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Need help for last minute V-Day trip to DC

To make a long story short, my wife and I are getting away for the weekend to DC over Valentine's Day. It wasn't our original idea, but we need a weekend away after a very hard few weeks. We are arriving around 10:30 on Friday night and have a late night reservation at Proof.

But, Feb. 14th is turning out to be a problem. We don't want to get into all the prix-fixe deals around town and after some initial searching, it looks like there isn't a table to be found anywhere, even with the places that are offering these get'em in and roll'em out menus anyway.

So are there any ideas for either local hole in the wall places, or someplace to doesn't take reservations that we can sit at the bar for a while before we get a table?

I know that there are a few other threads on this, but as I mentioned, there are no reservations to be had at any of those spots.

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  1. I think Granville Moore's doesn't take reservations, but the wait can be long (and location may not be convenient). Palena's front "cafe" also doesn't take reservations, but it might be worth calling to confirm about a Sat. night Valentine's Day. Looks from opentable as though both Lavandou and Zengo have room, I've heard both of those are nice enough (and you might find other places, if you're willing to eat early or late).

    1. If you like steak, Ray's the Steak doens't take reservations (although if they have moved to their new location I believe you can call ahead, and if still in their old location you can physically go in and put your name on the list, just phone their phone number should remain the same, I know this sounds complicated...) they have what I and many others consider to be the best steak in the area at not exactly steak house prices (24-29 for a steak) with free family style mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. I can pretty much gaurantee they wont be changing a thing they do for Valentine's Day. Or go to his burger joint Ray's Hellburger, no reservations just wait in line, but you can't really hang out there, it is a eat and leave kind of place.

      Any of the Great American Restaurant Group in the Virginia section of town do not take reservations, most have large bars, and you can call ahead to be put on the waiting list, they tend to still be busy though fyi. The closest to DC would probably by the Carlyle in Shirlington.

      Ben's Chili Bowl doesn't take reservations, if you want a half smoke with chili.

      On another v-day thread I listed some other places to try, if you don't mind a slightly sketchy neighborhood the H st. NE corridor with Granville Moore's and Sticky Rice might be ideas.

      El Pollo Rico in Arlington or Wheaton will probably be slow.

      Perhaps the Round Robin bar, in the Willard since it is a bar? They serve pretty good bar food, and if you really want something from the restaurant next door the bartenders are normally pretty nice about granting any request. And they make great mint juleps.

      If you like Top Chef you might try Spike Mendelson's Good stuff Eatery, I can't imagine it being a vday hot spot, although the burgers aren't as good as the milkshakes.

      You could also try Matchbox for pizza and mini-burgers they don't take reservations.

      Good luck!

      7 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        Thank you both for your ideas. Lavandou looks like it might fit the bill, but I always love a challenge and it seems like Ray's the Steak offers that.

        Do you know, can you walk from the Metro stop to Ray's?

        1. re: jtkelley3

          Yep, if you get off at Rosslyn it is about 4 blocks I think, uphill but not that bad I don't think.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            I believe that Ray's new location is right at the Courthouse Metro stop or at least right where the Metro elevator to the street is. There would be no reason to walk from Rosslyn unless you want Ray's Hell-Berger.

            1. re: BookGuy

              Landrum has stated elsewhere that the opening date for the new Ray's location (at Courthouse) is 2/10, so that's where you'd be heading on 2/14.

              They do take reservations, though I don't know how far in advance (maybe just day of?) (703) 841-RAYS

              1. re: DanielK

                Only part of the new restaurant takes reservations, the rest is supposedly call ahead... but you know how they are. Are we sure on the 2/10? That would be nice. It would make things easier for Vday. I am sure a lot of people won't know it is expanding then.

              2. re: BookGuy

                The new location is about 2-3 blocks from the Courthouse Metro stop. If you decide to go to Hell Burger I would recommend getting off at Courthouse and walking down Wilson instead of having to walk up a steep hill from Roslyn.

                1. re: pineapple sage

                  Haven't been to the new location but the old Ray's didn't have a bar and barely had a lobby, so there was no place to relax and have a drink while you wait. Want to make sure that jtKelley doesn't encounter the same, especially on Valentine's day.

        2. Depending on what you are looking for, here are a few close enough to metro/cab:

          Middle Eastern: Mama Ayesha's
          Thai: Regent
          Interesting Italian/Pizza: Sorriso, 2 Amy's or Pizza Paradiso

          We usually don't have a reservation for any of these places, for two, there are usually tables that open...

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          Two Amys
          3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

          Pizzeria Paradiso - Dupont Circle
          2029 P St NW Ste 102, Washington, DC 20036

          Mama Ayesha's Calvert Cafe
          1967 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20009

          Regent Thai Cuisine
          1910 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

          Sorriso Restaurant
          3518 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008