Dining al fresco

The coming of spring means that you no longer have to eat meals in dank basement cafeterias or while sitting cross-legged in front of the television. Longer daylight hours, warmer weather and lighter, fresher food all add up to one thing: al fresco dining.

Power-lunching can be fun when done outdoors. After all, whose mood doesn’t perk up while sitting under the sun and sipping a cold iced tea?

Many restaurants around the city provide patrons with that option by setting up a few tables and chairs on the sidewalk when the temperature calls for it.

But if it’s a more formal, full-service patio meal you’re seeking, consider these options:

• 701, at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, has 14 outdoor tables that offer a view of the Navy Memorial fountain. Once settled, outdoor diners will experience a new spring menu. One new dish is a crispy tempura Ahi tuna roll with creamy miso, soy tapioca caviar and macerated strawberry vinaigrette. Diners also can choose from traditional lunch fare like the seafood chopped salad and beef brisket sandwich or fancier entrees like diver scallops and beef cheek ravioli. Outdoor patrons who want to start cocktail hour early can try the 701 Passion Martini, made with pear vodka and passion-fruit puree.

• Brasserie Beck, at 1101 K St. NW, has opened a new patio that accommodates about 70 diners. The patio could be considered a beer garden — its selection is distinct from the ales available inside. The patio will also have a chef’s table seating between eight and 10 people with several large umbrellas to create a canopy effect (and to cover diners from an unexpected spring shower).

• If you’re coming from a White House meeting and want to take an outdoor lunch break that doesn’t include the protesters and tourists in Lafayette Park, The Bombay Club, at 815 Connecticut Ave. NW, has space for 35 people on its outdoor patio. If there’s a wait, go to The Oval Room at 800 Connecticut Ave. NW, where 40 people can dine on the terrace.

• The garden terrace at Blue Duck Tavern has an exotic air to it, allowing diners to feel secluded from their urban surroundings. The centerpiece of this patio, which seats 40 people, is a gushing fountain. Blue Duck Tavern is located at 24th and M streets NW.

• Other restaurant patios to consider are Zaytinya at 701 9th St. NW; the roof-top deck at Perry’s, located at 1811 Columbia Road NW; and Jaleo, 480 7th St. NW.

Of course, an expense account and an exclusive restaurant patio aren’t required for Hill staffers on a budget who want to eat a sandwich in the open air. House aides have plenty of benches to choose from on New Jersey Avenue SE between the Cannon and Longworth House office buildings. Senate staffers who want a simple lunch outdoors can seek out a sunny spot in Senate Park, or along the flower-adorned walkways between Union Station and the Senate office buildings.