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La Ferme’s countryside inn facade at night
La Ferme continues to court customers in Chevy Chase, four decades in.
Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post

15 of the Most Romantic Restaurants in D.C.

When impeccable service, mood lighting, and tempting fare all align

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La Ferme continues to court customers in Chevy Chase, four decades in.
| Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post

Power lunches with the politically elite may come to mind when considering dining in the nation’s capitol, but the D.C. area has a soft spot. From caviar and Champagne at an intimate row house in Georgetown to charming countryside inns with noteworthy restaurants to top notch Indian cuisine that lures the likes of Mick Jagger, D.C. is full of romantic places to dine.

Each of the spots on this map offers pretty dining spaces, excellent service, and food that is noteworthy on its own. Here are 15 fabulous spots to consider for Valentine’s Day dinner, first-date drinks, a special occasion splurge, or something in between. For fireside dining inspiration, go here.

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L'Auberge Chez Francois

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Back in 1954, culinary pioneer François Haeringer was inspired to bring a taste of his native Alsatian countryside to D.C. His sons keep his spirit alive at the cherished Falls Church inn that’s filled with family heirlooms and murals of Haeringer’s birthplace in France. All these years later, the restaurant remains most famous for its hot souffle. Arrive early for a creative cocktail from the downstairs bar or take a stroll around the six-acre property’s gorgeous gardens during warmer months.

The dining room at L’Auberge Chez Francois
The stained glass in the dining room came from the original L’Auberge Chez Francois in D.C.
L’Auberge Chez Francois/Facebook

The Ashby Restaurant

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Tucked onto a sprawling green landscape of softly rolling hills and blooming flowers, this historic Virginia wine country restaurant and inn is as charming as it is romantic. On a pretty day, book a table on the outdoor patio. On a cooler day, dip a spoon into the winter truffle risotto topped with shaved truffles and egg yolk.

La Ferme Restaurant

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Nestled in an adorable country farmhouse since 1985, this acclaimed French fixture in Chevy Chase is known for delicacies like foie gras creme brulee, pate, and sauteed calf liver. A large fireplace, year-round porch, porcelain rooster statues, and a piano player all add touches of timeless whimsy, with an added modern-day perk of ample (free) parking. Saddle up to its casual counterpart, the Cognac bar, to order its beloved burger and draft beers in a wood-framed setting.

Tail Up Goat

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This intimate neighborhood restaurant with a Michelin star combines effortless Caribbean chill with impeccable service, leaving diners to spend dinner focusing on each other. Shareable plates make for a cozy table, though patrons may find themselves in a tiff over the last bite of crispy salt cod to dip in smoked cauliflower aioli. Giving up that last bite counts as a romantic gesture.

This dreamy petite French restaurant nestled in a Georgetown row house embraces Champagne and caviar like few other restaurants do. Enjoy it at the restaurant along with mushroom “cigarettes” with Parmesan foam, trout topped with lump crab, or silky ribbons of pappardelle cloaked in lemon, creme fraiche, caviar, and freshly snipped chives. A stylish, prix-fixe counterpart called La Bohème recently entered the fold upstairs.

Iron Gate Restaurant

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A dining room with a roaring fire is just one of the treats that makes this historic Dupont Circle setting so intimate. Share dishes off the family-style menu with wine pairings, or order a la carte dishes like daily focaccia and Mediterranean octopus with sweet potatoes, frisée, sherry vinegar, and black garlic aioli.

Tabard Inn

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The charming spot near Dupont Circle offers a textbook date night. Start with a seat on a comfortable couch to snuggle up with a glass of wine by the homey fireplace, with live jazz every Sunday and Monday night in its living room-style lobby. The century-old boutique hotel hideaway got a big menu boost with the hiring of James Beard Award semifinalist Ian Boden, chef-owner of The Shack in Staunton, Virginia, as its new culinary partner.

Quill at The Jefferson

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When a romantic night out means classy drinks and light bites, the recently reopened Quill in the Jefferson Hotel fits the bill with smart cocktails, flights of rare Madeira wines, satisfying bar food, and a dimly lit space lined with warm wood paneling. Keep the bites light with the king salmon tartar dotted with avocado mousse, grapefruit, tobiko, and creme fraiche. Alternatively, indulge in a plate of fettuccine bolognese. And if it ends up being a night to remember, this timeless space will be one worth revisiting far after trendy spots have come and gone.

1789 Restaurant & Bar

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This fine-dining showpiece in Clyde’s family of restaurants oozes intimacy, seating diners in quaint, fireplace-filled dining rooms in a historic Georgetown home. Executive chef Charles Kreiser sends out an a la carte lineup that swings from American wagyu tartare to veal tagliatelle. A handsome mahogany bar called Fitzgerald’s resurfaced next door with classic cocktails, rare Japanese whisky pours, and elegant drinking snacks, all served a tweed-filled setting fit for a Ralph Lauren ad.

Rasika West End

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The stylish younger sister restaurant to Penn Quarter’s Rasika, a large, sound-absorbing wood installation along the ceiling makes hushed conversations possible. Try to snag one of the carriage-like booths lining the windows or a table in the book-lined library while dining on Indian dishes from James Beard Award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam. Plus, both Angelina Jolie and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger have dined here, which seals this restaurant’s scene-y status.

The Library Room at Rasika West End
The Library Room at Rasika West End seats 42,
Rasika West End/Facebook

Filomena Ristorante

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Around since the 1980s, Georgetown’s subterranean Italian mainstay famously decks its halls for every annual holiday (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and even Halloween). Pastas also adhere to tradition, and its untouched family recipes are beloved by regulars and celebrities alike. U2 frontman Bono reportedly requested seconds of its rigatoni flecked with homemade Italian sausage, and Germany’s late Chancellor Helmut Kohl was a frequent fan of its gnocchi.

Imperfecto

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Venezuelan chef Enrique Limardo’s follow-up to scene-y, tropically appointed Seven Reasons is full of surreal plating and modernist technique. Sturdy staples like a moussaka cigar — with crispy phyllo dough, smoked eggplant, ground lamb, and goat-manchego cream — and fried Spanish octopus with Amazonian chimichurri anchor the rotating Mediterranean-Latin dinner menu. Go a la carte or choose the omakase tasting experience at the chef’s counter (currently 16 to 22 bites) that has a Michelin star. A soaring white bar lined with soft cranberry chairs is also a popular date-night perch.

Bistro Cacao

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Dressed in red drapes, chandeliers, and vintage prints, Capitol Hill’s chic French bistro continues to woo diners a dozen years in. Chef Alex Merritt, an alum of Cafe du Parc and 1789, sends out warming French onion soup, escargot, and seared duck breast.

2941 Restaurant

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Located in Falls Church, bubbling waterfalls, koi ponds, and a lakeside view provide a view for the floor-to-ceiling windows around the dining room. East Coast oysters with lemon, cocktail sauce, and yuzu-kosho mignonette make for a sexy starter before diving into ​chef Bertrand Chemel French-infused take on contemporary American dishes.

Magazine Spring Dining Guide
The view from 2941 Restaurant
Photo by Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post

The Inn at Little Washington

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Located in rural Virginia so far from the city lights that guests are lucky to score a few bars of cell phone service, the Inn at Little Washington is the ultimate fairytale break from the day-to-day. Plus, one of the most celebrated chefs in the U.S. cooks with food grown on the premises near gorgeous gardens that sprout 10,000 tulips come April.

Fall Dining Guide - The Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington
Getty Images

L'Auberge Chez Francois

Back in 1954, culinary pioneer François Haeringer was inspired to bring a taste of his native Alsatian countryside to D.C. His sons keep his spirit alive at the cherished Falls Church inn that’s filled with family heirlooms and murals of Haeringer’s birthplace in France. All these years later, the restaurant remains most famous for its hot souffle. Arrive early for a creative cocktail from the downstairs bar or take a stroll around the six-acre property’s gorgeous gardens during warmer months.

The dining room at L’Auberge Chez Francois
The stained glass in the dining room came from the original L’Auberge Chez Francois in D.C.
L’Auberge Chez Francois/Facebook

The Ashby Restaurant

Tucked onto a sprawling green landscape of softly rolling hills and blooming flowers, this historic Virginia wine country restaurant and inn is as charming as it is romantic. On a pretty day, book a table on the outdoor patio. On a cooler day, dip a spoon into the winter truffle risotto topped with shaved truffles and egg yolk.

La Ferme Restaurant

Nestled in an adorable country farmhouse since 1985, this acclaimed French fixture in Chevy Chase is known for delicacies like foie gras creme brulee, pate, and sauteed calf liver. A large fireplace, year-round porch, porcelain rooster statues, and a piano player all add touches of timeless whimsy, with an added modern-day perk of ample (free) parking. Saddle up to its casual counterpart, the Cognac bar, to order its beloved burger and draft beers in a wood-framed setting.

Tail Up Goat

This intimate neighborhood restaurant with a Michelin star combines effortless Caribbean chill with impeccable service, leaving diners to spend dinner focusing on each other. Shareable plates make for a cozy table, though patrons may find themselves in a tiff over the last bite of crispy salt cod to dip in smoked cauliflower aioli. Giving up that last bite counts as a romantic gesture.

Apéro

This dreamy petite French restaurant nestled in a Georgetown row house embraces Champagne and caviar like few other restaurants do. Enjoy it at the restaurant along with mushroom “cigarettes” with Parmesan foam, trout topped with lump crab, or silky ribbons of pappardelle cloaked in lemon, creme fraiche, caviar, and freshly snipped chives. A stylish, prix-fixe counterpart called La Bohème recently entered the fold upstairs.

Iron Gate Restaurant

A dining room with a roaring fire is just one of the treats that makes this historic Dupont Circle setting so intimate. Share dishes off the family-style menu with wine pairings, or order a la carte dishes like daily focaccia and Mediterranean octopus with sweet potatoes, frisée, sherry vinegar, and black garlic aioli.

Tabard Inn

The charming spot near Dupont Circle offers a textbook date night. Start with a seat on a comfortable couch to snuggle up with a glass of wine by the homey fireplace, with live jazz every Sunday and Monday night in its living room-style lobby. The century-old boutique hotel hideaway got a big menu boost with the hiring of James Beard Award semifinalist Ian Boden, chef-owner of The Shack in Staunton, Virginia, as its new culinary partner.

Quill at The Jefferson

When a romantic night out means classy drinks and light bites, the recently reopened Quill in the Jefferson Hotel fits the bill with smart cocktails, flights of rare Madeira wines, satisfying bar food, and a dimly lit space lined with warm wood paneling. Keep the bites light with the king salmon tartar dotted with avocado mousse, grapefruit, tobiko, and creme fraiche. Alternatively, indulge in a plate of fettuccine bolognese. And if it ends up being a night to remember, this timeless space will be one worth revisiting far after trendy spots have come and gone.

1789 Restaurant & Bar

This fine-dining showpiece in Clyde’s family of restaurants oozes intimacy, seating diners in quaint, fireplace-filled dining rooms in a historic Georgetown home. Executive chef Charles Kreiser sends out an a la carte lineup that swings from American wagyu tartare to veal tagliatelle. A handsome mahogany bar called Fitzgerald’s resurfaced next door with classic cocktails, rare Japanese whisky pours, and elegant drinking snacks, all served a tweed-filled setting fit for a Ralph Lauren ad.

Rasika West End

The stylish younger sister restaurant to Penn Quarter’s Rasika, a large, sound-absorbing wood installation along the ceiling makes hushed conversations possible. Try to snag one of the carriage-like booths lining the windows or a table in the book-lined library while dining on Indian dishes from James Beard Award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam. Plus, both Angelina Jolie and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger have dined here, which seals this restaurant’s scene-y status.

The Library Room at Rasika West End
The Library Room at Rasika West End seats 42,
Rasika West End/Facebook

Filomena Ristorante

Around since the 1980s, Georgetown’s subterranean Italian mainstay famously decks its halls for every annual holiday (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and even Halloween). Pastas also adhere to tradition, and its untouched family recipes are beloved by regulars and celebrities alike. U2 frontman Bono reportedly requested seconds of its rigatoni flecked with homemade Italian sausage, and Germany’s late Chancellor Helmut Kohl was a frequent fan of its gnocchi.

Imperfecto

Venezuelan chef Enrique Limardo’s follow-up to scene-y, tropically appointed Seven Reasons is full of surreal plating and modernist technique. Sturdy staples like a moussaka cigar — with crispy phyllo dough, smoked eggplant, ground lamb, and goat-manchego cream — and fried Spanish octopus with Amazonian chimichurri anchor the rotating Mediterranean-Latin dinner menu. Go a la carte or choose the omakase tasting experience at the chef’s counter (currently 16 to 22 bites) that has a Michelin star. A soaring white bar lined with soft cranberry chairs is also a popular date-night perch.

Bistro Cacao

Dressed in red drapes, chandeliers, and vintage prints, Capitol Hill’s chic French bistro continues to woo diners a dozen years in. Chef Alex Merritt, an alum of Cafe du Parc and 1789, sends out warming French onion soup, escargot, and seared duck breast.

2941 Restaurant

Located in Falls Church, bubbling waterfalls, koi ponds, and a lakeside view provide a view for the floor-to-ceiling windows around the dining room. East Coast oysters with lemon, cocktail sauce, and yuzu-kosho mignonette make for a sexy starter before diving into ​chef Bertrand Chemel French-infused take on contemporary American dishes.

Magazine Spring Dining Guide
The view from 2941 Restaurant
Photo by Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post

The Inn at Little Washington

Located in rural Virginia so far from the city lights that guests are lucky to score a few bars of cell phone service, the Inn at Little Washington is the ultimate fairytale break from the day-to-day. Plus, one of the most celebrated chefs in the U.S. cooks with food grown on the premises near gorgeous gardens that sprout 10,000 tulips come April.

Fall Dining Guide - The Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington
Getty Images

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