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Iron Gate has top-notch Mediterranean-inspired food, flexible ordering options to suit any budget, and a gorgeous historic setting that will enhance any celebration. (Image: Courtesy Iron Gate)

Your comprehensive guide on where to dine for any occasion

When people learn what I do for a living, the number one question I get asked is "Ok, so where should I go for brunch/on a first date/with my kids?" In other words, plan all my meals for me! And I never mind doling out recommendations, but sometimes I'm not an expert in the scenario they are asking for -- boozy brunch, sporting events and first dates, I got you covered girlfriend, but kid-friendly dining options are not my jam. So, I decided to turn to the ever trusty team of DC Refined freelancer writers, editors and our photographer to pick their brains on what restaurant recommendations they have up their sleeves. The result is this (hopefully) comprehensive guide to any dining scenario you could encounter. But if we missed anything you want to see covered, reach out to us at and we'll happily help you plan a delicious foray into the D.C. food world anytime. Happy eating babes!

Girls night out

Barcelona Wine Bar: Looking for a fun night out with the girls? Check out Barcelona Wine Bar for reasonably priced tapas and a delicious extensive selection of Spanish wine. At the end of the night, there's nothing better than wine, charcuterie and cheese boards, and your best gal pals. -- Christina Irizarry, DC Refined Assistant Editor

When you need to break up with someone

The Pug: This dive bar on H St. is dark, small and has plenty of intimate booths to dissuade public outbursts. It's also very popular among locals, so no one particularly cares what other patrons are doing. If you're not too wounded by the split, it's also a great spot to celebrate your newfound single-dom by scoping out all the hot hipsters while you down a Natty Boh. -- Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, DC Refined Photographer

When you need a post-breakup pick-me-up

Bar Pilar: This bar is Hemingway-themed and the famed novelist once said "Wine is a grand thing... it makes you forget the bad." Incidentally, this 14th St. gastropub offers half-price wine on Mondays. On any other day of the week though, the menu has delicious and boozy cocktails and enough food on the menu to stave off drunk dialing. -- Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Big client dinner

Blue Duck Tavern: As the nation's capital, D.C. has always had a handful of go-to power dining spots such as Old Ebbitt and Occidental Grill. In recent year's Blue Duck Tavern has rightfully joined those ranks. Its massive front doors immediately send the message that you are entering a special place -- which is certainly the case. With a Michelin Star under its belt there is little questioning of the quality of the meal. And the glass enclosed private dining spaces are perfect for conducting business while still being able to enjoy the outstanding decor and entertaining open kitchen. Pro tip: We are pretty sure the wood oven-roasted bone marrow will close any deal, but in case the pot needs a little more sweetening, order some duck fat fries for the table while you wait for your moulard duck breast to arrive, and finish 'em off with a heaping slice of housemade pie. -- Troy Petenbrink, DC Refined Freelancer Writer

Where to dine with young kids when mom and dad still want a nice meal

Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana: Helmed by RAMMY winner Tony Conte, formerly of the Oval Room, this Darnestown, Maryland restaurant is supremely family friendly, featuring artfully executed pizzas and creative small plates that appeal to both sophisticated diners and still-developing palates. -- Nevin Martell, DC Refined Freelancer Writer

Where to take mom and dad when they visit

Old Ebbitt Grill: Maybe you don’t want to drop a hefty chunk of change on dinner… but mom and dad won’t mind! With so many options to choose from, mom and dad won’t have a problem picking something for dinner. Expect classic dishes that please everyone, like oyster sliders, heirloom tomato salad, fried green tomatoes and a lobster Shepherd's pie that should be a must-try for all D.C. visitors. -- Christina Irizarry

Meeting BF/GF's parents for the first time

Hazel: While I have no doubt that your beloved's parental units will fall head over heels in love with you the moment they meet you, it's always a good idea to have a few go-to conversation starters in case this first meeting has any awkward silences. And what better way to bond than over a menu as intriguing as Hazel's? Can't you just imagine chatting about Gnocchi served with pork-kimchi ragu as you slather foie gras on Grandma's zucchini bread with the woman who created the love of your life? Perhaps you'll even exchange a family recipe or two before the night is over! -- Laura Wainman, DC Refined Managing Editor

If you want to watch/celebrate a sports win

Meridian Pint: In order to enjoy a sports game in a bar, you need two things: good beer options and fans who are rooting for the same team! Now if you are rooting for any team that isn't D.C.-based, I can't guarantee you'll have the latter every time at Meridian, but you can definitely expect the former. With more than 20 craft beers on tap, a plethora of TVs and a wealth of space, Meridian Pint has established itself as one of the best places to catch a game. And for those in your group who are not diehards, grab a booth and play bartender as booths come with their own set of taps. I wouldn't go so far as to call the food phenomenal but as far as bar food goes, it's pretty upper class-- I mean they have ceviche on the menu! -- Laura Wainman

Where to take your picky mother-in-law who never seems impressed with anything

Blue Duck Tavern: Ok, we know this is a repeat, but it's a classic for a reason! It's my top recommendation when someone I don't know very well asks me where to go, mainly because it works for just about every type of diner, from picky to adventurous. And the food is fantastic. -- Rina Rapuano, DC Refined Freelancer Writer

First date

Estadio: Why? Small shareable plates, which means you need not be stuck in a dinner commitment. Or you can always order more if you are having a good time. It's fantastic location on 14th St makes for excellent people watching to keep the conversation going, plus you're left with plenty of options in the area if the date goes well and you want to hit up another bar. But it's also close to metro and bus lines if you need to make a quick escape. -- Aparna Krishnamoorthy, DC Refined Freelancer Writer

Celebrating a milestone (birthday, anniversary, engagement, promotion)

Iron Gate: Iron Gate has top-notch Mediterranean-inspired food, flexible ordering options to suit any budget, and a gorgeous historic setting that will enhance any celebration. This would definitely be our go-to recommendation for Valentine's Day reservations as you can't help but feel romantic here! -- Lani Furbank, DC Refined Freelancer Writer

Dining out on a holiday where most cook at home (Thanksgiving, Christmas etc.)

Centrolina: While most of my holiday meals are consumed with family gathered around the dining room table, I know many Washingtonians either can't make it home for the holidays or would prefer to leave the cooking to someone else, rather than deal with preparing a big meal. In that case, you can't go wrong with grabbing a meal to-go at Centrolina! Whether it's their Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah menus, Chef Amy Brandwein always dishes up holiday classics with Italian twists -- think a honey baked ham with rosemary and three meat tortellini for Christmas, or a pappardelle kugel for Hanukkah. I'm also a huge fan of Chef's in-restaurant offerings for Christmas Eve dinner such as last year's "Feast of the Seven Fishes" featuring grilled octopus and bucatini with littleneck clams, cauliflower and roasted cayenne. -- Laura Wainman

Out-of-town guests visiting who are skeptical about D.C.'s dining scene

Tail Up Goat: Why on earth people are still questioning the quality of our food scene I am not sure, but we all know they are still out there. Quiet their arguments once and for all with a visit to one of D.C.'s 12 Michelin-rated restaurants. Tail Up Goat, the brain child of Komi and Little Serow alums, serves up inventive, chef-driven dishes ranging from rutabaga ravioli with smoked apple butter, celery, caraway crumble to lamb ribs with sumac onions, black lime yogurt, beets, hazelnut dukkah and mustard seeds. And if your skeptic friends don't want to take your/my word for it, maybe they will listen to Bon Appetit who named the goat lasagna one of the best pastas of 2016. -- Laura Wainman