District Wharf: DC’s New Waterfront Playground

District Wharf Restaurants Washington DC
District Wharf Restaurants Washington DC
The waterfront promenade of District Wharf

Have you seen what’s going on along the Southwest waterfront of DC? We were in the Washington DC metro area visiting friends and had only a few hours to spend in downtown DC. We decided to use it to check out the brand sparkly new District Wharf on the Southwest waterfront.

The last time we walked along this stretch of waterfront in 2015, it was in a sad state of neglect. We were there having margaritas at our favorite dock bar – Cantina Marina. Old buildings and empty spaces lined the docks, but hope was in the air. The city had realized the potential of the waterfront and was doing something about it. Construction was just beginning on the $2.5 billion, 1.2 million sq. ft. District Wharf project. This immense project planned for music venues (including the 6,000 seat Anthem concert hall), restaurants, shopping, and public entertainment spaces along a mile-long stretch of waterfront.

Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell via CC BY 2.0

District Wharf held its grand opening in October 2017. The Thrillist published a inspiring article making the case that DC now has the “coolest new waterfront in the country”. We were amazed to see how much has been accomplished while we were gone. There are over two dozen new restaurants, some already open and others opening spring – summer 2018.

Our beloved Cantina Marina has closed temporarily to make way for a new pier. It looks like we’ll have to wait another three years before they reopen. However, the Cantina Marina team have opened Pearl Street Warehouse, a live music venue with bar and tavern; and the Cantina Bambina, a mini version of the dock bar we loved.

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan via CC BY-SA 2.0

Hank’s Oyster Bar opened their fourth and largest restaurant on the wharf and we were just in time for Happy Hour. How lucky! We settled into the long bar for happy hour oysters. Every day from 3pm – 7pm the house chooses oysters from the list for $1.25 each and select beers, wine by the glass, rail drinks and a daily drink special for $5.

Hanks Oyster Bar District Wharf DC
The Oyster Bar at Hanks

Oysters Hanks District Wharf DC

I was pleased to see that the historic Maine Avenue Fish Market has been incorporated into the plan without changing its character. This is the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the country. A fish market has been on this site since 1805, though I bet many area residents don’t even know it exists. The revitalization of the wharf is a big improvement to the market, with nearby waterside tables where you can eat seafood fresh from the stands. You no longer need to slurp oysters from the half shell standing in the parking lot.

On top of all of this, there are water sports (kayak and SUP rentals), and a water taxi that can take you to Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria in Virginia, or Maryland’s National Harbor.

Hmmm…water taxi food crawl? Sounds like a good idea to me.

Really, there’s so much more going on than I can cover here, so you should read all about it yourself on the District Wharf website.

2 responses to “District Wharf: DC’s New Waterfront Playground”

  1. Coolio Jill, I’ll be in DC 3Q sometime, always really dig your travel blogs.

    Living vicariously through you and John.

    Hope to be back in Spain later this year.

    Best, SP

    Liked by 1 person

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