NFT Washington DC Waterfront


Once a relatively quiet section of town known for some of DC's funkiest residential architecture, that all changed when Nationals Park opened. DC's baseball stadium is the real deal -- great views, friendly atmosphere, and it's even got a Ben's Chili Bowl! But as exciting as that is, much of this area is still a construction zone, with luxury condos going up faster than you can say "mixed use urban planning."

Although Arena Stage and the Washington Channel marina have been consistent draws over the years, most waterfront restaurants use their location as an excuse to serve mediocre food. Instead, get crab cakes and hush puppies at the ever-charming Maine Avenue Fish Market, then go for a walk to admire the groovy '70s architecture. But if you really want to splurge on food, get a table at See more.

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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Andrew Huston
Photo:  Andrew Huston

Cantina Marina
Looking out over the water, under a fake coconut tree with a Corona and a plate of fish tacos in front of me I felt like I was on a Caribbean vacation rather than in our nation's capital. That is the charm of Cantina Marina. Honestly, I wouldn't come here for the food; the menu leans towards deep fried dishes smothered in tartar sauce. What Cantina Marina offers is location and atmosphere. The decor is classic Cancun tourist dive. From the deck you look out onto the Potomac, and you can watch the sail boats as you dine. Combined with a round of golf at nearby East Potomac park a visit to Cantina Marina offers a pretty allusion of being on island getaway while still in the city.

Posted By:  Emily Groves
Photo:  Emily Groves

I was unsure of what to make of Pi upon entry. It looked modern, stark, and quite expensive, especially for being a pizza joint. But when the hostess eagerly greeted me and my group with a big smile and wine in hand, I decided to give this new upscale pizza joint a shot after all. And when no table was available and the hostess suddenly announced that she was the owner and insisted that the bartender hook us up with complimentary wine to make up for the wait inconvenience, I decided that I really liked Pi…even if the pizza turned out to only be average. Which it did. Five minutes after receiving our generously filled glasses, we were seated and treated with the upmost congeniality by our flirty Romanian server. The owner walked by to chat only to trip on something and fall--with arms, legs and dress flailing--on the floor (she was okay). Who cares if the pizza was unremarkable? I'd go back for the entertainment.

Posted By:  Rin-rin Yu
Photo:  Rin-rin Yu

East Potomac Golf Course
Of course, District people golf. For a city of people who don't know how to relax, it's the perfect recreational activity because they can still iron their pants and wear collared shirts. On the little island in the Potomac, across from the National Mall, Capitol Hill types and Virginians wander over to the East Potomac Golf Course for a day of slicing and chipping while discussing the latest bills approaching the House. Tee times can be booked and paid online. There are three courses named appropriately after the US flag's colors: Red (the smallest, with nine holes, par 27 and 1,311 yards--make sure you bring the 9 iron), White (9 holes, par 34 and 2,505 yards), and Blue (18 holes, par 72, 6,599 yards). There's also a 100-stall driving range, equipped with lighting for night swings, heated for cooler days, putting greens, and a golf school. There’s nowhere else in the world where you can say, "Aim towards the Washington Monument." Tee times do fill quickly on weekends, so make sure to book early in the week. And for little ones or those just in the mood to knock a few around, there's mini-golf as well. If you're a history buff, this mini-golf course is on the National Register for Historic Places.

Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Jade Floyd

Jenny's Asian Fusion
I’m not sure I want to release the location of the best Asian food in the District. But it just seemed inevitable that after 25 years of rooted history the word was going to get out. One of the best spots to grab great Asian seafood is Jenny’s Asian Fusion. Their menu is incredible! And you can have small plates from $6 or really go all out and rack up the bill with their Chef’s Specialties. Owned by Jenny and Henry Liu, this place is the jewel of the waterfront and the service is super friendly. Walk in wearing jeans and a tee or a tuxedo. The views of the harbor and yachts below make for a perfect romantic setting. Even my mom who has been travelling to DC for the past 20 years loves this place and she is hard to please. Our favorites are the Dumpling Sampler, Crab Pearls, Jade Shrimp and Scallops, Stuffed Rockfish and Sake Chicken. But here’s my secret. I always order the Small Plate Sampler for my meal which includes two spring rolls, four cream cheese wontons, four baked mussels, two stuffed clams, two crab pearls, two golden tofu and calamari all for only $14.95. You really can’t beat their prices, service and consistently good food!

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

East Potomac Golf Course
East Potomac Park—a large green peninsula between the Potomac River and Washington Channel—is part of the National Park Service. The park boasts many features: a golf course, swimming pool, biking/walking paths, cherry trees, etc. And the tip of the peninsula, Hains Point, offers a lovely view of the converging Potomac and Anacostia rivers and departing airplanes from National Airport. But the #1 attraction here is “The Awakening,” a sculpture of a 100-foot giant struggling out of the earth. Children and adults having been swinging on his fingers, climbing his toes, and picking his pained nostrils for the past 27 years. The S. Seward Johnson Jr. sculpture, however, is not part of the National Park Service, and has been sold by its owner (The Sculpture Foundation, promoting public art). In the spring, the aluminum work will go to National Harbor, an enormous waterfront project underway in Prince George’s County, MD. No doubt many Washingtonians (specifically those favoring mind-altering drugs) will be sad to see the sculpture leave, but rest assured that he will have another special place on the Potomac River—this time as the centerpiece for a 300-acre development of shops, restaurants, and condos. Still, best to go see the giant one more time in his first and isolated home, Hains Point.

Posted By:  Joanna Franco
Photo:  Joanna Franco

Truth be told, I’ve never bought any seafood at the Maine Avenue Fish Market, also known as The Wharf. Am I horrible?! Yet despite my shortcoming, the Maine Avenue Fish Market is definitely worthy to write about for two reasons. First, they have fresh seafood there. My friends and relatives who love to cook love to go there (me, I still need to get beyond pasta-in-a-box). You’ve got to think, if it’s always crowded, something about the place must be good, right? There are several places to get fish, crabs, shrimp–the people behind the counter will try to get your attention, and before you know it, you’re carrying home a whole tilapia. There’s also some cooked food available as well, lest all that seafood makes you hungry on the spot. Second, it’s just a great place to people watch. People from all walks of life, ethnicities, and economic levels hang out at the fish market. A true public place indeed.

Posted By:  Joanna Franco
Photo:  Joanna Franco

The Dulles Air and Space Museum is sprawling. Lots of planes in an old airport hangar. I don’t know much about aircraft other than my Dad and my cousins love planes a lot. But it was a pretty cool place to be, because they have the frickin’ Enterprise space shuttle there! I’ve never been up close to a space shuttle before. I mean, that thing has been in space! And the nerd in me has the Star Trek bells going off in my mind—do you mean, this Enterprise is the ancestor of Kirk and Picard’s ship?! Whoa...Besides the Enterprise, there are other attractions as well, and the exhibits document well the history of flight. That plane that traveled around the world without an engine, yeah, that was there too. Like I said, I don’t know much about planes. But the Enterprise!...If you go, note that while the museum is part of the Smithsonian complex and is free, there is a $10 parking fee. The Smithsonian also discontinued shuttles from the West Falls Church Metro several months ago, so you may have to carpool or use a Zipcar if you’re a city dweller sans car.

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Astronaut

National Air and Space Museum
I’m thankful that Robert Redford narrated Cosmic Collisions. His familiar, soothing voice comforted me as I flew through space and time, coming face-to-face with the menacing sun, watching a planetoid smash into the Earth to form the Moon, and witnessing the impending intergalactic collision between our Milky Way and Andromeda—gasping in horror as orbital paths warp and black holes are rocketed out from the newly formed giant elliptical galaxy. The Albert Einstein Planetarium at the National Air & Space Museum has been souped up, and is more than just a rounded room with a projector. Now with Sky Vision, a dual digital projection system with six-channel digital surround sound, the planetarium can move beyond “The Stars Tonight” and screen shows as riveting as Cosmic Collisions. All these hypersonic impacts and violent celestial clashes should be rated PG-13, though. Kids in the theatre burst into tears as asteroids hurtled toward the Earth, and I might have done the same had it not been for Mr. Redford’s charms.

Posted By:  Jason DeYoung
Photo:  Jason DeYoung

Maine Avenue Fish Market
There’s something authentic about the Washington DC Fish Market. While the rest of DC’s high-traffic areas are cleaned, well-heeled, and groomed, the Washington DC Fish Market’s uneven pavement, barking fishmongers, and stench make it a real experience. Nowhere else in the city will you find a wider selection of fish or a more diverse cross section of the DC population. The Fish Market boasts multiple venders on floating barges and small take-away restaurants. Don’t be surprised if one of the young men behind a steaming tray of boiled shrimp doesn’t call you over for a taste of his seafood. The most popular item for sale is the famous Maryland crab. They’re everywhere. But everything from squid to flounder to oysters on the half-shell is also available. Located on the Waterfront, the Fish Market is also a great place to go and stroll the boat slips, fantasizing about the boat you’ll never own one day. But hey, at least you can afford some crab.

Posted By:  Jason DeYoung
Photo:  Jason DeYoung

The Market Inn is old-school DC at its finest. Time moves slowly here. The kitchen is slow; the jazz duo, who look ready to keel over, thump out tempered rhythms of normally fast songs; and even the passing traffic decelerates because the Market Inn resides along-side a dead man’s curve. Why go here, then? Though you won’t regret the food—they have the best fish-camp style fried shrimp in DC—it’s all about the atmosphere where you can hunker-down in a high backed, crinkled-leather booth. Around you vintage pin-up girls dress the walls. But you get the feeling, while you knock back another Cutty on the rocks, that when the pin-ups went up they weren’t all that vintage. It’s all unhurried and slightly seedy. Also, if you like motley DC history, this place has it: In one of the booths, a handful Supreme Court Justices met to decide the outcome of U.S. v. Nixon, the case that led to Dick’s eventual resignation.

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Scott Suchman, Courtesy of the Arena Stage

Arena Stage
If you’re between the ages of kindergarten and a quarter-life crisis, you’ll be pleased to know that you can partake of the Arena Stage’s FiveTwentyFive savings program, which offers $10 tickets to any and all of its theatrical productions (save those on Saturday evenings). The SW Waterfront stage is DC’s self-declared “first choice in theater for over five decades.” But if you’re too young to know that first-hand, this is your chance to attend a top-notch performance and see for yourself. Tickets normally run between $41 and $68, so you’ll be swimming in $aving$!!! A select number of tickets are available on the day of the performance, up until 5:25 pm. On right now is On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning, by Eric Overmyer. Now I don’t want to give it away, but it involves the following key words: sister sojourners, exploration, cream cheese, and President Nixon. Now if that doesn’t peak your interest, I don’t know what to tell you. I already used three exclamation points in a row.

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