As the weather warms and open-air dining is more alluring than ever, Alexandria, VA, offers al fresco options galore in Old Town, Del Ray and beyond. We’ve rounded up our favorite spots, from patios by the Potomac River to secluded rooftops to secret gardens and more. Keep reading to plan your next reservation.
1. Waterfront Wow Factor
Let the Potomac River breeze ease you into the weekend at Ada’s on the River, open since early 2021 and raved about by the Washington Post. Sample a menu of dishes cooked to perfection in the wood-burning oven, including swordfish steak and custom-aged prime beef, followed by a sweet finish like cinnamon crème brûlée. Brand-new BARCA Pier is a seasonal outdoor eatery inspired by Barcelona’s beach bars and made from carved-out shipping containers, with a menu consisting of mouthwatering Mediterranean small plates.
Head farther north along the waterfront to Vola’s Dockside Grill, where you can watch the world go by while savoring lobster rolls and refreshing cocktails (or mocktails). Steps away from Vola’s, Riverside Taco Company serves up grab-and-go tacos, drinks, rice bowls and more from an Airstream trailer.
2. Riverside Lounges
At Blackwall Hitch, kick back on an outdoor sofa and toast those summer evenings with an aperitif, from cocktails like the blackberry smash to Port City brews to rosé. Or, circle back to sample their dessert menu, including six riffs on chocolate truffles, while the waterfront’s good vibes wash over you.
Meanwhile, Hummingbird is the go-to spot for a riverside brunch complete with bellinis, a breakfast BLT, berry-strewn French toast and more from James Beard nominated chef Cathal Armstrong and his team.
3. Beloved Backyards and Patios
See how community favorites have gotten creative in their outdoor upgrades. Known for the bourbon slushies and breezy vibes at The Front Porch, regionally acclaimed Evening Star Café recently debuted The Back Yard to expand its outdoor dining footprint. Enjoy a brisket sandwich and a handcrafted cocktail and keep an eye out for outdoor movie nights.
Also in Del Ray, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap offers two outdoor dining destinations in Lena’s Beer Garden and Lena’s Oasis, while Virtue Feed & Grain’s brick patio beside Waterfront Park buzzes with friends and families indulging in elevated tavern fare.
5. Street-Side People Watching
King Street is lined with endless restaurants offering a curbside culinary experience for those who like to be surrounded by Old Town’s charm. Duck off the beaten path to pick between sweet or savory crêpes at Fontaine, steps away from the main thoroughfare on S. Royal Street.
For people-watching in the midst of lower King Street, order prime aged steaks and fresh seafood at The Warehouse, or head to upper King Street to grab Greek and Italian eats under a vine-entwined canopy at Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro.
5. High-Level Hideaways
Café 44’s four-story-high balcony offers sweeping views of the Potomac River as a stunning backdrop for your meal. Check out the eatery’s brand-new terrace bar for an even more festive al fresco dining experience.
Almost hidden from passersby, Daniel O’Connell’s second floor patio on King Street is the perfect perch for an evening out in Old Town as you savor comforting fare like fish and chips with a Guinness.
6. Quiet Courtyards
King & Rye’s upcoming Cocktail Garden, debuting April 21, 2021, will offer a new retreat off King Street. The redesigned space—complete with COVID guidelines in place—will feature lounge areas, intimate dining spaces, fire pits and a special menu of stellar seasonal cocktails to explore.
Nearby on King Street, Taverna Cretekou’s lush hidden garden casts a spell with its tranquil environs and exquisite Greek plates.
7. Casual Beer Gardens
Inspired by St. Augustine, the Patron Saint of Brewers, Augie’s Mussel House and Beer Garden blends traditional Belgium cuisine with a modern twist. Raise a glass outside at Augie’s expansive outdoor beer garden, and pair your ale with one of ten mouth-watering mussel flavors.
For more beer garden vibes, reserve a fire pit at The Garden Del Ray, head to Hops N Shine’s dog-friendly backyard in nearby Arlandria, or sample Alexandria’s premier beers at Port City Brewing Company’s West End headquarters.
8. Peaceful Parklets
Luxuriate in an indulgent lunch of pimiento grilled cheese at Le Pré Del Ray, Cheesetique’s new spacious, shaded “meadow.” Or come for dinner and order the perfect red to pair with the “Mac n’ Cheesetique,” followed by chocolate mousse.
In Carlyle, visit Tequila & Taco’s new parklet for a mouthwatering margarita and plentiful taco options, plus ceviche, fajitas and more.
Still scoping out the perfect spot? Explore dozens of other outdoor dining options across Alexandria.
Header Image Credits, left to right: Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria, Café 44 and Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria.