16 Romantic Restaurants in DC for a Perfect Date Night
Cozy bistros, sleek sushi spots, and an ultra-luxe caviar bar for celebrations.
DC may have garnered a reputation for being a buttoned-up town where it’s tough to find a partner without talking politics, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our city is actually a great backdrop to find a potential partner and, while we can’t ensure a second date, we can at least point you in the direction of the most romantic restaurants that the city has to offer—each one sure to set the most optimal mood for love.
There are ample options for romantic dinner spots to suit any mood, budget, and relationship status, whether you’re looking to dine at one of the best restaurants in the city or explore a laid-back spot in your neighborhood. From glitzy restaurants that are sure to impress to cozy, casual favorites for truly getting to know each other, here are the most romantic restaurants in DC.
This woman-owned spot, by sommelier Elli Benchimol, can be found tucked into a historic townhome on P Street NW. It presents the perfect locale to celebrate date night (or even date morning, thanks to beautiful pastries and espresso served there starting at 9 am). In the evening, bubbly, French fare, and caviar reign supreme, either inside at one of the small banquette tables or out back on the leafy patio.
Since opening the doors of its cozy, uber romantic space, Lutece has made quite the splash within the DC culinary scene and beyond. Seasonal fare, natural wine, exposed brick and pressed tin ceilings set the scene for an impressive date night without the stuffiness. For the full experience, opt for a leisurely date night tasting through the chef’s prix-fixe menu with a wine pairing, or pop in on an earlier date and order a la carte from the ever-changing selections.
How to book: Via Tock
Take an elevator up to the 14th floor of the swanky new Pendry Hotel and you’ll be met with views of the waterfront, a roaring fireplace, and the statement-making round bar of Moonraker. Sushi and Japanese whisky cocktails are the stars at this rooftop hideaway, so settle in with your date for fizzy Japanese highballs and spicy tuna crispy rice as you take in the modern-opulent surroundings.
Date night needn’t be stuffy or overly fancy all the time—and Anju is a prime example of a place that impresses without one dangling chandelier present. The much-lauded Korean restaurant landed the number one spot on Washingtonian’s top restaurants list within a year of opening back in 2020, and with good reason. Bring a date ready to nosh on pan roasted duck breast and slurp up noodles in a spicy seafood broth with you. White washed brick, bamboo rattan seats and plants within the space create a cozy, organic feel.
When gleaming new restaurants started popping up at The Wharf, Del Mar was an instant standout. Luckily, it stayed that way—now an upscale date night classic. The interiors are grand but not stuffy, all inspired by coastal Spain. Expect ridiculously good food, too, coming from Fabio Trabocchi who also brought DC other classic date night spots like Fiola, Fiola Mare, and Sfoglina. If you’re not afraid to ball out a little, make sure to order the paella.
When Dolce Vita took over the iconic space Ghibellina used to occupy in 2021, it breathed new life into the space’s vibrant murals and cobalt blue accents. The fare at Dolce Vita is inspired by owner Med Lahlou’s heritage, featuring a medley of flavors from Mediterranean cuisines, such as that of Spain, Morocco, Italy and Greece, with tasty dishes like octopus gnocchi and Greek moussaka.
If you’ve been scratching your head thinking up a romantic date option for your new vegetarian beau (and an option that you’d also enjoy), you’ve finally landed in the right place. H Street’s Fancy Radish is so good that meat eaters might forget what they thought they’d be missing, with ingredients that mock meat in the right way: carrots play the role of pastrami and smoked tofu acts as a veg-friendly pate. Their dishes are also globally inspired, meaning you get a little taste of everything from around the world.
If you’re looking to impress your date the second they arrive at the restaurant, Ilili should probably be your first choice. A Lebanese-inspired transplant from the Big Apple, the vibe here feels like a palatial outdoor courtyard complete with a fountain, citrus trees and hanging bird cages. You and your date can pretend like you’re dining in your own Beirut home while you dine on braised lamb shanks and sip saffron-infused negronis.
Inn at Little Washington
Technically located in Virginia, this chateau and legendary restaurant will require a 90-minute journey outside of the city, making it an ideal staycation spot. The luxurious restaurant, bedecked with rose-colored silk lampshades above each table, has maintained its position on best-of lists practically since its conception, when Patrick O’Connell began it in a converted garage in 1978. Now, guests come from far and wide for a chance to try its adventurous plates that range from Caesar salad ice cream to lamb carpaccio. This is one of those restaurants you book for a very special occassion, as the tasting menu will set you back a pretty penny, but it is oh-so worth it.
Iron Gate is located inside a historic mansion’s carriage house, which innately screams romance (and also possibly ghosts but let’s forget about that). The wisteria-covered outdoor patio features a fire pit and is beyond charming, and for colder months you can cuddle up to the fireplace in the indoor dining room. Go all out with the $90 prix-fixe menu or just opt for a few small plates to share and some glasses of vino. You really can’t go wrong either way, with Mediterranean-inspired flavors leading the way for dishes like hearth-roasted carrots and a shaved pork gyro with olive oil fried potatoes.
L’Ardente is Italian glam at its finest—perfect for a date night when you both feel like really indulging. Helmed by chef David Deshaies of Unconventional Diner and Central Michael Richard, L’Ardente’s menu offers impressive dishes like a 40-layer truffle lasagna, and for dessert, a flaming version of the traditional tiramisu. The space itself is also indulgent: bedecked with terrazzo tile floor and golden Italian chandeliers.
Maialino Mare is a modern, seafood-focused Italian eatery on the first floor of the Thompson Hotel. Since opening a few years ago, it’s brought a much-needed elegant spot to the area, with a spacious and dreamy interior to instantly set the mood. Start your meal out with crispy baby artichokes and finish it with a salt-baked sea bass for two, punctuated by many glasses of wine. If the date goes well, you can go up and check out the new rooftop bar, Anchovy Social. It’s a bit dark and moody to mimic the feeling of being on a ship, but modern and unpretentious enough that it doesn’t risk causing seasickness.
Primrose Wine Bar
The intimate bistro and wine bar is a little out of the way, owning an otherwise unassuming corner in Brookland, but so full of charm and natural wine that it’s worth the trip. Known for its uniquely plumed chandeliers and a light blue theme that’s as relaxing as it is romantic, Primrose mimics a Parisian cafe date. Share a bottle of co-owner Sebastian Zutant’s own Lightwell Survey wine and dig into some French onion soup and duck liver mousse. Impress your date by telling them that Primrose was just added to the Bib Gourmand list for the 2020 DC Michelin Guide.
The Red Hen
The Red Hen epitomizes comfort, with its rustic-chic interiors and Italian-inspired comfort food. The corner bistro is all hearth, too, making it an experience in and of itself to watch the chefs at work. You and your date will love witnessing the flipping, sizzling, and baking of your meal before it’s served up to you. Don’t forget to cap your experience off with a stroll around the neighborhood and its endless charms.
Back in the day, it was practically a badge of honor to get a table at Rose’s Luxury, Aaron Silverman’s cult favorite New American restaurant nestled into a converted Capitol Hill townhouse. The restaurant became as synonymous with delicious small plates as it did with the ever-present line that made its way down the street as diners sometimes waited hours for a table. Considering that countless new restaurants have opened with just as much initial buzz, we’re almost surprised to say that the line is still there—a testament to just how good this Michelin-starred restaurant really is—but now you can use their online system to book date night same-day, taking a bit of the stress out of the experience and allowing you to focus on the stripped down but chic decor, the legendary lychee and pork salad, and, of course, your date.
Tail Up Goat
A neighborhood favorite, Tail Up Goat was opened by three former Komi employees (meaning it was bound to be pretty good). The Caribbean-leaning dishes, housemade breads and pastas, and cavernous interior lend itself to a fun experience all around, made even better by an infectiously chill vibe. It just earned its first Michelin star, so make sure to grab a reservation before your visit. The restaurant’s name was even inspired by the US Virgin Islands, where two of its owners got hitched. Hard to get much more romantic than that.