Food

Romantic Restaurants and Pretty Winter Patios for Valentine’s Day Around DC

Gorgeous indoor and outdoor spaces for celebrating with your special someone.

Private chalets and fireside seating at the Four Seasons Georgetown. Photograph by Greg Powers

Valentine’s Day lands on a Monday this year—which really means it’s a long V-Day weekend in our books. So there’s plenty of time for dinner… or a romantic brunch or lunch.

The restaurants below showed some online availability around Valentine’s Day—whether the weekend before or a few days after—if not the holiday itself. So if you’re wondering why romantic hotspots like the Dabney or Red Hen didn’t make the list, voilà (though you could always gift your valentine a reservation for a later date).

Albi
1346 4th St., SE
Chef Michael Rafidi’s Levantine restaurant isn’t just one of the best dining experiences in town—the vibe is enthralling thanks to the big wood-fired hearth, delicious wines (adjoining bar Maxwell Park is a perfect pre-or-post stop), and ambient buzz. There are still a few tickets available for special Valentine’s Day menus at the chef’s table ($200) and outdoor enclosed seating ($150). Or start the holiday early on Thursday (the weekend is currently booked). Reservations on Resy.  Indoor and private outdoor seating.

Apéro
2622 P St., NW
Georgetown’s glittery nook of a Champagne and caviar bar always says date night—and practically screams it come Valentine’s Day with a $75 prix-fixe that’s available indoors and on the covered, heated patio. We love owner Elli Benchimol’s wide-ranging list of bubbles and caviar, which ranges from minor-splurge to expensive-but-amazing. Reservations on Resy. Indoor and outdoor seating.

The “house caviar” with duck-fat waffles at Bresca. Photograph by Rey Lopez/Under a Buschel Photography.

Bourbon Steak Chalets 
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Dinner a deux takes on a new meaning in Bourbon Steak’s private outdoor chalets modeled after Four Seasons resorts in Colorado, Switzerland, and beyond. Valentine’s Day reservations ($500 for two) include a bottle of Champagne and roses—plus the full Bourbon Steak menu and chalet specials like buttery shellfish plateaus and ice wine martinis. Reservations on Tock. Private indoor and outdoor seating.

Bresca
1906 14th St., NW
Chef Ryan Ratino’s Michelin-starred, moss-walled dining room is a pretty place to dine—or Valentines can opt for outdoor private “chalets” for privacy. The glassy greenhouses come with blankets, heaters, and their own sound systems. A special six-course menu ($185 to $225 a person) is available Friday, February 11 through Monday the 14th, including Sunday lunch (our pick, who doesn’t love a luxuriously indulgent lunch?). Guests can also add perks like caviar service and wine pairings. Indoor and private outdoor seating.

Dine at Chez Billy Sud and then sip by the fireplace at adjoining Bar a Vin. Photograph courtesy of Chez Billy Sud.

Chez Billy Sud, Cafe Colline, and Parc De Ville
1039 31st St., NW; 4536 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax
These sister French bistros in Georgetown, Arlington, and Fairfax won’t break the bank and serve spot-on classics from chef Brendan L’Etoile—French onion soup, steak frites—in gorgeous, high-style spaces. We also love Bar a Vin adjoining the Georgetown location, where you can sip French wines by one of the best wood-burning fireplaces in town. (and there are even fire tables outside on Chez Billy’s patio). Indoor and outdoor patio seating. 

Duck Duck Goose
7929 Norfolk Ave, Bethesda; 2100 P St., NW
There are some dining rooms that just say date night—and that’s true for the Bethesda and new Dupont Circle location of chef Ashish Alfred’s French brasserie. Menus look pretty dreamy, too, with winter plates like roasted bone marrow, steak with duck fat fries, and foie gras-buttered bucatini. If you’re ducking the goose—and meats in general—there are interesting vegetarian options, plus a lineup of zero-proof cocktails. Indoor and enclosed outdoor seating.

The new Duck Duck Goose in Dupont Circle. Photograph courtesy of Duck Duck Goose.

Fiola
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Any of chef Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurants would make a fitting Valentine’s Day destination, from glitzy Del Mar to the more “casual” (but still spendy) Sfoglina pasta houses with their cream-and-red decor. The flagship—which boasts the benefit of being quiet enough for conversation—is planning a luxury-laden Valentine’s Day prix-fixe ($225 per person) with the works: oysters, lobster, lamb, and more. Tickets are available on Tock. Indoor seating 

Gravitas
1401 Okie St., NE
Cozy up with a prix-fixe dinner in the dining room, outdoor patio, or gorgeous rooftop greenhouse lounge of chef Matt Baker’s Michelin-starred restaurant. The menu ($14o per person) includes indulgences like butter-poached lobster and wagyu beef. Optional Champagne and caviar course and wine pairings are available—as is a to-go offering for those looking to dine at home. Indoor and outdoor seating, to-go.

Ilili feels like dining inside a garden. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Ilili 
100 District Sq., SW
Chef Philippe Massoud’s Lebanese spot at the Wharf is like dining in an indoor garden thanks to citrus trees, a fountain, and hanging bird cages. The restaurateur, who previously operated Georgetown’s Neyla, is back from a 15 year stint in NYC where he opened the first Illili. Upscale modern mezze fill the menu—duck shawarma, yellowtail with pomegranate ponzu—and there’s a special Valentine’s prix-fixe ($150 per person).

The Inn at Little Washington
309 Middle St., Washington VA
Caviar and lobster? Absolutely. Wood-burning fireplaces, plush banquettes, and a gorgeous country setting? You bet. The Inn checks all the heart-shaped boxes—and the world knows it, judging by the limited availability around V-Day (though there’s some that week and following weekend). If your heart is set on the location but you can’t snag a reservation, you can always plan a day trip to Patrick O’Connell’s not-so-casual country cafe Patty O’s, which boasts a handsome bar, fireplace, and rustic-upscale fare. Indoor seating.

Sip by the fire at Iron Gate. Photograph courtesy of Iron Gate.
Sip by the fire at Iron Gate. Photograph courtesy of Iron Gate.

Iron Gate
1734 N St., NW
Between the carriageway bar, wisteria-covered patio, and fire-lit dining room, this historic restaurant space—previously a private mansion—is inarguably one of the most romantic destinations in DC. Chef Anthony Chittum is serving a special $120-per-person shareable menu for the holiday. Indoor and outdoor seating. 

L’Auberge Chez Francois and Jacque’s Brasserie
332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls
There’s a reason this classic French restaurant is among the longest-running fine dining institutions in Washington: Old World indulgences like chateaubriand, lobster in sauternes-butter sauce, and the airiest soufflé in town. The red-hued brasserie bar is a fitting place to start or end a Valentine’s meal. Special Valentine’s menus (starting at $125) with live music are scheduled for the weekend. Indoor and outdoor seating. 

Chateaubriand for two at L’Auberge Chez Francois. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Nina May
1337 11th St., NW
We’ve become enchanted with seasonal American restaurant in Logan Circle, which doesn’t break the bank but dishes up plenty of creative, hyper-local dishes alongside delicious drinks and friendly service in lovely, rustic rooms. From February 11-14, chef Colin McClimans offers a multi-course, family-style $80 per-person “chef’s choice” menu with courses like cacio e pepe agnolotti, pan-seared rockfish, glazed duck, and chocolate tortes. Indoor and enclosed patio seating. 

Queen’s English
3410 11th St., NW
Husband-and-wife owners chef Henji Cheung and Sarah Thompson are behind this stylish, floral-hued Columbia Heights spot, which now offers three styles of seating: dining room, chef’s counter, and heated/covered patio (that’s also dog-friendly). Reservations for Valentine’s Day are booked, but there are currently plenty available the day before for a Sunday funday. Don’t miss the caviar with scallion pancakes, Peking-style squab, and quaffable natural wines. Indoor and covered outdoor patio seating.

 

Rose’s Luxury
717 Eighth St., SE
Chef Aaron Silverman’s Capitol Hill destination feels like dining in a fanciful home (it used to be a townhouse). The ticketed Valentine’s Day prix-fixe ($135) includes Rose’s classics like pork-and-lychee salad with holiday luxuries like butter-poached lobster and Kusshi oysters. For dessert: an over-the-top sundae. Indoor seating 

Old school booths for splurging on steak at St. Anselm. Photograph by Scott Suchman

St. Anselm
1250 Fifth St., NE
Take your favorite carnivore to Stephen Starr and Joe Carroll’s retro-chic steakhouse, order a couple of martinis, and splurge on an axe-handle ribeye (with buttermilk biscuits and creamed spinach, of course). Intimate booths are some of the best seats in the house, and the restaurant also offers heated outdoor “shacks” (similar to sister Le Diplomate’s chateaus) for all-season al fresco dining. Indoor and private outdoor seating.

Stable
1324 H St., NE
If your ideal date night is more cozy than fancy, this Swiss spot along the H Street corridor is a terrific bet. Private indoor wooden chalets make for fun mountain vibes, and you can dip into fondue in the dining room or outdoor streatery (or get whole sets, including rental fondue pots, to go). The restaurant is typically closed on Monday, but they’ll be open on February 14 with a special fondue prix-fixe ($52 per person, minimum of 2 guests) that includes a glass of bubbles, appetizer, schnapps-spiked fondue pot, and dessert. Indoor, outdoor patio seating, to-go.

Stable is converting their patio pop-up into fondue spot Little Stable. Photo by Amanda Hoey.
Stable serves fondue in private chalets and outdoors on Christmas Eve and Day. Photo by Amanda Hoey.

Tail Up Goat and Reveler’s Hour
1827 Adams Mill Rd., NW; 1775 Columbia Rd., NW
What’s sexier than a steakhouse? A pop-up steakhouse at one of our favorite indie restaurants: Tail Up Goat in Adams Morgan, which is dishing up a special menu of wedge salads, shrimp cocktail, and NY strip for the holiday, Feb 11-14 ($125 per person, with an optional $120 caviar service). If your more into a moody, dimly lit vibe, sister pasta spot Reveler’s Hour around the corner is the place to swoon over noodles and wine. Indoor seating.

 

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.

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