Restaurant review: Roof Terrace Restaurant at The Kennedy Center

With its grand tiers and stately marble, The Kennedy Center stands as a central feature of the D.C. waterfront landscape. A living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, the Kennedy Center serves as a national performing arts center for the many theatrical and musical expressions alive in America. Seeing a show at the KC, for Washingtonians and tourists alike, is a special occasion that merits a first-rate pre-performance dining experience. Fortunately, theater patrons do not have far to travel for the best dining option around, just up a level.


The Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace Restaurant has food with a view. A meal’s enjoyment, much like a performance’s, can often hinge on where you’re sitting. Fortunately at the Roof Terrace Restaurant, there is not a bad seat in the house. Enormous window panels surround the restaurant’s large, ballroom-style ceilings displaying a command panorama of the city-skyline. The restaurant’s schedule, 5-8 PM on show days, almost assures diners a sunset with an unmatched view of the District during the magic hour.

Chef Joe Gurner has designed the Roof Terrace Restaurant menu with the theatergoer’s needs in mind. Each menu item has been evaluated for portion size and prep-time to ensure the meal compliments the theater experience. While the classic, seasonal ingredient dishes aim for a rich and memorable meal, they have also been designed to behave through a show’s three-seated hours.

For each season, the Roof Terrace Restaurant changes their menu to feature items fitting the Farmer’s Almanac, like the warm savory fall harvest menu now in place, and current performances, as seen with the kid-friendly Lion King-themed menu offered over the summer.

During our visit, we started things off with a healthy appetizer order of Spicy Tuna Tartare, Veal Sweet Bread and an Artisanal Cheese Board. The tartare came elegantly plated as a line of pink sitting atop pickled cucumbers, circled by a ring of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Wontons gave the raw treat a fresh crisp. The veal sweet bread, dipped in a dash of capers, made itself the model of tender while the cheese board’s selection of Rosemary, Manchego, Queso Romero, Paprika and Cabrales provided a perfect between app snack.

Moving into entrée territory, we had our pick of land and sea. The Beef Tenderloin, coming with a side of frites fried in truffle oil, would satisfy any carnivore. With the excellent Maryland Crab Cakes, a douse of green curry mango brought out the natural sweetness of the crabmeat, which was in jumbo-lump abundance.

And a double helping of seafood with the Lobster and Pea Risotto, a restaurant favorite, gave the meal a welcomed creaminess.


Roof Terrace Restaurant
at The Kennedy Center
Open Dinner 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Kitchen Buffet Brunch most Sundays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Reservations strongly encouraged.
Price $50 and over
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20566
Dessert at this point was not medically advisable, but I am not a doctor. A glass-like glaze of flan covered the light crème fraiche fluff of the delectable and worth-it Leche Quemada. Other sweet treat finishers include Plum Cake, Chocolate Mousse and selection of mini French desserts.

The Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace Restaurant offers a meal for all occasions and performances. Pre-show diners will enjoy a first-rate meal in an unmatched location while patrons in a rush can grab something quick and quality from the bar menu.

Dinner and the theatre go together, and Roof Terrace Restaurant gets the mixture just right.

Richard Barry About Richard Barry

Richard Barry. I’m doing the twenty something thing in DC enjoying live entertainment, food and writing about it when I find the time


  1. J.M. Hasmonek says:

    Hi! I’m returning to WDC for a visit some years after I did the 20-something beltway bandit thing. I LOVED the KC and Roof Top Terrace. I’m so disappointed with all the negative reviews of the restaurant. Does anyone have a different, thoughtful opinion?



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