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It may be too late. Friday is the most Hallmark of holidays and you may be out of luck getting a reservation for your Valentine’s Day date. Do. Not. Worry. If you’re dating someone that requires a restaurant reservation, you’re dating the wrong person. There are always options for the last minute planner.

For Getting Get Laid / Guaranteeing Birthday-level Sex

Little Serow

  • 1511 17th St NW

After a meal at Little Serow you won’t even have to do any work – Johnny Monis, his flawless staff, and his incredible northern Thai-inspired pre-fixe menu will woo your date for you. Just make sure you give that special someone a break before you try to get them into bed since all of their senses will need a refractory period after this meal.

no reservations DC

For the Romantic First Date on Valentine’s Day (Why Would You Do This? No Judgment, But Why?)

Cielo Rojo

  • 7056 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD

Grab your love and make a beeline to the Red Line because there’s gold in them hills. Cielo Rojo looks like it dropped straight out of Instagram and into Takoma, but don’t hold that against them. There’s good food being served on those trendy as hell splatterware dishes. Grab a cocktail from the counter and get close while pouring over a menu filled with mouthwatering Mexican options. Split the pozole, grab some tacos and keep the cocktails coming.

Room 11

  • 3234 11th St NW

A standout on our outdoor drinking guide list, Room 11 is the perfect venue for getting to know your potential soulmate over a glass of wine as you share a few small plates. The recent cold weather is also a great excuse to get close to your Valentine under a blanket and toast your feet by their cozy fire pit.

no reservations DC

For Impressing Your One Night Stand

Bar CharleyNow taking Valentine’s Day reservations

  • 1825 18th Street NW

Great location. Never too crowded. Flattering lighting. Affordable yet high quality drinks. Excellent potential to move from bar to (casual enough) dinner or vice versa.


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For The Couple That ???

The Royal

  • 501 Florida Ave NW

Married forever and still like each other to meet for lunch? Awkward coffee first date (we recommend the hot chocolate, pictured below)? Not sure if you’re breaking up or getting engaged so you might want one drink or ten drinks? Our old favorite neighborhood spot is also beloved by the Michelin Guide. It should be beloved by couples of all intimacy levels.

For the Couple That Wants to Wait In Line

Sushi Taro

  • 1503 17th St NW

This spot used to be for Rose’s Luxury. Now Rose’s takes reservations. Then this space was for Bad Saint. They recently started taking reservations. So this year we’re highlighting the most consistent happy hour line in D.C.: Sushi Taro. The restaurant does take reservations, just not for happy hour. So on most nice days and days like Valentine’s Day, you’ll find a long-ish line outside every Monday through Friday from around 3 p.m. until opening at 5:30 p.m. The happy hour is only at the bar, the bar only has 11 seats and happy ends at 7 p.m. Waiting in line for your significant other is the gift.


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For Early in the Game / But You Already Know You Care Date


  • 1541 14th Street NW

Brought to you by the guys behind 2 Amys (who know a thing or two about Italian food in D.C.) and The Standard (who know a thing or two about creating a place you want to never not hang out at) it is a perfect little pocket of salumi and oak fired pizza heaven, that is still a little more formal than its two origin stories. Plus, great cocktails, great beer list and great location in terms of both getting to your home AND/OR going somewhere afterwards.


  • 403 H Street NE

From our Taste Test: The cocktail menu might be packed with drinks that will make you feel like it’s summer (regardless of the weather), but it’s Cane’s food menu that will be calling people in like a siren song. Don’t miss out on the ripe paw paw salad made with cold chunks of papaya and avocado that are topped with thin slivers of bird pepper chilis. Pair the salad with a couple of buttery Hop’s sliders (featuring melt in your mouth Trinidadian Hops bread and smokey brisket or duck salad) and you’d have a very solid meal. Throw in an order of Doubles with their fluffy fry bread and heaping of curried chickpeas and you’ve set yourself up for a damn good night.


  • 423 8th Street SE
  • 2029 P Street NW

From our Taste Test: [CHIKO] is casual and relaxed (it previously housed a hot dog joint), no entree is over $20 bucks (with lots of dishes in the $8-$12 range) and you can basically “eat the menu” at the four seat chef counter for their $50 tasting menu. And while that requires a reservation, typically you can just roll up to the counter any time and order anything you want.

And, trust us, you’ll want everything on this Chinese Korean inspired menu (just don’t call it fusion).

For Breaking Up with Someone (Crowded and With Easy Access to Escape)

Lucky Buns

  • 2000 18th Street NW

Show up early and eat a double patty burger with the fixin’s of your choice. Snack on some curry chips while you wait for your date. As soon as they arrive, break the bad news and order them a spice bag so they can mop up their tears with some messy, spicy and delicious fried chicken. Disappear into the madness of 18th Street on a weekend, never to be seen again.


  • 2003 P Street NW

We’ve only been to Daikaya once without having to wait for a table. But guess what’s all around Daikaya? Bars! So many bars! Why not get really drunk before you break up so by the time it actually happens, you’re eating delicious food and no one can hear the loud language of upset ex-lovers! (The word lover is fucking disgusting but we’re using the word because that line works.)

Pizzeria Paradiso

  • 2003 P Street NW

Only a few strategic steps from Farragut Metro, this Dupont favorite has quick service and delicious food. You’ll have just enough time to secure the unlucky party a table and order them a farewell pizza before melting out the door faster than the mozzarella on their margherita.

no reservations DC

For the Couple Who Is 100% Comfortable With Themselves (But Still Want Quality Food)

Pop’s Seabar

  • 1817 Columbia Road NW

Fried food it not what we’d recommend top of the list for a hot date, but the easy/breezy vibes, built-in nostalgia (and conversation topics about youthful summer memories and/or Jersey – two things everyone has an opinion on) creative drinks and a location that is also in the imminent proximity to some of our OTHER favorite date spots makes this a no brainer.

Red Derby

  • 3718 14th St NW

If you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you still love each other but no longer want to put on heels, make-up, dress pants, or a shirt without a stain on it to go to dinner together, Red Derby could be the Valentine’s venue for you. This 14th street dive bar has fantastic burgers, cheap beer, and absolutely no pretention. There’s a reason it made our Least Douchey Bars In DC piece.

Shake Shack

  • 1216 18th St NW
  • 1400 14th St NW
  • 800 F St NW
  • 975 Wharf St SW
  • 54 M St SE

If you’re in the Dupont / Wharf / Navy Yard / 14th Street / Downtown area and want to avoid the expensive, commercially bloated trappings of Valentine’s Day but still want to get out of the house with your honey, Shake Shack could be your one-stop shop for cheap wine, quality milkshakes, and a dining establishment that will not judge you for the sweatpants you couldn’t be bothered to remove before leaving the house.

The Coupe

  • 3415 11th St NW

For a restaurant that’s clearly trying to make everyone happy, the BYT editorial team has vastly different feelings about the place. Which really means Brandon doesn’t like it and I love it. Whether you’re looking to have breakfast for dinner or get good old fashioned drunk, The Coupe has your back. Get the fried chicken sandwich. Even if you hate The Coupe, go back and get the fried chicken sandwich. That chicken sandwich is what makes life worth living.

Stellina Pizzeria

  • 399 Morse Street NE

It can get very crowded and some of the seats are not conducive to having a good time (sitting right next to the door in the middle of winter is not the most fun experience), but Stellina rules. Their pizzas are excellent, their pastas are excellent, their cocktails are excellent and the list goes on. If you’re in the kind of relationship where you know you can both handle navigating a very crowded restaurant with a smile on your faces, you won’t be disappointed.

For the Couple that’s Too Broke to Go on Vacation but Loves Cuban Food

Colada Shop

  • 1405 T St NW

Big sandwiches, good coffee and cocktails on the roof (depending on how cold it is outside, of course)? Sign me the hell up. Oh and grab some croquetas while you’re at it.


  • 3714 14th St NW

From our First Look: Mezcalero has cheap food. In a city where finding cheap food can mean resorting to jumbo slice. In a city where paying over $12 for a cocktail is normal.

And it’s not only cheap, it’s good.

no reservations DC

For the Couple Who Wants Take Out So They Can Binge-Watch Whatever they are binge watching

2 Amys

  • 3715 Macomb St NW

Frequently mentioned in best pizza guides around the city because of their quality ingredients, 2Amys is the ideal DC staple for bringing your favorite District-centric Netflix original series to life without having to leave your couch.


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For Vegan Couples Who Want Dessert For Dinner

Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats

  • 1370 Park Rd NW

If you screw up your dinner, take your sweetheart to get a sweet. It’ll fix everything. If you didn’t screw up dinner, take your sweetheart to get a brownie. You’ll get brownie points (sorry). The vegan-friendly shop is one of our favorites, and it doesn’t hurt that they have an extensive gluten-free menu.

no reservations DC

For the Couple Who Like Eating Off Each Other’s Plates

Union Market

  • 1309 5th St NE

Whether you love trying new dishes (Bidwell), want a quality sandwich (Red Apron), are craving tacos (TaKorean), or are foregoing dinner and going straight for dessert (District Doughnut), Union Market will ensure that this is the one day out of the year where you don’t have to compromise between what you want and what your significant other is craving.

Ari’s Diner

  • 1309 5th St NE

Diner food is the best food if you’re in good mental and physical health. Take a caloric hit with your significant other and order some waffles and Monte Cristo and share a milkshake and reminisce over good times. If you’re sad, avoid diners.

no reservations DC

For The Couple Who Wants to Have A Quality Liquid Meal / Needs Some Lubrication For Later

The Queen Vic

  • 1206 H St NE

When a husband couldn’t please his British-born wife, he opened a British pub for her. That’s the kind of place you should drink at on Valentine’s Day. Make sure to order a drink from Noel, a staff favorite.


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For Guaranteeing You Never See Your One Night Stand Again


  • Just go outside and look around

Nothing says “Oh God, I’ve made a mistake” like the smell of old grease, the over-salted taste of shame, and a price point lower than the distance your stomach dropped when you rolled over and saw the choices drunk-you made the night before.


  • 50 Massachusetts Ave NE

For those who prefer the Southern version of the aforementioned shame-taste, the “food” at Bojangles will be more than enough to send your date running, even if it’s only for the bathroom.