• Hailey Gabron

To Freeze or Not to Freeze: Navigating COVID Friendly Restaurants in the Winter

Despite Montgomery County suspending indoor food and beverage consumption in restaurants and temperatures dropping making outdoor dining difficult, there is still hope. Many restaurants have gotten creative creating COVID-safe environments where it is possible to get a coffee, have brunch or enjoy a dinner with your family. On January 22, D.C. opened to 25% capacity for indoor dining. For those who are comfortable doing so, these restaurants are viable options for distancing and eating indoors. But what about those who are not comfortable ditching the mask and eating inside? Many restaurants have found a way to bring the indoor dining experience outside using temporary, open structures, heaters, firepits and more. Here are some viable, fun, safe options within Montgomery County, the District, and Virginia.


TENTS:

  • Raku (Bethesda, MD) ($$): In the heart of Bethesda, Raku set up heated tents, where people can enjoy their amazing sushi and Asian inspired cuisine. They have a lively atmosphere, but make sure to call ahead as they get very busy!

  • Cafe Milano-(NW DC) ($$$): Inside Cafe Milano you will find expansive murals, portraits and scarves celebrating Italian culture. Serving genuine, classic Italian meals, the restaurant has set up tents with heaters.

IGLOOS:

  • Ted’s Bulletin (NW DC, SE DC, Gaithersburg MD, Fairfax, Arlington and Reston, VA) ($$): Ted’s Bulletin has created personal igloos for those who reserve one. It serves a variety of baked goodies and classic American fan favorites, and it’s a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

  • Del Mar (SW DC) ($$$): Del Mar overlooks the Potomac River and offers private igloos on its 2nd floor. It will reopen on February 10th. While the igloo reservations are quite expensive, the Mediterrain and coastal flavors make the food quite the treat.

FIRE PITS:

  • Hooks Hall (NW DC) ($$): Hooks Hall is a completely outdoor venue fully equipped for the cold. It provides blankets, has open fire pits and even viking style huts (just make sure to make a reservation if you want to dine in one). Hooks Hall has a scandanavian inspired menu, and it is based off of a Viking village.

  • Blackwall Hitch (Alexandria, VA) ($$) (seafood options are more expensive): Located right on the water, Blackwall Hitch has both heaters and fire pits at an outdoor patio. However, it does follow an inclement weather policy for the patio. The menu consists of various seafood options, and the restaurant integrates classic fan favorites into its brunch menu.

  • Matchbox (Rockville, MD location) ($$): Being one of the larger Matchbox locations, this restaurant has a beautiful outdoor patio with a large fire pit and a few heaters. This spot is family friendly and provides a casual dining experience with wood fired pizzas and other classic Italian dishes.

HEATERS:

  • Java Nation (Rockville, MD location) ($): Using locally sourced produce, Java Nation should be one of your go-tos for a quality coffee experience. Additionally, it has a variety of baked goods, brunch options and lunch choices to choose from.

  • Takoda (NW DC) ($$): Takoda’s outdoor rooftop has heaters to keep you warm while you enjoy a bottomless brunch or a fantastic dinner. Moreover, it overlooks the city, so you can enjoy a beautiful view while enjoying a delicious meal. It has have American style cuisine perfect for any occasion.

  • Gringos and Mariachis (Bethesda, MD) ($$): Gringos has an outdoor patio with heaters, and it serves a wide variety of tacos, burritos, salsas and more Mexican style cuisine.

JUST BRAVE THE COLD:

  • Paris Baguette (Fairfax and Centreville VA) ($$): While you may be a little chilly sitting on the outdoor patio with no heaters, the amazing freshly brewed coffee will warm you right up! Paris Baguette is an amazing bakery that serves handcrafted cakes, pastries, coffees, teas and lunch options.

  • Taqueria el Poblano (Arlington VA) ($): Listed in the top ten of Zagat’s best Mexican restaurants in the DC area, Taqueria el Poblano now has an outdoor space with heaters. Taqueria specializes in Mexican cuisine and has some of the best tacos, chips, salsas and entrees you will ever eat. I highly recommend this spot, and if you eat meat, definitely try the LA crispy beef style tacos!



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