1280 Fourth St., NE
Excellent mezcal and tequila-centric cocktails make this La Cosecha spot from the team behind Espita a fun place to drink during the day (or not – they also have some amazing non-alcoholic cocktails). The modern Mexican lunch menu is small, with just a handful of appetizers and entrees, but includes a few standout vegetarian options, like a mushroom-stuffed quesadilla.
2011 Crystal Dr., Arlington
The all-day venue in Crystal City (I mean National Landing) offers an eclectic mix – veggie pakora dumplings, shrimp toast, fries – plus breakfast for lunch. The spacious 50-seat covered patio is also a pleasant perch for a coffee or cocktail.
1734 N St., NW
The wisteria-covered garden of this Mediterranean destination of Dupont is one of the most charming places to dine al fresco in DC. The new lunch menu features fancy tuna melts, hearty Caesars and focaccia pizzas. Try the version with fennel salami and charred pineapple (yes, we are Team Pineapple on Pizza).
Laos in the city
250 K St., NE
Enjoy the vibrant, spicy flavors of Laos in this sprawling (albeit mostly uncovered) NoMa patio. Among the highlights: various papaya salads, lemongrass-infused pork sausages, and charcoal-grilled chicken with a vinegary chili sauce. A dedicated vegan menu is also available.
1847 Columbia Road, NW
Adams Morgan Afghan Restaurant serves its full menu for lunch on its discreet side patio. Try aushak (leek dumplings topped with ground beef), hearty vegetable dishes, grilled skewers and more alongside refreshing drinks (like a non-alcoholic pomegranate, rose water, soda mix).
1601 14th St., NW
One of the busiest midday destinations, the popular French brasserie is excellent for both people watching and onion soup. The main course for lunch: a hot shrimp salad with lemon beurre blanc or the famous Américain burger. Request one of the “street chateaus” (ahem, street tables) when possible.
3310 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier
Chef Jesse Miller has a way of making American food even more comforting. For lunch on the candlelit patio, he checks out snacks like fried green tomatoes and spicy eggs, plus “sammies” stuffed with buttermilk fried chicken and ramp ranch or cornmeal-crusted fish with remoulade.
Rakuya / Raku
1900 Q St., NW; 3312 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 7240 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda
Craving sushi without an expense account? Those mid-range price points with slightly varied menus – in Dupont Circle, Cathedral Heights and Bethesda – hit the spot. Generous bento boxes are a good choice for lunch, but the chirashi bowls are worth it (modest).
Ruthie’s All Day
3411 Fifth St. S., Arlington
The spacious patio dotted with umbrellas serves southern staples with the help of a custom wood-burning fireplace. Cornbread and hard-boiled eggs are a satisfying start. The smoked brisket is also a highlight – whether on a sandwich or as part of a meat-and-two (or three) platter.
7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda
José Andrés’ newest spot – with a 48-seat patio – celebrates eggs and potatoes, plus other Spanish comforts. For lunch, find a $30 three-course prix fixe with options like gazpacho and pressed ham and cheese sandwiches, plus pudding for dessert.
3227 Georgia Avenue, NW
The casual Georgian restaurant’s planter-lined patio is a surprising retreat from the hustle and bustle of Georgia Avenue, Northwest. The newly launched Monday-Friday lunch menu, with QR code ordering, offers staples like khinkali (soup dumplings) and khachapuri (cheese-stuffed buns), as well as sandwiches and a lamb burger.
The tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse
1356 Okie St., NE
The seafood restaurant’s affiliation with neighboring supplier ProFish means you know you’re getting quality fish. From the sunny deck, enjoy crab cakes and fried shrimp po’ boys. Home-smoked fish – which you can taste with bagels – is particularly popular.