The 12 Best Restaurants In Navy Yard
These days, Navy Yard is best known as the home of the Nationals. But whether it’s the height of baseball season or just a random December day, there are plenty of great spots around the naval base worth checking out. Here are the best places to grab a meal or toss back a cocktail.
Chloe is the kind of place you want to show off to out-of-town guests to prove you’re “in the know.” Grab a seat at the Mediterranean spot’s long Nordic dining table that’s great for long-winded conversations about the latest Smithsonian gallery opening—something you secretly Googled right before dinner. The menu highlights locally-sourced vegetables and ingredients, like crisp and tender fried cauliflower and golden Old Bay fingerling potatoes that both make our must-try list.
This New York pizza chain actually serves Detroit style pizza, and we like it even though it’s a little confused about where it’s from. The casual spot is your best choice for Navy Yard pizza (not All Purpose or Andy’s), and works great for families and friends who want to belly laugh over lots of cheese on a thick and buttery deep dish crust. It feels kinda like an elevated ‘90s Pizza Hut dining room, except there’s a bar and the wall rolls up when it’s nice out, transforming the space into a patio. The long and gooey mozz sticks are a fun pizza precursor, and there are great vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free pizza options. But the crispy Colony, topped with pepperoni and pickled jalapeño, is our go to.
Bluejacket was one of the early spots to pop up when the Nats moved from RFK to their Half St. home and we still like it, especially during the season. The industrial space used to be a Navy factory in the early 1900s, but now it’s full of wooden tables and vats of beer. Skip it on game day unless you enjoy being squished in with everyone else in the area, and instead check it out for a more low-key lunch. The pub food is solid, and there are a few decent vegetarian options. In case it wasn’t obvious, they have an extensive beer menu, a lot of which came from those aforementioned vats.
This Middle Eastern spot dishes out some of the most delicious food in Navy Yard, including its Sofra tasting menu, which is the correct choice here (unless you’re in a rush on game day). You'll get some of the best pita in the city and crunchy, build-it-yourself lettuce wraps with carrot and tuna filling. This place has a buzz, mostly thanks to diners excitedly talking about their meals. It’s not the spot if you’re looking for a rowdy, drunken pregame, but it’s perfect for a more tame group catch-up before hitting the ballpark or heading out for the night.
When you’re looking for a fun place to have drinks and bar food in the shadow of the ballpark, Tap99 is the place to go. Right outside the main gate, the pour-your-own drink spot is a great spot to chill outside at picnic tables on a nice day (there’s also a decent amount of indoor seating closer to the booze). It gets packed on game days, but since you don’t have to wait on a server to bring your drinks, there’s no waiting time once you’re seated. As the name suggests, there are 99 taps where you can get beer, cider, wine, and pre-made cocktails, all at your leisure. Grab some pizza or mozzarella sticks to soak it all up.
Royal Sands brings the South Beach party to Navy Yard. From the fake palm trees, umbrella-covered tables, and downstairs bar built into a pool, you might wish you were bumming it in a swimsuit instead of dressed for the DC weather. Just be clear, you’re coming here to fist pump to EDM in fake Miami, not to eat the salty cubano or mediocre red dragon roll with shrimp tempura. And the bar takes the dance party up a notch on the weekends, when the “Lifeguard on Duty” box turns into a DJ booth. It’s the best party off Half Street during the offseason. Bring your friends and try the cocktails served from the tap. Make sure your “designated boat captain” checks out the ginger mule mocktail.
Gatsby, an American spot on the corner of Half Street, goes all in on the 1920’s theme and shines most brightly with the fantastic cocktails. If your game day outing is with your sweetheart, Gatsby is where you want to go (though it’s a great date night spot any time of year). Art deco designs line the doors, walls, and elevator, and a mural of people dancing the night away at an old-school jazz club sits behind the bar. There’s a small all-day breakfast menu, if you’re into that sort of thing. And the appetizers like the hot and sour wings are perfect when you’re stopping in before the game to try the beautiful drinks.
Pizza is almost as American as baseball (or something like that). If you're craving a pie, head to All-Purpose on the waterfront. While the inside of the restaurant is kind of small (and gets full fast), there's a great patio where you can take in views of the Anacostia River and watch the dogs living their best lives while they walk their humans to the nearby dog park. Get the Buona with hot honey or the Curveball with barbecue chicken, but there really isn’t a wrong order at this place.
It's easy to walk toward Nats Park when you're hopping off the metro at the Navy Yard station. But if you do this, you'll miss out on Bonchon Chicken, a Korean fried chicken spot that keeps it simple with just two flavors of wings: spicy and soy garlic. Get them both. What Bonchon lacks in choices is quickly made up for in flavor and double-fried crispiness. If you choose to eat wings at the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings instead, you will be awarded no points, and may the baseball gods have mercy on your soul.
This New England-style seafood spot is behind the centerfield entrance of the ballpark, along the Anacostia River. It takes all the good from Massachusetts (clam chowder, lobster rolls, and a raw bar), and leaves the bad (Patriots fans). Stop by for a sit down meal in the upscale-but-not-too-fancy dining room, a solid choice for that second or third date. Or grab one of their massive seafood towers (appropriately dubbed “The Kraken”) and some brews at their outdoor bar. Retired Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman is an investor, too, so that’s already some good Nats mojo before the first pitch is even thrown.
Sometimes a Bud Light and mediocre cover band is all you need. Fenced in by shipping containers and construction (very romantic), The Bullpen is the only spot on the guide that is only open during baseball season, but it’s some of the most fun you’ll have outside the ballpark. It opens two hours before every Nats game and has Happy Hour from the third to seventh innings. There are a couple of food trucks, but use this place for drinking, cornhole tournaments, and its convenient walk to the stadium. It’s not what you want for every pre-game, but when you’re with a big group and looking for some cheap beer, it gets the job done.
This Puerto Rican spot in the Yards is serving flavor with a capital “F”, in everything from the sandwiches to the batidos (milkshakes). It’s a brightly colored family-friendly place (yes there’s a bar) that can get you in and out of in under 30 minutes, depending how quickly you’re able to pick between the mata hambre (steak, egg, and cheese) and jibarito made with fried plantains as the bread. Use your phone to order food at your table—try to get one with a swing—and someone will bring it right to you. Or you can grab-and-go at the dedicated takeout counter complete with an old-school black and white menu with the slide-on letters.