Friday Question of the Day – Where is the Most Romantic Dinner Spot in Town?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Madame Meow

Dear PoPville,

My sweetie and I are eloping in a couple of weeks at the DC courthouse, and I’m thinking I’d like to have a romantic dinner, just the two of us, a couple of days before. What are some of the most lovely, quiet settings for a special date night in DC? Extra points for places with some strong vegetarian entrees.

It’s pricey but since this is a very special occasion, I’m voting Blue Duck Tavern. On the cheaper side, I’ve yet to find a place I love as much as the patio of Room 11 (3234 11 St. NW). Where’s your favorite romantic date night spot in town?

118 Comment

  • The back room at BlackSalt. It’s local but still out of the way, and the back room is beautiful and understated. Their waiters are exceptionally well trained and the cooking shows such wonderful attention to detail. Everything about it says intimate special occasion, without stuffiness or formality.

    Just avoid the noisy front market and the exposed middle room. The back is an entirely different experience (or maybe I was just love struck?:)

    • you were just love struck. as someone that has gone there for many years i can say the food has now fallen to ” i won’t be back ” levels. sad.

    • As soon as I saw this post, that’s the first thing that came to mind! I just took my boyfriend there for his birthday…we were surprised at how intimate it was after walking through the front half of the restaurant. I personally thought that the food was good…..

    • I really like blacksalt. Fish and chips just melts in your mouth—we went with a vegetarian friend and they didn’t have much on their menu so they crafted an entree just for her based on things she liked.

  • If you like Indian food, I’d suggest Rasika.

  • Rasika is hardly quiet!

    For a romantic Indian dinner without a doubt Bombay Club by the White House is your choice. Very vegetarian friendly as well.

    For romantic atmosphere, Tabard Inn is a good option, as is Restaurant Nora. Nora’s going to do better on the vegetarian options, although there won’t be a ton they will have something very good.

    • Nora’s actually has a vegetarian tasting menu (not vegan, but vegetarian). It’s a great idea — quiet, romantic, intimate.

    • I also love Restaurant Nora. The atmosphere is great, the wine list is solid and diverse, they had great vegetarian options, and they were the first certified organic restaurant in the country.

    • I agree that Bombay Club is a very romantic spot, I went there for valentine’s day and it was a wonderful experience.

  • completely depends on the people. one dinner at kramerbooks when i was 17 was probably the best for me. i’d suggest the place that used to be the jockey club in the fairfax hotel on mass. ave. for something fancy. the bombay club is nice, but doesn’t do much for me romantically (business lunch, not date vibe), but, again, it’s all personal.

    • Jockey Club is a good call as well.

      I agree that bombay club has that business lunch feel during the day, but at night they have a live piano player, low lighting, and it definitely has a different feel.

      • i believe it. it’s incredible how the farragut/mcpherson places change personalities day to happy hour to night. i’m now realizing the hill and downtown are all ruined for me by work.

        i’ll throw out 1789, the fancy dancy clydes on prospect, too. me and mine are giving maple a whirl for tomorrow.

      • Jockey Club is closed.

  • Not much beats Komi. Maybe not much in the world. It’s not fussy or pretentious, just amazing. For your wedding, spend the money for a meal you’ll never forget.

    • I think Komi is a bit pretentious but I agree it will be an unforgettable meal. I have only eaten there once but I expected to be wowed and I wasn’t. Also, can you order off the menu at Komi? If you are vegetarian you may be SOL. My experience was they just prepare a menu for you, no choice in the matter, see comment re pretentious – you can’t choose, we choose for you -. Perhaps they offer a vegan choice and I don’t know.

    • You cannot order off of the menu at Komi — they are all set meals. BUT, when you call they ask if anyone in your party is vegetarian, or pescetarian, or only eats fish and chicken, etc. Then they tailor the tasting menu for each person at the table, accordingly.

      One of the finest meals of my life, hands down. (I am omnivorous, my date eats only fish, they handled everything perfectly.)

    • Definitely Komi! Best restaurant in the city.

  • Don’t listen to anybody else but me – that’s cocky right? I recommend Tabard Inn. It’s the most romantic spot/bar/fireplace seating/outdoor garden/small bar/intimate restaurant in D.C. Any night of the week you will have a warm/romantic/lovely experience. I’ve lived in DC for 26 years and I got married at the Tabard Inn. I hope you get to enjoy your special night at Tabard.

  • Crazy talk. Blue Duck? Really? My first date, with my husband of 12 years was at Utopia. If I were to do it all over again, it would be there- we had little means and the food was average, the ambiance was cozy, but the company was exceptional. If I were to do this now, I would go to Plume.

  • I don’t know about Blue Duck either…too many tourists from the Hyatt eating there. Texans kill romantic ambiance.

  • When I was in my mid-20s I thought mei and yu in Georgetown was the height of pantie dropping romance

  • Can’t believe I didn’t suggest Restaurant Eve right out of the gate. They are in Old Town, but incredibly vegetarian friendly, and in my experience their vegetarian tasting menus blow Komi and City Zen (their two closest competitors in terms of price in the city) out of the water. Very romantic, in a old tavern with a fireplace kind of way.

  • Tabbard Inn or Vermillion (In Old Town) would be it for me.

  • Maybe Plume in the Jefferson?

    • +1: the first place I thought of was Plume in The Jefferson Hotel on 16th Street, right down from the White House. It’s the most romantic place I’ve ever been in Washington, DC.

  • I agree with PoP re: Blue Duck. St. Regis is also pretty freakin’ romantic and delicious.

    I’m sure if you tell them about your situation ahead of time both of these places would find a way to accommodate you with both quiet seating and veg options. Congrats, and enjoy!! 🙂

  • Thai X-ing

  • Veggie burger combo at Burger King. Go thru the drive thru and then makeout in the car to Marvin Gaye.

  • Obelisk in DuPont! Very intimate and one of the best restaurants in the city.

    • I was just about to post Obelisk as well. It’s a tiny restaurant, so the noise level is low and the food is delicious. It’s definitely a meal you won’t forget!

      • Also- I’m vegetarian as well, and the vegetarian plates were sometimes better than the non-veg ones (as rated by my date).

  • I had dinner at Al Tiramisu several years ago and it struck me as a very nice date spot. The food was pretty good, but I don’t recall it blowing me away. But it was dimly lit, friendly, nice wine list, and overall a great experience.

  • I actually think 1905 on 9th St NW near U is incredibly romantic. It is very small and cozy, but its got this sort of dramatic decor that I think it is beautiful. It’s really a hidden gem of a bistro tucked away. All the food I’ve had there has been extraordinary as well. It’s not a mainstream super well-known fancy place that you’re going to see the who’s who of Washington at, but for me, I’d say it’s perfect.

  • SouthwestDC

    Bistro Cacao is my favorite romantic spot:

    It’s very quiet (save for the Edith Piaf playing softly in the background) and the decor is utterly charming. For parties of two you get your own curtained-off area to yourself.

    I’m not sure I’d recommend it for the OP, since they only have one vegetarian dinner entree, but I thought I’d throw it out there for anyone else who might be interested. Their brunch is really good too.

    • +1. Upstairs has nice romantic charm to it, dark lighting and comfortable huge chairs wedged into small, private nooks. And a meal there won’t break the bank like a lot of the listed places.

  • 2941. Terrible location, amazing food, amazing ambiance, amazing food. And they give you something to take home. When I went, we got a couple of superb baguettes to take with us.

    • PDleftMtP

      How recently did you go? I haven’t been back, but it was totally redone at the beginning of the year, including a new menu/approach. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

      • A few years back. But if past performances aren’t relevant, what’s the point of this whole post?

        • PDleftMtP

          I’m not trying to be snarky, just trying to point out that the restaurant that’s there now is completely different than the one that was there a few years ago (which I also liked very much). New decor, new chef, new menu. Only the name is the same, so whatever they get if they go there won’t be much like what we got.

  • Two Quail over by Union Station/North Cap Hill was so romantic and private it made me uncomfortable. But I am not that romantic, and easily made to feel uncomfortable. So definitely try there.

  • Little Fountain. A quiet respite from hectic Adams Morgan with excellent food.

  • Cork—wine and wonderful food! i love the avocado on toasted bread with olive oil and crushed pistachios and sea salt

  • I agree that Komi is the best there is for a truly special occasion, but it’s not really vegetarian-heavy (and there is no choice of what to eat), plus of course it is incredibly pricey.

    Bistro Cacao on Capitol Hill is absolutely gorgeous, hard to top that for a romantic evening, really a sumptuous feel to the decor.

    I agree also with 1905. I’ve had very inconsistent experience with the food and service, there, unfortunately, 2/3 of the time both are very good, but on a few occasions, I’ve been let down, although I haven’t been for around a year so hard to be current on that front. But in terms of romantic atmosphere, it’s really lovely and feels like a hidden gem.

    One other suggestion: start with drinks at the Columbia Room in The Passenger. Cozy, romantic, just a great time.

    Disagree x1000 with Thai Crossing. Perhaps my worst dining experience in DC. I thought the food was not very good, it was incredibly expensive for Thai food (if you want interesting Thai cooking at that price point Little Sero is much better in all respects), I was crammed into a tiny chair I could barely fit into, and there were cats walking around the kitchen and dining area, which has to be some sort of health code violation (and this is from someone who loves cats). Also, I had a terrible date there, but that wasn’t the fault of the restaurant :).

    • I see what you’re saying about Thai xing but i think its just a unique experience. You aren’t paying for service because you don’t get much. Instead you get fresh food that caters to you. They even grow their own herbs. If you have a dietary restriction, they will work around it. $30 for a 7 course meal is pretty good.

      • $30? When I went I could have sworn it ended up at $50 per person, which isn’t much less than Little Sero. But it’s possible I am misremebering.

    • Komi is actually very flexible. I let them know about my food restrictions and they were very accommodating. And it was definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

    • komi is completely vegetarian friendly (and quiet and romantic). you tell them what you can/cannot eat when you make the reservation, and they will make you an amazing meal. i actually enjoyed komi more than restaurant eve, but they were both very good.
      i’m not sure if the OP will be able to get a reservation at komi, though. used to be that you had to make reservations one month out but not sure if that changed since they expanded.

    • How long ago did you eat at Thai Xing? They’ve recently expanded (now taking up all floors, not just the basement) and when I went there were no cats in evidence. I thought the food was excellent, and on Sundays they offer an all-vegetarian menu for $30/person + tax. The only downside might be that it’s BYOB, so if you’re planning on pairing booze with your foods, it’s probably not the place to go.

  • i’m following this closely (about to get married, been living an hour apart for 2 years, probably leaving dc for cali in two months, just need a few nice places for us to chill over the next month or so), but somehow now have a wicked craving for ledo’s. i can recommend the one in mt airy as a good date spot when you’re 18.

  • I basically ‘second’ the Tabbard Inn and Little Fountain. I’m not a very romantic person, so my idea of romance is cuddling on a couch at Tryst, talking and drinking coffee-ish beverages.

  • Hand down, Eola It’s got a great environment, it’s small, and the food is amazing.

  • Corduroy

    Just dont tell anyone else about it please.

    • Eola and Corduroy are also both good calls. I went to Eola the day I got engaged and had a good experience. It is basically a not-obscenely-rich-man’s Komi … same concept, same sort of creativity, same intimate charm, the food isn’t nearly as good, but then again, the cost isn’t nearly as high, and it’s still very good. Corduroy isn’t particularly atmospheric, but it is a great, charming comfortable spot for a romantic dinner, and the food is certianly top-notch.

  • Pretty subjective question. I think the most romantic dinner my fiancee and I had was at the one outside table at Little Fountain Cafe. I also agree with the poster who said Eola, simply because their food is so interesting so it makes it fun and intimate to try it together.

  • this was a few years ago, so i don’t know it’s current state, but my wife and i went to CityZen to celebrate an anniversary. it was one of the best and most romantic dinning out experiences we’ve had in dc. it’s in a bit of an odd location, which to us meant it felt like we went out of town and we didn’t run into anyone we knew. we had the vegetarian tasting menu. it was very expensive for us, but we had such a blast and the food was fantastic. the service was phenomenal.

    • pablo .raw

      …and if you are there on August 8, plan your dinner so that you’ll be outside by 11:35pm, and get ready for an amazing Moonrise behind the Capitol… (weather permitting of course)

      • Pablo – is this the moonrise that everyone photographs from Iwo Jima in the classic photos? I was there once for that rise and there were about 200 photographers! It is dramatic.

  • I was treated last night to a lovely dinner at 1789, not the most romantic spot in town, but very cool place, and even cooler to see Senator Lieberman dining there nearby.

  • Cafe Berlin!

  • I am going to vote for restaurant nora based on the fact that I got engaged at Asia Nora and they nailed it for me. Definitely call in advance, let them know the occassion, I think they will go all out for you. They did for us and I suspect that same ethic exists at the original location – sadly Asia Nora has gone the way of the do do.

  • Based on ambience and romance nothing beats a candle light dinner along the canal on the back porch of Sea catch in Georgetown

  • Bistro Cacao or Obelisk. While the food at Obelisk is outstanding, it was the pacing of the meal that made it particularly romantic for me. Felt like we could sit there for hours chatting…. no worries about having to give up our seats to the next people in line.

  • I would suggest Al Crostino on U St. A quaint Italian spot on U St. Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this a great place for a romantic dinner/date night. Every time I’ve gone the service has been wonderful, the food delightful, and the atmosphere perfect (not too many people, dim lighting, great wine, etc.).

  • It’s outside DC, but you can’t beat The Inn at Little Washington. I haven’t been in a few years, but the place was amazing when I went. You better have some money though, my dinner was – and I s**t you not – $1,000.00

    • +1. My first thought. I was treated there for my 40th. Best meal in my life and so much fun. We stayed at the B&B down the street rather than drive back to DC.

      As long as we’re talking outside DC—a no-no on this blog, I understand—Chez L’Auberge Francois in Great Falls and the Mt. Vernon Inn.

  • To each their own I suppose! My favorite spot for a romantic dinner is Floriana, on 17th St NW in Dupont. It’s tiny (really should make reservations) and can be a bit loud because of the small space, but I think the decor is simple and charming and the food is fantastic. My boyfriend is vegetarian and can always find something mind-blowingly delicious (pasta or risotto). Something about their food just seems very romantic to me– or maybe it’s the wine I normally have with it? Either way, if you go and want to sit inside request one of the tables by the window. Space is cramped but it’s fun to people watch.

  • Cashion’s, Cashion’s, Cashion’s! Wonderful food and great atmosphere. My favorite place in Washington!

  • I’ll throw 701 out there: beautiful space, with an intimate, supper-clubby vibe, live jazz on the weekends, plus really good food, extensive wine list, and attentive, but not overbearing service.

  • Mama Ayesha’s! Wonderful atmosphere, dimmed lighting, very romantic.

  • My partner and I are big fans of Agora ( Good atmosphere, excellent service, delicious drinks, and really good (vegetarian but not vegan friendly) food. And aren’t small plates automatically romantic because you’re sharing? 😉

  • Congratulations on your upcoming wedding/marriage; I love how you’re doing it, how you are celebrating this special occasion.

    I haven’t read any of the responses here; only wanted to wish you happiness for your future.

  • Well, it used to be the Iron Gate restaurant – hands down, but that’s no longer with us.
    If I’m taking my wife out for a romantic dinner, I’d probably choose Eola, however my girlfriend prefers the Tabard Inn.
    If you’re willing to drive out of town check out the Ashby Inn in Paris, VA.

  • I’ll put a vote in for Ezme — Turkish, so lots of vegetarian options. Its very small, so it keeps the noise down, and its romantic.

  • PDleftMtP

    If the question is most romantic, not best food, I think for me that knocks out some of the suggestions like Komi and Obelisk (both wonderful restaurants but spare spaces). Blue Duck feels very corporate to me as a space, though again, I like it. If it were me, I’d be looking for at least very good food, special atmosphere.

    My three choices – depending on what you’re looking for – would be as follows:

    1. Tabard Inn. If you want a warm, cozy, intimate vibe, this is perfect; only downside is you won’t be off by yourself just because the dining room is small.
    2. Marcel’s. If you want fancy-schmancy, I would go to Marcel’s over Citronelle 7 days a week. Not as expensive, better food, less full of itself. This will look like your (or at least my) mental image of the white tablecloth “Fancy Restaurant.”
    3. Taberna del Alabardero. This one is underrated. The food’s very good, the service is the best of the three, and it’s got kind of a red velvet/gilded carving vibe that I like – somehow, it looks more like they’re making an effort for you than that they expect you to be dressed up for them. If you call ahead and tell them it’s a special occasion, they will really take care of you.

    • Poste is where my partner (who is vegetarian) and I went when we quasi-eloped and it was really nice. We ended up getting dessert at Zaytinya afterwards. Zaytinya has an upstairs that’s a bit quieter so if you pick there I’d recommend it.

      Also, if you’re willing to go out of town, I love Volt in Frederick. It’s always been delicious.

  • Sad-rant: One of my closest friends is moving to NH with her hubs and adorable chubby-cheeked toddler IN TWO WEEKS. It’s been a whirlwind month of “we’re putting our house up for sale, hey it sold, we have a speedy closing, oh we’re moving.” It’s to be closer to her husband’s work, which is great for them, but she’s an amazing gal and I will miss having her in the area.

    Rave: Yay frequent flier miles! I heard NH in the fall is beautiful.

    Rave: Splendid weather today! Ready to curl up with a good book this rainy weekend.

    • Rant: Posting your rant/rave on the wrong post. Clearly time to get some lunch.

      Sorry, y’all.

  • orderedchaos

    I love the tasting room at Restaurant Eve. Great food, phenomenal service, and a wonderful atmosphere.
    Not in the city (it’s in Old Town), but close enough to be well worth the trip.

  • Do you know why melons have to have church weddings?

    Because they cantelope.

  • 1905 is pretty romantic…

  • saf

    Choose a place that you think will last. You will probably want to return for milestones.

    (Petito’s, the place we had our rehearsal dinner, is now gone and I still miss it. )

  • Someone else already posted it, but Little Fountain Cafe is a well-kept secret (hmm – let’s keep it that way…)

  • Try Elizabeth’s Gone Raw. Great vegan fare….

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