Sure it’s fun to dress to the nines and sip Champagne during a New Year’s Eve blowout (and for that, see our restaurant party roundup). But for those of us looking for a relaxed evening—or on a budget—try one of these restaurants offering regular dinner menus, no-reservations, or moderately-priced prix fixe options. Looking for similarly laid-back post-dinner plans? Head to one of these no-cover bars to ring in 2014.
425 Eye St., NW; 202-733-4454
If your idea of a festive New Year’s Eve involves checking out a new restaurant, this Italian spot fits the bill; their first dinner service is Monday. Chefs Roberto Donna and Amy Brandwein prepare the regular Piedmontese menu of pastas, pizzas, and more, with a gratis glass of bubbly at midnight.
Reservations: Yes, 4 to midnight.
705 Sixth St., NW; 202-589-1600
If a hearty bowl of ramen sounds like the perfect way to pad the stomach, head to the no-reservations noodle house on the first floor. The izakaya above offers a pricier (but still affordable) option early on, with a $45 set menu and a free glass of bubbly from 5 to 8:30 (the second seating is more of a party, and the most expensive option at $75).
Reservations: No for the ramen shop, yes for the izakaya.
8301 Grubb Road, Silver Spring; 301-588-6300
Looking for budget-friendly prix fixe? Chef Jerry Hollinger offers a three-course dinner menu for $35, with winter comfort foods like bacon-y steamed mussels and a New York strip with mushroom sauce (there’s also a pricier, $48 option).
Reservations: Yes, from 5:30 to 9:30
1520 14th St., NW; 202-319-1404
Looking to grab a bite and then hit up the 14th and U Street corridor bars? Snag an early-ish table for the regular stellar lineup of Spanish tapas and a festive porron.
Reservations: No (shortened hours from 5 to 9:30).
1117 V St., NW; 202-588-5841
One of our favorite Japanese spots offers its regular menu and first-come, first-serve seatings. Those looking to go all-out can also splurge on a traditional $110 osechi box for two, with 21 different items.
2007 18th St., NW; 202-588-7388
While this Adams Morgan whisky mecca is hosting a blowout shindig starting at 8, early bird partiers (and those on a budget) can opt for a pre-game pig roast from 6 to 9 on the rooftop bar. Think unlimited roast pork, beer, and punch for $45.
Reservations: Yes, tickets available here.
6361 Walker Lane, Suite 140, Alexandria; 703-313-9700
Head to this new-ish Alexandria Italian for their regular a la carte menu, plus a complimentary glass of bubbly for dessert.
Reservations: Yes, email email@example.com
2727 Merrilee Dr., Merrifield; 703-573-2161
The regular menu is on offer at this Merrifield Italian spot, but you can mix a casual and festive vibe with special sparkling wine flights from sommelier Timothy Clune ($35 per flight). More in the mood to toast at home? Large-format bottles are available to-go.
1612 14th St., NW; 202-986-8778
The only difference you’ll find on New Year’s Eve is that this Gulf Coast-themed restaurant takes reservations. Otherwise it’s dinner as normal, plus a few festive specials like lobster pot pie and a raspberry-Champagne trifle. Should you feel like partying after, Black Jack above boasts no cover and a DJ.
Reservations: Yes, from 5 to 10.
400 South Maple Ave., Falls Church; 703-226-3460
While many restaurants ditch the high-chairs in favor of prix-fixe menus for New Year’s, this neighborhood spot welcomes families with a pizza special for adults (buy one, get a second half-off) and a “kids eat free” deal for those under 10. Rounding out the party: complimentary favors, bubbly for the 21+ crowd, and sparkling cider for the youngins.
Reservations: Yes, from 11:30 to 8.
6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park; 301-270-3000
Spend the 31st checking out the latest Jeff Black venture, which offers its regular dinner menu from Black and executive chef Danny Wells. Note that a number of dishes are vegetarian (or can be made so) for the meatless crowd.
Reservations: No (walk-in seating from 5 to 9:30).
1234 H St., NW; 202-388-3086
It’s business as usual at Erik Bruner-Yang’s ramen hotspot. Wait times tend to be hours-long on busy weekend nights, so plan accordingly if you’re hoping to slurp noodles before hitting the H Street bars.