Valentine’s Day is a month away. While some restaurants still aren’t taking reservations, Rasika, Fiola Mare, Blue Duck Tavern and more are already full. If you love your partner and other people cooking, it’s time to make your reservations.
All of the restaurants in this round up currently have reservations available on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Once they’re full, we’ll update this feature.
I’ve celebrated birthdays, jobs and happy hours in Bar Pilar. Whether you want a full dinner or stop in for drinks before something new, the Hemingway inspired 14th Street establishment is a solid and often overlooked go-to. Bar Pilar is a comfortable and well worn restaurant, the kind of neighborhood joint that can be utilized for special occasions or just because. If you’re in a good relationships, Bar Pilar is a good reflection. -Brandon Wetherbee
If your date is a beer fan, Bluejacket is a great choice. This is actually where my boyfriend and I went on our first date, so I can promise you the food is good, all of the beers are all made on site, and it’s a pretty chill and relaxed place if you’re looking to keep things on the casual side. Order a Mexican Radio, enjoy a nice dinner, and then take a romantic and drunken stroll through Yards Park. It sounds like the perfect evening. -Kaylee Dugan
Of all the new Shaw restaurants, this may be the best for dates. Small plates, amazing food, cute atmosphere, ideal location and reasonable prices, Hazel is great whether you’re in a long term relationship or a first date. In fact, it may be best for first dates. What’s a better way to judge a potential partner than their dining preferences? If things go really well, maybe you go back with your new mate the next weekend for brunch? -Brandon Wetherbee
A relative newcomer to D.C.’s dining scene, has rapidly established itself as the go-to spot for innovative cocktails and modern Japanese-inspired cuisine. The restaurant’s pedigree is impressive: Chef Kevin Tien spent years working at sushi bars and fine dining restaurants across the U.S. (including a recent stage at Pineapple & Pearls), and Beverage Director Carlie Steiner is an alum of Minibar and her own Stir Bartending Co. It’s small, which means it’s intimate; it’s quiet, which means it’s perfect for sharing a nice night with a significant other; and it’s delicious, which means you won’t be sacrificing quality for the usual mailing it in restaurants show on Valentine’s Day. The one bummer: no reservations. But it’s cool…just show up early or late, or put your name in, then go grab a romantic cocktail at Petworth Citizen or Twisted Horn across the street. -Logan Hollers
Maybe it’s the strange location near downtown, but it seems as if way too many people sleep on Iron Gate when talking about consistently great restaurants in the District. The offerings on the Patio may not be quite as upscale as the prix-fixe in the Carriage House, but their Mediterranean inspired a-la-carte menu, with plenty of grilled meats, delicate cheeses, and perfectly cooked accompaniments is hard to beat – as is their wine list, with a focus on offerings from Greece and Southern Italy. Large space heaters help you stay warm in the vine-covered patio no matter the temperature, and the restaurant itself is in a historic building (extra romantic). Follow it up with a nightcap across the street at the Tabard Inn; thank us later. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
If you’re date is more on the adventurous side, look no further than this newish Shaw restaurant. The menu is filled with a variety of dishes, so you’re in no way pigeonholed into one type of cuisine. The wings are incredibly good and nothing brings two people closer than watching each other get smothered in wing sauce. If you’re looking for some vegetables, the Foraged Mushrooms come with a tomato tartar that is stupidly delicious. I’ve never tasted tomatoes that good and I don’t think I ever will. The cocktails here are also great, and if your date is particular, the bartenders offer a dealer’s choice that take your liquor preferences in mind. Keep it more on the casual side by sitting at the bar, or grab a table for something a little more intimate. Either way you’re going to have a good time. -Kaylee Dugan
Again, you can’t go wrong with José Andrés. Oyamel is one of his more colorful and weirdly designed restaurants, which can work in your favor depending on your date… but let’s get real, you’re not out to dinner on Valentine’s Day to talk about the decor, you want some good food. And you’ve come to the right place. From top to bottom Oyamel’s menu is jam packed with delicious dishes, and they have plenty of meat heavy dishes and vegetarian options, if you or your date lean one way or the other. -Kaylee Dugan
If you’re aware of D.C.’s food scene even in the most general sense, than you already know Red Hen is one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. This is a place your date / spouse / partner / whatever would be absolutely thrilled to be at on Valentine’s Day. And if they’re not? Show them the door. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life and you should not be attacked for having a good taste. Anyway, Red Hen is rustic without being trendy, the menu is simple without being limiting, and the service is exactly what you want. Whether you have questions about wine, or what to get for dessert (trick question, get the maple custard), the servers at Red Hen always seem to have the right answer. If you want to keep your night a little on the casual side, without sacrificing quality, look no further. And grab your reservation now. -Kaylee Dugan
Forget stuffy ambiance. Forget jacked-up prix fixe menus. Forget sommeliers. Shaw’s Right Proper Brewpub is the ticket if you want upscale food and drink in an unpretentious, vibrant environment. Oh, and I did mention every beer is $5 or $6? And that these wildly affordable beers are some of the best you’ll find in the city? C’est vrai. Head Brewer Nathan Zeender (at the Brookland Production House) and Lead Brewer Bobby Bump (at the Brewpub) are doing the proverbial killing of “it.”
But, look, even if you don’t know a Berliner Weiss from a saison, this is a cozy environment that’s perfect for a date. You can giggle at beer flavor profiles like “Fruit Loops,” “Bready,” and “Zesty.” You can order communal plates (or “Sharesies”) or hoard one of the larger entrées (“Selfies”). You can get a little intoxicated, fill your stomach with the culinary equivalent of a warm hug, have a good time, and not fear what the check will be. Seriously, places like this don’t exist anymore. Go celebrate your love for it… and, you know, your significant other, too. -Phil Runo
This is a weird one. RPM is not somewhere I would necessarily eat. The decor does nothing for me, the location isn’t near my house, or any other place I’d usually hang out… but the food is good. The pasta, and I’ve almost tried all of it, is delicious. The gelato is insane. I can’t really speak to the cocktails, but I’m sure the wine list is stocked with anything you’d ever want to drink. If you take your date here I’m sure you’ll have a good time (especially if they’re a busy business person or a Trump supporter) it just doesn’t really do anything for me personally. But, you know, if you do go bring me back some gelato. -Kaylee Dugan
Fabio and Maria Trabocchi open outstandingly romantic, “special occasion” restaurants. (See, e.g., Fiola Mare, Fiola, Casa Luca, etc.) Fabio and Maria Trabocchi recently opened Sfoglina. Thus, Sfoglina is an excellent choice for a Valentine’s Day restaurant. Done up in a gorgeous red and white color palette, the restaurant combines the comforting kitsch of classic red sauce joints with charming service overseen by Maria. Pastas, made daily in-house, are the star, so feel free to get an order of spaghetti and reenact Lady and the Tramp. A surprisingly well-priced wine list helps put the wallet at ease, too. -Logan Hollers
Of all the restaurant stories we did in 2016, none made me salivate more than Whaley’s. And some seafood release estrogen and testosterone. Which may be helpful on Valentine’s Day. -Brandon Wetherbee
You’re going to have to grab these reservations ASAP because according to Open Table (at the time I’m writing this), there are only four time slots left. José Andrés is never a bad choice, and Zaytinya might be his best restaurant for Valentine’s Day, considering it easily has the most beautiful dining room in D.C. Enjoy dish after dish of Mediterranean fare, but don’t get too full, their desserts are also insanely good. I would know. I once ate six full courses of dessert in one night. -Kaylee Dugan