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12 of Washington, D.C.’s outstanding spots for celebrating special occasions

As a city that has seen countless graduations, engagements, and birthdays, Boston takes special occasions to another level. On the North End, a neighborhood with a deep-rooted Italian connection, ring in just about anything with decadent lobster agnolotti in a 19th-century row house. For a gathering with friends, head to the Back Bay, where an acclaimed chef serves up bountiful seafood platters, piled high with local oysters. If it’s a more intimate milestone you’re marking, grab a reservation at an elegant omakase spot in Chinatown.

Book a table at one of these top 12 restaurants, equipped for any festivity.

A photo of Otlogo
Christabel Lobo
12 Restaurants
Updated September 22, 2022
Restaurants:Bourbon Steak - Four Seasons Washington DC, Das Ethiopian - Georgetown, Equinox - DC
Price Range:$$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:Steakhouse, Ethiopian, Contemporary American
Neighborhoods:Georgetown, Downtown
A photo of Bourbon Steak - Four Seasons Washington DC restaurant

Bourbon Steak - Four Seasons Washington DC

$$$$
Steakhouse
Georgetown
4.6
3416 reviews

This steakhouse at the Four Seasons Hotel is a special occasion spot worthy of presidents. Case in point: the Obamas hosted their 20th wedding anniversary dinner here in 2012. You’ll find the upper echelon of D.C. society gathered for celebrity chef Michael Mina’s butter-poached meats that have made a name for themselves across the country. The refined, sleek interiors match the menu’s tasteful selection of black angus filet mignon, Japanese A5 striploin, and Mina’s signature Maine lobster pot pie with brandied lobster cream. On weekends, bottomless brunch with A5 wagyu steak and truffle eggs is served on the outdoor garden patio. Though this is a national chain, Mina knows how to make each Bourbon Steak feel special, and the Four Seasons setting accommodates that.


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A photo of Das Ethiopian - Georgetown restaurant

Das Ethiopian - Georgetown

$$$$
Ethiopian
Georgetown
4.7
1235 reviews

In the heart of Georgetown’s historic district, traditional Ethiopian fare in a fine-dining setting takes shape at Das Ethiopian. A MICHELIN Bib Gourmand recipient, Das is known for a spread of stews, vegetables, and spiced meats served atop the restaurant’s signature injera flatbread. Plenty of vegetarian options are centered around lentils, chickpeas, and stewed carrots, though meat lovers will be content, too—the Ethiopian-style short rib is a must for sharing and the chicken doro wat provides a kick of flavor. Sleek, elegant lines and muted tones embellish this special occasion spot with some of the best Ethiopian food D.C. has to offer.


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A photo of Equinox - DC restaurant

Equinox - DC

$$$$
Contemporary American
Downtown
4.7
3195 reviews

Not to be confused with the namesake gym, Equinox restaurant is a fine-dining establishment from husband and wife duo Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff. Gray, a five-time James Beard Award nominee for best chef in America, has served Washingtonians the mid-Atlantic, regional cuisine he’s best known for since the restaurant opened in 1999. And he keeps things fresh with a rotating, plant-forward à la carte and prix fixe weekly menu, which might include grilled hen of the wood mushrooms with roasted rapini and teriyaki sauce alongside pan-roasted duck breast with peach puree and baby bok choy. The classy interior, with white tablecloths and black leather seats, stays true to Equinox’s fine-dining DNA.


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A photo of Maiz64 restaurant

Maiz64

$$$$
Mexican
Logan Circle
4.6
176 reviews

Housed on bustling 14th Street in Northwest D.C., Maïz64 offers a unique twist on Mexican cuisine. Chef Alam Méndez Florián displays his Oaxacan heritage in signature dishes such as the smoky charred broccoli taco, (served with black mole and shaved cashews), and the slow-cooked brisket (served with cauliflower puree, seasonal vegetables, and segueza, a chunky, corn-based mole). Set the mood for your special night out with a cocktail or two crafted with house-made bitters and syrups, like the mezcal martini with hoja santa liquor, made from a peppery herb, or the tequila-infused amaranth horchata.


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A photo of Ottoman Taverna restaurant

Ottoman Taverna

$$$$
Turkish
Mt. Vernon Square
4.7
1329 reviews

Indulge in Turkish cuisine at Ottoman Taverna, a love letter to prolific D.C. restaurateur Hakan Ilhan’s homeland. A striking mural of the Hagia Sophia welcomes diners into this MICHELIN Bib Gourmand’s spacious dining room, featuring white trellis walls and wood-beamed ceilings with striking honeycomb patterns. The menu, perfect for sharing, showcases an array of hot and cold mezze such as stuffed grape leaves, hummus, and falafel, as well as meat-heavy mains like the char-grilled beef kebabs and the thyme and pepper marinated lamb chops.


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A photo of Elizabeth's Gone Raw restaurant

Elizabeth's Gone Raw

$$$$
Vegan
Downtown
4.9
987 reviews

Named one of the best vegan restaurants in the world by the Evening Standard, Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is a fine-dining restaurant that’s only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. The unique spot serves raw-vegan courses with organic wine pairings inside an elegant townhouse lined with framed oil paintings. The seasonal prix fixe menu by chef Francisco Hernandez includes white asparagus artfully prepared as a custard with black caviar and tarragon hollandaise foam, followed by cashew creme fraiche served in a huitlacoche shell with silver queen corn and piquillo pepper. A fully raw menu is also available upon request. Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is a one-of-a-kind experience for both plant-based and fine-dining aficionados.


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A photo of Via Sophia Washington DC restaurant

Via Sophia Washington DC

$$$$
Italian
Downtown
4.5
513 reviews

Housed inside the elegant Hamilton Hotel, Via Sophia is redefining hotel dining. The contemporary, all-day osteria serves Neapolitan pizza made in an Italian, wood-fired oven, classic pasta, and aperitivo at happy hour. Taking typical Italian ingredients and shaping them in pizza form, the carbonara pie is topped with pecorino, bacon, ricotta, and a farm egg. In the pasta department, linguini is intertwined with clams, garlic, chile flakes, and embellished with fresh parsley and olive oil. The stylish interior with quartz, wood, and brass accents complements the swanky but approachable menu.


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A photo of Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant

Old Ebbitt Grill

$$$$
American
Downtown
4.8
25970 reviews

As D.C.’s oldest bar, Old Ebbitt Grill has been a regular haunt for presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and William McKinley since it opened in 1856. Founded in a boarding house, it has since moved several locations and now lives in a Beaux Arts-style building that was formerly the B. F. Keith’s Theater. The historical establishment is furnished with antiques and heirlooms collected over the years with famous paintings on its walls and a stunning ceiling mural inside the bar. Dining areas at the restaurant include the main bar, oyster bar, Grant’s bar, main dining room, and the downstairs cabinet room. Don’t miss the freshly shucked oysters, famous crab and artichoke dip, and crab cakes. The hot pastrami sandwich with Muenster cheese, coleslaw, and Thousand Island dressing sandwiched between pumpernickel bread is also an iconic dish. It all adds up to an experience that’s worthy of a presidential celebration.


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A photo of The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm restaurant

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

$$$$
American
Lovettsville
4.8
1443 reviews

What feels like a secret hidden in the woods of Lovettsville, an hour out from D.C.’s city center, is a new American, farm-to-table culinary experience with produce freshly sourced from the restaurant’s certified organic farm the day you dine. The setting is as peaceful and tranquil as you’d expect, with diners congregating under a tent with hanging paper lanterns surrounded by nature. There’s also a reservable outdoor gazebo for a truly special private dining experience. No matter where you sit, the seasonal tasting menu impresses with dishes such as a farm egg with spinach and sheep milk cheese; chicken confit with mushrooms and escargot; and braised lamb with sweet basil polenta.


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A photo of Dauphine’s restaurant

Dauphine’s

$$$$
Contemporary American
Downtown
4.6
1124 reviews

Dauphine’s pays homage to the spirit and cuisine of New Orleans through its Louisiana-flavored menu and Crescent City-inspired interiors. Every dish here takes NOLA cuisine to the next level. The duck jambalaya for two features a heap of roasted duck breast, fresh duck and jalapeño sausage, sauerkraut, and duck skin cracklins. The bread service comes with buttermilk biscuits, baguette, and sweet potato brioche, all served with salted cane butter. And the classic po’boy sandwich is served on Leidenheimer bread from New Orleans with beef debris and fried oysters. Finish your meal with a digestif or café au lait and don’t forget the beignets with powdered sugar.


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A photo of Mala Tang restaurant

Mala Tang

$$$$
Asian
Arlington
4.7
495 reviews

Traditional Sichuan hot pot comes alive at Mala Tang, named after the distinctive spicy style of hot pot served across China. The restaurant specializes in an assortment of skewers cooked in spicy green or red pepper broth, as well as stir-fried dry pot customizable to your preference. For those new to spicy hot pot, select the milder level for a subtle taste of the numbing sensation—which comes from the capsaicin in chile peppers and the heat from Sichuan peppercorns—by dipping raw ingredients into the steaming pot of broth to cook as you eat. The spirited restaurant is lively with families and friends gathered around circular tables, engaged in the celebratory cooking experience.


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A photo of Sushiko - Chevy Chase restaurant

Sushiko - Chevy Chase

$$$$
Sushi
Bethesda / Chevy Chase
4.8
1664 reviews

Washington, D.C.’s first sushi restaurant has served exceptional rolls since the 1970s. The art of sushi is very apparent at Sushiko, with picturesque bento boxes, sashimi platters, and donburi bowls displaying colorful and intricate platings by executive chef Piter Tjan. Expansive paintings line the sleek dining room; to keep date night intimate, opt to sit at a booth. A sidewalk patio that’s open every Friday and Saturday makes it possible to dine al fresco on delicate fresh cuts of hamachi crudo and soft-shell crab rolls.


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