Nothing says autumn like Oktoberfest. Photo courtesy Dacha Beer Garden

Fall PreviewWashington D.C.

The Resy Guide to Autumn in Washington, D.C.


As the cool air rushes in to save us from D.C.’s sweltering, and prolonged, summer, it’s time to plan ahead for fall. Leaf peeping and chunky sweaters aside, fall is an excellent time to make some bucket list-worthy reservations for experiences that are the epitome of the season. From seasonal tasting menus to experimental wines, as well as Oktoberfest and disco parties, we’ve gathered the can’t-miss restaurant and bar experiences to make the most of this autumn season.

1. Sample the hottest tasting menu in town…

… by booking a spot at Oyster Oyster, a restaurant obsessed with plant-based dishes and sustainable food sourcing. It’s the talk of the town, and a big reason why chef Rob Rubba took home an Outstanding Chef award from the James Beard Foundation this year.

Seasonal ingredients are featured on the late summer solstice menu, leading you into fall with produce including lion’s mane mushroom, squash, eggplant, kohlrabi, and the last of summer tomatoes. This tasting menu experience is priced at $105 per person and comes with the option to add zero-proof cocktail pairings for $55. While Oyster Oyster may be one of the toughest tables in town to book right now, we have some tips on how to score a fall reservation.

Plant-based dishes are the draw at Oyster Oyster. Photo courtesy of Oyster Oyster

2. Experiment with Maryland wine…

… at The Crossvines, a new winery in Poolesville, Md., that is putting Montgomery County on the map as a wine incubator space. In partnership with the University of Maryland, The Crossvines serves as a central hub to educate a new generation of grape growers and winemakers, along with creating infrastructure to allow local wine to be made on-site.

Food and wine lovers will want to book a dinner reservation at the adjacent Farmhouse Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant, with four Crossvine wines on the menu. The menu from chef Luis Montesinos includes a wild Chesapeake Bay rockfish and a local duck breast with Virginia strawberries and fava beans. Both dishes pair perfectly with the winery’s sparkling rosé. And did we mention there’s a public golf course next door, plus a heated patio with sunset views?

Come for the wine, stay for the views. Photo courtesy of The Crossvines

3. Upgrade your office lunch…

… at D.C.’s newest food hall, added in September. Located in the heart of downtown, The Square features an all-day market and makes for an excellent post-work happy hour. This lineup of chefs and restaurants is impressive, offering an enticing way to upgrade a boring office lunch.

Try Maryland-style crab cakes and oysters from chef Ann Cashion at Cashion’s Rendezvous, or hand-cut jamón ibérico, croquetas, or Spanish street food from chef Rubén García at Jamón Jamón and Brasa. Meanwhile, an expansive Atrium Bar serves craft cocktails, wine, and beer curated by beverage director Owen Thompson. And more openings are on the horizon later this fall.

Walk-ins welcome.

4. Celebrate Oktoberfest like they do in Munich…

… at Dacha Beer Garden, now celebrating a decade of service at its Shaw location. This neighborhood beer garden as well as its Navy Yard outpost celebrate in German-style fashion for Oktoberfest. Don your lederhosen and raise an oversized frosty pint to this D.C. bar, also well-known for serving hangover brunch and giant pretzels after a few too many.

The ceremonial tapping of the kegs begins on September 16 at noon, and through weekends in October, Dacha will play host to live music, contests, dancing, drinking, and general Oktoberfest merriment, as they do in Munich.

Grab your lederhosen and get ready for Oktoberfest. Photo courtesy of Dacha Beer Garden

5. Set your GPS to Destination Michelin Stars…

Just an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital lies a magical village in the mountains of Virginia, which chef Patrick O’Connell has lovingly transformed over the past four decades into a culinary oasis.

Fall is definitely one of the best times to visit The Inn at Little Washington’s 3-star restaurant, then spend the night in one of its sumptuous guest rooms. The fall menu features robust, seasonal ingredients such as venison, quail, Périgord truffles, and chestnuts, and a golden soup called “Liquid Autumn.”

Across the street, new sister restaurant Patty O’s Cafe serves classics such as onion soup with Calvados and a juicy burger made with local Virginia beef. It’s also open for Sunday brunch before you head back to Big Washington.

All the flavors of the season. Photo courtesy of The Inn at Little Washington

6. Crab feast on the Eastern shore…

… at Tickler’s Crab Shack & Restaurant, just 90 minutes east of D.C. After all, summer may be over but Maryland’s crab season kicks into high gear during the fall as Chesapeake Bay blue crabs mature, resulting in a bounty of jumbo bushels and a true Maryland-style crab feast.

This waterfront restaurant is located on Tilghman Island, and it is one of the best ways to get cracking. Steamed crabs are doused in Old Bay seasoning and come served by the tray-load, or if you prefer to keep your hands clean, opt for the jumbo lump crabcake.

Waterfront dining and all the crabs. Photo courtesy of Tickler’s Crab Shack & Restaurant

7. Dance the night away under a disco ball…

… at Le Mont Royal, a French-Canadian disco party in Adams Morgan that feels as if you’ve taken a trip up north to Montreal’s buzziest clubs. The bar-forward concept delivers a natural wine-fueled dance party, specializing in juicy and vibrant natural wine labels, plus grower Champagnes, and cocktails served on draft.

Nights at Le Mont Royal are set to the soundtrack of DJs spinning their house collection of soul, funk, and disco vinyl upstairs. This is also the place to get down and dirty with Canadian-style poutine or a dozen local oysters, which are half price at happy hour from 5-6:30 p.m. daily.

Hearty Canadian-style fare. Photo courtesy of Le Mont Royal

8. Gather around the table with award-winning chefs…

… at Centrolina, where chef Amy Brandwein gathers some of her best friends — who just happen to be critically acclaimed chefs — for an ongoing dinner series that gives a taste of D.C.’s culinary talent. The chef’s table experience is a four-course dinner and centers around the cuisine of each guest chef or personality. Upcoming dinners include: Scott Drewno (Anju + CHIKO), Chris Morgan (Bammy’s), and Joan Nathan (“Jewish Cooking in America“) with Yamrote Ezineh (Letena). Best of all, the proceeds from each dinner go to support a local nonprofit of the guest chef’s choosing.

You never know what you’ll find at the chef’s table experience. Photo courtesy of Centrolina

9. Study up at a blind wine tasting…

Want to nerd out over wine? Lulu’s Winegarden has a monthly blind wine tasting course led by sommelier Daniel Runnerstrom. From navigating bubbles to selecting the perfect pinot, this wine crash course will steer you in the right direction.

Each tasting is an instructive-led experience of three secretly selected wines, plus paired snacks from chef Cable Smith. You’ll also learn how to consider a wine’s visual appearance, smell, and flavors like a professional.

A delicious way to learn about wine pairings. Photo courtesy of Lulu’s Winegarden

10. Celebrate with drag brunch…

… at Crazy Aunt Helen’s, a sure bet for weekend brunch with a side of live entertainment, including drag performances. The food here is as good as anything your auntie might make. From soul-filling chicken fried steak and vegan curry chicken to jackfruit tostadas and eggs Benedict, there is something for everyone at this brunch, lunch, and dinner cafe. And if you miss brunch, fear not. Weekday nights celebrate with drag trivia, Broadway show tunes, or cabaret.

An over-the-top weekend brunch awaits. Photo courtesy of Your Crazy Aunt Helen’s