HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


First time in D.C., need help on picking a romantic seafood restaurant that wont break my wallet!

Hi Guys- I did review all the posts regarding seafood and romance but i was not feeling any of them. Maybe I can be more specific than you all great foodies can help!

My bf and i are visiting DC for the first time and we are looking for a great seafood restaurant in DC for friday night. We like simple food (no fancy schmancy stuff), and we want to look nice (Dress for me, nice button down shirt for him). Something romantic or has a good view. I want to spend around $25 per entree. I love crab and he loves tuna. I checked out Sea Catch (but some reviews were not too great). I looked at blacksalt but was not impressed even though it is supposed to be best seafood in dc.

Does anyone have good suggestions for us? Simple,romantic, seafood, good vibe.

Thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love Hook in Georgetown, I think it's a lovely jewelbox little restaurant. Can't recall the exact prices as I've only been for lunch, but think you could manage in your price range (especially since I like some of their starters as entrees). I had pristinely fresh oysters and a great grilled calamari w/ potato salad and pesto. Can definitely go dressy, as we saw lots of suites and ties even at lunch. Have fun!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mjhals

      Not a big fan of Hook. Maybe its because their menu online is a sample menu but i was not feeling any of the dishes.

    2. Pesce is a chalkboard seafood place. Just look at the specials. Casual, Dupont Circle area.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        Hmm i could not see the menu online for Pesce.. bummer! Is it nice enough to wear a dress etc?

        1. re: BellaNella28

          Pesce does not accept reservations. On a Friday night, I think that would be a big turn-off since you're trying to spend a romantic evening. I don't think there's too much romance in standing on P Street waiting for an available table.

          I can't honestly say that I think of any of the DC seafood restaurants as being particularly romantic places. They can be sleekly elegant, but not romantic by my definition.

          I'm also concerned that your entree price limit is somewhat low. At Hook, the prices range from a low of $25 for bluefish with the majority of the dishes coming in between $26 and $29. At Kinkead's the prices range a couple dollars more with most of the choices falling between $27 and $31. Crab is even more costly with a top-quality crab cake definitely exceeding $25.

          Sorry you don't feel warmer about Hook since I think that's the best combination of food/price and ambiance even with my caveat about elegance VS romance.

          1. re: Indy 67

            Well the price isnt set in stone. We are def flexible. I just thought some places seemed way over priced but if it is worth it, than we most def will try it. On Hook's website the menu seems pretty limited, is that just because it is online? How is sea catch? My bf loves raw bars, hes into oysters and clams etc.. i perfer cooked.
            As for atmosphere, we want something like i said that we can have a nice night to dress up and somewhere that is a bit lively (we are 25, so we dont care so much about noise level etc )

          2. re: BellaNella28

            Oh yes, it's nice enough for a dress. But you wouldn't find anyone in there with a suit. Pesce features mostly simple, highly respectful preparations of fresh fish. Probably the best PQR for fresh seafood in DC.

            I imagine you can call them up and ask them to send you an e-mail of typical offerings/prices.

            1. re: Steve

              So ive been checking out all the menus, and maybe my bf and i are not foodies lol cause everything looks so exotic. We want simple food, decent portions, good tuna, good crab, a nice evening out. And if we need to spend $$ we will to enjoy it.

        2. I'm not sure why you're down on Blacksalt or Hook. I think those are probably the best place in town (along with Kinkeads). All of these places are going to run you a little more than $25 an entree though. I think Hook most closely fits what you're looking for (lively, slightly fancy, etc.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: jaydreb

            I agree Hook seems the best choice but i was not too excited bout the menu online. I spoke with my bf, and he said money is no option lets just enjoy ourselves... SO that opens us up a little bit. Kinkeads? Blacksalt has no reservations for our time slot. boo.

            1. re: jaydreb

              If you want something simple and a place where you can wear nicer clothes I would just go to Kinkeads. The menu is classic and you can't really go wrong there. Nothing should be too exotic. But I'm not sure if it's 100% in your price range.

              Hook would have been my suggestion, but you seem to have ruled it out.

            2. Sea Catch has wonderful crabcakes, its slightly more then $25 per person. Request for table outside along the C&O canal. I had a wonderful meal here a few months ago and would highly reccomend it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jeremy303

                I thought Sea Catch's menu looked good but i read reviews online and they were not that great so I was a bit turned off. Has anyone else dined there and could give me better feedback on the atmosphere and food?

                1. re: BellaNella28

                  I like Sea Catch a lot. It's not hip and trendy, but that's not something I look for.

                  1. re: Hal Laurent

                    I'll second Sea Catch. For simple seafood preparations, they do an excellent job. And, especially sitting outside on the patio, I would definitely consider it a romantic destination.

              2. You should check out D'Acqua http://www.dacquadc.com/

                Fresh seafood, done simply, you can definitely dress up in their romantic dining room. It's dressier than Black Salt and more romantic than Hook (which is hip but not romantic). Depending on what you order, the food is as good as if not better than the other two restaurants.

                1. The Palm: has a 4.5 lb lobster, 2 salads, 2 sides, coffee/tea for around $90 as a special through the end of September
                  DC Coast is nice, lots of interesting eye candy, food is good, likely cost around $100 per couple total if you are careful

                  1. Johnny's Half Shell is another good option if you are not too constrained on price. It think it's a nice place to dress up for a little, and there's an outdoor patio if the weather is nice. I don't know if it's that romantic, but probably at least as romantic as Kinkead's or Blacksalt.

                    1. Have you considered the Dish? Very good restaurant with well prepared and fresh seafood. Not exactly the most romantic of places but the service is attentive and the food is good.

                      1. Kinkeads and Black Salt are arguably the 2 best Seafood Restaurants in the city, both will run you slightly more then $25 per plate. Mendocino Bar and Grill I have heard is good but I have never been, and Oceanaire which is always reliable and good, great calm chowder, fresh fish, midly romantic.

                        These are also options but again will be more $25 per plate. I really do not feel that you can go wrong with any of these options or Sea Catch or The Dish which I previously mentioned. I am not impressed with Hook or Tacklebox (which is Hook's sister restaurant and is a very casual place, and the complete opposite of romantic) I recommend the other restaurants over it.

                        Honestly, if I were you I would choose Kinkeads this is the place to go for the best Seafood and that has the atomosphere you desire. Good luck, lets us know what you choose.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Jeremy303

                          This is very sound advice. I'm not a seafood lover, but based on my experience and those of my dining companions, my top recommendations would be Kinkeads, Black Salt, and Oceanaire. And I totally agree with you about Hook. Although it has a very nice (and romantic) ambiance, I've never been particularly impressed by the food.

                          1. re: Gigi007

                            my bf really wanted to eat in georgetown but i think saturday night we will do something in that area. So i decided on Kinkeads for friday. I hope its delish and everything goes well. Thanks! Any good italian spots for saturday in georgetown?? Obv not that $$ since we will be breaking the budget with kinkeads

                            1. re: BellaNella28

                              You could get Italian seafood at D'Acqua and spend the rest of the money eating at Mie 'n Yu in G'town (everyone I've ever brought has been impressed with the atmosphere - but I've never brought any diehard foodies) http://www.mienyu.com/

                              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                I have to strenuously advise against Mie 'N Yu, especially because it is so expensive for the quality of food you get. Fiance and I paid just under $200 total (our part of the bill) for a meal split w/ friends last Friday (they ordered the wine and I didn't check the price, so it's possible that bumped up a bit, but still...). We had 2 apps (which were the highlight of the meal, esp. the duck tacos) and split the bulgogi plate. It was awful, very dry meat and very little flavor (unless you consider toughness a flavor). And the entrees took forever! I have no idea why, they were definitely short of full capacity.

                                Sorry I don't have an Italian recommendation to replace it with, but if you like tapas- Bodega in Georgetown is great. Not cheap, but at least worth it for the money.

                                1. re: mjhals

                                  MJ, I'm sorry you had a bad experience at Mie 'N Yu, and with the exception of one good brunch, I can't say that mine have been any better. IMHO, it's a highly over-rated restaurant with a nice decor, poor price-quality ratio in terms of food, and very often mediocre to bad service. However, like I said, I once had a good brunch there and do go to its bar/lounge for drinks from time to time.

                                  As for Bodega, I'm not a fan. Bodega's tapas is OK, but not great. I should mention that I lived in Spain for a while and am therefore picky about tapas. I prefer Jaleo or Taberna del Alabardero.

                                  1. re: mjhals

                                    to: MJ

                                    1. They're not foodies. 2. The food's not all that expensive at Mie 'n Yu (you can go look at their menu, my wife and I stuffed ourselves silly for less than $100 with drinks). 3. While the food's not great, the atmosphere is romantic and fun. I only recommend this place to people who think food is secondary. Sounds like it might not be your cup o' tea but that doesn't mean it's not for someone else.

                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                      That's fair, since I recommended Hook and it's not to OP's taste, stands to reason Mie n Yu may be a good match. And it is a fun atmosphere. And we may have ordered wrong as the apps were about 7 apiece (reasonable) but then the split bulgogi plate was 49. Come to think of it, it must have been really expensive wine (2 bottles, but still, what did they order?!?)

                                      If I were to go back, I would stick w/ just apps for a small plates dinner, those were the standouts of the evening (the duck tacos were very good).

                                2. re: BellaNella28

                                  Kinkeads isn't far at all from Georgetown (short bus or cab ride). As for Italian in Georgetown, personally I can't recommend any good Italian restaurants there. In other DC neighborhoods, the reasonably priced Italian restaurants I recommend are Sorriso (Cleveland Park), Dino (Cleveland Park), and Al Tiramisu (Dupont Circle--love the gnocchi therei!).

                                  And if you don't happen to make it to Georgetown the same night you go to Kinkeads, you might try the Westend Bistro, a restaurant with a fun, yet intimate atmosphere (great date spot0 and good food and drinks in the West End (about 5 blocks away from Georgetown at 22nd & M). Have fun!

                                  1. re: BellaNella28

                                    Paper Moon in Georgetown is classic Italian and not that expensive. I eat here probably once a month and the food is very good. The interior is also quite nice. Granted, this is not upscale dining but classic Italian, such as Veal Marsala, pasta carbonara and the like.

                                    1. re: SheriS

                                      It's been awhile since I've been to Paper Moon. Back in the early part of this decade, the restaurant smells like beer because the place turns into a middle-eastern themed disco on weekends. Does that still go on?

                                      1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                        Not that I've noticed the smell. I think it does turn into some kind of dance place, but I wouldn't call it a disco. More like an upscale nightclub.

                                      2. re: SheriS

                                        I was going to suggest Papermoon too. Not amazing Italian but classic on a cute side street in Georgetown. Lots of tourists and Euros living in DC end up there.

                                3. i'll suggest Hank's Oyster bar. Raw bar, po boys and other tapas style seafood dishes. Nice atmosphere. DC location has the date atmosphere. Near Dupont Circle for drinks afterwards.

                                  1. What about Ocean Aire, McCormick and Scmicks, Legal Seafood?

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: ciaoda

                                      After discussing everything with him (after i made the original post... duh).. He said def wants seafood (a good spot, doesnt matter cost, but a dress up date) and georgetown. I had to sacrifice the georgetown location for Kinkeads. So he got the good seafood part. Now we still need a place in georgetown. Since we are doing seafood friday, we want pasta or something italian for saturday. And its too bad there are no good places in Georgetown. This is all so confusing! haha. Its like ok i can go to sea catch in georgetown but giving up the experience of Kinkeads, ahh...!! lol

                                      1. re: BellaNella28

                                        There has been discussion on the board about Filomena's, do a search for it. Here is a link

                                        1. re: BellaNella28

                                          Unless you guys go to sleep early, I don't see why you couldn't go for a drink in Georgetown after dinner at Kinkead's as I suggested earlier (we're talking a very short distance--literally 6-7 blocks).

                                          And there are actually some very good places in Georgetown, but the ones I'd recommend aren't Italian (Mendocino Wine Bar & Grille, Citronelle, Bourbon Steak, just to name a few. I should mention that they are on the expensive side). The Lounge at Bourbon Steak is also great (not as pricey as Bourbon Steak itself w/ excelllent burgers and pub food on the menu). And as I said earlier, you could also go to the Westend Bistro, which is very close to Georgetown in the West End (22nd & M Streets NW). The Westend Bistro has a great atmosphere.. Filomena in Gtown might work too, although I prefer other places (mentioned in a previous post) for Italian. Hope this helps.

                                          1. re: Gigi007

                                            Ohhh, that's a great idea- drinks at Bourbon Steak pre-dinner, then you get your Georgetown fix! I had the greatest cocktail of my life there- something w/ champagne, berries, and all sorts of spices, it was incredible. Great atmosphere and you'll definitely feel comfortable dressing up.

                                            I kind of want to take all these suggestions on this thread and go on my own romantic seafood date!

                                            1. re: mjhals

                                              I was actually thinking they could go to the Lounge at Bourbon Steak for dinner the second night since the OP was asking about good places to eat in Gtown. The menu is actually very good, and the cocktails are heavenly. Alternatively, if the OP wanted to do Kinkead's and go to Gtown the same night, they could go to the Lounge at Bourbon Steak for drinks either before or after dinner (I'd probably go after, but it depends on what time their reservation at Kinkead's is).

                                        2. re: ciaoda

                                          I actually like the Legal Seafood in Penn Quarter, but it's not on the same level as Kinkeads or Oceanaire. Still for the price, you can eat well at Legal Seafood. As for McCormick and Schmick, I prefer the one in Bethesda to the DC locations.

                                          1. re: ciaoda

                                            Oceanaire would be perfect for them but it is $$.

                                          2. On the seafood- two places that haven't been mentioned. Although Oya isn't all seafood, they have nice sushi and some really nice fish dishes, I always order fish there. And they have a three course $30 special which is just $5 above what you requested, not including drinks... It is definitely somewhere you could get dressed up for.

                                            I have had some nice things at SeaCatch btw, stick with basics and it is very good.

                                            Also Dino is really nice for Italian and has a couple different menu deals and normally a very good deal on wine too! I had a lovely fish dish there recently. I believe it was Halibut. Not in Georgetown, but worth checking out.

                                            In Georgetown I like Filomena for pasta. It is a little kitschy, but in a really nice way, and they have nice portions.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ktmoomau

                                              Funny you should mention Oya, like you said- it's not known as a "seafood" place, but it has the best salmon dish I've had in the city. Perfectly cooked both times I was there, and it's an option on their 3 course, $29 menu. Plus beautiful interior w/ the flower wall. Let's throw that in the mix to further confound the OP.

                                            2. Georgetown does not have that many Italian Restaurants to choose from, I would eat at Pizzeria Paradiso but that is mostly pizza, since you are looking for pasta I would say Filomena, which is decent. For a reasonably priced Italian place I would reccomend Siroc or Spezie but neither are in Georgetown.