From rose wine tasting menus to a grand ball, here’s how to do romance in our nation’s capital.
Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, and perhaps you’re already overwhelmed by the array of options for celebrating in DC. Should you go out to dinner? If so, where? What to eat? Will there be entertainment? Should you opt for a plan that will? Fortunately, there are some standout options for any type of celebration you desire, whether it’s a tasting menu paired with rosé wines, a Viennese ball, or big band music at the Smithsonian. And for those who believe that Lady and the Tramp is the epic love story of our time, this is your year. Enjoy.
Listen to Big Band With Your Big Love
Jazz is for lovers, so perhaps the best way to set the soundtrack for your Valentine’s Day weekend is with A Big Band Love Affair from the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. On the evening of February 13, this orchestra—which happens to be in-house at the National Museum of American History—will perform big band arrangements of classic love songs. Tickets are $25 for general admission; the show begins at 7:30 p.m., but doors will open with food and drink available beginning at 6:45 p.m.
Prove You’re a Sucker for Love (Stories)
Story District returns with its annual Valentine’s Day storytelling performance Sucker for Love. In this compelling show, a rotating cast takes the stage to regale you with true stories of romance, heartbreak, and the weird stuff that happens when you have feelings for another human. It will be held at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street. Tickets are $25 and doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 13.
Get a Room
No seriously. February is a great time to book a pampered and romantic stay in one of Washington’s excellent hotels. As part of the city’s Date Nights DC promotion, hotels across the area are offering special deals throughout the month.
They vary but include some great options: downtown’s new Marriott Marquis has a romance package that includes strawberries and champagne delivered to your room, and breakfast for two the next day; the Embassy Row Hotel’s Love Hangover includes an overnight stay, late checkout, two cocktails, and an hour-long boudoir photo shoot. The Hay-Adams will give you flowers, champagne, a private sedan tour of the monuments at night, and breakfast in bed. Finally, the Ritz-Carlton is serving a buffet of chocolate desserts and champagne cocktails at its in-house restaurant Quadrant.
Celebrate Lady and the Tramp-Style
Emulate the silver screen’s most adorable couple with a Lady and the Tramp-inspired dinner at Vendetta on H Street NE. Chef Teddy Folkman is planning a special menu that night featuring pasta for two, a bottle of champagne, and tiramisu for $35. You’ll get to choose your own perfect bowl: spaghetti, fettuccine or penne; tomato, pesto, or parmesan alfredo sauce; served with chicken, shrimp, or eggplant. Sharing a kiss over a slurped strand is optional, but recommended. Vendetta also boasts two indoor bocce courts, so your post-dinner plans are set.
Mix it up at the Mardi Gras-Valentine’s Day Bash
With Valentine’s Day falling right on the heels of Mardi Gras this year, the timing is perfect for an elegant bubbly-filled bash at Nick Stefanelli’s hot new fine dining restaurant Masseria. After serving a special Mardi Gras tasting menu all week long, Masseria will transform into a Venetian lounge on Friday, February 12 for a Carnevale celebration teeming with Ca’ d’Or Franciacorta bubbles, candles, and masks, and a DJ keeping the beat hot. The party lasts from 10:30 p.m. until 1 a.m., with tickets priced at $75 per person.
If you’d like to celebrate through the weekend, the restaurant is also offering a Valentine’s Day tasting menu on Saturday and Sunday, with the option of four courses for $78 per person, or five courses for $90 per person.
One Word: Sexpionage
Spending Valentine’s Day at a museum generally isn’t sexy, but the International Spy Museum is doing its part to change that with a double agent date package available now through February 29. For $40, you’ll get admission for two to the museum’s permanent collection as well as Exquisitely Evil, a special exhibition focused on James Bond villains. The museum has also created a “sexpionage” scavenger hunt that will lead you and your date through the museum in search of its more romantic content. The promotion also includes spy gift bags for both of you. Fingers crossed that there are handcuffs in there.
Protest Party With Offal and Bitterness
Not everyone digs Valentine’s Day, and that’s okay. Bar Pilar is here for you with Anti-Valentine’s Day specials filled with offal, and bitter and sour drinks. Chef Jesse Miller is still finalizing the menu, but specials will include beef tongue pastrami sliders ($3 apiece), spicy miso and duck offal ramen ($15), and beef tendon puffs with black garlic and charred scallion aioli with bonito ($7).
Attend a Viennese Ball at the Austrian Embassy
Start shopping for your gowns and tuxes with tails now, because you’re going to a ball. On February 13, Things To Do is hosting a Valentine’s Viennese Ball at the Austrian embassy that will feature ballroom dancing, Viennese waltzing to the sounds of Strauss and Mozart, a European opera presentation, an open bar, and a dessert buffet filled with Austrian favorites like the linzer torte, apple tarts, and bittersweet chocolate squares dusted with sugar. As the night progresses, the dance floor will turn into a European nightclub complete with DJs. Tickets cost $74 for general admission (from 8:30 p.m. until midnight), while the $95 VIP admission gets you into a 7 p.m. dinner reception. Black tie optional.
Instead of stressing out about how you’re going to celebrate, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to splurge on a little relaxation for both of you. Dupont Circle’s Nusta Spa—a Washingtonian favorite—offers a duo massage featuring a blend of jasmine and pink grapefruit oils that are said to awaken the senses and help a couple deepen their connection. Opt for an hour or an hour-and-a-half-long massage at $295 and $395, respectively.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spa at The Willard also offers couple’s massages using techniques including warm stone, deep tissue and/or aromatherapy, all designed to enhance relaxation and improve your circulation. These range from 50 to 80 minutes and cost anywhere between $110 and $215 per person.
Go Out For Dinner, Duh
Every restaurant in the city is will be hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner—and many of them will even be forgoing their normal fare for special prix fixe tasting menus. There are tons of excellent options, but a few do stand out.
If you like some light live music alongside your meal, head to the Bombay Club, where a pianist will keep you entertained throughout all five courses. Dishes include tandoori lobster Chettinad and adraki wild boar chop at $85 per person. Over on H Street, Maketto will host a seven-course Malay rosé wine dinner pairing Malaysian specialties like rice noodle rolls, chili crabs, and beef rendang with rosés from across the world. There are seatings at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for $99 per person (tax and tip included).
Otherwise, remember that you can hardly go wrong with excellent and romantically inclined restaurants such as Blue Duck Tavern, Sushiko, Marcel’s, Osteria Morini, 1789, and Bourbon Steak.