It’s that time of year. Chances are, sometime soon, you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary or saying a fond farewell to a college student returning to campus. While life marches on, so does the pandemic. Some of us are willing to sit inside at a restaurant, but many of us are not. For those of us who are ready to go beyond takeout for our next special occasion, but aren’t yet prepared to step indoors, here are some of my favorite places for a memorable meal alfresco.
You’ll have views of the rolling hills of rural Paris from the patio, which has both covered and uncovered portions, at this elegant country inn. Your meal will come from foods gathered on the property, including plums and purslane served with the crispy, tender duck breast. // 692 Federal St., Suite D, Paris
“A Lot of Clarity” launched in May, chef-owner Jon Krinn’s brainstorm for how to safely serve diners during a pandemic. Guests park and sit in their own well-distanced tent, where they can order from the tasting menu or sup on competition-style barbecue from the new smoker at this Vienna favorite. // 442 Maple Ave. E., Vienna
Dining indoors at The Conservatory can be a beautiful experience, but we’ll have to wait for that. Right now, the Goodstone Inn & Restaurant in Middleburg is only serving guests outside by the pool. The four-course tasting menu is the way to go, from tender scallop crudo to a dessert of local honey-roasted peaches. // 36205 Snake Hill Road, Middleburg
Dine among the trees next to the Marshall farm-to-table restaurant, safely canopied by your very own tent. Whatever you order, try to save room for something pork-based. The meat comes from a pig raised by the Marshall Montessori school, so it’s ethical, local and carefully prepared. // 8369 W. Main St., Marshall
Look out at the gardens where your food is being grown at this Great Falls restaurant that’s been winning fans for 66 years. The prix fixe menu includes French favorites, from crêpes to soufflés, but the classic service is what stands out most. // 332 Springvale Road, Great Falls
A flaming saganaki, a fish carved tableside and some ouzo? That practically spells “celebration.” Sit under a tent for a taste of Greece that will transport you from Vienna to the Mediterranean for the length of your meal. // 8100 Boone (Aline & Leesburg) Blvd., Vienna
For more restaurant recommendations, subscribe to our Food newsletter.