Finding a restaurant to have your wedding rehearsal dinner in Washington, DC can a tough decision. So many factors weigh in: how many people are you hosting, what type of food, casual or formal, easily accessible and close to where wedding guests are staying. In my other career as a food photographer, primarily for the Washington Post, I get around town quite a bit to photograph the food and atmosphere at many of the new and interesting restaurants opening around the city. And some I’ve been to recently are fun and funky locations to have your wedding rehearsal dinner!
The newest restaurant from Fabio and Maria Trabocchi is a fine dining pasta restaurant in the Van Ness neighborhood. It’s homey atmosphere and extraordinary beautiful dishes make it a perfect spot for hosting a party. The newly enclosed outdoor patio could easily accommodate a rehearsal crowd. In the main restaurant there are elegant touches of red and padded booths keep the decibel levels way down. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing there twice for the Washington Post and have been back for dinner so it’s a new DC restaurant I highly recommend!
This is another restaurant near and dear to my heart for a couple reasons. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Petworth recently for the Washington Post reviews I’ve done and Ruta del Vino was my first time in the neighborhood. Justin and Jessica, the owners of the restaurant are new to the DC dining scene and their comfortable neighborhood venue feels like a great place to hang out. The centerpiece of the restaurant is the large bar and there is a more secluded back room that would give a party group some privacy. The food is fabulous, there’s a great wine selection and I am completely addicted to the churros dipped in chocolate!! Their website is a work in progress that (I hope) will be live soon with lots of my photos.
The other fabulous Petworth restaurant that could be a perfect foodie rehearsal dinner spot is Himitsu. The Washington Post review is out this weekend and the food is adventurous and delicious. The chef Kevin Tien and the co-owner and beverage director Carlie Steiner are totally focused on providing an amazing dining experience for each patron at their tiny restaurant. You’d have to take over the entire restaurant for a rehearsal dinner but boy, would it be memorable if you did!! And get the duck platter with buttermilk biscuits. You can thank me later.
For the more adventurous and edgy couple, the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse could be a perfect wedding rehearsal restaurant. They’re located a part of DC that is rapidly changing with the renovation of the old Hecht’s Warehouse building and the influx of new restaurants. A couple things stand out at the Tavern. First is a large open performance space attached to the restaurant that would even be perfect for a wedding. Second is the fish. As a Maryland girl I am a total crab cake snob and these are some of the best I’ve had. The smoked fish platter is another must get–if not for dinner than definitely for brunch!
Keeping with the seafood theme, Johnny’s Half Shell in Adam’s Morgan has some of the best in town. The 80-seat restaurant in the heart of the city, has just the right mix of casual and homey touches–an aquarium on display and an abundance of blue in the color scheme. And the original Johnny’s Half Shell sign from the first restaurant hangs high overheard. And most importantly, chef Ann Cashion’s cooking would definitely delight your guests!
One last place on my list is a restaurant I was at just last week for the Post’s $20 Diner column. The new restaurant is run by the owners of El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria, has colorful murals painted on the exposed brick and a rustic charm. Located on 14th St. in Columbia Heights it’s big enough for a good size crowd even if you didn’t take over the whole restaurant. The food from the carne asada (my favorite) to the tacos is exceptional. And with more than 65 Mezcals, it might just be the perfect spot in DC for a party.
There are so many options for wedding rehearsal spots in the DC area. These are just a few of my favorites and I expect as I continue to photograph food around town that I’ll have more to add to this list. Maybe even some in the suburbs!!