With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I contemplated what kind of content I would deliver for y’all — I have a post that’s been sitting in the queue for ages scheduled for Friday, but, I wanted to create something else for my favorite holiday of the year: a guide to the most romantic restaurants in DC.
Okay, I’ll pause for a second: yes, I LOVE Valentine’s Day. Always have and always will, much to the dismay of my husband. I don’t need to do anything fancy — in the past, we’ve gone to an art exhibit or a concert — but I do want to do something. And, in my ideal world, yes, there’s a good chance I’d be there with everyone else overpaying for a prix-fixe meal in one of the most romantic restaurants in DC.
A GUIDE TO THE MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS IN DC
When I think romantic restaurant, I think dimly lit, maybe (likely) Italian or French, candles, dark corners, and the like. Some of my favorite date night spots don’t make the cut because they’re too industrial, too trendy, too something (maybe those are another post?!). However, if you’re looking for an intimate vibe and delicious food, these are the romantic restaurants where you should snag a reservation STAT.
- Compass Rose: If you’ve ever asked me for a DC restaurant recommendation, this was probably #1 on my list. It’s been my favorite restaurant for as long as it’s been open. You’ll find international street food from cuisines throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe and do not miss the khachapuri (we were inspired to have this dish as the late night food at our wedding because I’m so obsessed!). Also, funny story, this was my standard third date spot back when I was dating and, apparently the waiter grew tired of seeing yet another man pay the bill, and called me out with a “Welcome” to my date and a “Welcome back…again” to me.
- Stable: This casual Swiss spot may not top the normal romantic restaurants list, but what’s more romantic than a cozy après-ski vibe, cheese, and bread?! With warm wood ambiance and red and white checked napkins, it feels like you’ve been transported to a chic ski chalet.
- Iron Gate: Whether you’re snuggled up outside for a drink, on the patio on a nice evening, or inside the cozy back room with the fireplace, this Dupont institution serving Mediterranean small plates is a quintessential romantic restaurant.
- Little Pearl: One of my favorite easy breakfast spots turns into one of my favorite romantic date night spots once the sun goes down. Serving a 9-course tasting menu for a song ($50!) and with dimly lit ambiance inside and twinkly lights outside, this Michelin-star restaurant is one that our neighborhood is lucky to have. I won’t hold it against Little Pearl that its $275 per person sister restaurant is the one that took my old blog name…
- Red Hen: Adam and I haven’t been here in ages, but it’s one of my favorite date memories. It’s a cozy neighborhood spot in Bloomingdale with excellent Italian dishes. Their gnocchi is one of those dishes I dream about.
- Masseria: Well, if you’re going for a romantic splurge dinner than Masseria should be on your list. You can’t beat the outdoor space for a pre-dinner cocktail before indulging in this Michelin-star menu. Wander next door to Cotton and Reed for a post-dinner aperitif.
- Le Diplomate: Yes, you’ll see this on lists for everything from best brunch to where to take your parents, but it’s a classic. This French restaurant on 14th has excellent food, an intimate yet lively vibe, and the seats outside are perfect for romantically snuggling à les Parisiens on a gorgeous day.
- Floriana: I wanted to include one super classic Italian spot and this restaurant finds its home on 17th street in an old row house. It’s super old-school and that’s exactly why it checks in as one of the most romantic restaurants in DC.
- Le Grenier: This one probably won’t pop up on too many lists — it’s one of those spots that’s still a bit under the radar. Located on H Street, this French restaurant has that effortless but fancy vibe. Whether you sit at one of the tucked away tables, in the window to watch the world go by, or at the bar, this spot is wonderful for dining on delicious French food and feeling a world away.