5 Tasting Menus That Are Worth Every Penny

Because fancy little plates can be fun sometimes.
5 Tasting Menus That Are Worth Every Penny image

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

You’re going to drop at least a c-note on most tasting menus (before the 22% service fee, 5% I-82 fee, and good old taxes)—including the ones that leave you bored and hungry. So if you’re willing to blow your weekly Amazon budget on one meal, it pays to know which spots are worth the cash. Here are five tasting menus for your tiny dish pleasure.


photo credit: Nina Palazzolo


Mt. Vernon Triangle

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinks & A Light BiteImpressing Out of TownersKeeping It Kind Of HealthyLiterally EveryoneOutdoor/Patio Situation


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The menu at this Blagden Alley spot changes daily, so it’s our favorite choice when we don’t mind handing over total control to the kitchen. The rustic farmhouse restaurant is a date-night situation—the moodily lit dining room screams boo thang. Every dish on the $235 eight-course menu has a backstory, and you’ll get to hear about what Virginia or Pennsylvania farm your duck lived on before it was confited and set on your table. The worst thing about The Dabney is all the scratching silverware, but it’ll be coming from your own table as you scrape up every last drop of the potato leek soup purée. 

Getting into Minibar requires careful planning, as this José Andrés spot only has 12 seats. But once you’re eating a pork bánh mì on a kimchi meringue bun and a scallop soaked in squid ink, it’ll all be worth it. This experimental Penn Quarter spot serves an interactive tasting menu (the chefs even feed you at one point), mostly to people celebrating birthdays or special occasions. At $325 per person, the dinner is not cheap—you can add the bespoke wine pairing for an extra $500. But we’d gladly spend our own money here for an anniversary that gets talked about for years to come.

If you’re looking for the ultimate vegan tasting menu (and one of the cheaper options), head to Elizabeth’s. The small downtown restaurant has tables covered in every fork, knife, spoon, and glass you can imagine (a whirlwind for those of us who skipped our time with Emily Post). Jazz and neosoul music play in the dining room that’s dimly lit by candle sconces hung between gold-framed paintings reminiscent of Goya and Renior. The $110 menu rotates seasonally, but expect dishes like the fiery kale chips that you’ll want to snack on all night and some of our favorite caviar in the city—which is actually drops of algae served with a delicious cashew crème fraiche.

Steps away from the Washington Monument, Fiola is decked out in white tablecloths, gleaming silverware, and handwritten notes welcoming you to the table. It’s a great setting for a special occasion or a dinner where you’re looking to impress. There are three tasting menus at the Italian spot, but the $225 five-course option called “The Tradition” is our go-to. The menu rotates, but imagine a night with a rich caviar and ricotta appetizer, followed by a succulent lobster and toro pasta, all topped off with vanilla and pear panna cotta that will have you booking your next reservation before you leave the table.

The Penn Quarter Indian restaurant is often full of business types grabbing cocktails and tikka masala after a long day downtown, but sit at the chef’s table for an intimate dinner with your partner—or yourself. It’s a quiet, relaxing place to unwind and enjoy damn good food. The six-course tasting menu comes in both vegetarian ($80) and non-vegetarian ($90), which means there’s something for everyone, and the portions are so big you’ll end up taking food home. We’re still dreaming about the palak chaat, a sweet, crunchy spinach dish, and the galub jamun with creamy cardamom ice cream. 

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