We’d be happy dining at any of the restaurants on this year’s 100 Best Restaurants list, but for the sake of brevity, here’s what the top 25 have planned for Valentine’s Day. Like on any regular evening you’ll find a mix of blowout menus and casual options, hot tables and places that welcome walk-in customers.
11315 Fern St., Wheaton
It’s business as usual at the most casual of the eateries in our top 25—a great option for anyone who wants to spend February 14 dining on delicious, fiery Thai food without any hoopla.
2201 14th St., NW
Pick from three options at Mike Isabella’s haute Greek eatery: a chef’s tasting menu ($65 per person), a Valentine’s menu ($85), or regular à la carte with a few amorous specials. Note that the regular lineup is great for vegetarians as well as carnivores who like spit-roasted meats.
1520 14th St., NW
Look for the regular menu of Spanish share plates and shareable porron pitchers. What’s more romantic—albeit slightly messy—than pouring effervescent wine mixed with lemon soda and orange bitters into each other’s mouths?
309 Middle St., Washington
Reservations are currently booked for V-Day weekend at chef Patrick O’Connell’s landmark restaurant, but anyone who can slip away during the week may be able to snag a table.
2010 Clipper Park Rd., Baltimore
Make it a Valentine’s night out in Baltimore at Spike Gjerde‘s destination-worthy restaurant. It’s also a great spot for brunch if dinner is booked.
2401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
It always feels like a special occasion at Marcel’s, which is unfortunately booked for the holiday. Try gifting a dinner for another night, or score a table at the more casual sister restaurant Brasserie Beck (number 58 on this year’s list), which has availability.
19. Izakaya Seki
1117 V St., NW
You won’t find prix-fixe menus or reservations at this cozy neighborhood Japanese, which is why the anti-V-Day crowd will love it. The restaurant will text parties when seats are ready if there’s a wait, so you can grab a glass of wine nearby; we’re fans of Vinoteca, just a short walk away.
1200 16th St., NW
Anyone looking to make their sweetheart swoon can rely on this innately romantic Jefferson Hotel restaurant, with its roaring fireplace and luxurious surroundings. A five-course tasting menu ($145 per person) is offered on Saturday.
17. Mintwood Place
1813 Columbia Rd., NW
This warm, boisterous bistro may not be the place for hushed conversation, but the room’s glow, friendly service, and hearty dishes like cassoulet and beef bourguignon make it holiday-worthy.
7421 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton
Stately rooms lit by fireplaces make an attractive Valentine’s setting at this ambitious Indian restaurant. The regular menu is served, and includes standout dishes like jumbo grilled shrimp tandoori with mango-avocado chutney, and braised lamb.
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Love is all about sharing here, with a three-course menu a deux featuring a shareable hamachi-salmon sashimi platter, rack of lamb, and a chocolate-raspberry heart ($100 per couple, or à la carte). The special menu is offered on Friday and Saturday, in addition to the regular lineup.
14. Le Diplomate
1601 14th St., NW
Reservations may be tough to score at Stephen Starr‘s hot French bistro, but if it were up to us, we’d cuddle up at the bar for a shellfish plateau and bottle of Champagne any day.
13. Casa Luca
1099 New York Ave., NW
Chef Erin Clarke prepares a rustic Italian five-course tasting with options like chilled lobster with puntarelle and caviar, black truffle risotto, and venison with roasted mushrooms ($80 per person; 140 with wine pairings). The special menu is offered Friday through Sunday.
12. Del Campo
777 I St., NW
Here’s an outside-the-box option for dinner: a meal cooked by visiting chef Antonio Soriano of Astor Bistro in Buenos Aires. The toque collaborates on an à-la-carte holiday menu with dishes like lobster gnocchi with smoked caviar and beef Chateaubriand.
11. Seasonal Pantry
1314 1/2 Ninth St., NW
It’s no surprise that chef Dan O’Brien‘s intimate supper club is booked for the holiday. Hint, hint: Seats for an upcoming dinner make a wonderful Valentine’s gift for your favorite food lover (reservations are booked and paid for online).
10. Vin 909 Winecafe
909 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis
Regular dinner is offered for Valentine’s Day at this homey Eastport eatery, so go in for a bottle of wine and fantastic charcuterie pizza. Also be prepared to wait for a no-reservations table.
42461 Lovettsville Rd., Lovettsville
Take a drive into the country for chef Tarver King‘s progressive, locally focused dishes, served in a greenhouse-turned-dining room. Note that allergies can’t be accommodated on a special Valentine’s menu.
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (entrance at 678 Indiana Ave.)
Chef Fabio Trabocchi pulls out the stops with a five-course lineup of oysters with Prosecco zabaglione and Osetra caviar, and Wagyu beef short ribs with foie gras and truffles ($125 per person; wine pairings $80 to $100). The special menu is served Friday and Saturday evening (closed Sunday).
7. The Red Hen
1822 First St., NW
This Bloomingdale Italian may be the most romantic of the casual set with its warm, rustic room, unusual wine list, and delicious dishes that won’t break the bank. Be prepared to wait, given that the place is already crowded on a regular weekend.
6. Little Serow
1511 17th St., NW
A line forms long before the doors open at 5:30 for a seat at Johnny Monis‘s Thai eatery, which serves a set $45 menu. Be flexible with your evening plans—groups are seated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fortunately the friendly staff will text when your table is available, so you can spend the in between time grabbing drinks at one of the many neighboring establishments.
Penn Quarter and West End locations
Treat your sweetie to a four-course menu (sample) of modern Indian dishes, wonderful for vegetarians and meat eaters alike ($85 per person; $40 with wine pairings). The lineup varies between locations, but specials include ahi tuna with chilies and mango, lobster with curry leaves, and a dessert sampler.
4. Fiola Mare
3050 K St., NW
Take a trip to the Adriatic via this white-hot Georgetown waterfront restaurant, which offers a five-course menu of dishes such as oysters with apples and smoked caviar, wild turbot with foie gras, and “roses & cream” for dessert ($125 per person; $80 to $110 wine pairings). The menu is served Friday through Sunday evening.
717 Eighth St., SE
This is one of the best options for impressing your food-loving Valentine without burning a hole in your wallet, though caviar service is available upon request alongside eggplant Parm and smoked brisket. Be prepared to line up long before doors open at 5 for a guaranteed table.
855 E St., NW
Reservations are notoriously tough at José Andrés‘s blowout restaurant, which is priced at $250 per person for food alone. Anyone looking for a taste at a gentler price should try Barmini next door, which offers inventive cocktail and bar snacks (and has availability Valentine’s week).
1509 17th St., NW
The best approach for getting a last-minute table at Komi—and by last minute, we mean booking less than a month in advance—is to call and inquire about cancellations. Otherwise the first-come Little Serow (see above) offers a chance to try chef Johnny Monis‘s food.