Mark and Orlando’s – 2020 P St. N.W. – American // 202-223-8463
This little-known Dupont Circle restaurant has a small menu, but quality trumps quantity. Mark and Orlando’s has two levels. The top floor is an intimate, homey space, where an appetizer and entrée can combine to less than $20. The bottom tier is more formal and the menu prices double. But the food is excellent regardless of the floor.
Peacock Café – 3251 Prospect St. N.W. – American // 202-625-2740
Peacock Café is a hidden Georgetown gem. With an intimate décor and soft lighting, the location is a more romantic spot than Peacock’s on K Street. The restaurant is offering a $69 Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu that includes a “parting gift and long stem rose.”
West End Bistro – 1190 22nd St. N.W. – American but with an emphasis on fish // 212-974-4900
This outpost of renowned French chef Eric Ripert has a dark, sophisticated atmosphere – perfect for an intimate Valentine’s Day date. The food and location in the Ritz on M Street are great, but expect fairly high prices.
Grillfish – 1200 New Hampshire Ave. N.W. – Seafood // 202-331-7310
Grillfish may specialize in fish, but the varied menu and romantic dripping candles that line the walls make it accessible to anyone. The Valentine’s Day menu offers a starter, entrée, dessert and bottle of wine for two at $45 per person.
Mie N Yu – 3125 M St. N.W. – Asian fusion and Moroccan // 202-333-6122
If you’re looking for atmosphere and décor this Valentine’s Day, Mie N Yu, an Asian-influenced, Moroccan-themed restaurant in Georgetown, may fit the bill. The food is good, but the experience is all about the atmosphere; guests dine under swathes of white tent, surrounded by candles. Mie N Yu is offering a five-course Valentine’s Day menu for $55 per person, but the regular menu offers an array of less expensive options.
La Tasca – 722 Seventh St. N.W. – Tapas // 202-333-6122
La Tasca, a bustling tapas bar and restaurant near the Verizon Center, is a great spot for a fun outing. The varied menu allows diners to mix and share a variety of paellas and tapas for less than $25 per person. For people over 21, the restaurant offers a selection of what is arguably D.C.’s best white and red sangria.
Zengo – 781 Seventh St. N.W. – Latin-American and Asian fusion // 202-393-2929
Zengo offers a variety of sushi, flavorful fusion dishes and imaginative cocktails. The $75 Valentine’s Day tasting menu gets two people three meals and a dessert, but the romantic atmosphere is priceless.
Founding Farmers – 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. – American // 202-822-8783
The environmentally conscious restaurant isn’t just about great food; it’s also an experience. The sprawling dining space is remeniscient of a rustic farmhouse with big wooden tables and water served in thick jugs. The Valentine’s Day special – wine, salad, lobster, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, vegetables and cupcakes – will set you back $150, but the regular menu will get you fresh, natural food at less than $25 for an entrée.
Agraria – 3000 K St. N.W. – American // 202-298-0003
Agraria was started by the North Dakota Farmers Union and all of their products come from family owned farms. The restaurant is offering a seven-course prix fixe menu all of Valentine’s weekend for $70 per person.
Restaurant Nora – 2132 Florida Ave. N.W. – American // 202-462-5143
Tucked away in a Dupont Circle townhouse, Restaurant Nora was America’s first certified organic restaurant. On Friday and Saturday night Restaurant Nora is offering a $95 per person prix fixe menu – with a vegetarian option.
News Café – 3056 M St. N.W. – Italian // 202-965-5535
News Café offers a delicious array of Italian cuisine. The salads, pizzas, pastas and entrées mostly go for less than $20, and the dimly lit eatery features different themes in each room. The mirrored room with couches in the center of the restaurant is appropriate for smaller groups, while the back room can accommodate large parties.
F Street Bistro – 2117 E St. N.W. – American // 202-861-8200
Just blocks from Thurston Hall, this restaurant is hidden in The State Plaza Hotel. The quiet restaurant is romantic and upscale despite its location on campus. The deep-fried cheescake with berries and whipped cream is a not-to-be-missed dessert.
Luigi’s Restaurant – 1132 19th St. N.W. – Italian // 202-331-7574
Family owned and operated, this is one of the oldest Italian restaurnts in the District. The tablecloths and candles evoke old Italy and dim lighting makes it a perfect Valentine’s Day spot.
Café Milano – 3251 Prospect St. N.W. – Italian // 202-333-6183
Café Milano offers a $65-per-person Valentine’s Day menu and an a la carte menu, but the real draw of this D.C. powerhouse restaurant are the regular patrons that make the café a social scene.
Paparazzi – 1064-1066 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. – Italian // 202-298-8000
This warm, cozy Italian trattoria is a great Valentine’s Day spot to have a nice dinner at a lower cost than most Georgetown restaurants. Nearly all entrees run under $25.
Zaytinya – 701 Ninth St. N.W. – Mediterranean // 202-638-0800
Zaytinya is famous for their mezze, a Mediterranean take on tapas. Though they offer reservations, the majority of tables are held for walk-ins, so plan carefully if you intend to make Zaytinya your Valentine’s Day destination. Most items run around $10 and are intended to be shared or combined.
2 Amys – 3715 Macomb St. N.W. – Pizza // 202-885-5700
2 Amys, located in Cleveland Park, is widely considered to be D.C.’s best pizza. This hidden gem is a warm, inviting dining space, and the food is relatively inexpensive, with every item on the menu running less than $13. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations though, so get there early or wait to eat late.
Open City – 2331 Calvert St. N.W. – American // 202-332-2331
Near the Adams Morgan Metro stop, Open City is an upscale diner, coffeehouse and bar all mixed into one. In addition to brick oven pizza and classic entrees, they serve breakfast all day and are open until 1 a.m. on Saturday.
Utopia Restaurant – 1418 U St. N.W. – International // 202-483-7669
This funky U Street restaurant serves an ecletic mix of Southern and Middle Eastern food in colorful sorroundings. With live jazz and a rotating art gallery, Utopia is a fun Valentine’s spot.
Co Co Sala – 929 F St. N.W. // 202-347-4265
This new chocolate boutique is open until 3 a.m. on Saturdays and offers an array of dessert and drink options. Although also open for dinner, its deep brown hues and lounge-like atmosphere make it a perfect ending to your night. For $20 you can get three courses of desserts.
Kramerbooks and Afterwards Cafe – 1517 Connecticut Ave. N.W. // 202-387-1462
The café in the back of this Dupont Circle bookstore is open 24 hours on the weekends and has a large selection of pies and cakes. It does not take reservations and lines can be long on weekend nights, but browsing books is a good conversation starter and makes the wait go quickly.
Love Cafe – 1501 U St. N.W. // 202-265-9800
Love Café is an offshoot of Cake Love, the well-known Washington D.C. cafe. Open until midnight on Saturdays, you and your date can either order one of the many desserts or play around at the cupcake bar, customizing the perfect dessert.
Cafe La Ruche – 1039 31st St. N.W. // (202) 965-2684
This romantic Georgetown café serves a full menu, however, you can also go and enjoy the full espresso bar and home-made pastries and desserts.