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There are few things I love more than a romantic night out in the city, and Washington DC has a ton of romantic date night restaurants to choose from. Whether you’re looking for anniversary ideas, the best place for brunch, or your new favorite romantic date night spot, I’ve got you. Read on to discover the best restaurants for your next date night in Washington DC.

The restaurants I have listed here are perfect for celebrating special occasions, girls night out, or even solo date nights when you want to romanticize your life and see where the night takes you. If you want to discover your new perfect date night spot, look no further.

What to Expect at a Fancy Date Night Restaurant in Washington DC

Say it with me: Small. Shareable. Plates. It’s the VIBE, people. Restaurants are wilding out over this and I love it. Why just order one large thing when you can order 8 smaller things and sample a bunch of food? I am so here for it. Almost all of these restaurants listed below contain either a chef’s tasting menu or a menu with small plates. Remember when eating off your partner’s plate used to be rude? Not anymore!

All of these restaurants I mention below have incredible food and an equally incredible aesthetic. After all, I know you love a good Instagram moment! These restaurants all have beautiful food presentation, cocktails, and decor. Who says you can’t have everything?

Where to Stay in Washington DC

On my most recent trip to DC, I stayed at the citizensM Washington DC Capitol hotel and loved it. It was a 10 minute walk to the Wharf, where 2 of the restaurants I mention in this post are located!

The Best Things To Do in Washington DC!

Spending a weekend in the city? For all the best things to do, check out the attractions from Get Your Guide below

Website Disclaimer: I most recently visited Washington DC in February 2024. Although everything is accurate as of the publication of this post, it is important to keep in mind that prices, attractions, and other things may change with time.

The Best Date Night Restaurants in Washington DC

1. Iron Gate

Location: Dupont Circle
Brunch Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 11:00am – 2:00pm
Website: Iron Gate DC

Iron Gate is the longest tenured restaurant in downtown DC and always features a chef’s tasting menu. For $85 per person, you can sample head chef and owner Anthony Chittum’s Mediterranean-inspired creations (add $75/person for wine pairings). This is the perfect place to go for a celebratory date night (anniversary, birthday, Valentine’s Day, etc.) although if someone wanted to take me here on a random Thursday, I’m not going to try and stop them.

  • Pro Tip: If you don’t think you can consume all the food on the chef’s tasting menu, you are able to order à la carte.

Iron Gate has 3 separate dining rooms: the bar area where you first walk in, an outside patio with firepits and Edison bulbs, and another inside dining room with a fireplace. When I went, it was Valentine’s Day weekend and the bar area was decked out with hanging flowers and hearts. I LOVE when restaurants go the extra mile to make your entire experience top-tier. Yes, good food is essential and the most important thing, but putting extra effort into elevating the ambiance makes a place really stand out.

After reading MANY positive reviews on multiple websites from DC locals, I knew I had to check this place out. After my experience, I am adding myself to the roster of people that call Iron Gate their “new favorite place in the city.” Literally everything is so good…the food, the aesthetic, the service….all of it!

Iron Gate
Bar area
Iron Gate
Outside dining area
Iron Gate
Main dining area

2. La Vie

Location: The Wharf
Brunch Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 11:00am – 3:00pm
Website: La Vie DC

La Vie is a penthouse venue/restaurant with absolutely stunning views of the Wharf and the Potomac River. When you enter, you are greeted by chandeliers, white furniture, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

  • Pro Tip: If you want to be really romantic, you can make a reservation to eat in an igloo here!
La Vie DC

But it doesn’t stop there. This restaurant has essentially 3 different aesthetics, all in one. When I was there, the area to the right of the above photo was decked out with pink chairs, tables, and rugs. I don’t know if this was because it was close to Valentine’s Day or if this is how they always have it decorated, but regardless, I was DOWN. If you’re a man, you probably hate me…BUT – your girlfriend won’t. And after all, isn’t that the point?

Actually, if you’re a man, just volunteer to stay home. Your girlfriend or wife is probably going to pick this place for her next girls brunch date, and can you really blame her? Wait, you thought this post was about couples dates only? Oh honey, no. Friend dates, sister dates, dates with my gay friend who will match his suit to the carpet…THAT is who I’m bringing here. What kind of travel blogger would I be if I didn’t give you variety in my posts?

La Vie – Washington, DC
La Vie (bar area) – Washington, DC

But wait…you probably want to know what they have to eat. I recently came here for brunch, so I can only speak to their brunch food, but OMG. It was to die for.

Like many of the restaurants I mention here, their brunch menu is focused around sharing and trying foods. For $57, they have bottomless brunch (and bottomless cocktails for $39). You are able to try as many things from their brunch menu as you want. Many of the things are very small bites, so you really get your money’s worth in terms of trying food, especially if you come with a large group.

  • I tried their arancini, salmon souvlaki, duck carbonara, baklava waffle, & dark chocolate mousse and would recommend all of it
  • Go for their breakfast cocktails over the coffee
  • Their dinner menu also looks phenomenal, and I would love to come back and try it! If you have been to La Vie for dinner, let me know your recommendations in the comments!

3. ilili

Location: The Wharf
Brunch Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 11:00am – 2:30pm
Website: ilili Washington DC

ilili is a Lebanese restaurant near the Wharf with – you guessed it – small, shareable plates. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to capitalize the first letter of the restaurant but my computer hasn’t autocorrected me yet so we’re just going to roll with it. TBH I think if you capitalize the first “i” it just makes it harder to read the name, and I can’t pronounce it as it is. If you’re taking your wife here just tell her you’re surprising her so you don’t have to potentially butcher the pronunciation. Women like men who make plans, so now you’re winning on all fronts.

In terms of ambiance, this is one of the sexiest date night places on this list. If I would have came here with a man, I would have put on an LBD, heels, and red lipstick. But I came here alone, so I also wore an LBD, heels, and red lipstick because I dress up for me. /shrug

ilili – Washington, DC

As someone who never knows what she wants to eat, the shareable plates trend is really working for me here…especially since I’ve never tried Lebanese food. If you haven’t either, it’s vastly Mediterranean and reminds me a lot of food I tried in Greece. I only ordered about 3 different things because the portion sizes were a little bigger than other “small plates” places I went to.

The lady sitting at the bar next to me overheard me saying how I had never had Lebanese before and was adamant that I try everything she ordered. I essentially ate half the menu thanks to her. This is why I tell you solo travel is where it’s at. How else would you sample a ton of Lebanese food in the nation’s capital with a complete stranger?

  • Pro Tip: If you’re on the fence, the bartenders and waiters are phenomenal at suggesting what to order. Some dishes are more traditionally Lebanese than others, so I would suggest trying the rec’s from the people who work there.
The only time I’ve ever taken a decent food pic

4. Chloe

Location: The Yards/Capitol Riverfront
Website: Chloe by Haidar Karoum

My best friend and I stumbled upon Chloe during a New Years Eve trip to Washington DC in 2022. We both agreed it was the best meal of our entire weekend!

Chloe features a bunch of smaller plates on their dinner menu that are meant for sharing, as well as a wine, spirits, and cocktail list. Think Western Europe meets Southeast Asia and then add a Lebanese twist. We tried the cauliflower, potato gnocchi, ahi tuna, and steak and looooved it all!

Their brunch menu is set up the same as their dinner menu with a variety of small plates. and is served on Saturday and Sunday.

In case you need further convincing, Haidar Karoum, the owner and chef, was a semifinalist for the coveted James Beard Award and has also been named RAMW Chef of the Year. In 2021, Chloe became a Michelin Star restaurant.

5. Founding Farmers

Location: Multiple
Brunch Hours: Varies by location
Website: Founding Farmers

  • Pro Tip: Founding Farmers serves breakfast every day, but on Sundays, some of their locations serve a buffet brunch that is VERY popular among locals! The DC location does NOT serve a buffet brunch (they have à la carte), but I know the Tyson’s Corner and Reston Station ones do. For a complete list, check out their website linked above.

I come to Founding Farmers every single time I visit DC, and not just because it’s the most affordable restaurant on this list. I love this place mostly for its farm-to-table food, but also for its versatility. Out of all the restaurants I’ve mentioned, this one is probably the most first-date or casual-date friendly. Its beautiful, rustic-chic interior somehow makes it elegant yet also laid back.

Founding Farmers DC – Washington, DC

For food, they do great with balancing comfort food as well as healthy options. I feel like this is a really good place to go on a date because it’s so versatile in terms of what you can get. I have tried everything from their healthy egg white pan scrambles to their chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. For dinner, I can vouch for their Farmer’s Salad (ask for a crab cake on top!) and their cheeseburgers (ask to add avocado!).

  • Pro Tip: No matter what, get a Jefferson donut – a glazed, flaky, croissant-donut hybrid filled with different flavors of pastry cream. They’re award-winning and to die for.

Founding Farmers Locations

Founding Farmers has 2 main locations in the city: Founding Farmers Tyson’s and Founding Farmers DC. There are also some restaurants that are more outside the city (ex. – Founding Farmers Reston Station in Virginia), as well as Farmers Fishers & Bakers in Georgetown. For a complete list of their locations, check out their website linked above.

  • Pro Tip: If you go to the Tyson’s location and park in the parking garage, ask the hostess to stamp your ticket for you when you’re leaving so you don’t have to pay to park

Founding Farmers Tysons

❧ Some Personal Nostalgia ❧

My mom and I love to go to DC on a shopping trip and hit up the Founding Farmers Tysons location in the morning for breakfast and then again that night for dinner. I kind of feel like I should be embarrassed about that but I’m not. It’s just so good and so convenient and so fresh.

The parking garage beside the Tyson’s location is connected to Tyson’s Galleria, an upscale shopping mall that I can’t afford but love to walk around in. Founding Farmer’s Tysons is also a 5-10 minute drive from Tyson’s Corner, the best shopping mall in DC (and more affordable than the Galleria). No matter if I’m spending time around Tyson’s or downtown DC, I love coming to this area because I have so many happy memories associated with being here.

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