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@mishaonfoot - Diners at Cathal Armstrong's Kaliwa - Asian restaurant at The Wharf in Washington, DC

The Best Places to Eat in Southwest & The Wharf

Your guide to DC dining with a riverfront view in this evolving neighborhood

Your guide to DC dining with a riverfront view in this evolving neighborhood

Southwest & The Wharf 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.

Mi Vida Top Floor Bar

Mi Vida

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.

What would waterfront dining be without oysters? Slurp down bivalves at local favorites at Rappahannock Oyster Bar or Hank’s Oyster Bar. At Hank's, named for her father, chef and restauranteur Jamie Leeds has built a revered local brand with her fresh “urban beach food," which always attracts a crowd.

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

Jessie's Cooked Seafood

Jessie Taylor Seafood

The neighborhood holds the distinction of being home to the country’s oldest, continually operating fish market. The Municipal 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. 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 City Cruises fleet. 

Hotel Hotspot

Southwest & The Wharf is home to the uber luxurious Salamander DC, which features gorgeous waterfront views and an extravagant spa. This year, James Beard Award winner Chef Kwame Onwuachi will open his newest concept Dōgon, inspired by African American intellectual Benjamin Banneker – specifically, his contributions as a land surveyor for what would become the District of Columbia. Onwuachi's vibrant dishes will highlight this history and other Afro-Caribbean traditions that have shaped DC as we know it. 

All the World’s an [Arena] Stage

If you’re near Southwest & The Wharf, it’s hard to miss Arena Stage. The glittering, glass theater mounts productions by American playwrights under the direction of artistic director Molly Smith. One fantastic option for pre- or post-theater dining is 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 his Venezuelan roots. Masala Art is another Arena Stage staple, which serves authentic Indian dishes and also offers a pre-theater, prix-fixe menu.