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Aug 2, 2007 07:44 AM

Restaurant Pick Help for Birthday Dinner?

Finally registered on my go-to place for restaurants and recipes!

I may be strange for asking this, but I'm wondering if anyone could suggest a place I could go to treat myself to a birthday dinner. I plan on going solo and would probably sneak in a book, though this may be a glaring faux pas in some places. I'm more partial to small bites v. large steaks or plates of pasta -- maybe someplace with a tasting menu would be best? Not a huge fan of sweets, but do absolutely love a bottle of wine with dinner (yes, one bottle or several glasses for me) overlooking the city or the water. I'm also rather awkward with people (prefer to be left alone) and have yet to find a place where people aren't either trying to talk to, or openly staring at, the lone diner in a cocktail dress. Help! Thanks so much :)

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  1. Is there a particular area or cuisine that you like? Also a price range?

    Btw, I eat by myself all the time. I take books with me always. Sometimes I sit at the bar but most of the times I sit at a table.

    And while in DC I often don't go to the top end restaurants alone (quite honestly I can afford it) I see nothing wrong with it. And while traveling around Europe and NYC by myself I often times ate alone with my book in nice restaurants.

    I think DC is actually pretty open to this since there are so many people here solo on business etc. Most of the time when I go to moderate to top rate restaurants I'll see solo dinners. And I know especially at 1789 there are a few regulars who dine there alone and are treated wonderfully.

    If you give us a little more guidance I'm sure we can give you a good list. (1789 being one of them...especially if you want to dress up :) )

    5 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Thanks for all your comments! In terms of food preferences, I don't have one, though I tend to stray away from Old World American and more toward fushion (blasphemy!). I'm always up for trying something new (like the dill and pear braised cow tongue which had me in the hospital with food poisoning). No budget restrictions, either.

      1. re: oenone

        I've never been, so I have no idea if this is off the mark. I wonder if Cityzen, in the Mandarin Hotel would be an option. If you are going to break the bank, might as well go all out! Plus, as a hotel, it's probably used to solo diners. (This topic interests me because my birthday is also coming up)

        1. re: DCLindsey

          Hey, happy soon-to-be birthday! Are you going to treat yourself as well?

          I love, and have checked out, all these suggestions, and the venues are gorgeous! But do you know if there are any rooftop or waterside places? When dining alone, I've found that a city view or water sounds go a long way. Especially with another year under the belt :/

          1. re: oenone

            Actually, the boyfriend may be treating me! Because of that, I was looking at Cafe Mozu at the Mandarin Oriental. It is sushi, etc., same link as above. It says it overlooks the Potomac. I don't know if that means a ditch or not, but it looks interesting. Or Cityzen with a drink out side before hand or afterwards.

            I don't know if you are from DC or what, but for an upstairs drink, try Hotel Washington Rooftop Bar. I've never eaten there, and yes the drinks are pricey, but its a pretty view (most suggest not eating there in fact). You could grab a drink and then go somewhere for dinner


            Or, I've never been, but Indigo Landing is near the water. Though the kids menu means it may not be appropriate for what you are looking for.


            Sorry I've never been to the places I'm recommending, but your request is something I think about doing but rarely get around to doing myself!

            1. re: oenone

              Perhaps you should look at Charlie Palmer for a city view. I've never eaten there but I've heard amazing things. And the view of the Capitol can't be beat.

              Unfortunatly most of the water front restaurants in DC that come to mind are no place I would ever want to send you. From what I hear Sea Catch in Georgetown has a nice view of the canal...but I've never been. Maybe someone else can post on whether this is an appropriate spot for a solo diner.

      2. Well, in terms of the wine, Proof, the newly opened place in Chinatown/Gallery place or Dino might be good options. Dino also has a number of "small plates". It sounds like you want to dress up, so may not be the dressy type of place you are looking for. However, since it is a very accomidating place, perhaps a phone call to them could arrange a very nice birthday dinner, with wine pairings and small plates? Just a thought, to have a personal touch to your dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DCLindsey

          I think Dino would be a lot better then Proof.

          Even though Proof has a very impressive wine list, it's an exstremly busy, noisy, social type place. I was there on Tuesday and it was absolutly hopping. Certainly no where to sit at the bar and you must have a reservation. The service was very friendly but its not the type of place I would probably take a book for a nice, private birthday celebration. Maybe in a few months but not right now.

          How about, on the higher end, Equniox. From what I remember they have a nice wine list, usually have a tasting menu, excellent service. And they have a bunch of two tops in the center area of the room but pushed privatly up against the wall so you won't feel like people are staring at you. I've had a number of celebrations there and have always felt like I was taken care of. Plus the food is amazing.

          If you are not looking for as high end and more neighborhood type food I would check out Cashions. No small plates, no tasting menu but excellent food.

          For small Spanish plates you can try Taberna.

        2. Given your wine interest, you might want to consider Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar in Georgetown. Excellent bottles and selections by the glass. (I notice that the place link has a typo in Mendocino!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Geoff

            Wow, the place link is totally, completely, not even close WRONG.

            correct info: 2917 M St NW
            Washington, DC 20007

            (202) 333-2912