Washington DC

How to Have a Safe and Fun New Year's Eve in Washington DC

Goodbye, 2020. We won't miss you.

@boqueria
@boqueria
@boqueria

As the highly anticipated end to 2020 draws near, it’s natural to have mixed feelings. Typically, New Year’s Eve is a time to dress to the nines, let your figurative hair down, and clink champagne glasses. It’s a time to now look toward what is considered to be a clean slate, making resolutions about going to the gym every day or finally becoming a vegetarian. 

This year it comes as no surprise to anyone that New Year’s Eve will look and feel very different. Most important now is to keep yourselves and your loved ones as safe as possible by limiting exposure to COVID-19. In fact, Washingtonians might have no choice this year, as the entire DMV has issued orders that end alcohol consumption at 10 pm in restaurants and bars. Virginia has taken it a step even further and issued a curfew that bans nonessential travel between midnight and 5 am. Also off limits will be enjoying your New Year’s Eve dinner inside a restaurant, as the District moved to shut down indoor dining for three weeks starting on December 23 to hopefully contend with the rising number of COVID cases in the area. 

While that may sound depressing, it’s important to think about the positives of a chilled out NYE at home. For (hopefully) one year only, you’re getting to dodge the responsibility of dropping money on a new outfit, instead spending the celebratory evening in cozy loungewear with your closest pod members, partner, or roommate. There’s still plenty to look forward to, as 2021 starts us off with a White House switch up and our new best friends Moderna and Pfizer. So, top up that champagne flute and get ready for a New Year’s Eve like no other with our list of safe recommendations for how to spend your night.
 

Start your day with nature

Arboretum
Way before its time to pop the bubbly, get your New Year’s Eve started with a forest bathing session at the National Arboretum. The relaxing practice has been shown to raise your mood and aid your immune system, and is a nice way to reboot before the start of a new year. Meet at the arboretum for a two-hour program that ends with a soothing tea ceremony that also includes some sweet treats. 
Cost: $35
 

Ring in the new year at 6 pm

Columbia, Maryland
While most fireworks displays have been called off this year, Merriweather Pavilion is still putting one on at the top of every hour from 6-9pm. Upon entering, guests can check out the pavilion’s mega light display that consists of over 300,000 bulbs, and indulge in a glass of champagne. COVID precautions are being taken at this family-friendly event, where guests must pick a 10-minute time window to enter in order to maintain social distancing. 
Cost: $15 per person or $50 for a family of four

The Hamilton
The Hamilton
The Hamilton

Let the Hamilton take care of food and entertainment

Downtown
While dining indoors on New Year’s Eve is a no-go, DC mainstay The Hamilton is offering a special package that includes takeout food and beverages for two-to-four or six-to-eight people as well as an exclusive live-streamed show. The 90-minute concert by 19th Street Band is taking place online and only available to those ordering food that night from The Hamilton. 
Cost: Packages start at $150 
 

Get tipsy with your favorite local bars, from home

Various locations
Most of your go-to bars are most likely doing something a little extra special for NYE this year, like cocktail haven Columbia Room, which has put together a make-at-home French 75 cocktail kit complete with hats and streamers, or Lulu’s Winegarden where you can order a “bubbly box” stocked with three bottles of sparkling wine. 
Cost: Prices vary
 

Indulge in a four-course meal on your sofa

Various locations
Tons of DC restaurants are offering specials to help keep you out of the kitchen and jazz up your New Year’s Eve. Dupont Circle’s Boqueria has a party starter set made for two, complete with a bottle of sparkling Spanish wine, a selection of tapas, chocolate cake, and even an option to add seafood paella. The kit also includes hats, streamers, and access to a festive Spotify playlist. For a distinctly American celebration, try Shaw’s Nina May, offering a four-course surf and turf meal featuring oysters and pan-seared scallops, or Navy Yard’s Shilling Canning Company, which has curated a selection of reds, whites, and bubbles to pair with a multi-course dinner that features decadent dishes like lamb loin and gnudi with lobster. 
Cost: Prices vary

Rosewood Washington, D.C.
Rosewood Washington, D.C.
Rosewood Washington, D.C.

Treat yourself to an epic staycation 

Various locations
Tired of being at home? We hear you. Instead of heading out of town on New Year’s Eve, get a change of scenery without even leaving the city by treating yourself to a well-deserved staycation. Newly opened townhouses by The Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown offer guests a multi-level, uber private experience that comes complete with a full kitchen, outdoor space and the kind of tub you want to soak in all night long. The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan is also offering special rates this winter, and tiered packages by Brothers and Sisters chef Erik Bruner-Yang are available to order to your room for the special night, stocked with charcuterie, champagne, and other treats. 
Cost: Prices varySign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Austa is a freelance food and travel writer, as well as a staff writer for The Hill where she covers the topics of diversity and equality. She now lives in Brooklyn with her girlfriend and two fur babies, but called DC home for many years — attending American University and then working for National Geographic. Follow her on Instagram.

Washington DC

Inside DC's Best Food Halls and Markets

DC's best restaurants, all in one place.

Union Market District
Union Market District
Union Market District

If there’s one location that can satisfy the hungry, the indecisive, and the most adventurous eaters among us, it is undoubtedly the food hall. We’re not talking about the sad, rather beleaguered food courts of suburban malls across the country. Instead, these modern day food meccas play host to a wide range of pop-ups, fast-casual staples, and proper restaurants from local chefs, making a visit to a food hall one of the best ways to eat your way through a city. And thanks to a resurgence in the concept over the last few years, there are several great food halls in DC to visit. Whether you want to dig into a tray of Texas-style brisket with all the fixings or hop from stall to stall sampling dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, and scallion pancakes, you can find it all. So when you’re ready for a proper food hall crawl, here are the best places to go.

Assembly
Assembly
Assembly

Assembly

Rosslyn
This modern food hall makes ordering easy by using scannable QR codes, so you can order from your seat like at a standard restaurant. With 625 seats and eight food and beverage concepts to choose from, you can get lost in the diversity. Check out oysters from Fog Point, the only oyster bar in Rosslyn; traditional pork soup dumplings from Beng Beng Asian Street Food; or crispy crab deviled eggs from Great Lake Diner.

 theblockfoodhall
theblockfoodhall
theblockfoodhall

The Block

Mount Vernon Triangle
With three locations in the DMV area, The Block is supporting Asian-American-owned and -inspired eateries all across the region. The DC outpost offers three main vendors: Pogiboy, a Filipino-American spot by chefs Paolo Dungca and Tom Cunanan; Rose Ave Bakery, which offers options like pandan coconut and ube coconut doughnuts; and the Block Bar. In addition to the permanent venues, the space also hosts pop-ups so check regularly for the latest options.

Eastern Market
Eastern Market
Eastern Market

Eastern Market

Capitol Hill
In the heart of Capitol Hill, Eastern Market has been drawing a crowd for years thanks to its expansive indoor and outdoor space. The landmark space has been in operation since 1873 but after a fire in 2007, the space was fully renovated to its current form. The food hall is largely found inside, where you’ll find communal seating and barstools, and other vendors and a pop-up art market can be found outside. Head over to South Hall for fresh produce, meat, and fish, and definitely don’t miss out on the soft shell sandwiches or the blueberry pancakes from Market Lunch. Plus, on the street around the market, there’s often a series of great food trucks serving up sweet and savoury items alike.

La Cosecha
La Cosecha
La Cosecha

La Cosecha

Union Market District
Located near Union Market, this collection of Latin businesses offers not only some of the best Mexican fare you can find in the city, but also a range of retail goods including apparel, home decor, and more. Food vendors range from casual taco outposts like Las Gemelas to a top-notch cocktail bar Serenata and tasting menu restaurants Mita and El Cielo. Each concept has its own seating area, and there’s some common seating in the middle of the market, too. And when you’re done eating, you can shop til you drop (or need to refuel again).

Ballston Quarter (Arlington, VA)
Ballston Quarter (Arlington, VA)
Ballston Quarter (Arlington, VA)

Quarter Market

Ballston
With 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to explore and more than 20 vendors, you can’t go wrong at this sprawling Arlington food hall. A trip to Quarter Market means you’ll get to dig into DC’s perennial favourites like District Doughnut, Hot Lola’s fried chicken sandwiches, and scoops from Ice Cream Jubilee, but the space also features new concepts from beloved local restaurants like Turu’s from the Timber Pizza team and Roll’d, a sushi spot led by Sushi Taro’s world class chef Nobu Yamazaki.

The Roost DC
The Roost DC
The Roost DC

The Roost

Capitol Hill
This 12,500-square-foot food hall operated by Neighborhood Restaurant Group brings together some of the District’s most beloved eateries. From Shelter Beer Garden, an operation from the ChurchKey team, to Red Apron Butcher and chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s dumplings and other Chinese BBQ fare at Yoyo & Kota, there’s something for everyone. The Roost is also home to one full-service restaurant, Caruso’s Grocery, a buzzy new Italian restaurant.

Captain Cookie and the Milk Man
Captain Cookie and the Milk Man
Captain Cookie and the Milk Man

Tastemakers

Brookland
Formerly the site of a factory, this modern food hall is part-eatery and part-incubator kitchen. Startups of both the food and non-food variety can be found working in this space, and there’s a commercial kitchen available for use (upon reservation and request, of course). Favourite DC eateries like Bullfrog Bagels and Captain Cookie operate out of the food hall portion of the space. Once you’ve decided what you want, take a seat at one of the tables perched atop a barrel.

2Fifty Texas BBQ
2Fifty Texas BBQ
2Fifty Texas BBQ

Union Market

Union Market District
Formerly known as Center Market, this food hall has seen a lot of change over the years. The industrial space once held 700 vendors hawking fish, meat, dairy, and other grocery staples and has since been renovated to play home to some of DC’s favourite purveyors. Nearly 50 vendors make up the businesses in and around the market, including Buffalo and Bergen, Red Apron Butcher, and District Fishwife. Visit on a weekend and prepare to wait in line, but Egyptian food at Fava Pot and smoked meats from barbecue hotspot 2Fifty’s are worth the wait.

Western Market DC
Western Market DC
Western Market DC

Western Market

Foggy Bottom
Since the highly anticipated opening of Western Market in 2021, Western Market has been transforming this college town-esque neighbourhood into a true dining destination. As one of DC’s three original marketplaces (Eastern and Center being the other two), this new food hall has been restored to its former glory with 10 active vendors and more expected to open soon. Options include Italian sandwiches from Capo Deli, fried chicken sandwiches from Roaming Rooster, sushi from Onkei, among others. Plus, the airy space features plenty of seating, largely aligned with individual vendors.

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Elsie Yang is a native Texan with high aspirations of eating her way through the northeast (and beyond). When she’s not exploring the culinary scene in DC, you can find her adjusting the height of her standing desk or otherwise searching for a new project. Follow her on Instagram.

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