retail complex.
Riverfront Dining at The Wharf
The Wharf brings more than 20 new restaurants and bars to DC, including new concepts from award-winning and Michelin-starred chefs, fast-casual favorites and even a distillery. After mastering seaside Mediterranean cuisine from his native Italy at Georgetown’s Fiola Mare, chef Fabio Trabocchi forays into Mallorcan fare at Del Mar. Start with fresh-off-the-boat seafood before diving in to paella or savoring the Secreto Iberico with cuts of tender pork so delicious they’re shrouded in secrecy.
Former RAMMY Chef of the Year Cathal Armstrong specializes in Filipino, Thai and Korean cuisines at Kaliwa, a lively restaurant that pairs waterfront views with eclectic Asian cooking. The menu is segmented by cuisine, so make sure you experience the tantalizing flavors that each country offers.
If you’re looking for a guacamole and margarita-fueled fiesta, then Mi Vida is the place for you. The massive restaurant offers plenty of classics from America’s southern neighbor, as well as great happy hour deals and Instagram-worthy waterfront views.
Inside Requin, the Potomac River does it’s best French Riviera impression while tempting diners with coastal cuisine from France. Nearby, Top Chef alum Kwame Onwuachi reigns over the kitchen at Kith/Kin, which pays homage to the chef's heritage with flavors from West Africa to the Caribbean and New Orleans to New York.
Meanwhile, chef Jan Van Haute, who’s helmed the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurants, will bring his Belgian cooking chops to Florentijn. There's also Jenny’s at the Wharf, which cooks up a full slate of Asian cuisine, from banh mi to wok specialties. And what would waterfront dining be without oysters? Slurp down bivalves at local favorites Hank’s Oyster Bar and Rappahannock Oyster Bar. But that’s not all – there are plenty more dining destinations you can expect to find at The Wharf.
Grab Lunch or Dinner from a Barge
DC’s Southwest Waterfront holds the distinction of being home to the country’s oldest, continually operating fish market. The Maine Avenue Fish Market is a rite of passage for any local or visitor, and it’s worth dropping by its barges that carry pre-steamed and shucked edibles. Whether you go to Captain White Seafood City for oysters on the half-shell or snag some ready-to-eat blue crabs at Jessie Taylor Seafood, it’s one of the most DC experiences you can have. And if you have access to a kitchen, you can pick up today’s fresh catch to cook at home. And if you want to get out on the water, consider the Entertainment Cruises fleet. Odyssey and Spirit of Washington cruises offer a range of options that involve gliding down the Potomac River during brunch, lunch, dinner or late night.
Hotels with a View
The Southwest Waterfront is home to the uber luxurious Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC, which features gorgeous waterfront views, an extravagant spa and Muze East West Kitchen. Chef Adam Tanner heads up the kitchen at this critically acclaimed restaurant, which serves a menu of Eastern-inspired fare using locally sourced ingredients. If you’re looking for something more hip than posh, head over to the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The hotel’s interiors, including its restaurant Lapidus, are modern and chic. Named for 1960s designer Morris Lapidus, the restaurant serves American fare in a mod setting. Don Draper would surely be at home here. Or, in the summer, head outside for poolside service.
All the World’s an [Arena] Stage
If you’re near the Southwest Waterfront, it’s hard to miss Arena Stage. The glittering, glass theater mounts productions by American playwrights under the direction of artistic director Molly Smith. Options for pre- or post-theater dining including Station 4. Helmed by chef Orlando Amaro of Venezuela, Station 4 serves creative American fare (including a pre-theater prix-fixe menu) and, on Wednesdays, paella night inspired by chef Orlando Amaro’s Venezuelan roots. Masala Art is another Arena Stage option. The Indian restaurant serves authentic dishes and also offers a pre-theater, prix-fixe menu. If you’re looking for a quick bite even closer to Arena, enjoy the theater’s in-house menu at Richard's Place.Check out our guides to all the best places to eat in DC's happening 'hoods.
Southwest Waterfront Dining Map
Where to dine with a Potomac River view