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Happy Birthday!: Our Favorite Places to Blow Out the Candles
Comments () | Published July 8, 2009
Where to go if you want to see and be seen:  

EatBar. This darkly lit, always crowded Arlington bar/lounge has a back room that can be reserved for cocktail parties and happy hours for groups of up to 50. The small-plates menu is available in hors-d’oeuvres-size portions and includes options both nostalgic—corn dogs ($2.75 each)—and refined, such as steak tartare ($3 each). The space is available starting at 4, but it must be open to the public by 9. Unlike most restaurants, this one doesn’t charge a room-rental fee. For more information, call Clare Parker at 703-447-1757.

Mie N Yu. At this dolled-up pan-Asian restaurant in Georgetown, there’s tons of private-dining space, but the most unique is the wrought-iron birdcage, a seating area suspended from the ceiling. The space is available for up to eight guests, who can choose from four-, five-, or six-course dinners that range from $95 to $125 per person. Wine and Champagne pairings add $55 to $125 per person. You can also order a custom cake—there are six-, eight, and 10-inch options—for $30 to $60. For more information, call Emily Jarmuth or Michael Cherner at 202-222-0948.
Want to party big but spend small? Here’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck:

Four Sisters. Food this good rarely comes at a cost this cheap. This colorful dining room—one of the top Vietnamese restaurant in Washington—offers  menus for both large groups (a menu for six is $98.90—that’s less than $17 per person; a ten-person menu is $168). Each menu contains nine dishes. Some of our favorites are the sweet-and-sour tamarind soup; grilled black-pepper beef; and caramelized fish or pork in a clay pot. There’s free parking next to the restaurant. For more information, call 703-539-8566.

Lebanese Taverna. Each of these five handsomely decorated Middle Eastern restaurants have private-dining space, each a different size. But the guidelines are the same: Any party with more than 12 guests requires a set menu, which can be served either family style ($32.50 to $55 per person) or as a three-course plated dinner ($40 to $50 per person). The family-style options include a first course of mezze, three entrées, and a plate of baklava. The plated dinner includes a salad, a choice of one entrée, and a family-style plate of baklava. There’s a $3-per-person charge if you bring your own cake. For more information, call the individual locations.

Oyamel/Jaleo/Zaytinya. A celebrity chef’s food at bargain prices? At three of José Andrés’s restaurants, a small-plates format makes that unlikely combination possible. The Mexican-themed Oyamel offers two different three-course menus ($35 and $42 per person), while Jaleo and Zaytinya offer three four-course menu options (Jaleo: $35, $40, $55; Zaytinya: $44, $49, $59) for large groups. Each course (except dessert) comes with three items served family-style and meant for sharing. Although dessert is included in the menus, customers can bring their own cake for a $2.50-per-person cutting fee. Large groups can reserve private-dining space only Sunday through Thursday evenings, except for Jaleo’s Crystal City location. For more information, e-mail or call Tiffany Dunn at 202-638-0202.
If you want to celebrate with drinks, here are bars that have great cocktails and good, grazing-friendly snacks:

Black’s Bar & Kitchen. Jeff and Barbara Black’s Zen-modern (but loud) bar and patio in Bethesda make an energetic spot for a party. They’re both first-come, first-served, says general manager Doug Doyle, “but there are exceptions to every rule.” While you usually can’t make reservations at the bar, Doyle says he’d let parties reserve the space, depending on the day and time requested—you’re more likely to secure a reservation on a Tuesday at 4 than, say, a Friday at 7. In terms of food and drinks, Black’s will work with customers to create menus, but Doyle recommends coming during happy hour (Monday through Friday 4 to 7), when there are food and drink specials galore (think half-price mussels, $6 martinis, and 50-cent spiced shrimp). To arrange for a birthday cake, you can work with the restaurant’s pastry chef, Catherine McArdle; no outside food is permitted. To make arrangements, call 301-652-5525.

Bourbon Steak. At celebrity chef Michael Mina’s fish-heavy steakhouse in the Georgetown Four Seasons Hotel, there are no reservations taken for the plush bar area, so be sure to get there early to scope out a spot for your party. While the restaurant can’t guarantee seats, you can make prior arrangements for a cake, flowers, Champagne service, and appetizers (prices start at $30 a person). There’s no set menu for parties at the bar, so the managers will work with you to create a food-and-drink menu that suits your group size and budget. Call 202-944-2026 to make arrangements.

PX. This Old Town speakeasy is gilded with Victorian chandeliers and manned by one of the best bartenders in town, Todd Thrasher, who makes his own tonic and bitters and changes his cocktails with the seasons. Private parties are allowed to use the space for three hours at a time and must include at least 20 and no more than 40 guests. If you book Sunday through Tuesday, you’ll pay $70 per person for cocktails, $30 per person for charcuterie and cheeses, and $20 per person for hors d’oeuvres. Wednesday through Saturday, you can book from 6 to 9 or 7 to 10; the prices are the same, but there’s a $3,500 minimum. An individual birthday cake is $13, and a nine-inch round is $85. Let your guests know they’re expected to dress to impress, which means men needs jackets, and no flip-flops, shorts, tank tops, T-shirts, or hats are allowed. For more information, e-mail


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 07/08/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles