Winter Comes Early to Washington, DC. Where to Eat by the Fire
While the weather outside is frightful, dining by the fire is so delightful. Once the cold sets in, there is nothing more comforting than dining and enjoying a glass of wine or cocktail beside the warmth of a roaring fire. The nation’s capital offers a variety of fireside dining to enjoy a hearty meal while listening to the crackle of flames. When the temperature drops in DC, nothing warms the body more than a delicious hearty meal sitting next to a fireplace sipping a glass of wine or cocktail. DC offers the best fireside dining with opportunities to sample cuisine from the world’s best chefs.
In Washington, DC
Just three blocks from Dupont Circle, 15 Ria offers a warm and inviting environment with the expansive dark-wood bar, cozy fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling silk draperies. This award-winning restaurant offers a chic, sultry ambiance with unpretentious prices.
Some of the city’s oldest buildings are located in Georgetown, including 1789 Restaurant (1226 36th St., NW). It takes its name from the year that the original site was purchased by Archbishop John Carroll, the founding father of Georgetown University. Situated in an elegant two-story Federal townhouse, 1789 is the perfect spot to dine during the cold winter months with its festive holiday decor. In the main dining room, table #14 has the best view of an elegant historic fireplace and walls adorned with prints from George Washington’s early years, historic maps of the city, and American antique furniture. Open daily for dinner.
Situated in the 150 year-old restored Canal Square Building located just steps from the charming C & O Canal, Seacatch Restaurant & Raw Bar (1054 31st St., NW) offers the best fresh seasonal seafood while dining next to their two historic stone fireplaces. Known for its excellent service and raw bar, Seacatch is a little pricey but worth it, especially to celebrate a special occasion.
Dine fireside at the romantic Italian trattoria, Ristorante Piccolo (1068 31st St., NW) which has cozy fireplaces throughout. Enjoy fresh and seasonal rustic fare, including hand-rolled pastas. Their sunset three-course prix-fixe menu is a steal for just $18 offered Monday through Friday (4:30-6:30pm). Sleep in on Saturday and Sunday and enjoy a late brunch with two courses and up to three glasses of champagne, Bloody Marys or mimosas for just $19 (11:30 am – 3:00 pm). Don’t miss their house-made Grapa. My favorite is the Blackberry and Strawberry!
The list of fireside dining in Georgetown continues. Stepping into La Chaumiere (2813 M St. NW) instantly transports you to the charming thatched roof French country inn with a cozy central stone fireplace, wood beams and stucco walls. Escape city life and allow the award winning Chef Patrick Orange romance your senses with traditional French dishes and seasonal specials created according to the availability of fresh local meats and produce. Enjoy unpretentious and attentive service by knowledgeable seasoned staff for reasonable prices.
There is no better warm winter spot in the city than at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (3100 South St., NW). In fact, historically, the building served as the District’s refuse incinerator. The fireplace-lit Lounge with a 130-foot chimney offers a cozy respite from the cold brisk DC air. Enjoy complimentary S’mores every evening from 6:30-7 pm in front of the wood burning fireplace or create your own customized S’more at the outdoor fire pit. This is not your childhood S’more with rich melted Valrhona chocolate and homemade marshmallows sandwiched between two slices of French baguette bread prepared French-toast style. Friday, Saturday and Sunday create your own S’more at the outdoor fire pit.
Moving from Georgetown and into the bustling artsy neighborhood of Dupont Circle, the iconic Tabard Inn (1739 N St. NW), an old-English style hotel that opened in 1922, offers turn-of-the-century charm with a fireplace-lit lounge and cozy atmosphere, the perfect remedy for an evening chill. Relax near the flames with a glass of wine in the cocktail lounge or dine in the homey black-and-white tiled dining room. Appreciate knowledgeable and friendly staff while enjoying Chef Pelt’s imaginative cooking, all for a reasonable price. Save room for dessert: the warm doughnuts with vanilla-scented whipped cream or banana cream pie tinted with milk chocolate are to die for. Brunch is considered one of the best in the city.
DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, named after the misty marshes that once lined the Potomac riverfront in the 1800s, is home to Hotel Lombardy, a small boutique hotel with classic 1920s decor and rich interior design. Inside the hotel bistro, Cafe Lombardy’s (2019 Pennsylvania Ave.) warm and inviting Venetian Room offers a cozy lounge with a fireplace that welcomes guests for a subdued happy hour.
Circle Bistro, located in the One Washington Circle Hotel (1 Washington Circle, NW), offers classic bistro fare with innovative seasonal flavors and quality ingredients. With a fire in the hearth, the soothing orange-papered walls, honey-colored tables, and orange couches give the lounge a warm glow. Perfect for visitors headed to the Kennedy Center, the $35 three-course pre-theatre (5-7 pm) dinner menu is a fantastic bargain. On weeknights between 5-7 pm with half-price cocktails and $5 martinis, Circle Bistro has a vibrant happy hour scene.
Downtown at Equinox (818 Connecticut Ave., NW) dine like the Obamas, just steps away from the White House where chef Todd Gray has prepared the best seasonal dishes using locally sourced ingredients. He has been supporting local farms and purveyors for over a decade. Gray offers the best contemporary American fare in the city. Newly renovated, Equinox’s atrium has a naturalistic eco-friendly fireplace with textured glass perfect for nourishing cold souls beside the smoldering fire. Make sure to call in advance for a seat near the fireplace.
OYA (777 9th Street, NW) offers an Asian-fusion innovative menu in a contemporary backdrop with a 2.5 ton chain curtain, 20-ft long waterfall, and 12 ft long fireplace in the main dining room (see photo above left). The hipster red crocodile bar with white marble fireplace is cozy lounge with ultra-comfortable high-backed white banquettes.
In the Atlas Arts District, Smith Commons (1245 H Street, NE) a three-story neighborhood bistro which once served as a carpet warehouse features two candlelit fireplaces on their second floor lounge. Each level has a comfortable and welcoming feel with an mix of inspired furnishing. Enjoy an international menu of approachable cuisine, and an array of craft beers, wines and cocktails at three bars. Smith Commons offers something for every palate.
In Northern, VA
Venture out to the VA — in Clarendon, Harry’s Tap Room (2800 Clarendon Blvd.) is elegant yet simple and casual with a focus on food and wine. Their bar, warmed by a stunning fireplace is the top after-work meeting place in Northern Virginia (so say Washingtonian Magazine’s readers). They feature a variety of American craft beers, ales and an extraordinary variety of well-priced American wines.
Inside the elegant Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, Fyve Restaurant and Lounge which offers modern American cuisine, prepared by Chef Frederic Chartier, is offered in an atmosphere with dazzling hues of red and orange that introduce an upbeat and contemporary decor. Settees in front of the lounge’s glowing fireplace create an enticing and relaxing atmosphere. Enjoy delectable light fare consisting of various items for only $5 each. Then compliment your taste buds with a musical treat for your ears! Especially featuring live music from Christopher Linman’s band in the lounge every Friday and Saturday nights!
In Old Town Alexandria, known as one of the top restaurants in the country, Restaurant Eve (110 S. Pitt St.) with a cobblestone path leading to the restaurant’s entrance is lined with candles that set the tone of what is to come. Situated in a historic 1800′s warehouse, this quaint yet sophisticated restaurant actually has one of the coziest bar and lounges in the DC area. Tucked away from the main dining rooms, it’s plush with cushioned bar-stools and big leather chairs, and of course, a rustic fireplace. Dublin native, chef Cathal Armstrong’s menus feature seasonal, house-made products–which include 7-9 various breads baked daily and artisanal cheeses. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy one of the best lunch deals around ($13.50 for any two items on the bar menu) and make sure that you get the birthday cake for your dessert (even if it’s not your birthday). The dessert is cause enough for celebration.
Also in Old Town, known for it’s picturesque views of the Potomac River, Indigo Landing is an all-season sanctuary unlike any in the DC Metropolitan area. Diner can find refuge from the urban world and enjoy the tranquility of a natural setting while viewing the monuments of Washington, DC. With incredible water views and fireplace lounge, you’ll be immersed in beautiful surroundings while enjoying a roaring fire, Indigo is the perfect location for wintertime.
Also in Northern Virgina, The American Tap Room with locations in Reston and Clarendon offers fireside dining. Enjoy their classic grill menu that offers something for everyone. Also in Reston, the Lakeside Inn restaurant and pub, enjoy casual dining next to their fireplace for comfort, overlooking Reston’s beautiful Lake Thoreau. Lakeside Inn offers American Fare, featuring Ribs, Steaks, Seafood, Sandwiches, and Salads.
Located in Clifton, VA, a historic town born out of the Civil War, Trummer’s on Main (7134 Main St.) is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Formerly the Hermitage Inn, guests relax beside the fire, while enjoying an awe-inspiring meal from a star-studded culinary team. Chef Clayton Miller, formerly of the prestigious French Laundry, named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2010, and along with Pastry Chef Chris Ford, named a StarChefs rising culinary star, create a forceful duo. Austrian born co-owner and award-winning mixologist, Stephan Trummer, whips up specialty cocktails, including his signature drink, The Reefer.
As seen in DC Metro Magazine. Lisa Shapiro is the Dining Editor.