Celebrate at These Top 15 Special Occasion Restaurants in Washington D.C.

Dauphine's | Credit: Jen Chase

As the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. has no shortage of special occasion restaurants frequented by the high-flying political crowd. Washingtonians can dine like the Obamas at Bourbon Steak, or revisit D.C.’s oldest bar at Old Ebbitt Grill, or be transported to NOLA at Dauphine’s. Whatever the occasion, these 15 restaurants are bound to be a crowd-pleaser for birthday dinners, anniversary meals, and celebratory taco nights alike. 

Bourbon Steak (Foggy Bottom)

This steakhouse at the Four Seasons Hotel is a special occasion spot worthy of presidents. The Obamas hosted their 20th wedding anniversary dinner here in 2012. You’ll find the upper echelon of D.C. society gathered for celebrity chef Michael Mina’s butter-poached meats that have made a name for themselves across the country. The refined, sleek interior matches the temperament of the menu’s tasteful selection of black angus filet mignon, Japanese A5 striploin, and Mina’s signature Maine lobster pot pie with brandied lobster cream. Though this is a national chain, Mina knows how to make each Bourbon Steak feel special, and the Four Seasons setting accommodates that. 

Dining at the restaurant: The restaurant offers indoor dining and, on weekends, bottomless brunch on the outdoor garden patio with servings of A5 wagyu steak and truffle eggs. 

Takeout: A selection of the à la carte menu is available for pickup only. 

Das Ethiopian (Georgetown)

In the heart of Georgetown’s historic district, traditional Ethiopian fare in a fine-dining setting takes shape at Das Ethiopian. It’s known for a spread of stews, vegetables, and spiced meats served atop the restaurant’s signature injera flatbread. Plenty of vegetarian options are centered around lentils, chickpeas, and stewed carrots, though meat lovers will be content too — the Ethiopian-style short rib is a must-try for sharing and the chicken doro wat provides a kick of flavor. Sleek, elegant lines and muted tones embellish this special occasion spot with some of the best Ethiopian food D.C. has to offer.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor patio dining are offered. 

Takeout: Delivery and takeout are both available. 

TTT Clarendon (Arlington)

What do you get when a longtime restaurateur meets one of Mexico City’s top chefs? Ivan Iricanin teamed up with chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo to create a Mexican-inspired street food restaurant and bar called TTT, which stands for tacos, tortas, and tequila. A stone’s throw away from the city in Arlington, delve into a plethora of burritos, tacos, fajitas, and quesadillas with the likes of barbecue pulled pork, bulgogi steak ribeye, and fried chicken. The vibrant wall mural translates to the fun, energetic atmosphere that runs through brunch and happy hour. TTT Clarendon is a down-to-earth restaurant with good food and good vibes for every occasion. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor patio dining are offered. 

Takeout: Delivery and takeout are offered through its website.

Dauphine’s (Downtown)

Dauphine's

Credit: Jen Chase

One of D.C.’s hottest new restaurants, Dauphine’s pays homage to the spirit and cuisine of New Orleans through its Louisiana-inspired menu. Every dish here takes NOLA cuisine to the next level. The duck jambalaya for two features a heap of roasted duck breast, fresh duck and jalapeño sausage, sauerkraut, and duck skin cracklins. The bread service comes with buttermilk biscuits, baguette, and sweet potato brioche, all served with salted cane butter. And the classic po’boy sandwich is served on Leidenheimer bread from New Orleans with beef debris and fried oysters. Finish your meal with a digestif or café au lait and, of course, don’t forget the beignets with powdered sugar. 

Dining at the restaurant: The unmistakable interior style is characteristic of New Orleans’s history and culture. The expansive restaurant has seating both indoors and outdoors, with the capacity to hold nearly 400 people.

Takeout: Dauphine’s does not currently offer takeout or delivery.

Sushi Gakyu (Penn Quarter)

Steps away from the White House sits the modern, minimalistic sushi restaurant with an omakase bar helmed by chef-owner Yoshihisa Ota. The 54-seat dining space is simple to not take away from the star of the show: the sushi. At Sushi Gakyu, the omakase runs for 14 or 19 courses, with the option of a seasonal fugu (pufferfish) course that is expertly prepared to remove the fish’s toxin. You can also go à la carte with an assortment of nigiri, maki, and chirashi. No matter what you choose, you’ll be in for a treat. 

Dining at the restaurant: The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating.

Takeout: The restaurant does both takeout and delivery.

Equinox Restaurant (Downtown)

Not to be confused with the gym, Equinox Restaurant is a fine-dining establishment from husband and wife duo, Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff. Gray, the five-time James Beard Awards nominee for best chef in America, has been serving Washingtonians the mid-Atlantic, regional cuisine he’s best known for since the restaurant’s opening in 1999. Keeping things fresh with a rotating, plant-forward à la carte and prix fixe weekly menu, you’ll find pan-seared sea bass with ramp and celery root purée alongside tomato rigatoni with basil pesto and vegan cherry clafoutis. The classy interior stays true to its fine-dining identity with white tablecloths and black leather seats. 

Dining at the restaurant: Host your dinner party out with Stella Artois this summer on the patio with a four-course plant-based tasting menu paired with Stella Artois. Indoor dining is also available. 

Takeout: The restaurant offers both takeout and delivery. 

Gypsy Kitchen (Logan Circle)

Spread of dishes at Gypsy Kitchen

Credit: Scott Suchman

Step inside a bohemian escape at this tranquil Mediterranean rooftop restaurant nestled between trees. The open-air space is lined with vibrant couches and candles that illuminate the space when night falls, and the indoor space is equally as cozy with rugs sprawled out across the room, weaved baskets hanging from the ceiling, and paintings adding a pop of color. Flavors from Spain, Greece, Lebanon, Morocco, Israel, and beyond make up the menu, designed to be shared with small plates such as phyllo-wrapped, Turkish-spiced chicken with oven-dried tomato confit jam, or large plates of lamb chops with couscous and tzatziki. A special occasion is incomplete without celebratory cocktails like the “shimmy shimmy ya” with gin, melon liqueur, mint, lemon, and an arak rinse.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor, rooftop, and streetside seating beneath trees are all options at Gypsy Kitchen.

Takeout: Both delivery and takeout are offered.

Elizabeth’s Gone Raw (Logan Circle)

Named one of the best vegan restaurants in the world by the Evening Standard, Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is a vegan fine-dining restaurant that only opens on Friday and Saturday evenings serving raw-vegan courses with organic wine pairings inside an elegant townhouse lined with framed oil paintings. The seasonal prix fixe menu sees white asparagus artfully prepared with corn foam and tarragon pearls, followed by strawberry gazpacho with cucumber crème fraîche and pickled okra. A fully raw menu is also available upon request. Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is a unique experience for plant-based and fine-dining aficionados alike. 

Dining at the restaurant: Only indoor dining is offered.

Takeout: Delivery and takeout are available by directly contacting the restaurant. 

Via Sophia (Downtown)

Housed inside the elegant Hamilton Hotel, Via Sophia is redefining hotel dining with its contemporary all-day osteria serving Neapolitan pizza made in an Italian wood-fired oven, classic Italian pasta, and aperitivo at happy hour. Taking typical Italian ingredients and shaping them in pizza form, the carbonara pizza is topped with pecorino, bacon, ricotta, and a farm egg. For pastas, gnocchi is intertwined with spiced pork ragu, chickpeas, clams, embellished with charred broccolini. Prosecco cocktails deserve a notable mention with “ambrosia” made with prosecco, herb liqueur, amaro, or the “la strega” with prosecco, gin, herbal saffron liqueur, and orange bitters. The stylish interior with quartz, wood, and brass accents is fitting for its upscale, yet approachable dining concept.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor seating are both available. 

Takeout: Delivery and takeout are offered. 

Old Ebbitt Grill (Penn Quarter)

Old Ebbitt Grill

Credit: Old Ebbitt Grill

As D.C.’s oldest bar, operating since 1856, Old Ebbitt Grill was a regular for presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and William McKinley. Founded in a boarding house, it has since moved several locations and now lives in a Beaux Arts-style building that was formerly the B. F. Keith’s Theater. The historical establishment is furnished with antiques and heirlooms collected over the years with famous paintings on its walls and a stunning ceiling mural inside the bar. The freshly shucked oysters are a must, paired with the famous crab and artichoke dip, and crab cakes. The hot pastrami sandwich with muenster cheese, coleslaw, and thousand island dressing sandwiched between pumpernickel bread is also an iconic dish. It all adds up to an experience that’s worthy of a presidential celebration.

Dining at the restaurant: Dining indoors at the restaurant is divided into the main bar, oyster bar, Grant’s bar, main dining room, and the downstairs cabinet room. Outdoor dining is not available.

Takeout: Old Ebbitt Grill offers takeout and delivery, as well as nationwide shipping on meal kits. 

Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier (West End)

French-Belgian fine dining is served in four to six courses amid chic beige interiors at Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, chef-owner of several D.C. area restaurants including Mussel Bar & Grille, Brasserie Beck, and more. Feast on dishes such as pan-seared red snapper with sunchokes and sweet pea puree or mussels with tomato fondue, vermouth glaçage, and gruyere. For extra-special occasions, definitely opt for the luxurious Petrossian caviar service. The restaurant and Palladin room can also be booked for a more intimate private dining experience and special occasions for groups small to large. 

Dining at the restaurant: Only indoor dining is available. 

Takeout: Only curbside pickup is available. 

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (Lovettsville)

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Credit: Jonathan Timmes

What feels like a secret hidden in the woods of Lovettsville, an hour out from the city center, is this New American farm-to-table culinary experience with produce freshly sourced from the restaurant’s certified organic farm the day you dine. The setting is as peaceful and tranquil as you’d expect, with diners congregating underneath a tent with hanging paper lanterns surrounded by nature. There’s also a reservable outdoor gazebo for a truly special private dining experience. No matter where you sit, the seasonal tasting menu for this summer features a farm egg with sultanas, boquerones, and fennel; cappelletti with crab, lemon gel, ginger, and lemongrass; and white chocolate mousse with praline and blueberry jam. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining is available.

Takeout: The restaurant does not do takeout or delivery.

Mala Tang (Arlington)

Traditional Sichuan hot pot comes alive at Mala Tang, named after the distinctive numbingly spicy style of hot pot served across China. The restaurant specializes in an assortment of skewers cooked in spicy green or red pepper broth, as well as stir-fried dry pot customizable to your preference. For those new to spicy hot pot, select the milder level for a subtle taste of the numbing sensation by dipping raw ingredients into the steaming pot of broth to cook as you eat. The bustling restaurant is lively and spirited with families and friends gathered around round tables engaging in the celebratory hot pot cooking experience.

Dining at the restaurant: Only indoor dining is offered. 

Takeout: The restaurant offers both takeout and delivery. 

Punjab Grill (Penn Quarter)

Punjab Grill

Credit: Punjab Grill

Sheer opulence and class are at the center of this fine-dining restaurant that is out to change the perception of Indian food in the country. The restaurant was entirely built and assembled by artisans in India before being dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic, including a hand-carved 40-foot, 12,000-pound pink sandstone wall and a private dining room adorned with 150,000 hand-laid mirrors from floor to ceiling and dinnerware from Hermès. The menu befits the decor, with chef Jaspratap Bindra taking influences from his childhood in Kanpur, India, in dishes such as bites of kathal kofta (jackfruit dumplings) with lababdar sauce and cilantro cress or aloo tikki chaat (crispy potato cake) with Brussels sprouts, kale, raspberry chutney, and yogurt mousse. To take it up another notch, the Petrossian caviar service is served with naan blini, white butter, and lemon foam.

Dining at the restaurant: Both indoor and outdoor dining is available. 

Takeout: The restaurant does takeout and delivery. 

Café Riggs (Penn Quarter)

Situated on the first floor of the Riggs hotel, Café Riggs is inspired by ornate European-style brasseries with olive-toned sofas, baby blue leather chairs, and burgundy bar stools against marble pillars. The café’s all-day menu — meaning you can celebrate any time of day — is balanced with plant-based dishes; appetizers of chilled crab, beef tartare, and caviar grilled cheese; and entrees such as halibut, crab tagliatelle, and steak frites. You can also get a whole roasted chicken or dry-aged bone-in ribeye to share. The raw bar dishes out fresh oysters, scallop ceviche, and shrimp cocktail, and brunch specials make it the ideal setting for a celebratory bellini or mimosa to cheers to the weekend. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining are both available. 

Takeout: Takeout is available directly on the restaurant’s website. 

Tried them all? Check out other options here.