A Procrastinator’s Guide to Valentine’s Day from Our 100 Best Restaurants

There's still time.

Conosci serves seafood-centric tasting menus starting at $45 in a romantic atmosphere. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The bad news: If you don’t have a reservation at Rasika for Valentine’s Day, it’s likely too late. The good news: You can still have an awesome meal at one of our 100 Very Best Restaurants.

Many of us in the food world would rather not eat at the hottest/fanciest spots for Valentine’s Day, when prices and crowds run higher and bigger (you may find Washingtonian critic Ann Limpert at Shake Shack). Still, there’s a happy place in between your couch and Pineapple and Pearls. Here are a few ideas, good for foodies and/or procrastinators. 

For causal-yet-romantic: Rappahannock Oyster Bar

1309 Fifth St., NE (Union Market)

This first-come/first-serve Union Market oyster bar is turning out some amazing seafood these days, from bracingly fresh shellfish to creative plates (try the riff on clams casino with Thai sausage and coconut). Add a few delicious cocktails or a bottle of bubbly, and you have a celebration.

Also great: Compass Rose (those string lights!); Timber Pizza (that swing!).

For inexpensive, but still impressive: Lapis

1847 Columbia Rd., NW

Share a variety of plates (including vegan/veggie options) at this lovely modern Afghan bistro in Adams Morgan. The spice-infused libations and latticed decor make a date-worthy setting, but it won’t break the bank. 

Also great: Fiery Loation at Thip Khao/Bangkok Golden; Indian street eats from Bindaas (go early, or prepare to wait).

For a tasting menu: Conosci

465 K St., NW

This candlelit tasting room adjoining Alta Strada is undeniably romantic, with hundreds of candles and table-side cocktails. The sushi counter-style kitchen will serve two tasting menus for Valentine’s Day: one for $85 and another for $135. An all-bubbles pairing will be available as well. As of now, there’s still space.

Also great: Omakase at Sushi Ogawa; carb-tastic pasta tasting at Hank’s Pasta Bar in Alexandria.

For a group date night: Kogiya 

4220-A Annandale Rd., Annandale

You won’t have to twist any arms to get a hungry crew to Annandale’s best Korean barbecue joint (they also have a new-ish sibling in Centreville, VA). Load up on meats for tabletop grilling, cold beers, and plan to hit a nearby karaoke bar after.

Also great: Graffiato pizza party; Spanish paella for a crowd at Ser.

For dinner with your bestie: Bantam King

501 G St., NW

Chances are slim of roses and lingering proposals at this Chinatown ramen shop. Instead, you’ll find some of the city’s best noodle soups and crunchy fried chicken. Feast up, then head downstairs to the no-frills Free State Atlantic bar.

Also great: Hit Ghibellina‘s pizza happy hour before the dates roll in; Eatbar for “meaty things” and anti-VDay drinks. 

For swoon-worthy takeout: All-Purpose

1250 Ninth St., NW

We’d be pretty psyched with a carryout pie or two from this Shaw hotspot, rounded out with a bottle of Champagne and Netflix.

Also great: 2 Amys pizza; fiery dishes from Baan Thai.

For the reservation-adverse: Himitsu

This Petworth gem is tiny, with only 24 seats. Plan to go early, put your name in, and grab a drink at one of the nearby Upshur Street bars—though save room for co-owner Carlie Steiner’s incredible cocktails. The nouveau-Japanese fare includes beautiful sashimi-style plates (get the yellowtail with Thai chilies and orange vinaigrette), creative rolls, and some of the best fried chicken karaage around.

Also great: Izakaya Seki (specially open on Tuesday for the holiday); hit the bar at Whaley’s.

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.