Washington, D.C. may be known as the seat of government for some, but Washingtonians know that it can be pretty romantic as well. The district’s quaint neighborhoods — with their iconic façades and historic interiors — spectacular riverscapes, and burgeoning culinary scene mean an intimate venue, to commemorate everything from proposals and anniversaries to date nights and special occasions, is never hard to find.
From exceptional waterfront views to Instagram-worthy indoor dining spaces, here are the 12 most romantic restaurants in Washington, D.C., with indoor, outdoor, and takeout options to help you celebrate this Valentine’s Day.
Nara-Ya (The Wharf)
With a menu carefully curated by chef Kaz Okochi and a kitchen helmed by chef Lucas Irwin — who trained under the renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto — Nara-Ya offers up some of the best Japanese cuisine the district has to offer. Expect exceptional plating of a la carte dishes such as the braised short ribs with koji-glazed kabocha, as well as omakase menus that are ideal for an intimate date night out where you can exchange thoughts over every bite. To top it all off, the colorful dining room offers stunning vistas of D.C.’s Wharf waterfront.
Dining at the restaurant: For a romantic dinner for two, book a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows in Nara-Ya’s indoor dining room — the nightly sunsets are worth an early reservation. You’ll also find an extensive selection of sake, Japanese whisky, and craft cocktails featuring ingredients like yuzu, sour apple, and ume plum at the sleek, cherry blossom-themed bar.
Takeout: This restaurant does not offer takeout.
Punjab Grill (Penn Quarter)
Opulent, moody interiors, intricate, hand-carved wood paneling, and Mughal-inspired decor — that transports you straight to a regal Indian palace — all make Punjab Grill an unforgettable spot for your next date night. Perfect for extra-special occasions is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors), the restaurant’s private dining room that’s covered from floor-to-ceiling with 150,000 intricately hand-laid mirrors. Boasting outposts in the UAE, Singapore, and India, this luxury international chain has taken D.C.’s fine-dining scene by storm since the opening of its first stateside location in Penn Quarter in 2019. Diners can expect a creative contemporary Indian menu with international ingredients such as burrata, cornbread, and olive tapenade seamlessly blending with traditional Punjabi flavors.
Dining at the restaurant: The expansive, 4,700-square-foot interior offers several different dining areas to choose from, including an open-air patio and a mother-of-pearl and onyx bar with a distinctive white geometric ceiling.
Takeout: The full menu is available for takeout and delivery through the website or by calling the restaurant.
Das Ethiopian (Georgetown)
Being home to the country’s largest Ethiopian population means that good Ethiopian food is never hard to find in Washington, D.C. For a memorable night of fine dining, romance, and some seriously good beef tibs and injera in the nation’s capital, head down the charming cobblestone streets of Georgetown to Das Ethiopian, a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand award-winning restaurant. White tablecloth dinner service and a cozy vibe make indoor dining at Das Ethiopian a stellar choice for proposal and anniversary celebration. Vegetarians need not worry — the menu also includes several meat-free dishes, including shiro wat (chickpea stew), gomen (collard greens), and red lentils.
Dining at the restaurant: The quaint restaurant situated in a historic townhouse also has a seasonal al fresco patio overlooking Georgetown’s buzzing M street.
Takeout: The restaurant’s full menu is available for takeout and delivery.
dLeña (Mount Vernon Triangle)
Wood-fired grilled meats and seafood, fresh ceviche, and an extensive selection of smoky mezcals, tequila-infused cocktails, and tasting flights feature at dLeña, the district’s newest restaurant offering by Denver-based chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval. Focused on contemporary Oaxacan fare, the restaurant’s plush interiors, mood lighting, and private booths set the tone for any romantic occasion. For added privacy, opt for a roomy booth or dine outdoors on the spacious patio, which seats 70.
Dining at the restaurant: Central to the main dining area is dLeña’s wraparound bar, where diners can indulge in mezcal tastings, margaritas, and a varied selection of Mexican, South American, and Spanish wines. Outdoor dining is also available.
Takeout: The restaurant offers the option of takeout and delivery.
Iron Gate (Dupont Circle)
Nothing beats date night set in a historic Washington, D.C. townhouse that dates back to the late 1800s. Once a former stable and carriageway, today Iron Gate serves up some of the district’s best Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant’s Pikilia — the Greek word for variety — menu, offered every Friday and Saturday afternoon, features mezze such as trumpet mushroom arancini, hummus platters, and parmesan fritters. Diners can choose to wash it all down with a selection of Greek and Southern Italian wines or Mediterranean-inspired cocktails such as the Cappelletti spritz and Otto’s Athens vermouth highball.
Dining at the restaurant: Both indoor and outdoor dining is available. The outside patio of this Dupont Circle hotspot is a true hidden oasis in the heart of the city. Expect overhung verdant grapevines and a centuries-old wisteria to set the vibe during your romantic dinner date.
Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout and delivery available to order on their website.
Let the good times roll with a reservation at Dauphine’s, a downtown D.C. hotspot that exudes New Orleans’s renowned culture and charm. Helmed by James Beard Award-nominated chef Kristen Essig, a reservation here means you and your date get to transport yourself to Crescent City with some exquisite NOLA cuisine. Begin with a platter of oysters Dauphine — chargrilled to perfection with spinach, horseradish, and pecorino. End the night with a café au lait and a shared plate of beignets, served with a hearty dusting of powdered sugar.
Dining at the restaurant: For an enchanting evening of romance filled with Southern charm, choose a table in the expansive indoor dining area. The cocktail program by celebrated bartender and restaurateur Neal Bodenheimer features some of NOLA’s most famous drinks, including the hurricane and a New Orleans-style wet martini. The outdoor patio space is anchored by an impressive NOLA-inspired tiled fountain; the covered outdoor bar area comfortably seats 30 diners.
Takeout: The restaurant currently does not offer takeout.
District Winery (Navy Yard)
Set along the Anacostia River in the southeast neighborhood of Navy Yard is District Winery, the district’s only commercial winery. Begin your romantic date night with an urban wine tasting and tour of the sprawling 17,000-square-foot glass-encased complex that offers Made in DC wines and some serious Instagram-worthy waterfront views. Dinner focuses on shareable boards and snack plates of seasonal American cuisine that pairs well with the house wines and craft cocktails — the fried Brussels sprouts and grilled cheese are not to be missed.
Dining at the restaurant: This chic waterfront spot offers both indoor and outdoor dining. For a memorable setting, choose a table at the heated outdoor patio with prime sunset views over the Anacostia in the winter months.
Takeout: Diners can order delivery and takeout via OpenTable.
Tabard Inn (Dupont Circle)
An intimate, parlor-like setting makes for an unforgettable romantic dinner or casual date night at Tabard Inn, one of Washington, D.C.’s longest-running hotels. Housed in a trio of historic Victorian-era row houses, this charming employee-owned property is also home to an award-winning eponymous restaurant. Chef Cliff Wharton’s commitment to only using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients ensures that your meal at this celebrated spot is one worth remembering.
Dining at the restaurant: Want to deliver romance? Reserve a table at the restaurant’s quaint shaded garden patio, complete with ivy-covered brick walls and striking bronze sculptures. The property’s recently renovated fireplace lounge or grand dining room are also lovely settings for a romantic occasion.
Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout and delivery.
ilili (The Wharf)
A feast for all the senses, ilili’s stunningly aesthetic 4,500-square-foot Wharf indoor dining area, inspired by the lush gardens of chef Philippe Massoud’s childhood in Beirut, is anchored by an imposing 19th-century French limestone fountain. Suspended from the ceiling are hanging green planters, and large cane bird cages housing white steel doves with yellow light bulb heads; striking blue floral tile work and citrus trees further add to this Lebanese restaurant’s seductive allure.
Dining at the restaurant: ilili DC is currently accepting reservations for indoor dining, and bookings are open a month in advance. Outdoor dining is also available.
Takeout: The restaurant does not currently offer takeout or delivery.
Cork Wine Bar (Logan Circle)
This casual Logan Circle spot has long been considered one of DC’s popular date night spots since first opening up more than a decade ago. Focused on wine flights from the Old World, as well as a curated selection of shared plates that includes artisanal cheese platters, charcuterie boards — curated by the in-house cheesemonger — and the ever-popular avocado bruschetta, Cork Wine Bar’s cozy setting serves as the ideal location for a relaxed, romantic brunch or date night out in the district.
Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining is available at this 14th street hotspot. When the weather’s great, opt for a table on the patio.
Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout and delivery of their entire menu, including bottles of wine via the website.
Floriana (Dupont Circle)
Housed in a quintessential red-brick DC rowhouse, this underrated Dupont Circle establishment — it first opened in 1979 — is all about handmade pasta and exceptional service. With its romantic red walls, the cozy indoor dining area serves as an ideal backdrop for proposals and anniversary dinners. Celebrate with Italian classics such as the Chianti-braised lamb gnocchi, burrata ravioli, and scallop and shrimp risotto. Helpful staff are ready to make recommendations for a bottle of wine from the curated wine list to round out your romantic meal.
Dining at the restaurant: Floriana offers indoor dining options as well as limited sidewalk seating. Either option provides a lovely setting to share a rustic Italian meal for two.
Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout and delivery via their website.
Chez Billy Sud (Georgetown)
Consistently ranked as one of America’s best restaurants, Chez Billy Sud’s alluring interiors — complete with gilded mirrors and a quaint lamplit courtyard — also make it one of the most romantic. Reservations at this charming Provençal spot have diners feeling like they’ve embarked on a whirlwind romantic French getaway for the night. Celebrate an anniversary or proposal with classics such as escargot, chicken liver mousse, and poulet roti. Sweeten the date with a plate or two of dessert; the Basque cheesecake and vanilla rice pudding are must orders.
Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining is available. Opt for a table reservation in the picturesque outdoor patio for a truly memorable date night.
Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout.