DCGuide

The Best DC Restaurants For Your Birthday Dinner

The best places for an excellent birthday dinner around the District.
The Best DC Restaurants For Your Birthday Dinner image

Another journey around the sun has come to end and in the immortal words of 50 Cent, “we gon party like it’s ya birthday.” Maybe you want to get dolled up and stunt on the entire city, or just keep it lowkey and sip champagne because birthdays are no longer the worst days (we can do this all day). No matter how you choose to celebrate, there is a DC restaurant that can give you exactly what you’re looking for. So whether it’s your birthday, your half-birthday, or hell, even your “birthday,” here are the best places to toast to another year on this pretty blue marble.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

American

Barracks Row

$$$$Perfect For:Special OccasionsUnique Dining ExperienceSee And Be Seen

If the ballers among you are ready for a par-tay, Pineapple & Pearls is the place to go. The $325 tasting menu at the Capitol Hill American restaurant has four courses where you get to choose your own adventure, plus a bunch of surprises in between. We won’t ruin it, but one thing Pineapple & Pearls does is give you an experience. You’ll enter the dining room by walking through a pink curtain and disco ball archway (where there’s an activity before you’re seated). The food is great, but it’s really about the party that the staff is throwing. Sing along to Wash-FM style jams and enjoy the show in the kitchen while you’re served delicious bites like Marco’s gnocchi, the most pillowy, delicious version of the pasta we’ve ever had.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSpecial Occasions

Want the great food, popular music, and engaging staff that you’ll find at Pineapple & Pearls, but not the price tag? Head to its sister restaurant, Rose’s Luxury. The Capitol Hill American spot is in the rowhouse right next door to the other, but its choose your own adventure tasting menu is $115—and the food is, dare we say, even a little better. The seasonal menu rotates, but the pork and lychee salad has been around since the restaurant opened in 2013 and is mindblowing. It’s sweet and salty and spicy and crunchy and soft, so basically any (good) flavor or texture you can imagine. Try to get a table in the back half of the ground floor, which feels a little like an outdoor cafe with string lights and plants, though it’s indoors.

photo credit: Michelle Goldchain

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Ethiopic’s relaxing atmosphere and great Ethiopian food will set you up for the chill, borderline fancy birthday dinner of your dreams. Basically, you get to make a big deal out of your birthday without actually seeming like you’re making a big deal out of your birthday. There’s Ethiopian jazz playing, candles flickering at all the tables, and rattan woven lanterns hanging from the ceiling. People are celebrating any occasion you can think of at the H Street spot, from first dates to catch-ups with friends, so your party will fit right in. Don’t expect huge platters of food here, but what you get will be really good.

Head to Kitchen Cray on H Street for a meal where you can twerk between bites without judgment—the Black-owned American restaurant has a DJ on weekends who will play everything from Luther Vandross to Megan Thee Stallion. It’s a multigenerational party, so it’s fine for your grandmama and your little cousin (but maybe leave alluv’em home if you’re planning to drop it low). The food lives up to its name, so some of the menu items will have you tilting your head in both confusion and curiosity (like the burger topped with shrimp). Everything tastes almost as good as it smells, and the portions are huge so you’ll likely have some to take home with you—helpful if you go a little too hard.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

$$$$Perfect For:BrunchSmall Plates
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There are many fantastic things about Ambar, but the one that makes it really stand out for birthdays is that every meal is bottomless (and bottomless drink options at brunch and dinner). That means you don’t have to limit yourself, and why should you? It's your day. The Balkan spot on Capitol Hill keeps the endless plates coming with tiny—and we do mean tiny—bites like the Balkan kebab that tastes like an elevated Brown ‘N Serve sausage. Thankfully, the food is so good you’ll want to try everything, so the small portions are perfect. There’s space for a larger group in the semi-private bar area upstairs, and a rooftop for when it’s not too hot.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

$$$$Perfect For:Unique Dining Experience

The Wharf isn’t a vacation town, but Boardwalk gives you classic beach city vibes with basic American food and arcade games that will bring out the kid in you. Whether you’re a winter baby who dreamed of Atlantic City birthdays or a sucker for the nostalgia of those family trips to Ocean City, Boardwalk serves up the hot dogs, pretzels, and pinball that’ll make all your 12-year-old birthday dreams come true. Sit on the patio near the first floor bar to take in the people-watching on the Wharf or head upstairs to the pink beach house where you can sit on a swing and watch your friends battle it out in DDR.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

You're a complex person, so you need a restaurant that’ll transition with you throughout the night as you go from flower child to party animal. Tokyo Pearl, one of the Dupont spots with entrances on both Connecticut Avenue and 18th Street, uses its dual doors to create two separate worlds that come together over fun food like the Ol’ Bae sushi roll made with blue crab (get it?). The back patio at this Japanese restaurant is a playground full of flowers, butterflies, and swing chairs where you can have an intimate laugh with a friend or get silly with the whole squad. Inside, there’s a bar covered in glow-in-the-dark graffiti, which turns into a full-on nightclub after 10pm.

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