Al fresco dining can be wonderful. A slight breeze, the warmth of the sun or crispness of the night, the smell of fresh air. It can all add to the ambiance of the meal. But in the middle of winter? Not so much.

Hold on just a sec, though. COVID has forced restauranteurs all over the world to stretch their imagination and Dupont Circle hasn’t been spared. Igloos, See-through rooms (I believe they’re being called “winter lodges”), and heaters hanging from the ceiling are all ideas I’ve been seeing around town and I can’t wait to try them out!


Rakuya is the staple sushi restaurant in Dupont and there’s a reason it’s so popular. The fish is always fresh, the menu offers unique rolls, and the ambiance is always fun. They have really taken social distancing seriously and have created a few outside winter lodges for parties of 4 (possibly, 6). I haven’t seen anything like it..yet. I can imagine others will follow along as soon as they see how crowded it keeps them throughout the winter.


Now, I’m partial to Floriana as it’s my favorite restaurant in D.C. for sentimental reasons, but I do have to say that they have done an exceptional job at getting ready for outdoor dining this winter. They installed beautiful drapery that covers ~3/4 of each table and the structure underneath allows for heaters to be hung above each table. Can you say cozy?

Bar Charley

Bar Charley has some of the best food in Dupont Circle..but they, hands down, offer the best cocktails on the most extensive list. They have taken over the backyard of their 18th Street location and have added coverings to protect the tables from the elements and heaters to protect their patrons from the cold. While more casual than the first two options, you’re sure to have a great time!

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