The Great Outdoors
Temperatures are climbing into the 70s. The sun sets after 7:30. It's time to move happy hour outside.
Here's a quick look at what some of our favorite bars with rooftops and patios are doing this week. Just remember that all of these spaces are open weather-permitting; if the temperature dips this weekend, it's likely the crowds will move back inside -- until the next stretch of sunny weather.
Ballston billiards parlor Carpool rolled up the garage-style doors on Tuesday, offering access to its stepped patio.
Outdoor areas don't come much bigger than the Clarendon Ballroom's rooftop deck. The sprawling patio is larger than many other neighborhood bars -- indoors and out. It reopens for the 2005 season at 5 p.m. Wednesday, and owner Peter Pflug says the Ballroom is also welcoming back last summer's famous happy hour: $1 or $1.50 beers from 5 to 8. Northern Virginia's young professionals will turn out in droves.
Decisions about opening the large, covered patio at Dr. Dremo's will be made on a daily basis, but we expect to find the 30-odd taps flowing this week -- especially for happy hour ($1 Foggy Bottom pints on Tuesday, $2 pints and $8 pitchers on Wednesday). For a definitive answer, sign up for the bar's mailing list at drdremo.com; they're pretty good about letting you know what's going on.
One of the largest (and busiest) street-side patios in Washington is at the Exchange, a comfortable saloon around the corner from the Old Executive Office Building. Dozens of tables were set out this morning, so tuck that laminate in your pocket and hurry over for discounted pints and food specials.
Helix's patio is just as sleek as its stark white lounge, with Philippe Starck stools and tables, but there are some kitschy touches, including stools and benches supported by garden gnomes. It's far enough off the street that traffic doesn't disturb conversation, and the Mojo Margarita (made with Cuervo and Grand Marnier) goes down smoothly.
It's not a cheap happy hour joint, but Local 16's stylish rooftop, which separates dining and bar areas with rows of planters and greenery, is a good place to grab a drink with friends -- or someone you'd like to impress.
The palm tree-laden tiki paradise outside Mango Mike's Caribbean Cafe isn't open yet, but might be ready later this week.
The Reef's spacious rooftop deck is currently undergoing a facelift, which includes adding more seating areas, exotic plants and a cooling misting system. While the target date for completion is May 1, about two-thirds of the area is open for business at the moment, and the rest of the space will be open incrementally until then. Get there before 7 for happy hour, and show proof of neighborhood residency (a 20008, 20009 or 20010 Zip code) for additional discounts.
Saphire Cafe's back deck is small and sports a halfhearted tiki theme, but Bethesda's best off-street patio will be open this week with specials you won't want to pass up: $2.50 domestic beers, $3.50 rail drinks, half-price appetizers and 20 percent off all drinks that don't reside on the top shelf. Deals run from 4 to 7. Arrive early to stake out a spot in the sun.
You'll have to wait until May to enjoy the postcard-quality views of the Mall and White House from the Hotel Washington's Sky Terrace.
The back patio is open at Stetson's.
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