7 romantic restaurants in Washington, DC, for the best date night

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Romantic restaurants in Washington, DC

If power is sexy, few cities on earth are hotter than Washington, DC. DC may not have the nation's absolute best restaurant scene – New York, San Francisco, and other top-tier cities might have something to say about that. But thanks to the presence of so many federal government staff, Washington, DC, is still blessed with tons of romantic restaurants that are ideal for the perfect date night.

In the restaurants of the nation's capital, you're as likely to run into powerbrokers making a deal as you are courting couples enjoying a romantic date night. But that vibrant atmosphere all adds to the charm of the most romantic restaurants in the capital. There are plenty of classic date night spots where you'll be able to enjoy an intimate atmosphere after a day spent exploring the Smithsonian, even if it does mean rubbing shoulders with the suits.

If you're looking for a romantic restaurant in DC, you've come to the right place. But be warned that this government city is in many ways a little more formal than other cities. Dress codes are common here, and you certainly don't want to be carrying heavy bags. Whether you're traveling through the city with luggage or carrying a briefcase full of important government documents, the best thing to do is drop it off at a luggage storage in Washington, DC, before visiting the romantic restaurant of your choice. Traveling light is never a bad idea, and nobody wants to date someone with lots of baggage.

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Places to take a date in Washington, DC

Iron Gate

Something of a local legend, Iron Gate is a great venue for a romantic dinner where you'll be served small plates of delicious dishes that let you try a variety of different things to eat over the course of one meal. This establishment has been known for years as one of the most romantic restaurants in the city and has been the setting for many a date night since it was first opened.

The setting of this romantic restaurant is almost as spectacular as the food. Located in a historic mansion's carriage house, Iron Gate offers three different dining areas, each with its own unique atmosphere. There's the Side Courtyard, the Garden Patio, and the Indoor Dining Room, so depending on the weather and the kind of atmosphere you want, you can choose a different location within this one well-regarded restaurant.

The bright and breezy Side Courtyard offers outdoor tables surrounded by potted flowers, while the Garden Patio provides a more intimate atmosphere and dense vines overhead that give you some shade while still allowing you to get plenty of fresh air. The Dining Room, on the other hand, with its flagstone floor and massive dark wood beams, provides that understated luxury atmosphere Washington, DC restaurants are so good at.

The menu here is Mediterranean in its influences, and you can order a la carte or create your own tasting menu for a single price. Dishes like roasted mushroom carbonara and charred Mediterranean octopus make this one of the most delicious places to eat in the city, as well as one of the most romantic restaurants in town.

Our recommendation

Don't neglect a starter. The cremini mushroom arancini is a delicious opening to any meal, and it's filling enough that you can probably share it with your partner so that you still have room for your main course.

Location

1734 N St NW, Washington DC

Price level

$$$$

Date night spots in Washington, DC

Primrose

This French-inspired intimate restaurant is another ideal place for a romantic date night in the capital. The big windows, powder blue decor, vintage lighting, and airy atmosphere make this the perfect backdrop for a Parisian café date, and you may even forget you're not in France itself as you enjoy one of the most romantic restaurants around. Along with the French café vibe inside, there's an outdoor seating area that is a great place to dine during the summer, although you may find yourself missing the views of the Eiffel Tower the inside may have led you to expect.

The surroundings may be unabashedly Gallic, but although the menu is certainly influenced by French cooking, it tends toward New American with French influences. Duck confit pierogies and za'atar chicken demonstrate the fusion approach to cooking on offer here, so you can combine the most delicious flavors from around the world in a single meal. This beautiful dining room is a perfect location for a romantic evening, especially when combined with the inventive menu. Don't hesitate to spend a romantic night here.

Our recommendation

If you want to keep things classically French, the steak frites are always a safe option. Alternatively, the spinach and ricotta gnudi is an excellent option for vegetarians. But whatever you choose, don't neglect the French onion soup as a starter, which is a particular standout in this intimate bistro.

Location

3000 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20017

Price level

$$$

Most romantic restaurants in Washington, DC

Bresca

One of Washington's most legendary dining establishments, this Michelin-starred restaurant is a great romantic date option if you're looking for fine dining. The well-crafted menu is supported by an incredibly well-stocked wine bar so you can put together the perfect pairing for your date night.

But just because this place has been recognized by the establishment, don't think that makes it stuffy. Chef Ryan Ratino takes an avant-garde approach to classic French cooking to create something exciting and new to please the jaded palates of Washington insiders who've seen it all before. The white-painted brick walls bring an airy feel to this restaurant, especially combined with the floor-to-ceiling windows in front and the living wall in the back. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't need to dress up for date night. There's no official dress code here, but you may feel underdressed if you show up in jeans, especially in the evening.

The menu here operates on a prix fixe basis, with three delicious courses costing $86 and four setting you back $97. That's before you get to the wine pairing, which could set you back another $65 or more, depending on how high-end you want to get. There's also a chef's tasting menu which changes by the day but is guaranteed to impress your date with your exquisite taste if you order it. At $148, it doesn't come cheap, but you will be eating what's universally acknowledged to be some of the best food in Washington, DC.

Our recommendation

Go big or go home. The chefs here really know what they're doing, so save up your money to splurge on the chef's tasting menu and taste the very best of what's in season locally.

Location

1906 14th St NW, Washington, DC

Price level

$$$

Washington's best romantic restaurants

Del Mar

Another Washington restaurant that will make you feel like you're somewhere else, Del Mar offers the experience of dining in a luxurious Spanish villa right along the Washington waterfront. The huge windows bring the outdoors inside, and the massive chandeliers add a touch of European elegance to your romantic date. The giant curved bar takes up the middle of the dining room, operating as the central hub of the restaurant. There's also an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the sunshine during the summer. Lit up with fairy lights at night, this outdoor patio is the perfect place for a memorable night with a few small plates to share with your partner.

The menu is unashamedly Spanish, so expect lots of tasty tapas and small plates. Of course, with this waterfront location, there's also a great menu of seafood on offer, along with some tasty red meat options. If you want to sample well-crafted Spanish cuisine in the nation's capital, there's no better place to do it than this. Whatever you order, you can expect ridiculously good food here.

Our recommendation

Tapas makes an excellent date food, with multiple small plates that you can share with your partner and compare notes on what you're tasting. The tapas here is excellent, so make sure to order up lots of nibbles along with a few glasses of wine and linger over your meal, Spanish-style.

Location

791 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC

Price level

$$$$

Washington's date night places

Fancy Radish

H Street's Fancy Radish is the undisputed champion if you want to enjoy a vegetarian date night. And given its relatively low prices, it's also an excellent choice if you want romance in Washington, DC, on a budget. The main dining room has a casual café feel with an exposed kitchen and a well-stocked bar, and the funky art on the walls will put you in a good mood while you enjoy the menu here.

Speaking of that: the menu here goes way beyond the usual vegetarian fare of salad and falafels. True to the restaurant's name, they do have some very fancy radishes served with smoked tamari and yuzu avocado. Spicy Dan Dan noodles and grilled tofu bring an international flair to the menu here.

Our recommendation

Try the Peruvian potatoes with peanut and cured olive for subtle flavors you wouldn't expect from this humble vegetable.

Location

600 H St NE, Washington, DC

Price level

$$

Rose's Luxury

Located in a converted Capitol Hill townhouse, Rose's Luxury doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is. Despite the fancy food on offer here, the location has preserved its homey vibe, with the chefs preparing delicious food in the exposed kitchen right in front of you. In many ways, this feels a lot like an exclusive dinner party at a friend's house - although it's highly unlikely any of your friends can cook like this.

This New American restaurant, nestled up close to some of Washington, DC's most iconic buildings, offers a unique approach to a romantic date. The rule here is that everyone at the table chooses two dishes each from the menu, so if there are two of you on your date, you'll choose four dishes. The menu is relatively small, but each dish is given the care and attention it needs to bring out all the best flavors, so trying four dishes gives you a good look at just what the chefs here can do. It also includes dessert, which the restaurant freely admits is ridiculously sized.

Our recommendation

The menu here is always changing, so there's no point looking for a particular dish. Just pick whatever looks good to you on the menu at the time that you visit, and with four dishes to split between the two of you, you're guaranteed to find something you like.

Location

717 8th St SE, Washington, DC

Price level

$$$

Restaurants with a view in DC

The Dabney

Located in what was once a residential rowhouse, this restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside. But inside, it could hardly be more romantic, with a wood-burning hearth kicking out heat in the winter and the bare brick walls and dark wood floors giving that luxurious feel. Out back, there's even a small patio area that is the perfect place to dine in the summer.

This restaurant offers only a tasting menu, so you'll need to put yourself in the hands of the chef and enjoy whatever they've created with the freshest local ingredients. They do, however, offer vegan and vegetarian substitutes, so you can still enjoy the fixed menu here even if you don't eat meat. The mid-Atlantic cuisine focuses on American classics, so you'll get to sample the very best of what Washington has to offer.

Our recommendation

There's really nothing to choose here. Just order the tasting menu and enjoy everything they put in front of you.

Location

122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC

Price level

$$$

Conclusion

Washington has a street food scene that continues to go from strength to strength, but if you want a more intimate and romantic environment, consider giving one of these restaurants a try. This elegant city also offers some great places for an aperitif or after-dinner drinks at the best rooftop bars in Washington, so it's not hard to craft the perfect romantic evening in the city. Just remember to leave your bags behind before you set out on what's for sure to be a memorable night.

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