What makes a restaurant appealing to a high roller? Is it expensive menu items? An impressive reserve wine list? The potential to spot a celebrity there? All these factors contributed when compiling a Guide to Whale-Watching in DC. But there are also other criteria that come into play — some restaurants are a particular draw for segments of the business community, or seem to find a disproportionate number of trust fund kids hanging out there. Check out Eater's guide, and share your own thoughts on restaurants for high rollers in the comments.Read More
Whale Watching in DC: Where to Find High Rollers
Bourbon Steak Washington DC
The restaurant within the Four Seasons is an obvious choice. Menu items like a $68 lobster pot pie, an extensive and expensive wine list, a power spot vibe (particularly the bar), and a location within the city's top hotel all contribute to the restaurant's potential for whale watching.
Tosca isn't the trendiest restaurant in town, but it's always been a DC power spot for politicos and businessmen alike. Whales flock to the well-regarded housemade pastas, and the place's casual sister restaurant, Posto, was an early favorite of powerful Obama administration members.
P.J. Clarke's has been a favorite of the city's real estate bigwigs. Now that its Sidecar bar has converted into a private club, the potential for whale sightings there has increased.
A diner? Believe it or not, the Silver Diner is an office away from home for many players in the Tysons Corner business community.
Any location of The Palm is probably a safe bet for finding whales, but this one, located near the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, manages to draw high-end hotel guests and business leaders alike.
The Capital Grille
The downtown steakhouse Capital Grille has always been a favorite among wealthy Republicans in DC (Dems, best not head to the bar on election night).
Inn at Little Washington
The picturesque Inn at Little Washington is a frequent getaway for the city's high rollers. Its exquisite setting, epic reserve wine list and highly praised menu from chef Patrick O'Connell all contribute to its status.
1789, which has one of the city's most beautiful and iconic dining rooms, is a favorite for destination whales and residents of tony Georgetown. Whale bait menu items range from sweetbreads to steaks.
Marcel's, with its French wines, boudin blanc and strong cheese program, appeals to a wealthy clientele. It's still tough to get a reservation, and regulars are treated like kings and queens.
Foodie high rollers know that Komi's the place to drop major cash. The tasting menu centric restaurant is probably the city's most acclaimed eatery. Johnny Monis draws in diners with pristine crudo, carefully made pastas and big finish items such as suckling pig and goat.
The Prime Rib
It's one of the only places in town that still enforces a dress code, and the old school atmosphere of the Prime Rib draws high rollers (many of them male) nostalgic for the old days.
2941 was even more of a whale-friendly destination before it renovated into a more bistro-style setting. But the restaurant still boasts gorgeous views, a deep reserve wine list and proximity to high rollers in the tech community (it's housed in the General Dynamics building).
With its formal room, piano and attentive service, Bombay Club evokes fine dining. Its proximity to the White House has made it a draw for many powerful politicos over the years, including the Clintons.
Looking for a trust fund whale? You might find him at Smith Point, which has always been a favorite spot for the young and wealthy Republicans of Georgetown.
The Park at 14th
The Park at 14th is one of the city's high end nightclubs, and tends to draw an older, wealthier crowd than some of the other K Street venues.
Cafe Milano is probably the most celebrity-populated restaurant in DC, and also draws the high-end Georgetown crowd.
L'Auberge Chez Francois
Monied McLean is all about Chez Francois, but politicians and other high rollers are willing to take the scenic drive for this classic French favorite.
Old Hickory Steakhouse
Wealthy conventioneers at the Gaylord often don't end up leaving National Harbor and find themselves instead at this high-end steakhouse within the hotel.
Central Michel Richard
With Citronelle closed for repairs, high rollers who love Michel Richard are now flocking to his bistro, Central, where you still can get whale-friendly items like lobster burgers.
Reasonably priced, family style portions of Italian food? Doesn't sound like whale territory. But between Carmine's expansive private dining rooms, its special secret entrance and the city's lack of red sauce joints, this all ends up to a lot of high rollers ending up at the Penn Quarter restaurant, which recently won a Rammy for "Power Spot".
Equinox, near the White House, is one of DC's original fine dining, farm-to-table restaurants. Political figures, real estate industry vets and more end up at the power lunch destination from chef Todd Gray.
Founding Farmers draws a major power breakfast crowd, and getting a reservation at the trendy farm-to-table restaurant is always a challenge. Make sure you don't end up spotting a tourist, though, if you're out whale watching.
Seasons | Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC
Seasons is the town's biggest power breakfast, not to mention its most expensive brunch at $80. Like any Four Seasons dining option, you get plenty of wealthy clientele due to the hotel's guests, but the restaurant is a favorite among business leaders and politicians, too.
Minibar is Jose Andres' most exclusive destination, and it got even more so once the location changed and the price tag went up to $225 per plate. Expect food-focused high rollers at this restaurant, or at least those who appreciate theatricality.
Sushi Taro's where to find sushi-appreciating whales. Its omakase tasting menu (which usually costs around $150) is the most highly praised in town.
Bistro Bis is a haunt for Capitol Hill high rollers.
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt draws a diverse crowd due to its size and proximity to the White House, but there you'll discover high rollers attracted to its oysters and its masculine, classic DC atmosphere.
Wine focused whales know that Plume's wine cellar private room is one of the most intimate venues in town.
P.O.V. markets itself as a place to "see and be seen", due to its exclusive vibe and killer views of the city. Whales who go for the red velvet rope thing can be spotted here.
Adour's high prices, French-inspired fare and location within the historic St. Regis Hotel all make it a favorite spot for high rollers who want a civilized atmosphere.
Blue Duck Tavern
Blue Duck's Park Hyatt location and West End neighborhood always made it a high roller favorite, but recent buzz about its improved cooking has made it even more of a cherished destination.
Wealthy Old Town residents flock to the acclaimed Restaurant Eve, particularly for its wine selection and Tasting Room.
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Power spot The Source draws a young and powerful crowd in its lounge, as well as political players and residents from the nearby luxury apartment complex.
After Minibar's price increase, Rogue 24 is actually a less expensive alternative for those seeking molecular gastronomy. But R.J. Cooper's experimental tasting menus (various prices, most $75-$135) still draw a high roller crowd.