Summer may be waning, but we still have plenty of pleasant nights for dining al fresco ahead of us. These urban oases are some of the city's best tucked away patios, shielding guests from the hustle, bustle and bus exhaust of city sidewalks.
Chef Todd Gray's new seafood-centric restaurant offers a great urban retreat on the patio. There's room for lounging over one of the bar's very good cocktails — I love the Bitter Sweet made with Blue Coat gin, lychee-lemonade, Campari and rose syrup — and plenty of space for dining.
Stuccoed walls and a dusty bocce court set a European scene out behind this Shaw neighborhood wine bar.
The historic post office courtyard at Poste Brasserie makes a dreamy spot for drinks or dinner under the stars. Chef Robert Weland's impressive vegetable garden puts my patio tomatoes to shame. Ask about his Poste Roast menu featuring a spot-roasted animal of your choice, available for a group at the garden chef's table.
You don't need a key to this secret garden at the Tabard Inn. Well, maybe a reservation.
• Tabard Inn
I adore the charming brick-walled, ivy-covered garden behind the Tabard Inn. It's best enjoyed with one of Chantal Tseng's amazing cocktails in hand.
• Puro Cafe
The back patio at this hip Georgetown cafe makes me want to hire their designer to come makeover my deck. White cu shions and draping fabric give the space a very chic vibe.
• Kafe Leopold
Off the narrow and crowded Georgetown sidewalks, Leopold's location in Cady's Alley is the perfect spot for enjoying a slice of sacher torte or one of the excellent cocktails.
• Bourbon Steak
The lounge outside the Four Seasons restaurant is a delightfully chic spot for cocktails — try the spicy Kolohala with Ketel One, lime juice, simple syrup, peppercorns and cucumber — in big cushy chairs. Fireplaces keep the patio in business through winter.
• Biergarten Haus
Anyone ready for Oktoberfest? Get in the mood with a stein of beer and soft pretzels on this H Street NE hangout's spacious back beer garden.
A few more hidden patio picks: The Gibson, 2 Amys, American Ice Co.