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Where should a new-to-town couple have a fabulous date-night dinner in DC?

Friends of mine are moving to DC. I'm not sure where exactly, but he will be working at 16th St. & M St. They recently did some volunteer photography at my wedding, so we'd like to give them a gift certificate for a wonderful dinner in their new city.

They are both adventurous eaters and love all kinds of food. I'm sure they'd love a farm-to-table type restaurant, but ethnic food would also be welcome, or a steakhouse if it's not too stuffy. I'd love to find a place that not only has delicious food and good cocktails, but also excellent service and an inviting ambiance.

I'm thinking of making the gift certificate around $200 for two people. Thanks so much for the advice!

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  1. In terms of a steak house I would give a certificate to J&G Steakhouse. My boyfriend and I were lucky enough to be treated to a free meal there about a year ago and it was a wonderful spot for a more upscale date night. The food is top-notch without having that stuffy steak house feel. The seafood is just as good as the steak and afterward they can head up to the roof top of the W for a nightcap.

    Another fun option would be Mintwood. Great date night spot because there are delicious cocktails, wonderful neighborhood bistro fare and fun desserts (I like the ice cream brownie sundae...makes you feel like a kid!).

    1. Eola. Palena. Ray's the Steaks -- not stuffy at all.

      1. Thanks for the posts so far! I've also been browsing around yelp (which I know is a different audience from here), and I noticed that DC has very few 4.5-5 star restaurants. Are people just harsher raters there (I'm in SF)?

        1 Reply
        1. re: biancani

          Do you mean 4.5/5 stars on Yelp? I honestly wouldn't go based on Yelp at all...especially their ratings. I'm not a huge Yelp fan and think the way that crowd sees dining and food very different than Chow.

          If you are looking for a source with real ratings I would maybe check out some of food critic's Tom Sietsema's reviews. He also does a dining guide each Spring and Fall.

          We don't "rate" in the same way on Chowhound. But so far every restaurant mentioned on this thread is a good suggestion and a top-rated restaurant.

        2. Central Michel Richard. Hard to go wrong there. French and American bistro classics with an inventive twist.

          1. Blue duck could fit your criteria. It has a new chef and early word has been great