A Comprehensive Guide to The Wharf: Food, Fun, Transport and Shopping

After three years of construction and a history spanning 200 years, many businesses at The Wharf development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront opened for business on Thursday.

Jump to: Transportation | Shopping | Fun | Food

"Our city is realizing like never before that we are a city of water, we are a city on the river, and that is a great, great thing," D.C. councilmember Charles Allen said at the opening ceremony.

By 7 a.m., people were already lining up outside the music venue The Anthem to see the Foo Fighters play the grand opening show on Thursday night. 

Several restaurants and shops are open, including Politics and Prose's second bookstore, a new Shake Shack, the fish market and pan-Asian restaurant Jenny's At The Wharf. Many more, including a slew of eateries backed by big-name chefs, are coming soon.

New transportation options, including shuttles and water taxis, will bring some of an expected 20,000 visitors to eat, shop and hang out at The Wharf.

We've got the inside tips on how to get there, where to eat or shop and what fun activities you can find there.

Developers pulled out all the stops for opening day festivities. Festivities will continue throughout the weekend, with bands, yoga, s'mores, a dragon boat and more fireworks. Check out the full schedule here.

When complete, the development will feature 14 buildings on 24 acres of land. It will be home to three parks, a massive concert venue and more than 75 restaurants.

Check out this guide for the most anticipated restaurant and entertainment options.

Get There

Some expect the parking situation to be precarious, but visitors have a number of public transit options to get to The Wharf, including new water taxis. 

You can walk from the Waterfront Metro station or L'Enfant Metro station, or catch a free shuttle from the National Mall, L'Enfant Plaza Metro station or L'Enfant Plaza. The shuttle will run until 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

If you're coming from Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria or (eventually) National Harbor in Maryland, you can purchase a ticket for the water taxi. It's $10 one-way for adults, with discounts on round trip tickets or kids tickets.

A free Wharf Jitney runs between The Wharf and East Potomac Park.

And if you want to bring your own boat? Go ahead (for a fee).

Bike riders will be pleased by four Capital Bikeshare stations and places to lock other bikes. 

Have Fun

Whether you head over in the morning for some outdoor fun, or swing by for drinks and music at night, The Wharf has something to offer.

Live Music

The Anthem is D.C.'s premiere mid-sized venue, but it's bringing huge acts like Foo Fighters and Bob Dylan to the city. Read all about how The Anthem came to be -- and check out some pictures -- in our gallery.

The music options don't end there. Along Pearl Street you will find late-night fun. Union Stage and Pearl Street Warehouse will have shows in a more intimate setting. Kirwan’s Irish Pub and  Belgian eatery Florentijn will also make a home on Pearl Street.

Developers also promise concerts will be held on the pier, allowing you to dance in the Potomac without getting wet.

Water Activities

DC Sail offers sailing lessons, boat rentals, schooner charters and a sailing camp for kids. Their mission is to promote affordable and educational sailing opportunities for all ages. Memberships start at $225, though scholarships are available for childrens’ camps.

For a more affordable water option, try renting a paddleboat or kayak from The Wharf. Stop by the recreational pier for information on hours and pricing. 

Fitness Options

Take a hike -- in a good way -- on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. This is a 20-mile, paved trail that goes from Bladensburg Waterfront Park to the Tidal Basin.

When it gets cold outside, lace up your skates and hit the ice on the Wharf’s seasonal ice skating rink.

Other Events

The Wharf’s calendar is full of other events, like a Pumpkin Palooza event in October and a Nog Fest and Christmas caroling in December.


The Fish Market

The Fish Market is possibly D.C.'s most delicious landmark. It's been around for a long time -- much longer than The Wharf. You can still find seafood to snack on while sitting on The Wharf, or pick up blue crabs, shucked oysters and freshly caught fish for family dinner at home.

Cafes and Fast-Casual

Shake Shack
 11 a.m. Oct. 12

One of D.C.'s favorite burger joints is coming to The Wharf. You can find it's prime location on the water near the transit pier.

The Velo Cafe
Opening: The owners plan to open the bike shop this week, and the cafe has an October opening date scheduled, as well.

The Velo Cafe offers locally sourced coffee, pastries and beer at its Wharf location. The cafe is located inside District Hardware and Bike, and seeks to be an inviting spot for cyclists and the community.

Blue Bottle

Freshness is Blue Bottle's claim to fame. Across California, Miami, Tokyo and Georgetown, they promise coffee brewed from beans that were roasted in the past 48 hours.

Dolcezza Gelato

Grabbing a scoop of special flavors like champagne mango or Georgia butter pecan, then strolling along the waterfront? Sounds like a lovely evening.

Taylor Gourmet, American
Price Point: $8-14
Opening: October

Building their menu around adventurous flavors and homemade sauces you can not leave without trying their signature hand-crafted Philadelphia-style hoagies. As the season changes, so does their kitchen. Taylor Gourmet constantly adds new recipes to give eaters new and fresh items.


Jenny's At The Wharf, Asian
Price point: $10-$17
Opening: Open

Jenny's At The Wharf has been around for over 30 years. Whether you're craving Vietnamese Bahn Mi, Chinese take-out favorites, Thailand's national dish Tom Yum or some fried rice, you're covered here.

Kirwan’s On The Wharf, Irish
Price point: not yet listed
Opening: Open

Ireland native Mark Kirwan is bringing the authentic pub experience to D.C. Kirwan’s On The Wharf boasts live Irish music and a whiskey bar stocked with drinks from across the pond.

Cantina Marina, Cajun and Southern Price point: $9-$15
Opening: Cantina Marina is open now, but it will be closing Oct. 28 for a complete renovation.

Another restaurant that was on the waterfront before The Wharf, Cantina Marina serves up crab nachos, margaritas and other riverside noms in a seaside setting. When it closes, you can head to the owner’s new Wharf music venue meets restaurant venture, Pearl Street Warehouse.

Hank’s Oyster Bar, Seafood
Price Point: $10-25
Hank's Oyster Bar is inviting Wharf visitors to stop by Thursday through Sunday for free snacks on the patio. You can get your snacks periodically from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. They say the official opening will happen in October.

Chef Jamie Leeds' “urban beach food” has been recognized by publications Southern Living, Gourmet, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine. The restaurant gets its name from Leeds’ father, who she says inspired her to become a chef. This location will be its largest yet.

Kith and Kin, Afro-Caribbean
Price point: not yet listed
Opening: The owners shot for an Oct. 12 opening, but it is delayed until later in the month.

"Top Chef" contender Kwame Onwuachi named his restaurant after an old fashioned term for family and friends. Memories of cooking with family have influenced the menu.

Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi, Spanish
Price Point: not yet listed
Del Mar won't be in full service on opening weekend, but promises to be open in October. Heads up: according to Facebook, they're hiring.

Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi is serving up Spanish and seafood dishes. The Trabochhi family also own restaurants Fiola and Fiola Mare, and the more casual eatery, Casa Luca. Fabio Trabochhi is a James Beard Award-winning chef, and his Fiola venue was named Washingtonian’s “Restaurant of the Year” in 2016.

Requin, French
Price Point: $16-39
Opening: Dinner service will begin Oct. 23.

Award-winning restaurant owner Mike Isabella is behind the concept for the contemporary French spot, Requin. According to the restaurant, it seeks to deliver creative takes on traditional French dishes on its menu that was designed by Executive Chef Michael Rafidi. Rafidi is also behind the Spanish and Moroccan menu at Arroz.

Whiskey Charlie, Cocktails/Small Bites
Price Point: not yet listed

Whiskey Charlie, The Wharf’s first rooftop bar and lounge, boasts its offerings of craft cocktails over the food -- though small bites will be available. Its initials, WC, were called out to captains that entered the Washington Channel during the waterfront’s heyday. Menus and details on the lounge’s staff have not been released yet, but the location is slated for an October opening. As of yet, the rooftop bar and lounge does not have a website.

Lupo Marino, French
Price Point: not yet listed

If you like the dishes at french restaurateur Med Lahlou’s Lupo Verde, Tunnicliff's Tavern, Ulah Bistro, and Station 4, then consider checking out his new venture, Lupo Marino. The restaurant will offer pizzas and dishes inspired by Italian street foods. It is set to open in October with the Wharf. A website was not yet available.

Florentijn, Belgian
Price point: not yet listed

Former Belgian Embassy chef Jan Van Haute is the brain behind Florentijn, a new Belgian bistro that will be coming to the Wharf this fall. Look out for Belgian delicacies like crevette gris, eels in green sauce — and of course — the Belgian waffle.

Kaliwa, Asian
Price point: not yet listed
Opening: Fall

Named one of the Washingtonian’s ten most anticipated restaurant openings, Kaliwa brings together Filipino, Thai and Korean cuisines. Enjoy dishes like turmeric curry, crispy pork leg, lumpia spring rolls and homemade kimchi. The sidewalk kiosk recreates a traditional Asian night market.

La Vie, French-Mediterranean
Price point: not yet listed
Opening: October

You can’t beat cocktails and a rooftop. La Vie offers the best of coastal cuisine, from a full menu of moules frites and sweet and savory tartines.

Mi Vida, Mexican
Price point: not yet listed
Opening: November

Inspired by Mexican street food and traditional home cooking, Mi Vida will bring a homey, yet modern atmosphere to The Wharf. You’ll love Mexican favorites like chili pepper-dusted orange slices, juicy brick chicken and gourmet tacos.

Officina by Nicholas Stefanelli, Italian
Price point: not yet listed
Opening: Spring 2018

Officina will feature three floors: on the first floor, an artisanal market, the second floor will have a full-service restaurant with authentic Italian dishes, and finally a rooftop bar overlooking the Potomac. But, you’ll have to wait until spring.

Pearl St. Warehouse, American
Price Point: not yet listed
Opening: Oct. 12

The team behind the Cantina Marina allows music lovers of all genres to enjoy live performances with a side of great American food. The diner-style restaurant and music venue is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a cocktail menu before, during, and after performances.

Potomac Distilling Company, Rum Distillery & Tavern
Price Point: not yet listed
Opening: Spring 2018

An in-house rum distillery and two-story tavern will feature three bars including one with tiki torches and a fire pit. With a beautiful view of the waterfront, expect to sip on the finest cocktails crafted by the best mixologists.

Rappahannock Oyster Company, Seafood
Price Point: $12.50-$100
Opening: October

The oyster bar is making another DC debut into The Wharf. With creative seafood dishes with a side of cocktails, Rappahannock will be located in the restored oyster shed. Expect Union Market’s current lineup of the tasty seafood-centric plates at The Wharf. 

The Brighton, Bar & Tavern
Price Point: not yet listed
Opening: October

Adding to their collection of bars, siblings Ian and Eric Hilton bring the new two-story bar to the Wharf. Destined to be a hotspot, the waterfront pub will serve casual cocktails.


You can get beautified at spas, including a health club exclusively geared toward skincare, called Blush. Or, pick up a book at D.C.'s classic independent bookstore Politics and Prose -- which plans to open its second location right on The Wharf. And of course, you can find clothing, a beer and wine shop, a chocolate shop and design stores.

Contact Us