Romantic, secluded spaces have always been a draw for Valentine’s Day. Throw in social distancing, and, well, you get the picture. Restaurants are busy prepping private outdoor structures with varying levels of weather exposure for those who’re understandably hesitant to dine indoors. And the newest indoor dining (“dining”?) trend—renting a hotel room for a few hours—is really taking off.
If you’re like many of us, maybe venturing out for Valentine’s Day is too much fuss—Covid or no Covid. Here’s our guide to great restaurant takeout and delivery for Valentine’s weekend.
Dinner room rental at Sofitel DC (Opaline Brasserie)
806 15th St., NW
More and more hotels are renting out empty rooms for a few hours so patrons can enjoy brunch, dinner, or whatever else in privacy. Sofitel Lafayette Square was among the first to do it in DC. Typically there’s only a $70 food/beverage minimum and no rental feel here. Things are a little different on Valentine’s Day weekend, though it’s hardly as expensive as some of the other options. The only in-suite dining menu from hotel restaurant Opaline Brasserie is a three-course dinner ($110 for two) with options like foie gras parfait, duck à l’orange, and passionfruit panna cotta (offered Feb. 12 through 14). Reservations are available here.
More dinner room rentals at Yours Truly (Mercy Me)
1143 New Hampshire Ave., NW
The new West End hotel that houses Mercy Me, a “Sorta South American” restaurant from the team behind Timber Pizza and Call Your Mother, is renting rooms for dinner for four or more guests. The setup is pretty fun—chic rooms come with a turntable and records, and guests order from chef Johanna Hellrigl’s in-room dining menu ($75 per person). For Valentine’s Day, a three-course prix-fixe includes dishes like South American seafood bisque, Peruvian duck a la brasa, and pina colada cheesecake. Additional wine pairings are $30, or go for a tropical cocktail. For those looking to actually spend the night, there’s a special Valentine package. Reservations are available through Resy.
Even more dinner room rentals at Hotel Monaco DC (Dirty Habit)
700 F St., NW
Yes, this restaurant name is from Before Times (and they’ve switched up the “apocalypse vibe” for film noir because…too soon?). But Dirty Habit, which recently reopened, has otherwise adapted to our new cleanliness-obsessed world. The restaurant is offering a five-course Valentine’s menu for $65 per person with courses like yellowtail ceviche and surf-and-turf, plus rose wine pairings for $35. Suites fit up to ten guests, and there’s also private space in the restaurant itself. Email Info@DirtyHabitDC.com for prices and details.
Wine tents at Potomac Point Winery
275 Decatur Rd., Stafford, VA
Valentine’s Day falls on President’s Day this year, so that means there’s more time to celebrate say, with a road trip to this winery in Stafford, Virginia. Heated wine tents from Wild Tribe Co. overlook the vineyards and are spacious enough for four to eight guests. Food and beverage minimums depend on the day and time you book the tents (for Valentine’s weekend it’s a $150 rental fee and $200 minimum). An on-site restaurant serves flatbreads, meat and cheese boards, desserts, and more, and each tent comes with an individual server. And of course, there’s plenty of wine.
Beer tents at Lone Oak Farm Brewing Co.
5000 Olney Laytonsville Rd., Olney
If your pod is more into hops than grapes, this atmospheric brewery in Olney is a great destination. Individual heated tents are available for groups (designed to be for six or more), and there’s also reservable seating around open-air fire pits. The brewery offers several Valentine’s Day packages, starting with chocolates ($15) or cheese and charcuterie boards ($30 to $55), and going up to a $150 special that involves blankets, growlers, and more swag.
Le Diplomate “chateaus.” Photograph by Danny Kim
Chateaus n’ shacks at Le Diplomate and St. Anselm
1601 14th St., NW; 1250 5th St NE
Leave it to perfectionist-restaurateur Stephen Starr to roll out more than just a tent outside his DC restaurants. At Le Diplomate, individual “streetside chateaus” for up to four diners are heated but still open on one side for airflow. There’s no pricey prix-fixe for Valentine’s Day—just specials like baked oysters or surf-and-turf. At more lowkey tavern St. Anselm, a similar outdoor setup is billed as “shacks” (though these shacks aren’t too shabby). For V-Day, why not split an axe-handle ribeye for two? Both restaurants emphasize that all spaces are cleaned and sanitized after every use.
Waterfront igloos at Del Mar, Fiola Mare
791 Wharf St., SW; 3100 K St NW
You’ll probably have to book these tricked-out plastic orbs at Fabio Trabocchi’s upscale Spanish and Italian restaurants far in advance (rental fees start at $150 and go up). As of now, there’s a waitlist for Valentine’s weekend dinners at both places, but you might try lunch, or alternatively, open-air outdoor seating, indoor dining, and take-home packages.
Winter lodges at Bresca
1906 14th St., NW
As part of its reopening for in-house dining, Michelin-starred Bresca set up cute “lodges” for two on 14th Street. Outside Valentine’s Day weekend, diners can go a la carte, opt for a four-course $75 prix-fixe dinner, or splurge on a European-style Sunday lunch. For Valentine’s weekend there’s a $150 prix-fixe menu. The structures are decked out with heaters, blankets, and speakers for playing your own mood music. Meanwhile new sister tasting room Jônt has reopened as a “rooftop chalet”—not entirely private, but a six-table, open-air dining space with plenty of cozy touches. The Valentine’s menu is even fancier ($275 to $325 per person).
Greenhouses at Ambar Clarendon
2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin built an all-season outdoor structure around his Balkan restaurant in Clarendon designed to keep customers warm in winter and cool in summer. Diners can book little glass houses in the garden for the restaurant’s signature all-you-can-eat Balkan feasts. For Valentine’s Day, there’s a special $85 unlimited dinner menu with dishes like saffron-and-asparagus risotto, stuffed chicken schnitzel, and rack of lamb. Both the Clarendon and DC restaurants are also serving indoors, and offering takeout.
Private patio at Compass Rose
1346 T St., NW
It feels like you’re far away from DC in the transportive, semi-enclosed private patio at Compass Rose. Heaters keep things warm in winter, though there’s still enough airflow through open siding to feel like you’re outdoors. For Valentine’s Day, groups of two to six can opt for a a “tour of the world” menu of global share plates, or a special “Russian Zakuski” menu with infused vodka, khachapuri, and more ($65 per person). If you don’t snag the private patio, there’s also a new heated outdoor streetery.
Swiss chalets at Stable
1324 H St., NE
DC’s only Swiss restaurant got creative when it came to semi-private indoor dining. Chef/owners David Fritsche and Silvan Kraemer converted a rear dining room into an Alpine wonderland with five private wooden chalets for small groups. Over Valentine’s weekend, they’re offering their regular brunch menu with homemade pastries and breads and Swiss specialties like berner rösti. If you don’t want to dine indoors, there is extended outdoor seating for 20 guests on a patio kept cozy with heaters, blankets, and plenty of glühwein and melty cheese. Fondue and raclette packages are also available.