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Dining Review - Iron Gate
Two customers enjoy a meal at Iron Gate in Dupont Circle
Washington Post via Getty Images

12 Places for a Quiet, Intimate Dinner Around D.C.

Restaurants where people can actually hear each other from across the table

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Two customers enjoy a meal at Iron Gate in Dupont Circle
| Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. has no shortage of bustling hotspots — just try to go out for dinner without reservations on a Saturday night — but sometimes the occasion calls for a venue where everyone at the table can hear each other talk. Whether it’s a romantic date night, a reunion with a family member, or a chance to catch up with a friend, some dining rooms are better than others at fostering conversations. These are 12 of the best options around for quiet, intimate meals.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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The Pembroke

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A globally influenced meal awaits at the stylish and gorgeous new restaurant in the Dupont Circle Hotel. You can find handmade pastas, a fantastic lamb tagine, and a snapper with red curry along with fresh salads, crudos and more. To splurge, go with the Chateaubriand for two.

Obelisk

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This perennially underrated Dupont Circle spot has been serving light, seasonal Italian food with a changing daily menu since 1987. The small dining room only has about a dozen tables, and there’s plenty of space between them, which keeps the noise level down. Snag a reservation, head over and settle in to enjoy a fancy five-course menu over a relaxing couple of hours. 

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Iron Gate Restaurant

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The cozy dining room with soft lighting is intimate and warm, and the patio leaves an impression, too. Either works for an evening out that’s a bit more subdued without being lame. Guests can also expect very good Mediterranean dishes such a spiced lamb sausage, hearth roasted carrots, and whole roasted lobster.  

Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tortino Restaurant

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At this Logan Circle haunt, the dining rooms feels like a little trattoria that would be found in Italy. Fresh pastas, meat, seafood, and daily specials are all on-point here. Nothing is super fancy, but Tortino is comfortable and quaint.

The Dabney Cellar

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Hidden down a flight of stairs in Shaw, this companion bar adjacent to Blagden Alley’s Mid-Atlantic standout is a cozy, dimly lit space to park, drink interesting wine, and snack on oysters, cheese, and charcuterie. It’s perfect for date night or a small group.

Photo by Andrew Cebulka for Dabney Cellar

At the historic Jefferson hotel downtown, Michelin-starred Plume is an elegant place to splurge. The wine list is spectacular, the food is wonderful, and there are plenty of nooks to choose from for extra privacy.

Plume is inside The Jefferson Hotel Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Corduroy

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This long-running Shaw restaurant featuring modern American cuisine still runs under the radar. The quiet sophistication and the high quality of dishes like red snapper bisque and beef cheek osso bucco make it a top contender when the din of a noisy dining room is out of the question.

Scenes at Corduroy for Iphone app Evy Mages for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Chez Billy Sud

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This cozy French spot in Georgetown has a fireplace and a wine bar next-door, the perfect pairing for an intimate night out.

Snow falls outside of Chez Billy Sud in Washington... J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Kinship

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The space includes a lounge with a fireplace and a minimalist dining room. Focus on the company here while waiting on indulgences like lobster french toast and a legendary roast chicken.

Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

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Robert Wiedmaier’s sophisticated West End dining room is known for exceptional service. Customers choose from four to six courses of contemporary French-Belgian dishes in a relaxed, refined atmosphere where low decibel levels make way for easy banter. 

Magazine dining column on Marcel’s Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post via Getty Images

The Oval Room

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Ashok Bajaj’s power dining venue serves contemporary American food — like a foie gras tart with quince, hazelnut, and armagnac or casarecce pasta with a duck confit ragu — close to the Oval Office. The classy setting and the relatively quiet ambiance in this dining room make for a peaceful meal. Patio dining is equally pleasant.

The Oval Room.
The Oval Room.
Greg Powers/Official

The separation of spaces between a casual tasting room and a classy brasserie means there are plenty of quiet areas hold a conversation in this Northern Virginia hotel venue. Expect classic French cuisine and a fine wine list.

The Pembroke

A globally influenced meal awaits at the stylish and gorgeous new restaurant in the Dupont Circle Hotel. You can find handmade pastas, a fantastic lamb tagine, and a snapper with red curry along with fresh salads, crudos and more. To splurge, go with the Chateaubriand for two.

Obelisk

This perennially underrated Dupont Circle spot has been serving light, seasonal Italian food with a changing daily menu since 1987. The small dining room only has about a dozen tables, and there’s plenty of space between them, which keeps the noise level down. Snag a reservation, head over and settle in to enjoy a fancy five-course menu over a relaxing couple of hours. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Obelisk (@obeliskdc) on

Iron Gate Restaurant

Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The cozy dining room with soft lighting is intimate and warm, and the patio leaves an impression, too. Either works for an evening out that’s a bit more subdued without being lame. Guests can also expect very good Mediterranean dishes such a spiced lamb sausage, hearth roasted carrots, and whole roasted lobster.  

Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tortino Restaurant

At this Logan Circle haunt, the dining rooms feels like a little trattoria that would be found in Italy. Fresh pastas, meat, seafood, and daily specials are all on-point here. Nothing is super fancy, but Tortino is comfortable and quaint.

The Dabney Cellar

Photo by Andrew Cebulka for Dabney Cellar

Hidden down a flight of stairs in Shaw, this companion bar adjacent to Blagden Alley’s Mid-Atlantic standout is a cozy, dimly lit space to park, drink interesting wine, and snack on oysters, cheese, and charcuterie. It’s perfect for date night or a small group.

Photo by Andrew Cebulka for Dabney Cellar

Plume

Plume is inside The Jefferson Hotel Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post via Getty Images

At the historic Jefferson hotel downtown, Michelin-starred Plume is an elegant place to splurge. The wine list is spectacular, the food is wonderful, and there are plenty of nooks to choose from for extra privacy.

Plume is inside The Jefferson Hotel Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Corduroy

Scenes at Corduroy for Iphone app Evy Mages for the Washington Post via Getty Images

This long-running Shaw restaurant featuring modern American cuisine still runs under the radar. The quiet sophistication and the high quality of dishes like red snapper bisque and beef cheek osso bucco make it a top contender when the din of a noisy dining room is out of the question.

Scenes at Corduroy for Iphone app Evy Mages for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Chez Billy Sud

Snow falls outside of Chez Billy Sud in Washington... J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

This cozy French spot in Georgetown has a fireplace and a wine bar next-door, the perfect pairing for an intimate night out.

Snow falls outside of Chez Billy Sud in Washington... J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Kinship

The space includes a lounge with a fireplace and a minimalist dining room. Focus on the company here while waiting on indulgences like lobster french toast and a legendary roast chicken.

Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

Magazine dining column on Marcel’s Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post via Getty Images

Robert Wiedmaier’s sophisticated West End dining room is known for exceptional service. Customers choose from four to six courses of contemporary French-Belgian dishes in a relaxed, refined atmosphere where low decibel levels make way for easy banter. 

Magazine dining column on Marcel’s Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post via Getty Images

The Oval Room

The Oval Room.
The Oval Room.
Greg Powers/Official

Ashok Bajaj’s power dining venue serves contemporary American food — like a foie gras tart with quince, hazelnut, and armagnac or casarecce pasta with a duck confit ragu — close to the Oval Office. The classy setting and the relatively quiet ambiance in this dining room make for a peaceful meal. Patio dining is equally pleasant.

The Oval Room.
The Oval Room.
Greg Powers/Official

Brabo

The separation of spaces between a casual tasting room and a classy brasserie means there are plenty of quiet areas hold a conversation in this Northern Virginia hotel venue. Expect classic French cuisine and a fine wine list.

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