Want to Dine Outside This Winter? Try These Restaurants With Heated Seating
Just because the temperatures are cold doesn’t mean you need to head inside when eating out.
Before the pandemic, we never imagined that al fresco dining season in Northern Virginia would stretch into the teeth of winter. And while the wave of the latest Omicron cases seems to have peaked (fingers crossed!), those who are cautious about Covid but still want to support local businesses might choose to eat outside in the fresh air.
Here are 11 restaurants cranking up the heat on outdoor dining spaces, and adding fun elements like fire pits or tented igloos.
The outdoor dining space at Ruthie’s All-Day feels kind of like a backyard, with fencing, an arbor, and space heaters dotting the patio. The neighborhood restaurant’s Southern-accented dishes like barbecue, fried chicken sandwiches, and bourbon peach cobbler vaulted Ruthie’s to critical darling status. // 3411 5th St. South, Arlington (Arlington Heights)
Wood-fired pizzas and a lengthy beer list make this long-running Courthouse eatery a neighborhood favorite, and heaters make the spacious patio available for year-round use. Plus, dogs are also welcome outside—they can even order from Fire Works’ “Food for Fido” menu. // 2350 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington (Courthouse)
Old Town’s new Barca Pier & Wine Bar offers patios warmed by space heaters for dining and drinking under the stars on land and on the water. Part of the riverfront restaurant is located on a commercial shipping pier, featuring an industrial freight container that has been renovated into a bar. Along with tables, that space is decked out with couches and fire pits. On the shore is a wine bar, where you can dine indoors or on the covered patio, ordering off the tapas-heavy, Mediterranean-influenced menu. // 2 Pioneer Mill Way, Alexandria (Old Town)
The owners of Live Oak restaurant turned a former garden store in Del Ray into a biergarten called “The Garden” (naturally), serving brews and crowd-pleasing menu items such as tacos, pizza sticks, and steamed shrimp. During these winter months, you can stay warm while eating outdoors, thanks to heaters and fire pits. Or you and your group can claim an igloo or “The Shed,” which is equipped with flat-screen TVs. // 1503 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria (Del Ray)
A decadent truffle and herb mac and cheese is a claim to fame for this American comfort food and whiskey-focused restaurant, which also touts its outdoor space as the “largest patio in Rosslyn.” That space includes heaters, and there is an option to snag your own heater under a personal bubble. Book an “igloo experience” for your group of four to seven diners, and you’ll get perks like a Bluetooth speaker, scented candle, and either a complimentary appetizer or after-dinner cordial. // 1600 Wilson Blvd., #100, Arlington (Rosslyn)
For a luxurious take on winter outdoor dining, Old Town’s King & Rye partnered with famed champagne house Veuve Clicquot to roll out “Winter Wonderland”-themed heated igloos for up to eight diners per igloo. Order some Southern-style small plates, such as turkey pot pie croquettes, off the special menu for igloo dining, to pair with your bubbles or mulled wine. Located in The Alexandrian’s charming brick courtyard, King & Rye recently welcomed Tomas Chavarria as the new executive chef. // 480 King St., Alexandria (Old Town)
Sangria flows at this Ballston destination for Spanish cuisine, with paella and roasted suckling pig on the menu. The outdoor tables are covered by tents to block out the wind and cold, and warmed by a plethora of space heaters. // 1110 North Glebe Rd., Arlington (Ballston)
This Afghan restaurant prides itself in serving traditional dishes—such as spicy meat dumplings, stews, and vegan rice—without any shortcuts (microwaves and MSG are banned here). A heated outdoor dining space is covered and sheltered from the elements, and decorated with cheerful string lights. // 1381 McLean Road, McLean
Ambar is known for its all-you-can-eat meals, which send out a stream of Balkan dishes for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Thanks to the covered, heated patio out front of the Clarendon space, you can get that same experience while dining outside. // 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)
If you want to pretend you’re in a warm locale, Clare & Don’s is just the place for you. The massive outdoors space keeps the party going with colorful chairs, beachy tchotchkes, and all-important space heaters to keep you warm even in freezing temperatures. Groups can play trivia every Thursday outside on the heated patio, and order dishes such as fried oysters, Baja-style fish tacos or “Louisiana Linguine” with alligator. // 130 N. Washington St., Falls Church City
This farm-to-table restaurant in Del Ray has an outdoor dining space called the Front Porch that wraps around into the newer Back Yard—and it’s all equipped with heaters to keep you toasty. The Back Yard is tented and features private wooden cabanas, where you can enjoy menu items such as cheesy grits fritters. // 2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria (Del Ray)