Where to party seems to be the question of any moment. It's certainly one of the most often asked of our food and wine editors. Readers always seem to be searching for that perfect restaurant with a private room for a birthday bash, wedding rehearsal dinner, business powwow, office party, or some other occasion that calls for privacy.
Hotels with lavishly appointed party rooms are obvious choices, especially for large gatherings. Some of our favorites with well-regarded restaurants are the Jefferson (Jefferson Restaurant), Willard Inter-Continental (Willard Room), Four Seasons (Seasons), Hotel George (Bis), the Park Hyatt (Melrose), and the Latham (Citronelle), all in DC. In Virginia there's the Morrison House, with its Elysium restaurant in Alexandria, and the Tysons Corner Ritz-Carlton, home to Maestro, where the elegant private room affords a view of the kitchen. Also popular are the steakhouse chains--Morton's, Bobby Van's, the Palm, and Sam & Harry's, all of which have clubby private rooms.
Restaurant party spaces come in many shapes and sizes. More and more eateries are adding them as a hedge against slow periods. Sometimes there's no extra cost beyond food and beverage fees. On other occasions, a minimum is charged or there's a room fee, often depending on the time and day of the event.
Here are our favorite restaurants with private rooms in the Washington area. Note that we've considered only places that offer completely separate rooms--many other restaurants have areas or alcoves that also can accommodate groups.
IN THE DISTRICT
B. Smith's (50 Massachusetts Ave., NE; 202-289-6188), Barbara Smith's Southern spot near Capitol Hill, in historic Union Station, has four private rooms seating 18 to 50; room charges and minimums vary.
Cafe Milano (3251 Prospect St., NW; 202-333-6183), a chichi Italian place in Georgetown that's a favorite with the Euro set, offers three rooms seating 40 to 70 plus a patio with room for 100.
Caucus Room (401 Ninth St., NW; 202-393-1300), a clubby steak place done up with polished mahogany, has six glass-walled private rooms that can seat 6 to 75 for dinner; there's no charge for the room.
Chef Geoff's (3201 New Mexico Ave., NW; 202-237-7800), a Modern American restaurant in Wesley Heights, offers a private room with a bar that seats 64 and a large outdoor patio that seats 65. There is no fee, but there are minimums depending on the time and day.
Cities (2424 18th St. NW; 202-328-7194), a hip, romantic Adams Morgan spot with ever-changing cuisines, has a private room that can seat 90; there's a $650 room charge, and the minimum depends on the day.
DC Coast (1401 K St., NW; 202-216-5988), Jeff Tunks's stylish Modern American place in a historic downtown space, has a private room for 55 diners with a price tag of $100 for the room and a $1,200 minimum for food and drink.
Equinox (818 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-331-8118), a Modern American restaurant downtown, has a private room that accommodates 8 to 14 at no extra charge.
Galileo (1110 21st St., NW; 202-293-7191), a premier regional-Italian restaurant, has an elegant wine room that seats 8 to 16, a private party room seating 35 to 52, and Laboratorio, where chef/owner Roberto Donna cooks in an open kitchen and the tariff is higher than at the restaurant, with space for 18 to 32. An outdoor terrace seating 40 is also available; minimums vary for the different spaces, but no extra charge for use of the room as long as these are met.
Old Ebbitt Grill (675 15th St., NW; 202-347-4801), gas-lamp lit and serving classic American cuisine in the shadow of the White House, is more moderately priced than most others; the Cabinet Room seats 50 for dinner and costs $50 to rent with a $350 minimum at lunch, $750 at dinner.
Olives (1600 K St., NW; 202-452-1866), the downtown-DC outpost of Todd English's trendy modern Mediterranean chain, has a wine room large enough for 20 at dinner and a "lamp" room with a 50-person capacity; there is no minimum.
Osteria Goldoni (1120 20th St., NW; 202-293-1511), Fabrizio Aielli's sophisticated, adventurous Italian restaurant, has one room seating 20 with a $400 minimum and another seating 100 with no minimum.
1789 (1226 36th St., NW; 202-965-1789), a historic Georgetown townhouse known for its Modern American cooking, holds private parties at F. Scott's in the adjoining building. The Garden Room holds 18, the Middleburg Room 56; there is no room charge, but there is a minimum.
Taberna del Alabardero (1776 I St., NW; 202-429-2200), a gracious, Old World Spanish restaurant downtown, has two private rooms, one big enough for 10 at dinner, the other for 30; there's a minimum on weekends based on the number of revelers.
West 24 (1250 24th St., NW; 202-331-1100), James Carville and Mary Matalin's ode to American cooking with leanings toward the South, has two private rooms seating 20 and 40 and an outdoor patio that seats 40; there is no room fee, and minimums vary according to number of people.
Colvin Run Tavern (8045 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; 703-356-9500), Bob Kinkead's handsome Tysons Corner outpost, has an adventurous Modern American menu and the Camden Room, seating 8 to 12, for private parties; no room fee or minimum.
Duangrat's (5878 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 703-820-5775), an upscale, award-winning Thai restaurant, offers a room seating 100 for $175 and minimums of $25 per person for dinner, $15 for lunch.
ECiti Restaurant & Bar (1524 Spring Hill Rd., McLean; 703-760-9000), a Tysons Corner bar/restaurant where Internet types schmooze, has a second-floor, glass-enclosed party room that seats 90; no fee but a $1,000 food-and-drink minimum.
Evening Star Cafe (2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-549-5051), a whimsical place known for its comfort food, has a private room seating 50. Fees depend on the day: $750 food-and-drink minimum.
Hee Been (6231 Little River Tpk., Alexandria; 703-941-3737), an authentic Korean barbecue restaurant that offers other native dishes as well, has three party rooms seating 10 to 12 each (on low cushions if desired), or the three can be combined to seat 30 to 40. No minimum or charge for the rooms.
Lightfoot (11 N. King St., Leesburg; 703-771-2233), a Modern American dining room in a historic bank building, has three private rooms: the Sheridan, seating 130 (120 with dance floor); the Marshall, seating 30; and the Green Room, which holds 12. Fees and minimums vary.
L'Côte d' Or Café, (6876 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-538-3033), an engaging Provençal restaurant, charges $200 for its party room, which holds 20 to 60 people, and requires a minimum of 20 guests.
Addie's (11120 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 301-881-0081), an ecletic Modern American restaurant, has a party room for 18 and an outdoor patio seating 50. No room fee; minimum depends on time and day.
Andalucia (4931 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-907-0052), a popular Spanish restaurant known for its paella, has a private room for 65. No fee; minimum of 20 guests.
Bacchus (7945 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-657-1722), where Lebanese mezze are the thing, has a party room for ten with no minimum or fee.
La Ferme (7107 Brookville Rd., Chevy Chase; 301-986-5255), a pretty French place, has two private rooms--seating 25 and 60--plus an outdoor patio for 40. No room fee.
New Fortune (16515 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg; 301-548-8886), a massive Chinese restaurant that covers all the bases, has a private room that seats 10 to 50. No room fee; minimum charge of $20 per person.
Seven Seas (1776 E. Jefferson St., Rockville; 301-770-5020), a casual Chinese seafood restaurant, has four private rooms each seating 10 to 12. No minimum or fee for the room.
Tragara (4935 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 301-951-4935), a formal and tony regional Italian restaurant, has a party room that seats 30 and another that seats 200. No fee for either room, but there may be a minimum depending on the number of people. *