Food

Procrastinator’s Guide: 12 Restaurants for Casual New Year’s Eve Dining

No big plans for the 31st? No problem.
Slurp a satisfying bowl of ramen at Toki Underground before hitting the H Street bars, most of which are equally casual for New Year’s. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

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. 

Alba Osteria

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.

Daikaya

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.

The Daily Dish

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  

Estadio

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).

Izakaya Seki

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. 

Reservations: No

Jack Rose

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.

Osteria Marzano

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 info@osteriamarzano.com

Ovvio Osteria

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. 

Reservations: Yes

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

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.

Pizzeria Orso

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.

Republic

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).

Toki Underground

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. 

Reservations: No

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.