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Wait for the wharf: Cold weather limits appeal of D.C.’s newest attraction

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Washington D.C.’s newest destination, the District Wharf, feels a bit like a work in progress, but with its waterfront views, eclectic shops, concert venues and restaurants, it has a lot of potential. This will be especially true once the weather gets warmer, the boating concessions are open for business and construction is complete.

Located off of Maine Avenue along D.C.’s southwest waterfront, the District Wharf offers both dining and shopping destinations. Its location is a bit difficult to reach. During the week, there is heavy traffic on the surrounding streets and parking is pricey. There is a metro station five minutes away, but it is a Green Line stop, which is not convenient for most CESJDS students. In the spring, there will be a water taxi to and from Georgetown, which will be a more pleasant, but not a very practical transportation option.

The stores and restaurants that have already opened are a bit of an odd mix. There are some women’s clothing stores, a store that sells sailing apparel, a CVS, a few furniture and art galleries and a small branch of the independent bookstore Politics and Prose. There’s also a hardware and biking store called District Hardware with a café inside, the Velo Café, which sells lemonade, pastries and sandwiches.

Mostly, what the Wharf has right now are restaurants. These include: Requin, an upscale French restaurant; Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi, a pricey tapas restaurant; Kirwin’s Irish Pub; and Hank’s Oyster Bar. There are also two places for dessert: Ben & Jerry’s, which inconveniently does not provide seating options, and Milk, an upscale dessert boutique that sells various cookies including a compost cookie with various ingredients like potato chips. Several new dining options, including an Italian restaurant, are scheduled to open later in the spring.

There is also a concert venue called The Anthem that features many well-known artists from punk rock to rap, which will appeal to high-school students, and a smaller music venue called Pearl Street Warehouse, but it has a minimum age requirement of 21.

On the Sunday afternoon when I visited, the weather was a bit chilly and rainy. As a result, the restaurants were not busy and there were very few people walking around. The area was charming with a beautiful, foggy view of the Potomac River. The Wharf also has a lobster stand and a sailing school, which contributed to the nautical atmosphere.

I decided to eat lunch at the Velo Café. I ordered a hot Caprese sandwich which was tasty. At this time, since several restaurants are not yet open, the Velo Café is the best dining option if you observe kashrut, are a vegetarian or are dining on a limited budget.

Since I love bookstores, I was really looking forward to visiting Politics and Prose. The bookstore has an industrial feel, with unfinished floors and exposed pipes. There was a decent selection of books and many novelty gifts, including edgy socks and political paraphernalia. There was also a nice-sized section of teen books.

I would strongly recommend waiting until summer to visit the Wharf, when there will be more activities such as kayaking or paddle boarding. But even then, with few stores, an out-of-the-way location and not many choices for affordable meals, most teens will probably prefer walking around Georgetown or downtown Bethesda, unless they are looking for somewhere to hang out before an exciting concert at the Anthem.

This story was featured in the Volume 35, Issue 5 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on March 22, 2018.

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