12 romantic restaurants ideal for date night in Washington, DC

Shareable Japanese street snacks and traditional decor make an evening at Daikaya - The Izakaya an especially transportive spot for a group date. Credit: Vina Sananikone
Two diners hold chopsticks and dig into a plate of pickled vegetables at Daikaya - The Izakaya in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC, gives off the vibe that it’s 24/7 politics, but its date-night worthy restaurants all point to romance. A chilled-out winery with Anacostia River views is a first-date favorite. The wisteria-clad patio at a Mediterranean restaurant in Dupont Circle was made for intimate nights out. Korean and Southern flavors couple up at an anniversary hotspot in Penn Quarter. 

This guide pairs DC restaurants with romantic occasions from first dates all the way to milestone anniversaries. These are Washington, DC’s 12 best date-night restaurants.

For a first date

District Winery (Navy Yard)

Break the ice at the district’s only commercial winery, sprawled along the Anacostia River. Share plates like cured Hungarian pork and shaved Brussels sprouts salad, which pair excellently with the restaurant’s made-in-DC wines and craft cocktails. If there’s a lull in the conversation, take in the sweeping waterfront—and make a serious first impression by booking a table on the heated outdoor patio for prime sunset views.

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For a second date

Moonraker (Southwest Waterfront)

This Japan-inspired spot sits on the 14th floor of the Pendry Washington DC hotel and is especially loved for its 360-degree Potomac River views. Moonraker’s chic, circular bar was made for flirting, and there’s even a fireplace to snuggle up by. The snacky menu—Tokyo fried chicken, hamachi crudo, blistered shishitos—means you can focus on each other. If you’re drinking, consider whisky or fizzy cocktails featuring Japanese ingredients like matcha, yuzu, and green tea. 

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For an intimate and cozy night out

Iron Gate (Dupont Circle)

A fireplace, pink leather banquette, and vintage accents in the dining room at Iron Gate in Washington, DC
Iron Gate is set in a former carriage house and complete with a fireplace, pink banquettes, and vintage accents for days. | Credit: Iron Gate

This Italian and Greek favorite is set in a former carriage house and home to a cozy dining room with a fireplace, lanterns, and leather banquettes. But Iron Gate really shines for its wisteria-clad courtyard, which also has fire pits for cooler evenings. Mix things up with the pikilia menu (named after the Greek word for “variety”) and linger over trumpet mushroom arancini, charred Mediterranean octopus, and other Mediterranean small plates in the dreamy outdoor space. 

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Floriana (Dupont Circle)

It might be the red-brick rowhouse setting or the exceptional service, but Floriana is an Italian institution that’s been a date-night go-to since 1979. Couples can’t get enough of the old-school interiors and excellent housemade pastas, like lamb gnocchi with ricotta and basil and burrata ravioli—even Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff famously grabbed dinner here in 2021. 

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For an anniversary or romantic milestone

Succotash PRIME (Penn Quarter)

Cognac-colored leather booths and murals make up the dining room at Succotash PRIME in Washington, DC.
Tufted leather booths and hand-painted murals add swankiness to the dining room at Succotash PRIME. | Credit: Succotash PRIME

If you’re looking for an anniversary dinner to remember, head to this sprawling steakhouse. For starters, it lives in a historic landmark building complete with original details from 1911. Tufted leather booths and hand-painted murals add to the swankiness, and so does a decadent menu by James Beard Award winner Edward Lee. Expect Southern American classics with Korean twists, like spicy gochujang honey fried chicken and collards, kimchi, and country ham. Bonus points for the live jazz performances.

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2941 Restaurant (Falls Church)

A bowl of bouillabaisse at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church
Chef Bertrand Chemel—a Café Boulud alum—takes French American food to the next level at this scenic stunner. | Credit: 2941 Restaurant

Cascading waterfalls, a koi pond, and lush garden views all give this Falls Church stunner its special-occasion cred. But it’s the French American food by Chef Bertrand Chemel—a Café Boulud alum—that takes 2941 to the next level. Celebrate your big night with a platter of East Coast oysters and apple-soy sauce mignonette, or go all out with butter-poached lobster with fennel raviolini, and you’ll see why the food is just as enchanting as the surroundings at this window-wrapped escape. 

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Das Ethiopian (Georgetown)

This MICHELIN Bib Gourmand award winner offers a lesser-seen, fine-dining take on Ethiopian food. A shareable anniversary feast includes some seriously good beef tibs and injera (fermented flatbread). The menu’s many meat-free dishes—chickpea stew, collard greens, and red lentils with red pepper sauce—make Das Ethiopian a solid pick for vegetarians, too. White tablecloth service and a seasonal patio dial up the romance, and so does a stroll down the cobblestone streets nearby.

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For group dates

Ambar (Capitol Hill, Shaw, Arlington)

Ambar’s bottomless Balkan brunch menu means it’s a magnet for leisurely group get-togethers. And its many sitting areas—an expanded patio, indoor dining room, and retractable roof space—make it an especially versatile restaurant to hang. Grab a crew to do justice to the restaurant’s meze platters, salmon Benedict, and cinnamon sourdough, and add unlimited drinks, like mango hibiscus mimosas, for an additional fee.

Book Ambar Capitol Hill
Book Ambar Shaw
Book Ambar Arlington

 

Daikaya – The Izakaya (Penn Quarter)

Bottles of Japanese whisky at the fully-stocked bar at Daikaya - The Izakaya in Washington, DC
Daikaya – The Izakaya is an ode to Tokyo’s night markets. | Credit: Vina Sananikone

Sapporo-style ramen draws crowds to Daikaya’s casual, walk-in-only bar, but you can book a table at its sibling spot upstairs. The Izakaya is an ode to Tokyo’s night markets, and the traditional decor is especially transportive. Take your favorite couple friends and catch up over small plates like sizzling yakitori skewers and onigiri stuffed with fillings like pork belly and fried eggplant, best washed down with cups of warm sake. 

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For an adventurous and transportive date

dLeña (Mount Vernon)

A meal at this rustic-chic Mount Vernon hotspot channels a Oaxacan holiday. dLeña’s modern approach to traditional Mexican plates includes wood-fired grilled meats, seafood, and fresh ceviche. The restaurant’s sexy wraparound bar, built for mezcal tastings and flights of Mexican, South American, and Spanish wines, sets the tone for an extra-special evening. For peak privacy, book the chef’s table—a single, roomy booth with direct kitchen views.

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For an evening of eatertainment

The Hamilton (Downtown)

A rectangular white dish with a California roll and a couple of cocktails top the bar at The Hamilton in Washington, DC.
The Hamilton’s locally loved late-night menu, which includes sushi and carnitas, is great for post-concert fuel. | Credit: The Hamilton

Hamilton’s snug leather banquettes don’t just set you up for romance—they’re also where you score views of some of DC’s most iconic facades, including the Treasury building and the historic Willard hotel. Fuel up on gussied-up bar bites, including a locally loved late-night sushi menu, before continuing your evening downstairs for cocktails and some of the area’s best live music. 

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For a proposal-worthy place

Chez Billy Sud (Georgetown)

Gold-leaf accents and gilded mirrors at the dining room at Chez Billy Sud in Washington, DC
A dinner at this charming Provençal spot is where you make your relationship official. | Credit: Chez Billy Sud

Chez Billy Sud’s sensational French-inspired food lands it consistent spots on DC’s best restaurant lists, and its gilded mirrors and lamp-lit courtyard make it one of the area’s most romantic. A dinner at the charming Provençal spot is where you make things official, and you can celebrate with classics like escargots, chicken liver mousse, and roast chicken. Then sweeten the deal with crème brûlée—or the ultimate question.

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Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Christabel Lobo is a food and travel writer based between Washington, DC and south India. Find her on Instagram @whereschristabel and Twitter @wheresbel.

 

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