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Friday Question of the Day – Favorite Special Occasion Restaurant?

by Prince Of Petworth March 24, 2016 at 10:22 pm 78 Comments


Since it’s not so easy for me to go out to restaurants lately, I’ve been enjoying daydreaming about where to go when I do have the chance. We’ve spoken about the standbys like Blue Duck Tavern and Komi but I’m wondering about some of the new spots that have opened. So if you were to schedule a birthday dinner in the next few weeks – what would be your first choice “fancy” or just delicious restaurants to hit? Does Komi still top the list?

  • HillEast

    The Grill Room in G-Town is amazing…I’m still dreaming about the venison I had there months ago. And Fiola Mare, can’t forget that one, especially with the views.

    • dcdude

      For anyone that misses the Palena burger as much as I do. You can get them at the Grill Room, including at the bar.

  • Michael

    Long John Silvers when I want to reward myself. Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon when I spoil my lady

  • sproc

    Huge fan of Iron Gate Tasting Room. Wonderful, intimate atmosphere without being stuffy, and the service is world class. Very unique and interesting wines, too. Worth every penny of the splurge.

    • YUM


    • Jst

      yes! great place!

    • los

      +1 Not a fancy or expensive as some other options in town but my wife and I love it for all the reasons mentioned above

  • Fiola. Also, for dining with a group that ranges from carnivores to vegans, I really like Equinox for its menu variety.

  • dcd

    Fiola Mare, definitely. I still have fond memories of Komi, and have high hopes for Metier and Pineapple and Pearls (though it’s doubtful it will be able to live up to its hype.) Truly fine dining in DC is at a bit of a nadir – the trend is away from the traditional service and pacing. I am generally in favor of the trend, but it does take some getting used to.
    When we’re bringing kids, standbys are Kapnos, Bourbon Steak, and Del Campo. More recently, the Dabney.

    • dcd

      I should add that my favorite restaurant in DC in Little Serow. But, since my wife just likes it OK, and my daughter can’t handle the spice, I don’t think of it for a special occasion. I go with friends, or so – like next week, when they’re gone for spring break.

  • Nancy

    Nora’s. Hands down. All our special events have been there for years. Food’s still great, staff is fabulous, and you get menus with your name on them when it’s your birthday! ;).

    • dcd

      Do you take a DeLorean, outfitted with a Flux Capacitor(tm) and driven by Marty McFly, back to 1995 when you go?
      In all seriousness, I haven’t been there in over 16 years, when I had a terrible experience. Of course, that means I haven’t been in 16 years, so it might be very good. Also, I’m curious – why go to the same place for every special occasion? There are lots of new and exciting restaurants that have opened since Nora’s was in its heyday – no interest in trying something new?

      • MtP

        Just because you haven’t been in 16 years doesn’t mean it still isn’t an amazing place. Its not as trendy as many other places (far from it!), but I have been a handful of times over the past 5 years and have had an AMAZING experience each time. Incredible food and great service.

        • dcd

          “Just because you haven’t been in 16 years doesn’t mean it still isn’t an amazing place. ”
          Well, sure – which is why I wrote, ” Of course, that means I haven’t been in 16 years, so it might be very good.”

      • ChillyDC

        I’m with you, dcd. I went there frequently in the 90s (lived nearby), and never had a meal that I considered worth the time or money. Always disappointing if not inedible. I recently joined friends for a special occasion dinner, and was served pork medallions that felt and tasted like chewing on balloons. I’m not one to send meals back (I think it would have diminished the experience for everyone at the table) so I pushed them around on my plate and left the restaurant hungry (again). I will never understand why people go there.

    • anonymous

      I’m so baffled by these good reviews. After hearing about this place for years, I went a few months ago, and I will never go again! We had such an unpleasant experience. It may be a matter of preference – the atmosphere *feels* a bit more special than other places with comparable price-points, given the white linens and everything. But we found it to be a terrible value compared with other more recent additions to the DC dining scene – the food preparation was very uneven and we found the atmosphere stuffy. Maybe we just caught them on a bad night, but that’s the thing: you don’t get a second chance when your competition is good.

  • Tsar Of Truxton

    I still love Estadio for a nice date. Doi Moi and Proof are also really great (yes, that is my favorite restaurant group). If it is a really fancy occasion, I would second the votes for Fiola and Fiola Mare. For a casual date, I really like Chaplin (it’s not the best ramen in the city, but its good and much more accessible than the other joints with a great outdoor space). I’ve never had the pleasure of Komi or Minibar…someday.

    • Adam Cohi

      +1 for Chaplin for dates

      • palisades

        I’m excited to try Chaplin. It doesn’t seem like it has the best food but the ambiance looks great

  • IDontGetIt

    Inn at Little Washington.

    • Dognonymous

      Yes. If you’re up for the long trip, there’s nothing better.

      • dcd

        +1. The only times I’ve ever been, we’ve stayed out there rather than come back to the city – there’s noting that dampens a special meal more than an hour-long car ride at the end of it. So, factoring the cost of a room, it is a very pricy meal, but just fantastic.

  • Ally

    The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. Amazing experience.

    • one place I wish we’d gone while we lived there!

    • anon

      I was going to post exactly this. Lovely.

  • Nate S.

    The Atlas Room. It never disappoints.

  • CapitalDame

    I go one of two ways: intimate or a good view. I really like 1789 for its great service and intimate atmosphere. Restaurant Eve in Alexandria was a similar experience, but not in DC. I have a soft spot for Tabard Inn and Bistro Cacao. I like Fiola Mare and Osteria Morini, too.

    • sproc

      1789 has a great atmosphere and solid service but I find the food very underwhelming. Not so hot on Tabard Inn either. Nothing wrong with old school places, they just need to be good!

      • MtP

        Agreed. This is why I still like Nora, but stay away from Tabard and some other similar old school places.

      • Dognonymous

        Tabard Inn was wonderful, especially their garden patio, but really fell off over the past few years. New ownership, I think. I don’t go back anymore.

        • bv1837

          I’ve had very nice experiences at Tabard Inn the last few years, despite consistent reports of their decline. It’s still been a nice special occasion place for us, in terms of both food and atmosphere. Perhaps we’ve just been lucky.

  • MtP

    If I had to pick one, I would pick Fiola. I love pasta, and this is the best most decedant pasta I have had in town. For celebratory cocktails, Barmini hands down. Have had a couple great experiences there, and it is such a unique experience.

  • Andie302

    Convivial was really great recently! Next two on my list to try are Kinship and The Dabney – I’ve heard great things about both, now just need the occasion!

    • Nick

      Convivial was incredible. We went for Valentine’s Day and had a fantastic meal. The grilled white perch, turkey leg confit, fried chicken coq au vin and bacon cheeseburger (seriously) were all amazing.

    • Philippe Lecheval

      Had a mostly awful brunch there recently that left me feeling ill afterward, but it’s good to hear that dinner there is better. I guess.

    • Bdylan89

      I need to say that I went to Convivial for dinner and it was very sub par. Small plates are always a scam because we ordered a bunch of them between the four of us and none of they were amazing. They were good but nothing really left a lasting impression. It was also way over priced and we all left feeling hungry. It’s not a place I’d go back to again except maybe to sit at the bar because the cocktail I had was great….I’ll give them that. I know Roses Luxury has been hyped so much but my experience there and the food I had was way above Convivial. I also really like Proof too as I’ve had multiple great experiences there. Also The Red Hen in Bloomingdale is fantastic and reasonably priced.

  • Nick

    My favorite special occasion restaurant is Komi. That said, I’ve only been to Komi once and would like to try other restaurants on the same level as Komi for special occasions. Not sure if they are on the same “level” but I’m eyeing Masseria, Kyirisan and Tail Up Goat for special occasions later this year.

    • anonymous

      Tail Up Goat is super fun! They’re doing really innovative stuff.

      • skaballet

        +1 Agree. Tail Up Goat is great.

  • CPMA

    Kinship was awesome for my birthday a week or so ago. I’d say it was my favorite meal I’ve had in DC in the 3 years I’ve been here.

    • Manamana

      Yes to Kinship! It’s easily my new favorite restaurant in DC.

  • n=1

    Blue Duck Tavern. I think Black Salt is better than Fiola Mare, although both are stellar.

  • kittycatbob

    It used to be Plume, but when I took my parents there for their 50th wedding anniversary last year, the service was below par for what is expected of a restaurant of that caliber. I love Marcel’s. The staff is amazing and the food is yummy.

    • dcd

      I forgot about Marcel’s – very good call.

      • sproc

        +1. Very solid choice, and often a little easier to snag a reservation on short notice compared to some other fine dining options.

  • hammers

    I have never been anywhere fancy. Le Sigh.

    • FridayGirl

      I’d argue that even non-fancy restaurants can be special occasion restaurants.

  • Jessica

    For special occasion + pig out = Fogo de Chao! Also, Sushi Taro (if not pigging out)..

  • pokerface

    I love i Ricchi on 19th just north of M. Amazing service and the food never disappoints.

    • That One Guy

      Are you bluffing? (Sorry had to ask given screen name)

  • C_petworth

    Compass Rose!

  • Anon Spock

    First time I had foie gras. As others have said, excellent service and food.

  • Philippe Lecheval

    Komi is still my top choice, but I last ate there in the fall and while it was still great, it wasn’t quite as great as it once was.

  • JZinDC

    Brasserie Beck!

  • We went to Rasika for every celebration – it felt like family after a while and they’d celebrate with us.

  • new_in_Brightwood

    Beuchert’s Saloon, super fantastic cocktails & food and the atmosphere is wonderful. Sit at the bar if you’re with a date — watching the bartenders make the drinks is both beautiful & interesting.

    • AJSE

      Aw, Beuchert’s is my favorite second/third date place.

  • oh2dc

    Another vote for Fiola Mare, Komi, and Marcel’s.

  • Eric

    Beau Thai in Mt. Pleasant

    • Clueless

      Their massaman curry is the shiznit!

  • Bloomy

    You all need to check out Masseria, over by Union Market… you can do drinks before hand at the market, too. It”s pre-fixe and a little spendy, but the food and service is top notch. I think the chef used to be at Fiola.

    • jjulesj

      The Dabney is also fantastic

    • Eleven

      Yes, we just did my husband’s birthday at the Chef’s Table at Masseria. Fantastic service and great food. Nick introduced each course to us and was so humble and cool about it all. And he had no problem accommodating my vegetarianism.

  • rachel

    my birthday is on Tuesday and I’ll be on the wonderland patio!!! but for a “nice” / special occasion dinner I like Red Hen or Estadio. Or if my family is in town, Brookland’s Finest.

  • jae1012

    Dino’s Grotto. Consistently great food. Also recently finally made it over to Red Hen and loved it too.

  • Hilly

    1. Marcel’s
    2. Komi
    3. Charlie Palmer (I’ll probably get flamed for this. However, the service is outstanding which can often be lacking in DC!)

  • Colhi

    Corduroy has excellent food and a quiet, pleasant atmosphere.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    The Prime Rib for mom’s special occasions – the owner is her cousin.
    For my birthday last year, sis and I went to Chez Billy Sud. The food was excellent, the wine was good, and they comped me dessert (chocolate mousse) for my b’day.
    Kapnos is next door and very good; want to try the Fainting Goat and Provision 14.

    • FridayGirl

      I really want to go to Chez Billy/Chez Billy Sud. Maybe I’ll start saving up for it and having a graduation dinner there this summer or something.
      Also we are definitely neighbors, but I haven’t been to Kapnos yet either. Gotta start making a list, I guess!

  • dhendrix

    I like 1789 for the atmosphere more than anything, but the food is always good too.

  • anon

    Red Hen in Bloomingdale! if you can get reservations (not easy at all), highly recommended

  • Petworth

    Most recently, Crane and Turtle. Sad to know they will gone soon. Went for the first time recently and had a wonderful meal and discovered orange wine, which I now want all the time. So good that I made another reservation before they close.

    Want to go to Fiola and Fiola Mare.

    • soozles

      totally agree with you about this. I’ve been there three or four times and had impeccable service and great food.

  • BlueStreak

    For me it’s Obelisk, not as trendy, but great food, incredible service and the tasting menu is always fantastic. The menu is always different too. I love this place.

    Failing that, I love going to a good steakhouse for a celebration. My favorite is Bourbon Steak.

  • Paulo

    Kinship!! Excellent food, ambiance, and service.

  • Rachel

    Best food + romantic, intimate atmosphere
    1. Masseria
    2. Iron Gate tasting room
    3. Red Hen
    4. Convivial
    5. The Dabney

    I would suggest that you tell any of the above places that you are celebrating,n they may surprise you with something!

    If it’s a very, very special occasion, then Minibar. It really is unforgettable. Also, if you want to combine dinner with great cocktails, I suggest the Columbia Room or Barmini before or after dinner. Plan 2.5 hours for the CR tasting and 1.5-2 hours for barmini depending on how many drinks you want to enjoy. Both have romantic, intimate, but playful vibes.

  • bv1837

    It’s not super fancy, but Ripple is my favorite place for a nicer dinner in DC.

  • DC_Chica

    I haven’t been to most of the fancier options listed here, but the best meal I’ve eaten recently was at Ambar. It looks like they offer a $49 all you can eat and drink “Balkan experience” which sounds heavenly!


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