DC Dinner Club: Fall 2021

I am back with my final dinner club post of the year! (You can view other 2021 dinner club posts here—winter, spring, summer.) Below, you’ll find 16 restaurants in and around Washington, DC that I have had the pleasuring of dining at over the last few months. If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Instagram for any length of time, you know that dining out with family and friends is one of my greatest joys in life. I love trying new restaurants, eating different types of food, and sharing a great glass of wine with those in my life.

These dinner club posts were, of course, inspired by my real-life dinner club, which just completed our third year! Each month, we try a new-to-us, somewhat splurge-worthy DC area restaurant, and it has been such a way to explore my own city and develop deeper friendships with some gals I went to college with. I am excited to see where dinner club takes us in 2022!

If you’ve been to any great restaurants in the DC area lately—please don’t hesitate to let me know! I keep a running list of places I want to try and am always looking for new spots to try out.


Tatte Bakery opened last year in DC, and I was so excited earlier this year to learn they were opening a Clarendon location! I believe it opened sometime in September, and since it’s just a few blocks from my apartment, I’ve been a regular. If you’ve never been, Tatte is an awesome place to grab breakfast, lunch, or a coffee—they have amazing pastries, but also really good sandwiches, salads, tartines, and more. Lunchtime or weekend brunch is a really popular time, but I’ve found their online ordering system is super efficient. I am a huge fan of their B.L.A.T!


In September, my sister, one of my best friends, Jackie, and I went to see our favorite comedian, Jared Freid, do standup at the DC Improv. He is an amazing performer—we laughed the whole night.

Before the show, we went to Mi Casa, a new Tex Mex restaurant that opened this summer in Dupont Circle, right on Connecticut. It’s done by the same team behind Mi Vida, Gatsby, and other popular DC establishments, and I think I definitely liked this one better than Mi Vida. The vibe was really cool, the service was awesome, and the food was delicious. We split some queso + guac to start, and then I did chicken fajitas. We also were big fans of the house margarita!


This cocktail bar has been on my list for years, so when my friend Emma came for a visit in September, I knew it was the perfect excuse to go! They do take reservations, but the bar is first-come, first-serve, which is what we did. We got there right at 6pm, and snagged the last three bar stools—my friend Jackie came with us, too! This place seems to be very popular before and after dinner, but I will say that the seats turned over pretty quickly as most people only stayed for one or two rounds of drinks.

I am normally a wine gal, but at really good cocktail bars like this, I usually try one of their creations! They change their menu regularly, so I don’t remember the name of the one I ordered, but it was a modern twist on a cosmo—it was great.


After drinks at L’annexe, Jackie, Emma, and I walked over to Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown. I had been here once years ago and was dying to go back—it’s now one of my favorite places in DC! So much so that my sister, Jennifer, and I ate there for dinner a few weeks ago when it was all decorated for Christmas and had the best time!

Martin’s is famous for “The Proposal Booth” where JFK proposed to Jackie, and they have great American classics. Their clam chowder is some of the best I’ve ever had, and I also love their burger, onion rings, and the chicken and andouille fettuccine. You can’t go wrong here—they’ve also got a really fun bar. I’d recommend getting a reservation, especially around the holidays, because this place fills up!


Serenata is located in La Cosecha, a Latin American Marketplace right near Union Market. It’s a really cool concept, and while we had a reservation, I think their bar would be pretty easy to walk into, especially on a weeknight. The drinks were really good (and strong!) and we shared a few tapas—my favorite were the croquettes!


My dinner club went to Jackie, which was on my list for forever. Truthfully, I wasn’t a huge fan and would probably skip doing a full sit-down meal here and just go for a drink or an appetizer if you want to check it out. The food was okay, but the vibe felt really off—we were there on a Friday night and it was basically empty! We did the burger—which was my favorite thing we ordered, burrata and watermelon salad, scallop crudo—which was also great, pimento cheese croquettes, duck pb & j, and roasted sweet potato.


Ruthie’s All Day is one of my favorite spots in town—I first ate there last year when Jennifer took me for my birthday, but in the fall, my cousin and I met up here on a Friday night and loved sitting on their patio. This particular time, I did a fried chicken Cobb and it was so good. I also love their burger and their meat + you pick two sides combo. I’ve never been for breakfast or brunch, but I would love to get there for that in 2022! (As the name would suggest, they’re open all day, so they also do breakfast during the week!)


Turns out, I live less than 1,000 feet from a champagne bar—and I am a huge fan! After dining at Ruthie’s All Day, my cousin and I came here for a nightcap. It’s connected to the Board Room in Clarendon and almost feels like an 80s lounge. We really enjoyed it though—we ordered the cheapest bottle of bubbly on the menu and it was still so delicious. If you love champagne like I do, this is definitely one you should check out!


I’ve never met a hotel bar I didn’t like, and Lyle’s, located inside the Lyle Hotel is no exception. My friend Jackie found this place—located right around the corner from my old Dupont apartment—and we went for a nightcap after dining at Lauriol Plaza one night. The atmosphere in here was great—it was cozy and quiet-ish, but still really fun. We would love to go back for dinner! I am really into Brut Rosé right now, and they had a fantastic one.

ilili | THE WHARF

This meal at ilili is probably one of the best ones I had all year—the entire dinner club loved it. Sometimes when you go to a restaurant that is as beautifully decorated as this one, the food is subpar, but that is not the case here.

ilili is Lebanese food, which has become one of my favorites over the years. We loved the fresh pita + toum—a garlic condiment that is so good, beef tartare, chankleesh (feta cheese dip), hamachi crudo, hummus, Brussels sprouts, the mixed grill, and the roasted cauliflower.

I usually hate going down to The Wharf, but I would go there any day of the week for another meal at ilili. There’s also a location in New York City!


Despite having lived in the area for years, I had never done a DC Dinner Cruise! City Cruises invited me to join them for one in late October, and it was so much fun! It kind of felt like a wedding without a bride and groom—there were two dance floors that really got going after dinner.

We enjoyed a delicious three-course meal—I started with the clam chowder, did the braised beef short ribs for dinner, and cheesecake for dessert. There was also bread and shrimp cocktail for the table. There were also all sorts of really fun cocktails you could order—including one that was the size of a fishbowl. (We didn’t indulge in that one, hah!)

While the views were incredible from the boat, I was a little bummed that we didn’t sail by any of the monuments at night—we went up the Potomac River the other way towards Alexandria and the National Harbor. That was my only complaint though, and it’s something I would totally do again!


I had been to Centrolina once before, but it had been years, so I was really excited that this was our November dinner club pick! Their menu changes daily, but when we were in, we started with an amazing crab cake and Asian pear, truffle honey, and walnut. We split three pastas, which were my favorite part of the meal—mushroom risotto, burrata ravioli, and white bolognese fettuccini—if they have white bolognese on the menu when you go, definitely get it! We finished off the meal with the beef ribeye, which came with roasted baby carrots, potato, and salsa verde.


For our December dinner club, we decided to get pre-dinner drinks since we were going on a Saturday. (We usually do dinner club on Friday nights!) Taylor found Silver Lyan, a new-ish bar located in the basement of the Riggs Hotel in an old bank vault. We are obsessed with this place! Definitely add it to your list—it would be the perfect pre- or post-dinner drink spot, and since it’s so close to Capital One Arena, could be a fun place to head after a Caps game. They take reservations, too! I did the cosmo and loved it, but they have a cocktail for everyone on the menu.


After a little happy hour at Silver Lyan, we went over to Crane’s for dinner. They have a Michelin Star, but truthfully, I think there are better restaurants in DC—it just felt a little overpriced for the portion size. We did the tuna tartare, duck rillette gyozas, jamon iberico, bao buns, mushroom rice, unagi paella, and my absolute favorite, the waygu beef. That last one was melt-in-your-mouth good. For dessert, we did the calamansi cheesecake and smoky apple crema catalana—I definitely preferred the cheesecake, it was great.


My friend Jackie and I went to the Maxwell Park in Navy Yard a few weeks ago—it’s turned into a Christmas pop-up bar through the New Year, and was so much fun! They have a ton of festive decorations, a great Christmas playlist, and a really fun festive cocktail menu. I would not recommend eating here while it’s the pop-up bar—grab a reservation for somewhere else nearby in Navy Yard. We didn’t have one, but were able to walk into the bar at Blue Jacket and grab a seat pretty easily—they have great bar food!


I first went to dinner at Filomena with my dinner club a few years ago and it has quickly become one of my favorite Christmas traditions as the place is decked out for the holidays! (They decorate for every holiday, though, so even if you can’t get in for Christmas, it will be such a fun—and delicious—experience.)

Last year, I took my family for the first time, and they loved it, so we wanted to go back this year. They open reservations three months in advance, so I snagged my family a table for the week before Christmas. Coincidentally, I also ate there with a few girl friends earlier in the week, so this December, I was lucky enough to dine at Filomena twice. Definitely come hungry—the portion sizes are huge and they gave you bread for the table. I love the caprese salad, the caesar salad, the ravioli alla matrimonia, the lasagna, the rigatoni con pollo alla vodka, and the chicken parm. You cannot go wrong here, and you will have leftovers! They also give you an after-dinner aperitif—either sambuca or amaretto; I always choose the latter.

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