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Semi-romantic dinner in northern Virginia/DC

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My boyfriend's birthday is coming up on Monday and I'm looking for a semi-romantic but not formal restaurant that is metro-able/walking distance from Ballston. We're foodies and eat all cuisine. The only catch is he is very casual so somewhere that is not very expensive and he can wear khakis/jeans or even shorts too would be ideal. I'm thinking something along the lines of Ray's the Steaks. (We have been there many times and would like to go somewhere new since it's his birthday.) I've read that Tabard Inn is very good, not overly priced and semi-romantic but I don't know what the dress code there is for dinner. Can someone let me know? Does anyone have other suggestions for restaurants?

I would also consider somewhere in Old Town Alexandria if it's near the Water Front for a romantic stroll before or after dinner. :)

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  1. If Ray's is in the budget, Eventide would be and we have had some really nice meals there recently. I think it is romantic and it isn't too noisy which is nice. I have seen people dressed casually there.

    Willow in Ballston is also nice and probably around the price point of Ray's.

    Maybe also Me Janna in Courthouse?

    In downtown you could consider Bistro D'Oc too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ktmoomau

      Bistro D'Oc came to mind for me as well. The setting is romantic and cozy (without being cheesy) and it's a metro center. The food is great bistro cuisine and there really is no dress code.

      I've mostly been to Tabard Inn for brunch and have seen people dressed casually. I think jeans and khakis would be fine. It's been awhile since I've been there for dinner. But it's really nice. If it's not too hot you can sit in the outdoor courtyard.

    2. I think Tabard Inn is a great idea. The price is reasonable and the separate rooms make it feel more romantic and intimate. We ate dinner there a few months ago (after only trying their brunch) and I would say dinner was even better than the brunch!

      1. Neyla is in Georgetown.
        I also like Leopold Cafe.
        I like EatBar (nice and lounge-y in the sit down area) and it's connected to Tallula [Clarendon]

        That's about all I know off the top of my head that fits your bill and is metro friendly/walkable from Ballston. Others are either too far or too expensive.

        Other options worth looking at:
        - Willow (Ballston)
        - Delhi Club (Clarendon)
        - Ray's the Steaks (Courthouse)
        - Eventide (Clarendon)
        - Faccia Luna (Clarendon)
        - La Tasca (Clarendon)
        - Cafe Asia (Rosslyn)
        - Bangkok Joe's (Georgetown, by the Harbor)
        - Zed's Ethiopian (Georgetown)

        Good Luck! Please let us know what you decide~

        -----
        A Neyla Mediterranean Grill
        3206 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

        Leopold's Kafe
        3318 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

        Tallula Restaurant
        2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201

        1. I like Ray's-a LOT. But it is the last place on the face of the earth that I would call romantic or semi-romantic. Perhaps anti romantic might be more appropriate since it is noisy-in EVERY room. The Tabard Inn would, indeed, be special but do NOT go in shorts. It would be inappropriate. Dress nice casual. Old Town? On the lower end of King street is Landini Brothers and Al Porto neither or which are ever mentioned on here. Both would be wonderful for a "semi casual"/semi-romantic dinner in Old Town only a block from the river. Landini Bros. would be my first choice although Al Porto has more ambience but the food isn't as good. I also wouldn't discount the Chart House. No, it's not especially good and it is "commercial" but the setting is exceptional and for a Birthday celebration near/on the water in Old Town it would be perfect. (I took my wife here on our first date almost 17 years ago!) I also wouldn't discount downstairs of 219 where shorts would be accepted. There is a GREAT deal of ambience and character to this French Quarter style dive which, frankly, would be perfect for a drink AFTER dinner at Al Porto or Landini Brothers. If it were the winter time I would make the argument that a "Spanish Coffee" here is among the best drinks in any bar in the D. C. area.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Joe H

            I second 219 for an after dinner stop. Nothing like it around. Quaint and authentic.

            1. re: Joe H

              Have you tried LaRefuge in Old Town? I've heard good things about it and am considering a trip to try it out. I've heard it's business casual.

              http://lerefugealexandria.com/

            2. In Old Town - I would recommend Jackson 20 @ the Monaco hotel.

              Dark & casually chic + walkable to the waterfront 5 minutes.

              Dress is anything from semi to casuals.

              FOOD IS REALLY GOOD & service is 5 stars @ 3 star prices.

              http://www.jackson20.com/

              1. I would strongly recommend Willow in Ballston. Khakis/Jeans would be safe in the main dining room on a Monday night; not certain about the shorts. You may consider eating at one of the high-tops in the full service bar, which could actually be a bit more romantic than eating in the main dining room. While I would not call the restaurant "super-expensive," the entrees will be $25-30. You can also create an inexpensive dinner with the fantastic bar menu. I really like their eclectic wine list, and I have found some reasonable buys.

                1. I am going with my original choice of Tabard Inn. Not because any of the other places did not sound good or meet the requirements, but rather that I think venturing into DC for a special meal is a good idea. We usually stick to northern Virginia (mainly Arlington) and have been to several of the suggested restaurants so doing something a little different than usual sounds like fun. Plus I think we'll both want to splurge a bit and have a few more drinks than usual so driving to Georgetown or Old Town doesn't seem like such a good idea. I'll just have to make sure he doesn't wear shorts to Tabard Inn. :)

                  Thanks everyone for all the suggestions! I will keep them in mind for other occasions.