An epic night out in the country’s capital can mean dining where the Beltway bigwigs do—but it doesn’t have to. Washington, DC’s signature diversity trickles down to its special occasion spots, too.Less
This stylish Four Seasons Hotel steakhouse is a special occasion spot fit for presidents. Case in point: the Obamas hosted their 20th wedding anniversary dinner here in 2012. You’ll find DC’s elite gathered to celebrate major moments over chef Michael Mina’s world-class filet mignon and Maine lobster pie—plus one of the most impressive bourbon collections in town. Even though the restaurant is part of a national chain, Mina knows how to make each location shine.
If your occasion calls for a full-fledged vegan feast, head to this elegant Federalist townhouse. Elizabeth’s Gone Raw was singled out as one of the best vegan restaurants in the world by the Evening Standard, and it takes just one bite of chef Francisco Hernandez’s artistic creations—watermelon skin tartare with nori confetti for the win—to understand why (a fully raw feast is available upon request). Note that the restaurant is only open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays evenings.
Das’s shareable and spice-forward Ethiopian dishes make it ideal for intimate special occasions. A milestone meal in this cushy townhouse isn’t complete without a bottomless basket of injera (spongy flatbread), made for dunking in tender chicken stew. But the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand recipient is also a go-to for its spectacular meat-free options. Sleek, elegant lines and lush fabrics dial up the luxe factor and explain why this Georgetown staple is a highly sought-after celebration spot.
Mala Tang is a cook-your-own Sichuan food star tailor made for large and lively gatherings. It’s named for the distinctive hot pots served across China, and you’ll find groups digging into plenty of excellent versions on its many round tables. Go with friends or family to do justice to the spectacular soups, which come with dippable ingredients like prawns, fish balls, and more. Multiple broth types—ranging from mild to tongue-numbing spicy—let you and your crew order mains accordingly.
Restaurant vet Ashok Bajaj (Bombay Club, Modena) is a pro at standing out in a city full of special-occasion hotspots. His latest took over the famed Oval Room in 2021, but it’s a far cry from the buttoned-up American restaurant it used to be. Instead, celebrations at La Bise are all about revamped French food made with surprising ingredients like pineapple and blood orange. Get the knockout pistachio mille-feuille for dessert.
From anniversary-worthy omakase service to bottomless dim sum brunch for freewheeling group celebrations, this gold-curtained sushi bar can do it all. Nama Ko is James Beard Award winner Michael Schlow’s take on Japanese dining, District style. The nigiri and sashimi lean traditional—and there’s plenty of luxe wagyu—but the spicy tuna tacos show off Schlow’s experimental side. To toast, there’s a generous sake and Japanese whiskey selection, plus top-notch zero-proof cocktails.
Meet one of the District’s most-loved Italian hubs. Since opening in 1983, Filomena has established itself as a Georgetown celebration staple and been profiled by Forbes, the Travel Channel, and more. The chicken parmesan is the special-occasion MVP, as are the varied bolognese and lasagna options (gnocchi, fettuccine, and eggplant). Filomena also keeps the crowds flocking for its over-the-top holiday decor—come December, it morphs into a winter wonderland.
China Chilcano is where you come for a pisco party with friends. The menu is just as festive, featuring a blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Criollo accents that pop up in dishes like king salmon tiradito in white ponzu or lomo saltado stir-fry with fried potato sticks. A boldly designed dining room—high ceilings, red glass lamps, and neon lights—provides a striking photo backdrop. But what truly sets China Chilcano apart is the staff’s attention to detail and willingness to accommodate.
Soft lights, wine-colored leather booths, and sparkling chandeliers set the tone for extra-elegant celebrations at this surf-and-turf haven. The Houston transplant stays true to its everything-is-bigger-in-Texas ethos—it’s got 400 seats spread out over two stories, for starters. The menu is equally massive, featuring global seafood, expertly broiled steaks with roasted garlic bulbs, and solid vegan options like plant-based bolognese pappardelle.
When a meal starts with a chocolate hand wash, you know it’s going to be unforgettable. A ceremonial cacao rinse is just one of the many sensory immersions offered at chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’s Colombian stunner. His revolving tasting menu spotlights mid-Atlantic produce and might include turbot, coconut rice, and seawater gel or a stunning bonsai tree-shaped yuca bread. Barrientos’s theatrical presentations and unexpected textures scored the restaurant a MICHELIN star in 2021.