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The Best Places to Eat on the Southwest Waterfront
Your guide to DC dining with a Potomac River view
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 is poised to become a whole new destination when The Wharf, a huge entertainment and retail complex, opens in October 2017.
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.
Whether you want to cap off your day with a margarita sunset or you just need some delicious Mexican food, Cantina Marina is a longtime trusted favorite with waterfront digs. Swap the chips and guac for a wok at Jenny’s at the Wharf, which cooks up a full slate of Asian cuisine, from banh mi to wok specialties. And if you want to get out on the water, consider the Entertainment Cruises fleet. Odyssey and Spirit cruises offer a range of options that involve gliding down the Potomac River during brunch, lunch, dinner or late night.
Coming Soon to The Wharf
The under-construction, $2 billion waterfront development will contain entertainment, residences, retail and, of course, drinking and dining options – 18 of them to be exact. Some of the highlights include local coffee-gelato shop, Dolcezza, and Taylor Gourmet, a fast-casual sandwich spot. After mastering seaside Mediterranean cuisine from his native Italy at Georgetown’s Fiola Mare, chef Fabio Trabocchi will foray into Mallorcan fare at Del Mar. The Potomac River does it’s best French Riviera impression inside Requin, where chefs Mike Isabella and Jennifer Carroll will tempt diners with coastal cuisine from France. Meanwhile, chef Jan Van Haute, who’s helmed the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurants, will bring his Belgian cooking chops to Florentijn.
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 restaurant. 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’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