Washington, D.C. is has always been a city with a wide range of dining options and cultural attractions, and Valentine’s Day is no different. We wanted to compile a list for this year that was more than just a rundown of restaurants that were too expensive for most people to afford, or just weren’t offering interesting food. To stave off boredom and appeal to a few culture vultures, we’ve also included several romantic activities couples can do together. While dinner is high on most to-do lists, D.C. is a beautiful city at night with twinkling lights and majestic monuments as a backdrop for a slow, romantic walk along the Basin.
Because this is a busy time of year for restaurants and venues, it’s strongly recommended that you make reservations and remember that prices listed here do not include tax or gratuity. We recommend you check on the menu offerings before you make your reservations, as they are subject to change.
If you’re in a Mediterranean state of mind, consider Agora for a meal with the one you love. They will be serving a four-course dinner on Valentine’s Day priced at $59 per person, which is a steal in the D.C. market. Seafood, especially shellfish, has been considered an aphrodisiac for thousands of years, and at Agora, you will find plenty to tempt your palate. Consider fresh ocean dishes such as scallops with saffron yogurt sauce, grilled large shrimp, lobster salad, and sea bass with white truffle polenta. There will also be dessert choices and couples can toast to love with a complimentary glass of Champagne.
For one of the best meals at a great price ($59 per person), executive chef of Boss Shepherd’s Jeremy Waybright’s Valentine’s Day menu is sure to warm the hearts of every Southern guy or gal. His cooking is Southern and refined and has deeply nuanced flavors as in his baked East Coast oysters with country ham, cornbread crumbs, and creamed collard greens; or the Gulf shrimp cooked with Riesling pumpernickel, chervil, dukes, and charred pepper. Those are the starters; for entrées, you can choose the lamb duo with grilled lamb chops, confit belly, smoked apricot purée, and grilled Mokum carrots, or halibut with house pappardelle, winter herbs, kale, tomato broth, Maine lobster, and roe. If you prefer, the regular dinner menu will also be available.
To show your date how hip and food savvy you are, take him or her to Daikaya, especially upstairs in the izakaya. Executive chef Katsuya Fukushima’s food is inventive, explodes with flavor, and is an umami lover’s dream. The restaurant’s Valentine’s Day specials include some stars like uni shots of sea urchin, shiso, and quail egg in a sweet soy Bonita broth; wagyu beef “sashimi” with onion dressing and crispy potato; and incredible slow-roasted sweet potato with miso butter (this is not your granny’s sweet potato). Prices for specials range from $7 to $18. For a romantic treat, couples will receive complimentary rose petal tempura (a treat made famous at El Bulli) and Nama Chocolate.
ENO Wine Bar
If you’d rather not start the night with a heavy, rich meal, and instead prefer an abbreviated indulgence, celebrate at ENO Wine Bar. On Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15, they are offering two smaller-portioned specials to help you celebrate the art of love. There is Temptation for Two, priced at $40 per couple, which includes a selection of ENO’s signature cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie, paired with a glass of sparkling, red, or white wine.
You may also go slightly more risqué and try “A ‘Zin’sational Pairing.” This tasting includes a flight of three smoky Colombian dark chocolates paired with a bottle of spicy, velvety Zinfandel from Ministry of the Vinterior. It’s their Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi California 2012, and it, along with the chocolates is $50. If you and your special someone share a passion for chocolate, ENO is also offering Chocolate Fondue for Two the entire month of February. Their fondue is prepared with 70-percent cacao dark chocolate, and this special includes fresh strawberries and bananas for dipping, and buttery pound cake for an additional fee. Space is limited and reservations are recommended; to reserve a spot, email Sabrina Kroeger.
The Melrose Hotel is one of those quiet beauties that doesn’t have to shout to get you to notice its lovely atmosphere or superb service, and has literally transformed itself in the last three years. The staff is professional and well trained, and the décor has gone through a metamorphosis from a dark, stodgy-looking men’s club to a chic interior with a modern aesthetic that would fit in most anywhere in Paris, let alone D.C. And restaurant Jardenea’s menu has come right along with these changes. It’s a little gem serving inventive farm-to-fork food. The executive chef is a talented young man named Nate Lindsay, who is a master at cooking seafood and duck. Both of these ingredients are featured on his Valentine’s Day menu in dishes like citrus poached freshwater prawn with shaved asparagus salad, rocket arugula, confit artichokes, Marcona almonds, and mustard vinaigrette; and duck two ways. The five-course, prix fixe dinner is $90 per person with an additional $40 per person for a wine pairing option, conducted by the talented restaurant manager, Milian Palma.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Did you know that Destination D.C. is kicking off a month-long campaign to promote romance-themed deals and discounts for couples the whole month of February? It’s called Date Nights DC and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is participating. Romance is in the air, hanging on the walls, and being served at this historic museum, and guests are encouraged to tour the museum and attend exhibits as part of a Valentine’s Day-Inspired Lunch Date. Before or after the tour, treat your date to lunch at the mezzanine café: Union Kitchen Presents DS Deli. Valentine’s Day specials include the Benny and Joon sandwich, which is an iron pressed pimento cheese sandwich with house made pickles and Andouille sausage.
Sur La Table
There’s an old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so whether you want to catch a good man or woman, maybe you should stir things up together in the kitchen. Take a baking class as a couple at Sur La Table and learn how to make scrumptious macarons. You’ll learn all the tips and techniques you need to make your own versions at home later, and can indulge in a little nibbling because the menu includes hazelnut macarons with praline buttercream, raspberry macarons with dark chocolate ganache, and violet macarons with white chocolate-rose ganache.