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10 special occasion-worthy restaurants in Washington, DC

A photo of Otlogo
by Christabel Lobo
Updated December 18, 2023

An epic night out in the country’s capital can mean dining where the Beltway bigwigs do—but it doesn’t have to. Washington, DC’s signature diversity trickles down to its special occasion spots, too.

These restaurants in and around the District have what it takes to uplevel any occasion—even if it’s just a midweek dinner. Read on for a guide to the 10 best special occasion spots in Washington, DC, right now.

A photo of Bourbon Steak - Four Seasons Washington DC restaurant
4.5
4.5 (3732)
$31 to $50
Steakhouse
Georgetown
About the restaurant

This stylish Four Seasons Hotel steakhouse is a special occasion spot fit for presidents. Case in point: the Obamas hosted their 20th wedding anniversary dinner here in 2012. You’ll find DC’s elite gathered to celebrate major moments over chef Michael Mina’s world-class filet mignon and Maine lobster pie—plus one of the most impressive bourbon collections in town. Even though the restaurant is part of a national chain, Mina knows how to make each location shine, and the swanky five-star hotel backdrop gives his DC edition a leg up.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
An outstanding meal from start to finish. Their attention to detail with every dish was impressive. Highly recommend the Lobster Pot Pie and S’mores dessert. The wine list was extensive and the sommelier’s selection was excellent.
A photo of Das Ethiopian - Georgetown restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1473)
$31 to $50
Ethiopian
Georgetown
About the restaurant

Das’s shareable and spice-forward Ethiopian dishes make it ideal for intimate special occasions. A milestone meal in this cushy townhouse isn’t complete without a bottomless basket of injera (spongy flatbread), made for dunking in tender chicken stew. But the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand recipient is also a go-to for its spectacular meat-free options. Sleek, elegant lines and lush fabrics dial up the luxe factor and explain why this Georgetown staple is a highly sought-after celebration spot.


Top review
NevH
Dined on Apr 13, 2024
Always fresh, flavorful food with warm and friendly service. Ask for the gluten free injera ahead of time - it's so yummy. Highly recommend!
A photo of Equinox - DC restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3361)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
Downtown
About the restaurant

Wife-and-husband duo Ellen Kassoff and Todd Gray are behind this plant-forward fine-dining legend. When Gray debuted Equinox’s vegetarian tasting menu circa 2011, the move gave the restaurant an edge in DC’s competitive fine-dining scene. An always-changing selection means you’ll try something different every time you mark a special occasion here. The best part: Equinox’s nearly zero-waste kitchen composts and regrows ingredients used in day-to-day operations, so you can feel good about celebrating here.


Top review
Lizzy
Dined on Apr 17, 2024
We did the vegetarian tasting menu and I really loved the quantity of food we got. We were on our way to a concert and were happy not to have any leftovers. It was awesome and yummy!
A photo of Elizabeth's restaurant
4.9
4.9 (1209)
$50 and over
Vegan
Downtown
About the restaurant

If your occasion calls for a full-fledged vegan feast, head to this elegant Federalist townhouse. Elizabeth’s Gone Raw was singled out as one of the best vegan restaurants in the world by the Evening Standard, and it takes just one bite of chef Francisco Hernandez’s artistic creations—watermelon skin tartare with nori confetti for the win—to understand why (a fully raw feast is available upon request). Note that the restaurant is only open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays evenings, so plan your special night out accordingly.


Top review
Wendyyy
Dined on Apr 12, 2024
Extraordinary vegan cuisine filled with chef’s creativity
A photo of Mala Tang restaurant
4.4
4.4 (522)
$31 to $50
Asian
Arlington
About the restaurant

Mala Tang is a cook-your-own Sichuan food star tailor made for large and lively gatherings. It’s named for the distinctive hot pots served across China, and you’ll find groups digging into plenty of excellent versions on its many round tables. Go with friends or family to do justice to the spectacular soups, which come with dippable ingredients like prawns, fish balls, and more. Multiple broth types—ranging from mild to tongue-numbing spicy (Sichuan peppercorns and chile oil)—let you and your crew order mains according to heat tolerances. Bonus points for the customizable dips, which you can mix and match at the dedicated sauce bar.


Top review
EdwardB
Dined on Apr 15, 2024
Our first time there and we were very impressed. Food was terrific and the staff was very accommodating and professional. Could have used better directions to the parking garage. Thank you!
A photo of La Bise restaurant
4.8
4.8 (812)
$31 to $50
French
Downtown
About the restaurant

Restaurant vet Ashok Bajaj (Bombay Club, Modena) is a pro at standing out in a city full of special-occasion hotspots. His latest took over the famed Oval Room in 2021, but it’s a far cry from the buttoned-up American restaurant it used to be. Instead, celebrations at La Bise are all about revamped French food made with surprising ingredients like pineapple and blood orange. Get the knockout pistachio mille-feuille for dessert and you’ll definitely score bonus points with the person you’re celebrating.


Top review
TonyB
Dined 5 days ago
I love the relaxed feel of this place – like a comfortable dining room in a friends home. I definitely would return to try more dishes.
A photo of Nama Ko restaurant
4.6
4.6 (322)
$31 to $50
Japanese
U Street Corridor
About the restaurant

From anniversary-worthy omakase service to bottomless dim sum brunch for freewheeling group celebrations, this gold-curtained sushi bar can do it all. Nama Ko is James Beard Award winner Michael Schlow’s take on Japanese dining, District style. The nigiri and sashimi lean traditional—and there’s plenty of luxe wagyu—but the spicy tuna tacos show off Schlow’s experimental side. To toast, there’s a generous sake and Japanese whiskey selection, plus top-notch zero-proof cocktails like the Matcha Colada and the grapefruity Sumo Spritz.


Top review
RaitisG
Dined on Apr 11, 2024
We split the omakase sashimi and some a la carte sushi and sashimi. Expensive but top notch and worth the expense IMO. We will be back.
A photo of Filomena Ristorante restaurant
4.8
4.8 (16454)
$31 to $50
Italian
Georgetown
About the restaurant

Meet one of the District’s most-loved Italian hubs. Since opening in 1983, Filomena has established itself as a Georgetown celebration staple and been profiled by Forbes, the Travel Channel, and more. The chicken parmesan is the special-occasion MVP, as are the varied bolognese and lasagna options (gnocchi, fettuccine, and eggplant). Filomena also keeps the crowds flocking for its over-the-top holiday decor—come December, it morphs into a winter wonderland adorned with hundreds of twinkling lights and nutcrackers.


Top review
SSWW
Dined 3 days ago
Phenomenal food and service. Only down check is lack of lighting. But it’s supposed to go with the ambiancez
A photo of China Chilcano restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3433)
$31 to $50
Peruvian
Penn Quarter
About the restaurant

China Chilcano is where you come for a pisco party with friends. The menu is just as festive, featuring a blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Criollo accents that pop up in dishes like king salmon tiradito in white ponzu or lomo saltado stir-fry with fried potato sticks. A boldly designed dining room—high ceilings, red glass lamps, and neon lights—provides a striking photo backdrop. But what truly sets China Chilcano apart is the staff’s attention to detail and willingness to accommodate special requests—even the biggest celebration is a stress-free affair here.


Top review
GilG
Dined 3 days ago
Woww. Amazing food. Great service. Dont miss when in DC
A photo of Truluck's - Ocean's Finest Seafood & Crab - Washington, D.C. restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1686)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Mount Vernon Square
About the restaurant

Soft lights, wine-colored leather booths, and sparkling chandeliers set the tone for extra-elegant celebrations at this surf-and-turf haven. The Houston transplant stays true to its everything-is-bigger-in-Texas ethos—it’s got 400 seats spread out over two stories, for starters. The menu is equally massive, featuring global seafood, expertly broiled steaks with roasted garlic bulbs, and solid vegan options like plant-based bolognese pappardelle. Add flaming desserts and a deep wine list, and you’ve got one of the swankiest special-occasion spots in town.


Top review
Dennyvip
Dined 3 days ago
The food and service were just excellent. This place is not cheap but the food and service is amazing!
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