Great (Last Minute!) Valentine’s Day Dining from Our 100 Best Restaurants List

There's still time to plan a romantic meal.

Little Serow. Photograph by Scott Suchman

There’s still time to snag a Valentine’s Day reservation—or plan your perfect walk-in strategy—at these places, which are among the top 50 on our 2019 Very Best Restaurants list (on newsstands now).

1250 9th St., NW; 79 Potomac Ave., SE
While some people’s idea of a Valentine’s meal is caviar and roses, we’d be happier splitting a great bottle of wine, snacks, and creative pizzas at chef Mike Friedman’s red sauce-y pizzerias. A few faves: the Caesar, calamari, and pepperoni-honey pie.

2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 3309 Connecticut Ave., NW
Looking for a Valentine’s date spot that’s not super fancy/expensive but still serves great food? Rasika restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s Indian street food spots in Cleveland Park and Foggy Bottom fit the bill (and unlike Rasika you can still get reservations). In addition to the a la carte menus, look for specials like grilled spiced lamb chops and shrimp biryani.

801 O St., NW
Early and later reservations are still available at chef Cedric Maupillier’s charming French bistro, where you can split classics like leeks dijonnaise, bouillabaisse, and duck a l’orange. Note that rustic sister restaurant Mintwood Place (also on our top 100) would make a charming date spot as well.

At Convivial in Shaw, Washington, DC, diners can share plates of scallop boudin blanc with snow peas and trout roe (opposite left) or pickled rockfish with green papaya and winter radish. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Convivial. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The Dabney
1222 9th St., NW
No surprise, dining tables are booked for Valentine’s Day. But! The Dabney Cellar, chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s romantic wine bar below the restaurant, opens at 6 PM for regular no-reservations service. Think delicious wines, oysters, hams, and more.

1520 14th St., NW
This Spanish restaurant is a reliable partner—it’s been going strong and steady for over eight years. Most of the dining room is reserved for walk-ins, so grab your date for a night of stellar Spanish cocktails and tapas. We love the seafood options such as garlicky shrimp or wild razor clams.

Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana
12207 Darnestown Rd., Darnestown
Chef Tony Conte’s destination-worthy pizzeria near Gaithersburg is ditching the pies for a special multi-course tasting with vegetables roasted in the wood hearth, “several proteins,” pasta, dessert, and more. Online tickets ($110 per person) are almost gone, so nab the last one fast.*

Iron Gate
1734 N St., NW
While the snug dining room is booked for the holiday, you can still head to the “Tunnel of Love” bar housed in the atmospheric carriageway. Elaborate decorations and a special music-themed food and drink menu are on tap for the festivities.

A sashimi platter at Izakaya Seki. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Izakaya Seki
1117 V St., NW
People who love Japanese food—sans Valentine’s hoopla—will do well at this cozy izakaya, where it’s walk-in business as usual. Always swoon-worthy is the lineup of sashimi, small plates, and sake.

751 Wharf St., SW
Chef Cathal Armstrong’s Filipino/Thai/Korean spot at the Wharf serves a shareable “Some Like It Hot” menu ($50 per person) for the holiday with four courses, including blue crab curry with basil and stuffed baby pig with long peppers.

Little Serow
1511 17th St., NW
Tables are first-come, first-serve at Komi chef Johnny Monis’ fiery Thai restaurant—all the better for last-minute V-Day plans. (Just get there before the doors open at 5:30 PM due to the inevitable line.) The six-course menus are $54 per person.

Mirabelle’s “beehive” with lemon curd and meringue. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Mirabelle’s “beehive” with lemon curd and meringue. Photograph by Scott Suchman

900 16th St., NW
Pretty Mirabelle goes the decadent route with a four-course menu from chef Keith Bombaugh dotted with luxe items like foie and oysters. V-Day reservations are still available around 5 PM and 9 PM. 

Poca Madre
777 I St., NW
Chef Victor Albisu’s sultry modern Mexican restaurant makes a great date spot, especially if you like mezcal cocktails, ceviches, and DIY tacos with platters of duck or grilled pork chops. Early and late reservations are still available at the time of this post.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar
1309 5th St., NE; 1150 Maine Ave., SW
These first-come/first-serve oyster bars at Union Market and The Wharf are turning out some great 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.

The dining room at Sushi Nakazawa. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Rose’s Luxury
717 8th St., SE
Make it a double date—ticketed reservations for four-to-five guests are still available at Rose’s Luxury for Valentine’s Day weekend (Thursday-Saturday; $95 per person tasting menu). Nearby at wine-centric sister Little Pearl, take your favorite Japanophile for the prix-fixe—Japanese snacks matched with natural wines—on Friday ($99 per person).

Sushi Nakazawa
1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Plan a Valentine’s Day funday lunch at this transportive omakase counter, which has splurge-worthy midday reservations available for February 14 ($150 per person).

2 Amys
3715 Macomb St., NW
Our idea of low-key date night happiness involves the back bar of this pizzeria, a bottle of great wine, and the kitchen’s beautifully simple Italian small plates (and sure, maybe a pizza).

*This post has been updated from an earlier version. 

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.