You hear a lot about how Valentine’s Day is rough on singles, but it’s no picnic for new or casual couples, either. Fledgling partners can opt not to acknowledge it, but there’s a certain stage in a relationship—somewhere between “What’s your middle name again?” and “Should we get a dog?”—when ignoring Valentine’s Day is as awkward as recognizing it at some romance-on-steroids place with smooth jazz on the stereo.
It’s with these couples in mind that we created this list of relaxed restaurants where you can celebrate being in love (or being in like, whatever) without all the candlelit, rose-petal-strewn pressure.
1) Graffiato is too noisy for serious romance, and the classic-rock soundtrack makes it impossible to take anything seriously, anyway. Still, there’s Prosecco on tap in case you want to toast, and the food tends toward the swoon-worthy. A $60 special menu will be served on February 14 (the regular menu will be available on the first floor); be sure to reserve right away.
2) Granville Moore’s will turn the lights down a little lower than usual on February 14. Other than that, it’s business at usual at this skinny stretch of restaurant in the center of the H Street action. No special menu, no heart-shaped anything. Just mussels, fries, and lots of beer.
3) Kushi has great sushi, and if it’s an overly intimate atmosphere you fear, the minimalist and airy space will put you right at ease. The restaurant will be offering a $75 six-course menu (the vegetarian six-course is $55) and a $55 five-course meal. A sake pairing features three types of rice wine and costs $20. Reservations remain for the early evening (before 6:30 PM) and on the later side (after 9 PM).
4) Nothing says relaxed celebration like a lovingly charred Neapolitan pie. We suggest Mia’s Pizza in Bethesda, which will offer half-price bottles of wine, food specials, and “little gifts” to its customers for the occasion. Word to the wise: Mia’s doesn’t take reservations, but call 20 minutes ahead for a leg up on the wait list.
5) Casual new Arlington spot William Jeffrey’s Tavern is usually walk-in only, but it’s making an exception on the 14th—reservations will be accepted beginning February 3. In addition to the regular menu, there will be special apps, desserts, and entrées for the occasion, not to mention wine-bottle centerpieces with arrows sticking out of them. Still, contends chef Sam Adkins, casual couples and groups will feel at home. “We’re a neighborhood restaurant; we’re not going to pretend to be something we’re not,” he says—meaning you and your “friend” won’t have to, either.