I am constantly amazed by the resilience of many of our local restaurants since the advent of COVID-19. Forced to continually reinvent the way they operate, from shifting to robust take-out/delivery models in the spring to expanded outdoor dining and socially distanced indoor dining in the summer (not to mention the masks and added cleaning protocols!), they have gone above and beyond to keep us safe. While we are experiencing a relatively mild winter, outdoor dining is not typically a thing this time of year. But yet again, many restaurants have made the pivot, bringing warmth to their outdoor spaces. Here are some of the warmest outdoor eating spots to try this season.
Ambar is creating the gold standard of outdoor COVID-safe dining. Throughout December, the adjacent parking lot was home to ten tiny self-contained glass houses that each accommodated a single table for up to six people. The little houses were individually heated and the only person to enter (besides the guests) was a masked server who had been temperature checked. Construction is now underway to create a larger outdoor dining space that will be able to accommodate up to 60 guests. The new structure will have a retractable awning with siding that opens, allowing for maximum ventilation while still preserving warmth.
Popular American bistro CIRCA has also come up with a solution to the COVID dining dilemma. While it does not have a parking lot to work with, CIRCA does benefit from having a large courtyard for outdoor seating. In order to make sure guests are safe (from COVID and the elements) as well as warm, CIRCA cut back on the number of outdoor tables available and erected a large tent in the courtyard that hosts four socially distanced tables. The tent is equipped with overhead heat lamps and festive lighting. It serves as the perfect shelter for a rainy night. The tent has a large opening to allow for airflow. Additional covered seating is also available lining the restaurant.
Whether you are in the mood for amazing Mexican food or fresh and delicious Mediterranean cuisine, you can satisfy your cravings and stay warm outdoors at either of these Arlington neighbors in the Colonial Village Shopping Center. Both have erected covered patios and additional seating with an endless supply of heating lamps that extends to the parking lot.
This National Landing Eritrean/Ethiopian spot has gone above and beyond to create an inviting outdoor space. Enjera constructed a large outdoor patio that was equipped with fans in the summer and now sports an ample number of heat lamps to keep you warm this winter. Multiple strings of miniature lights are draped across the top of the patio space, creating a festive atmosphere.
Although it has a much smaller space to work with, Ted’s Bulletin in Ballston has erected eight heated bubbles, where you can enjoy comfort food in comfort and warmth. Each bubble is sanitized with a non-toxic, environmentally safe disinfectant and they have vents at the top. Ted’s also keeps one side of the bubbles open for maximum airflow, but the chill is counterbalanced by individual heaters to keep you nice and warm. Ted’s also encourages you to bring a blanket, making things extra cozy.
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