The Best Restaurants in DC That Don’t Take Reservations
ashleywright | kaylee | svetlana | Brandon Wetherbee | Feb 14, 2017 | 11:00AM |

It may be too late. Today 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. Reservations are for squares. Cool people like you and me, we’re like Anthony Bourdain. We don’t need no reservations. We’re cool eating spaghetti with a dog in an alley. But we understand that your partner may not be cool with eating a spaghetti meal with a dog in an alley so we’ve compiled this helpful guide.

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.

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

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.150811Room 11-032

For The Couple That Wants To Do An Alcoholic Version of the Two Straws, One Milkshake Thing a la Grease

Satellite Room

  • 2047 9th St NW

Booze. Milkshakes. The potential for a retro movie moment. (Or the potential for bringing boys to your yard, depending on your frame of reference.) Whether you’re an established couple who’s looking for a laid back way to spend your Valentine’s or a new couple looking for something completely adorable to do, the myriad delicious and boozy milkshake options at the Satellite Room are a solid choice for a V-Day meal.

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For Impressing Your One Night Stand

Hank’s Oyster Bar 

  • 633 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
  • 1624 Q Street NW
  • 1026 King Street, Alexandria VA

A more airy, relaxed seafood alternative, you and your “date” can suggestively slurp oysters at each other before going back to your place. (Plus they serve Goldfish before your meal. No one you’d want to spend more than one night with would say no to that.)

BAR CHARLEY 

  • 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.

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.

The Royal Fall Drinks

For the Couple That Wants to Wait In Line

Bad Saint

  • 3226 11th St NW

This spot used to be for Rose’s Luxury. Rose’s takes reservations on Valentine’s Day. So this year wait outside in the kinda cold weather in Columbia Heights for the most buzzed about Filipino restaurant in the country.

For a Tinder Date

Little Coco’s

  • 3907 14th St NW

They have a Tinder booth.

Little Coco's

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

Etto

  • 1541 14th street NW

Brought to you by the guys behind 2Amys (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.

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

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.

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Daikaya

  • 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.)

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

Duke’s Grocery

  • 1513 17th street NW

Yes, Duke’s is basically a sandwich place but you guys – it is QUITE the sandwich place. The burger is probably one of our favorites in town, and the rotating British inspired menu or sandwiches of all ilks is perfect for sharing (no matter what they are-they are all HUGE AND DELICIOUS). Great beers and wines and a cozy atmosphere are perfect for both early-in-the-game and comfortable-with-each-other situations. If you can’t get a seat, you’ll probably have better luck at Duke’s Counter, located across the street from the National Zoo.

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 in Dupont Circle

  • 1216 18th St NW

If you’re in the Dupont 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.

Smoked and Stacked

  • 1239 9th St NW

We’ve recommended Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s food at Ripple and Roofer’s Union. We’re even more happy to recommend her sandwiches at Smoked and Stacked. It is not fancy. It is delicious. It is not open late. Great for couple that work near the Convention Center.

Smoked and Stacked

Fast Gourmet

  • 1400 W St NW

A delicious sandwich shop in a gas station is probably not where you would have taken your significant other on your first, second, third, or even fourth date, but now that you can point out when they have something in their teeth without embarrassing them, this is one of the best places to show your special someone that you care about their taste buds and want them to be happy.

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.

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

Colada Shop

  • 1405 T St NW

Alternatively, for the couple that hates communism but loves Cuban food.

Colada

Mezcalero

  • 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.

Mezcalero

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

2Amys

  • 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.

DGS Delicatessen

  • 1317 Connecticut Ave NW

Great (GREAT) sandwiches, inspired takes on deli classics, pickle plates you’ve been dreaming of AND an ability to order ahead of time by calling in. SOLD.

For Vegetarian Couples

Dama

  • 1505 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA

In our Best Vegetarian Dishes In DC feature Jessica Garson said Dama has “the best Ethiopian food I’ve ever had.” An endorsement like that has to be good for the non-meat lover in your life.

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.

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For the Couple Who Likes 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 (Curbside Cupcakes), 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.

Aris Diner First Look-22

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.

Cork Wine Bar

  • 1720 14th St NW

One of the hardest places to get a seat on the patio in the summer, you may have better luck on a holiday in the middle of February. If you don’t, at least you’re already on 14th?

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El Chucho

  • 3313 11th Street NW

Great margaritas, delicious food, an atmosphere that is both cozy and festive, if you can’t be happy here on Valentine’s Day, we don’t know where you will be happy.

For Guaranteeing You Never See Your One Night Stand Again

McDonalds

  • 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.

Bojangles

  • 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.

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