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Suggestions for an anniversary dinner-young couple on a budget

Hello Chowhounders!
I used this site quite a bit to find dining spots for my parents' inauguration visit, and was impressed, so I wanted to see if I could get your help. My boyfriend and I are celebrating our 3 year anniversary, and are looking for a romantic restaurant for dinner. We're young (fresh outta school) and on a budget, so I think we're looking to spend tops $50 a person. Ideally, we'd be able to get at least 2 substantial courses for the cost. Atmosphere is important, and so is location since we're car-less. Italian and French are our favorite cuisines. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!!

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  1. oh girl. if you like french — bistro d'oc would be perfect for this. My boyfriend and i have done dinner for two — two glasses of wine, two entrees and a shared dessert — for less than $100 total many a time. it's romantic, especially if you get a little window table, and metro-accessible, only a two or three block walk, and the food is really, really good. i mean really good. yum.

    domaso italian trattoria in the hotel palomar in rosslyn has great food and is very romantic also, and not super expensive (although not cheap.) it is easily metro accessible. I think you could get out of there for $50 a person.

    8 Replies
    1. re: littlew1ng

      I 2nd Bistro D'Oc. The table by the window has always been me and my boyfriend's go to spot when we want a romantic and delicious dinner for not a lot of money.

      Dino is also a great recommendation.

      1. re: Elyssa

        I just went to Bistro D'Oc and honestly, was not impressed. The temperature control of the place was not good, the tacky France tourism posters turned me off, and the wine list was not impressive, nor was anyone able to tell me anything about it. Plus, it felt a little pricey at some points -- $23 for chicken? I like Monmarte and Bistro du Coin much better.

        1. re: DCLindsey

          I've never been to Montmarte but hear good things. And as much as I like Bistro du Coin (I ate there last night and had a great soup) I wouldn't recommend it for a romantic, anniversary dinner. The place is WAY too loud and crowded.

          Plus Bistro D'Oc is consistently better in terms of food. Bistro du Coin is good but some of the items can be hit or miss sometimes.

          1. re: Elyssa

            Agree with D'Oc. It's so cozy and romantic and sweet. If you want something a bit newer, than Bistro du Parc is for you, and is very reasonable. But I think that D'Oc is really special.

            If you like tarragon, I highly recommend the mussels.

            1. re: katecm

              Ok, I'll bite. Why is Bistro D'Oc so cozy and romantic? Or, what did we do wrong? I had the streak frites -- the fries were good but the steak was kind of tough and not a great cut of meat. The duck confit was better but still not out of thie world. And the ambiance to me just said, tourist trap. So...was it a bad night?

              1. re: DCLindsey

                You may have had a bad night but, also, something to keep in mind — I'm not claiming this is the best french food in DC. I'm sure Marcel's and La Chaumiere have better food than D'Oc. What I like about D'Oc is that it's not incredibly expensive for solid, consistently good authentic fare. It's smaller than some of the big, bureaucratic restaurants around and, another plus, i've never been surrounded on all sides by lobbyists and lawyers (which is a big plus). it feels a little off the beaten path for me while still being walkable. it's never too loud or crowded. those are the things that i think make it cozy and romantic

                1. re: DCLindsey

                  Maybe its a personal opinion but I don't think the ambiance says tourist trap at all. I think it says "hidden gem." The first time I ate there I felt like I was let in on a great secret that few people in the city knew about. Plus I find the restaurant pretty authentic in the sense that it reminds me of some of the places I've dined in Paris.

                  I like that the specials are written on butcher paper and that the board is brought over to your table, something different. I think some of the tables have a cozy, quaint feel to them (especially the one near the window or the corner tables in the back).

                  Plus its not a tourist trap, despite it being in a very touristy area. Most of the times I've been there its been filled by locals (or I assume they are locals from their conversations and dress....they didn't scream tourist).

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    Agreed. I work around the corner and, despite the street being studded with tourist shops, I have never seen a tourist in there.

                    And I'm not sure how it wouldn't be romantic! I guess if you want fancy and upscale, you would be disappointed. But with the lovely lighting, the warm walls, the charming service - it's just quaint and sweet.

      2. I haven't been in a while, but Little Fountain Cafe might fit the bill (provided you consider Adams Morgan to be geographically ok). Very nice, romantic atmosphere and I think it's in your price range. Not really French or Italian though.

        1. For Italian, I'd go for Dino in Cleveland Park. French- Cafe du Parc.

          1. I second Dino.
            Especially if you go on one of their "special" nights (check out the web site for specials and wine nights).

            You could also do the front room at Palena for well under $50 a person.

            1. Go to the Lounge at Citronelle. Despite the fact that this is one of DC's fanciest restaurants, with some of the most elaborate food around by a world famous chef, here is what you can get:

              Sparkling chardonnay from Virginia (or skip the bubbly and get an additional starter)
              share three starters (the first five listed on the website are all stellar)
              dessert: chocolate degustation and the strawberry cocktail. The strawberry cocktail may be my all-time favorite dessert.

              No reservations needed. Or taken.

              www.citronelledc.com

              1. Another idea would be to use a pre-theater/prix fixe menu. If you like Italian, then I'd recommend Tosca's pre-theater menu (available until 7 pm, http://www.toscadc.com/menu-tasting.s...).

                A list of other possibilities can be found here, http://whereindc.wordpress.com/2008/0....

                Last time we went to the 701 for a pre-theater dinner the waiter clearly thought we were just there because it was a good deal (which it was), because he disappeared for about 30 minutes after serving us coffee, and we nearly missed the curtain.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Doh

                  The Pre-Theater dinner at Rasika is great too!
                  (They honor it a little after the cut-off time as well)

                2. For affordable French, I agree with Montmarte...Bistro du Coin is WAY too loud, and in my opinion, the food is just average.
                  For Italian, the prix-fixe menu at Tosca from 5-7 is fantastic! But do make sure you order before 7:00--they are pretty strict about it. Another great place is Locanda in Capitol Hill...only a block or two from the Eastern Market metro.
                  Have a great anniversary dinner!