February 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm EDT | by Adriana Scott
Table for two

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and a good restaurant can be hard to find. You may want to try some of D.C.’s fine dining hot spots or stay comfortable at a more casual neighborhood place. Whether you’re in the mood for something exotic or just some comfort food, these new D.C. restaurants are definitely worth a visit.

Mintwood Place (all photos courtesy the restaurants)

Mintwood Place

Reserve a table at one of the newest restaurants on Columbia Road: Mintwood Place celebrated its grand opening Jan. 29. Its sunlit atmosphere and wood-paneled booths are homey, but this is nothing like your mother’s cooking. Here you’ll find meals from bacon cheeseburgers to lamb tongue moussaka. Prices average from under $10 to a $42 roasted pork entrée for two. Exotic dishes won’t break your wallet, but reservations for dinner events may fill quickly. Reservations can be made at mintwoodplace.com.

The Hamilton

Since its opening day in December, The Hamilton has never stopped serving—literally. The restaurant, located on 600 14th St., is open 24-7, and has received praise from the Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, Eater and Urban Spoon. Its menu includes choices to satisfy all palettes, serving everything from oatmeal pancakes to a meal called The Duel for breakfast and burgers to seafood for dinner. After dinner, listen to music live at the restaurant.

The Hamilton

A date at The Hamilton may be affordable, but the restaurant has also become very popular. Be sure to make reservations (and buy tickets for a show) at thehamiltondc.com.

Mama Chuy D.C.

Craving Mexican cuisine on Valentine’s Day? Mama Chuy D.C., a cozy restaurant on Georgia Avenue, N.W., was opened in December by siblings Joe and Dinora Orozco. Set close to Howard University, Mama Chuy D.C. is bound to be full of life.

Mama Chuy

Customers on a tight budget will be pleased to discover that high quality does not necessarily mean high prices. Two tacos are about $4 and a vegetarian quesadilla is $3.50. The warm, low-key atmosphere makes for a relaxed lunch or dinner. Visit mamachuydc.com for more information.

Jewel of India

Jewel of India

The Indo-Chinese menu isn’t the only thing that sets this Silver Spring restaurant apart from other Indian cuisine. Featured as an Editor’s Pick in the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide, Jewel of India will not disappoint a connoisseur in search of an exotic alternative.

Unveiled this summer by the owner of Woodlands, a vegetarian-centric restaurant, Jewel of India has a menu for both meat lovers and vegetarians to enjoy. Explore the eclectic tastes at the lunch buffet, or walk in for dinner — reservations are unnecessary. Entrees run between $10 and $25. Take a look at the menu at jewelofindiamd.com.



If you intend to indulge on fine Italian dining, consider dinner at Elisir. Owned by Chef of the Year nominee Enzo Fargione, the restaurant has been a success since its doors opened Nov. 30 on 427 11th St., N.W. Located a few blocks from the National Theatre and the White House, Elisir has made a name for itself among other famous sites in the Penn Quarter.

The Valentine’s Day menu features six courses with wine and is worth its upscale prices. Reservations can be made at elisirrestaurant.com. Lunch is served on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and costs between $13 and $22. Valet parking is only available at dinner and for private parties.

D.C. Scoop Café

D.C. Scoop Cafe

Crepe lovers will enjoy the D.C. Scoop Café. Recently opened in January on 1514 U St., N.W., the small crepe shop has affordable sweet fruit-filled and savory options to satisfy both your stomach and your bank account. Crepes run between $4.50 and $7. The restaurant also offers sandwiches and salads. D.C. Scoop Café is perfect for a casual date and stays open until 10 p.m. For more information, visit dcscoopshop.com.


Celebrate Valentine’s Day all February with 901’s dinner package for two complete with Champagne and shared courses for $69. The restaurant, which opened on Ninth Street in May, has since broadened its culinary repertoire and integrated more Asian flavor into an American menu. Enjoy a late night date — the restaurant stays open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Reservations can be made at 901dc.com.

Looking for a more relaxed night? Opt instead for the 901 bar, which offers extensive wine, cocktail and beer options, including Death by Chocolate (“dessert in a glass”) and another simply named Bang.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

Pearl Dive Oyster Bar

If you’re a fan of seafood, a visit to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is a necessity. Located on 14th Street, N.W. near Logan Circle, the newest addition to the Black Restaurant Group is already stirring up much success after its opening in September. With a wide selection of oysters and other delicious seafood options that include blue crab cakes and crawfish etouffee, a dinner date at the Pearl Dive Oyster Palace will surely impress your partner. Make reservations at pearldivedc.com or expect a wait.


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