Where To Have Dinner With Your Parents In DC

Because for some reason, they asked you to pick the place.
Where To Have Dinner With Your Parents In DC image

photo credit: LeadingDC

So your parents are visiting out of town, curious to see what your glitzy life in DC is all about (lots of Doordash and anime). Or, coincidentally, they live up the block and have been nagging to see your face for the past month (because you know, the Doordash and the anime). Regardless of the reason, it’s good to impress. And though we hope you know your parents better than we do, over the years we’ve figured out some of the DC essentials. Here’s a list of where you should be eating the next your parents call.




Dupont Circle

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinks & A Light BiteFirst/Early in the Game DatesSpecial Occasions


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You ask your folks where they want to go for dinner and they say it doesn’t matter, but we, you, the dog, and the ghost in the room know it does. Take them to Iron Gate. The Italian-Mediterranean restaurant in Dupont Circle is one of the city’s oldest, and the fire-pitted outdoor patio is the perfect place to wrangle an awkward conversation about your future alongside a plate of pasta and housemade focaccia. The restaurant offers a pre-fixe menu that they update seasonally, so if anyone’s a picky eater, be sure to send over the options before you head over.

photo credit: Michelle Goldchain

$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentBig GroupsImpressing Out of TownersDate Night


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If your parents are the type to never ride solo—which means your estranged uncle twice removed or your cousin who they’re hoping you’ll mentor are coming to dinner—Ethiopic is a great pick. The popular Ethiopian restaurant on H Street offers communal seating great for big groups. Drink glasses of honey wine while acting interested in family gossip. And while the portions here are smaller compared to other spots in the city, the service is great. It does get pretty busy here on the weekend, so if you're looking for something more intimate, ditch the crowds, and come on a weeknight.

It makes sense to take your parents somewhere that offers family-style dining, especially if that’s how you grew up eating. If so, Maydan is your safe space. The Middle Eastern restaurant in Cardozo has a shared tasting menu ($75 per guest) that includes plates of decadent hummus and creamy labne alongside honeyed, harissa-roasted carrots and exquisitely charred lamb shish kebab. Instead of arguing over the menu, fight over something worthwhile like who gets the last piece of bread (the bread here is unlimited, but your brother doesn’t need to know that).

Your parents are staying downtown and are eyeing the Metro wearily, so your best bet is to offer something within walking distance of their hotel. Enter Georgia Brown’s. The upscale restaurant feels like a New Orleans jazz club, complete with a grand piano that is sometimes played live. And although we’ve had better soul food (and your parents probably have, too), the meal is serviceable. The catfish fingers are both buttery and crispy, and the banana pudding is smothered in sweet cream.

The food at Caruso’s is so good, that even the most dreaded talks are tolerable. We’re not saying that dinner with your parents will automatically lead to a bad conversation, but it’s nice to know that if it does, it’s not hard to tune out over a huge plate of delicious Italian comfort food. The Capitol Hill spot serves all of the expected classics, including a pasta alfredo that’s smothered in a creamy truffle butter and a blood orange creme-brulee that might be one of our favorite desserts in the city.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo



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You just dragged your parents to another Nationals game, and while you try to rationally explain your enthusiasm that can only be described as a years-long World Series hangover, the scent of garlicky scallion pancakes and onion rings pulls you into Any Day Now. The American restaurant in Navy Yard is an escape from awkward conversations about Washington sports teams and family curses. Instead, everyone will be razor focused on the chicken and waffles made with Korean fried chicken, miso ranch, and okonomiyaki that tastes as good as it sounds.

Vera mixes two delicious cuisines in the same way you and your partner are trying to mix your families. Hopefully, after a visit to the Mexican-Lebanese restaurant, you’ll be equally as successful. The food at this Ivy City spot is good enough to keep you coming back over and over again—like the labneh leche de tigre that makes their oyster ceviche one of the best ceviches we’ve ever had or the shrimp-stuffed reides fritters served in a tentacle-like filo dough that tickles your mouth as you chew.

Filomena's Ristorante is a loud basement Italian spot in Georgetown that has been hosting family dinners (among other things) for 40 years. It’s the definition of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” thanks to delicious classics like the salsicce di casa, a juicy homemade sweet Italian sausage, to the ravioli alla matrimonia served alongside giant meatballs. Not only is the food some of the best Italian in DC, but it’s a mix of tuxedoed waiters and white knit placemat, making it fancy enough to tell your parents you got a huge promotion and casual enough to tell them you’re moving back home (or both, we're not judging).

Prove to your parents that just because you’re eating instant ramen and PB&Js to cover your ever-rising rent, it doesn’t mean you forgot what good food tastes like (especially if they're paying). And they’ll quickly realize that everyone else in this Levantine spot in Navy Yard agrees thanks to the literal buzzing in the dining room as folks excitedly chat about their latest course. We love the $125 Sofra tasting menu, which is mostly served family-style and comes with fresh, charred pita bread that you’ll dream about long after you're back to your oodles of noodles.

Your parents have been bragging about their new grill and all the cookouts they’re going to have now (you know they won’t). But give them a chance to show off their cheffing skills at Beloved BBQ, a Japanese steakhouse in the East End. Located inside the Love, Makoto food hall, the upscale spot is a combination of date night and family dinner spot—so you’ll fit right in even if you’re seated next to a couple that will definitely get your parents asking you about your (off again) partner. Instead of rolling your eyes, focus your energy on the $135 luxe omakase, which gives you the best showcase of the buttery Japanese wagyu. Don’t order it for the whole table, though. Split one, and supplement with the a la carte menu.

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