3 Private Dining Clubs You May (or May Not) Get Into

Ranked in order of inclusivity—from everyone-is-welcome to you-gotta-know-someone.

Members-only pool bar the Ridge Club. Rendering courtesy of City Ridge.

Washington has long been filled with members-only haunts—but there’s a new wave of dining-and-drinking clubs that are more tantalizing (and not always less exclusive) than the stodgy societies of yore. Here are three, ranked in order of inclusivity—from everyone-is-welcome to you-gotta-know-someone.

1. Méli

1630 Columbia Rd., NW

What it is: An airy “Greek-ish” wine-and-mezze club hidden inside the Silva, an upscale apartment complex in Adams Morgan. The 50-seat boîte opens this fall.

Who’s behind it: Restaurateur Hollis Silverman of the Capitol Hill dining rooms the Duck & the Peach and La Collina, plus the Wells gin bar.

How to get in: Just sign up! Silverman’s vision for Méli is all in the name, Greek for “something sweet” and “to be a part of something” (aww). The space, accessible only from a small gated garden entrance, is designed to be a neighborhood gathering place that gives back—in terms of both delicious wines and charity.

Dues: $25 annually. The majority goes to the Reed-Cooke Club and its support of nearby charitable organizations. Memberships are available at

Member perks: Only members can drink and dine, and they can bring guests (but the same person or group only once). A female-led team serves Mediterranean wines, mezze (think dips, vegetable plates, and souvlaki), and Greek cheeses. Other perks include tastings, a wine club, CSA options, Greek grill boxes to go, and access to Méli Market, with curated cheffy items.

The in-crowd: Aegean enthusiasts and your neighbor from apartment 2B—anyone who leases in the building is automatically admitted.


2. The Ridge Club

14 Ridge Sq., NW

What it is: A sprawling rooftop pool club with exclusive access to a beachy bar and dining room from California restaurateur Michael Mina (also of Bourbon Steak in Georgetown). It’s perched atop the new luxury apartments at City Ridge near Tenleytown. It’ll open next pool season.

Who’s behind it: San Francisco–based Mina Group, responsible for a global fleet of upscale restaurants. (The team also runs the still-unnamed street-level Italian restaurant, which is accessible to the public.) Also developer Roadside, which you can thank for the $715 million mixed-use development.

How to get in: You have to live or work at City Ridge—perhaps this is why the Cava Group relocated its corporate offices there?

Dues: To be determined—but if you’re renting, that’ll cost you at least $2,300 a month for a one-bedroom as well.

Member perks: Inspired by Miami’s glam One Hotel, the pool club is designed to feel like a permanent vacation. We’re talking a pristine L-shaped pool with soaking chairs plus cabana rentals, spa-like changing rooms, a theater-size screen for movie nights, and lounging areas ringed by fire tables. The bar will pour refreshing cocktails, while the restaurant will serve beachy bites.

The in-crowd: Likely a thousand or two of your closest . . . neighbors. Membership projections are still being evaluated as the development grows—but it’s a good idea to get there at dawn to snag an umbrella-­shaded chaise overlooking National Cathedral.


3. Vic’s Speakeasy

1427 H St., NE

What it is: A secretive, high-dollar cocktail club tucked inside Lydia on H, a bi-level restaurant, bar, and event space in the H Street corridor that celebrates African and Caribbean cuisines.

Who’s behind it: Malawian chef and mixologist Victor Chizinga, who pays homage to his mother, Lydia—and her grand style of entertaining.

How to get in: Aspiring members are required to make at least $100,000 a year. Chizinga is mum about the screening process beyond dollar signs, but he handpicks the group (capped at 40 people). Members must find the secret entrance hidden behind a bookshelf, but after all the other requirements, that seems easy-peasy.

Dues: $250 a month, or $200 for long-term memberships—tuppence for many in the six-figure set.

Member perks: It’s tough to get a lot of details about this “secret society,” but it seems pretty cushy—there are lockers for storing personal liquor bottles and cigars, and members can throw private parties in the space. The bar focuses on spirits, beer, and wine from Black-owned brands. Beyond that, Chizinga is taking a Vegas approach: “What happens in the speakeasy stays in the speakeasy,” he says.

The in-crowd: It’s a mystery to us. The other rule about Vic’s Speakeasy, besides make a lot of money: Don’t talk about Vic’s Speakeasy.

This article appears in the November 2022 issue of Washingtonian.
Illustrations by Connie Zheng.

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.