In a city filled with cozy ambient places, why settle for the usual eatery that does anything but get your partner in the mood? D.C. is the city of the single life
so you’d best believe they have some swanky places that are perfect for a first date or a 50th anniversary. What you need is dim lighting and exquisite cocktails, sultry music and exotic foods. What you need are these 11 places favorited in your Maps app.
Restaurant, North American, $$$
You won’t be asking yourself where you are but when you are, and for the ladies who watch or read Outlander, this is a very intriguing question to be asking yourself. With this Federal townhouse’s antique décor and the ambiance of fireplaces and wooden beams, one gets lost in an era when a six-course dinner of humane meats and fish (which happens here) was the nightly thing. If she calls you by the name Jamie in the middle of the night, don’t be too surprised and just take it as a compliment of a job well done.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
This Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle might be having your date ask where you are this time, but it’s just as good because they think they’ve been transported to somewhere in the Basilicata region of Italy, from where the restaurateur and chef, Luigi Diotaiuti, hails. Make sure you try the menu classic Italian-style; appetizer, pasta dish, dessert. Certainly more, never less.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Here is another wonderful Italian place that has a few different highlights than the place above. This delightful venue in Navy Yard provides outdoor seating overlooking the water, and not too much more is as romantic as that. But in case that wasn’t enough, the staff is prompt, the cocktails are divine, and the dishes have unique attitudes, such as the cappelletti stuffed with truffled ricotta, or the sea urchin bucatini. And if either of you likes Reeses, you are in for a special treat with the budino dessert.
Co Co. Sala
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Ah, chocolate: the stuff of love. This restaurant in Penn Quarter is all about it. Some would say too much about it until they tried the prawns and grits with a cocoa nib biscuit, or the four-cheese fritters with chipotle chocolate tomato cream sauce. And don’t even get us started on dessert.
Market, Asian, Street Food, $$$
This place is more first or even fifth date material than an anniversary dinner place, so don’t be shocked when you scope out the vending machine above Maketto’s courtyard that sells condoms right next to lucky cat figurines and neon earbuds. It only adds to the charm of the fiery Cambodian-Taiwanese food.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Michelle Obama ate here—need we say more? Yes, it’s another Italian place on the list, but the language is a romantic one and no one has ever not liked a good plate of pasta. It is inspired by the coastal cuisine of the Puglia region and combines the simple beauty of an Italian farmstead and the chicness of the chef-owner, with a touch of Union Market austerity.
Restaurant, European, $$$
This charming Balkan restaurant nestled in Barracks Row is what D.C. is all about; diversity and culture. There aren’t too many places to find a romantic Balkan-based restaurant, but this melting pot of a city never fails the adventurous foodies. Come starving so you can get the most out of the Bottomless Balkan which includes unlimited plates and drinks for only $59.
Restaurant, French, American, $$$
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a modern-day pilgrim, this is the place to wear your bonnet out. The wagon wheels on the walls and cast iron gears makes you feel like you’re dining in the artery of America, without all the disadvantages that came with those times. It’s a warmly lit, no rush type of vibe, and it hosts classic dishes with delectable twists to them.
Restaurant, Italian, Greek, $$$
This setting of a swanky intimate dining room, endearing patio and garden, and vibrant carriageway barroom is beyond charming, and the mezze-driven Mediterranean menu is just the start of a well-crafted meal. Chef Anthony Chittum offers nightly multi-course tasting menus and the option of wine pairings from a list of nearly 400 bottles.
The Fainting Goat
Gastropub, American, $$$
Just the weird name of it makes it an appealing place to check out. It offers a concise menu of seasonal and locally-sourced fare of New American dishes and drinks. The friendly staff, brick-walled homey atmosphere, and creative and conscious concoctions make this gastropub a local favorite.
Chez Billy Sud
Wine Bar, French, none
This place is the ultimate romantic destination since Paris has officially claimed the title for most romantic city in the universe, and this is a Parisian restaurant. Not only does it have fantastic classics like steak frites and beef bourguignon, a cozy dining room and enchanting patio, but it also has a canal right next to it where you can stroll along into the moonlight afterwards. This is the ultimate wine-and-dine experience.