Great Date Night Restaurants In DC
The best date night restaurants in DC.
There aren’t many universal truths, but here’s one—dating in DC sucks almost as much as a government shutdown. While the Smithsonian gives you lots of freebie options, eventually you’re going to have to shell out some cash for food. So if it's date night (again), here are some places that make the experience just a bit better, whether you’re out for the first time or the 500th.
photo credit: Reema Desai
Albi, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Navy Yard, is the place to take your date when you really need to prove you’re not a s*ithead who can’t plan a romantic evening. The Sofra menu, a $125 tasting menu that is never exactly the same, is served with piping hot pita that might be the best in the city. And if they give you the lettuce wraps with the carrot and tuna pastes, savor the crispy, flavorful goodness. There are no TVs here to distract you and everyone around you is so loud, you'll barely hear the music. Use the dimly lit room and noise as an excuse to snuggle close to your partner and feed each other great food. And if you want to be really impressive, book your dinner at the chef’s table and watch it get cooked over the wood-burning hearth.
It’s first date time (again) and you're not trying to drop another $150 on the DC dating infinity pool. Cue 2Amys, an Italian restaurant in Cathedral Heights. Not only is this the best pizza in the city (we said what we said), but the bright dining room full of intimate wooden tables with wicker chairs are bound to soften even the most cynical District dater. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by families and friends living their best lives, so it’ll take the pressure down a notch. Pizzas run about $20 a pop, so order a pair and a bottle of wine (or the housemade limoncello) and settle in.
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photo credit: Jennifer Chase
Irregardless is a wine bar on H Street featuring two American tasting menus that will impress both the omnivores and the vegetarians in your life. The space has a rustic farmhouse feel, with exposed brick and plants hanging from the walls and rafters, which brings a hint of Virginia wine country to the space. If you’re ready to DTR, the grilled big baby oyster might help you seal the deal, or the tomato tartare, which tastes like a bougie bruschetta. The $85 tasting menus rotate seasonally and can be paired with wines from Virginia or international vintages.
photo credit: Tristiaña Hinton
Kitchen Savages is all about the community, and brings a much-needed fancy restaurant with serious date night vibes east of the river, complete with black linen tablecloths, gold flatware, and comfortable blue velvet chairs. From their signature Savage fries to the jerk lamb chops, you'll taste the care that goes into every bite at this Anacostia soul food spot. We’re especially obsessed with the lobster mac and cheese that comes topped with a perfectly fried lobster tail. The music is bumping jams from artists like TLC, so don't be surprised if your date wants to go dancing after you've finished eating.
When you’re looking for a restaurant with good food and a little flair to impress your date (whether it’s early on or well in the game), and also for a place where you won't be overwhelmed with a ridiculously long menu and wine list, try Silver Social in Navy Yard. The views of Nats Park are stunning, especially if you catch the sunset, and the food will make you want to keep eating long after you're full. There’s a bar full of regional beers, wines, and liquors, plus locally-sourced meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The halfsmoke sliders, topped with mustard, pickled cucumbers and onions, are A1.
The Red Hen
There are lots of reasons to take a date to The Red Hen in Bloomingdale, like the open kitchen and stacked firewood that make the space feel a little bit like that cabin you’ve been eyeing on Airbnb. Or the menu, which is full of very good Italian food perfect for sharing. Make a reservation or come early, but if you’re stuck waiting, grab a drink from the bar and discuss how many pastas you should order.
Rasika is an Indian fine-dining restaurant in Penn Quarter that’s a great addition to your usual spots for a big night out. While you don’t need to be ultra-formal, you can use this dinner as an excuse to get a little dressed up and to break out that ‘fit that’s been living in the back of your closet. There’s something for everyone on the menu, regardless of whether you’re vegetarian or a devoted omnivore. And if you’re using tonight to celebrate something big, go all out with the $75 tasting menu and $40 wine pairing.
Vegan restaurants that feel cozy and intimate aren't easy to find in the city, and that alone makes Fancy Radish a solid choice. While some vegan places rely heavily on meat substitutes, the H Street spot is all vegetables all the time, and even smells a bit like a garden when you walk through the door. Plant yourselves in the dimly lit dining room and share the rutabaga fondue with a pretzel bread that is the best thing on the menu. The fancy radishes and Peruvian potatoes are also decent options. Everything on the menu is $12-$20, so try ordering one of their unique cocktails (made with things like olive oil, yuzu, and kombucha) that taste like a liquid salad and pair well with all of the vegetables you’ll be eating.
Maketto, an Asian fusion spot on H Street, is the kinda place that has so much going on, you'll have tons to talk about with your date while you split giant portions of food. There's a spacious upstairs cafe with a retail area full of books, clothes, and knickknacks, plus an intimate dining room on the ground floor. Maketto works for either a food or coffee date, depending on your mood. No matter what you choose, don’t miss the massive fried chicken, which you can order in both places and may lead to your first fight when deciding who takes home the leftovers.
Iron Gate, an Italian and Mediterranean spot in Dupont Circle, has a fire-pitted outdoor patio or bar area that screams romance. Both are nice spots for a date, especially if you’re still doing the whole “just drinks and appetizers” thing because you’re not ready to shell out all of your hard-earned pizza dollars on internet strangers. Grab their Iron Maiden cocktail made with golden beet tequila, lime and squash.