A private heated wine tent at Potomac Point Winery. Photography by Casandra Lorraine Photography
Romantic and secluded spaces have always been a draw for Valentine’s Day. Add social distancing and, well, you get the picture. Restaurants are busy preparing private outdoor structures with varying levels of weather exposure for those who are understandably hesitant to dine indoors. And the new trend of indoor dining (“dining out”?) – renting a hotel room for a few hours – is really taking off.
If you’re like many of us, maybe going out for Valentine’s Day is too much of a hassle – Covid or no Covid. Here’s our guide to great takeout and delivery restaurants for Valentine’s Day weekend.
Dining room rental at the Sofitel DC (Opaline Brasserie)
806 15th St., NW
More and more hotels are renting out empty rooms for a few hours so guests can enjoy brunch, dinner, or whatever else in privacy. The Sofitel Lafayette Square was among the first to do so in DC. Typically, there’s only a $70 food/drink minimum and no rental feel here. Things are a little different on Valentine’s weekend, although it’s not as expensive as some of the other options. The only in-suite dining menu at the hotel’s Opaline Brasserie restaurant is a three-course dinner ($110 for two) with options like foie gras parfait, duck à l’orange and seafood panna cotta. passion (offered from February 12 to 14). Reservations are available here.
More dining room rentals at Yours Truly (Mercy Me)
1143 New Hampshire Ave. NW
The new West End hotel that’s home to Mercy Me, a “Sorta South American” restaurant from the team behind Timber Pizza and Call Your Mother, rents out dinner rooms for four or more people. The setup is pretty fun — swanky rooms come with a turntable and records, and guests order chef Johanna Hellrigl’s menu ($75 per person). For Valentine’s Day, a three-course prix fixe includes dishes like South American seafood bisque, Peruvian duck a la brasa, and pina colada cheesecake. Additional wine pairings are $30, or opt for a tropical cocktail. For those who wish to stay overnight, there is a special Valentine’s Day package. Reservations are available through Resy.
Even more dining room rentals at Hotel Monaco DC (Dirty Habit)
700 F St., NW
Yes, that restaurant name comes from Avant Times (and they changed the “apocalypse vibe” to film noir because…too soon?). But Dirty Habit, which recently re-opened, has otherwise adapted to our new world obsessed with cleanliness. The restaurant offers a five-course Valentine’s Day menu for $65 per person with dishes like dab ceviche and surf-and-turf, as well as rose wine pairings for $35. The suites can accommodate up to ten people, and there is also a private area in the restaurant itself. E-mail [email protected] for prices and details.
Wine tents at Potomac Point Winery
275 Decatur Road, Stafford, Virginia
Valentine’s Day falls on President’s Day this year, which means there’s more time to celebrate, say, with a road trip to this winery in Stafford, Virginia. Wild Tribe Co.’s heated wine tents overlook vineyards and are spacious enough for four to eight people. Food and beverage minimums depend on the day and time you reserve the tents (for Valentine’s Day weekend there is a $150 rental fee and a $200 minimum). An on-site restaurant serves flatbreads, meat and cheese boards, desserts, and more. Each tent comes with an individual server. And of course there is a lot of wine.
Beer tents at Lone Oak Farm Brewing Co.
5000 Olney Road Laytonsville, Olney
If your pod loves hops more than grapes, this atmospheric Olney brewery is a great destination. Individual heated tents are available for groups (designed for six or more), and there’s also bookable seating around the outdoor fire pits. The brewery offers several Valentine’s Day packages, starting with chocolates ($15) or cheese and charcuterie boards ($30 to $55), and going all the way up to a $150 special that includes blankets , growlers and more swag.
The “castles” of the Diplomat. Photograph by Danny Kim
Castles and cabins at Le Diplomate and St. Anselm
1601 14th St., NW; 1250 5th St NE
Leave it to perfectionist-restaurateur Stephen Starr to deploy more than just a tent outside his DC restaurants. At Le Diplomate, individual “castles on the street” for up to four guests are heated but still open on one side for air circulation. There’s no expensive fixed price for Valentine’s Day, just specials like baked oysters or surf and turf. At the more low-key St. Anselm’s Tavern, a similar exterior setup is presented as “cabins” (though these cabins aren’t too shabby). For V-Day, why not share an ax-handled sirloin for two? Both restaurants emphasize that all spaces are cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Waterfront igloos in Del Mar, Fiola Mare
791 Wharf Street, South West; 3100 K Street NW
You’ll probably need to reserve these tricked-out plastic orbs at Fabio Trabocchi’s high-end Spanish and Italian restaurants well in advance (rental fees start at $150 and go up). Currently, there is a waiting list for Valentine’s Day weekend dinners at both locations, but you can try lunch, or alternatively, alfresco outdoor seating, indoor dining and take-out packages.
Winter lodges in Bresca
1906 14th St., NW
As part of its reopening for on-site dining, Michelin-starred Bresca has set up cute “lodges” for two on 14th Street. Outside the Valentine’s Day weekend, diners can go à la carte, opt for a a $75 prix-fixe four-course dinner or splurge with a European-style Sunday lunch. For Valentine’s Day weekend, there is a $150 prix fixe menu. The structures are equipped with heaters, blankets and speakers to play your own background music. Meanwhile, the new Sister Jônt Tasting Room has reopened as a “rooftop chalet” — not entirely private, but a six-table outdoor dining space with plenty of homey touches. The Valentine’s Day menu is even fancier ($275 to $325 per person).
Greenhouses at Ambar Clarendon
2901 Wilson Blvd, Arlington
Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin has built an all-weather outdoor structure around his Balkan restaurant in Clarendon, designed to keep customers warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Diners can reserve small glass houses in the garden for the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat Balkan feasts. For Valentine’s Day, there’s a special $85 dinner menu with dishes like saffron and asparagus risotto, stuffed chicken cutlet and rack of lamb. The Clarendon and DC restaurants also serve indoors and offer takeout.
Private Patio at Compass Rose
1346 T Street NW
Feel like you’re away from DC in Compass Rose’s private, transportable, semi-enclosed patio. Radiators keep things warm in the winter, although there’s still enough airflow through the open cladding to feel like you’re outside. For Valentine’s Day, groups of two to six people can opt for a a “world tour” menu of global sharing plates, or a special “Russian Zakuski” menu with infused vodka, khachapuri, and more ($65 per person). If you don’t snag the private patio, there is also a new heated outdoor street.
Swiss chalets in Stable
1324 H Street NE
DC’s only Swiss restaurant got creative with semi-private dining indoors. Chefs/owners David Fritsche and Silvan Kraemer have transformed a back dining room into an alpine paradise with five private wooden chalets for small groups. During Valentine’s Day weekend they offer their usual brunch menu with homemade pastries and breads and Swiss specialties like berner rösti. If you don’t want to dine indoors, there is outdoor seating for 20 people on a cozy terrace with heaters, blankets and plenty of glühwein and melted cheese. Fondue and raclette packages are also available.