by Lauren Sloat - 260 Reviews - 86 List
Winter in D.C. can seriously affect one's social life, as it's hard to feel hot or want to hit the scene when wrapped in layers of wool. There is one advantage to the cold, however: the excuse to get romantic and snuggly at one of the city's great restaurants and bars with fireplaces. The heat will rise in more ways than one when you take a meal or a cocktail fireside, and those crackling flames add an extra spark to that infamous wintry mix. Read on for our favorite places to get lit.
Updated: March 15, 2010
At the Iron Gate restaurant, it's easy to forget that you're in downtown D.C. The former horse stable is a serene trip back through time; walk through the log-lined entrance into the quiet, vine-covered garden--fountains drown out city sounds--to the indoor room. There, horse stalls have been converted into booths around the original, all-brick, wood-burning fireplace. Dating back to the 1920s, it's the dining room centerpiece and warms up the entire space. Order some vino from the impressive wine selection and you'll be toasty in no time.
The wood-burning oven is the main attraction in the Blue Duck Tavern's open kitchen, where you can watch seasonal dishes being prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The crackling, visible flames warm up the Tony Chi-designed space, which features handcrafted, dark oak furnishings--including large, heavy tables, a 29-foot Windsor bench and even rocking chairs. Proof that this fire is a source of heat in more ways than one? The Obama's celebrated their first wedding anniversary in D.C. here in October.
When the temperature drops, beat frostbite in this casual Woodley Park pub. Thaw out at one of four tables surrounding the wood-burning, brick fireplace and warm up from the inside out with a shot of whiskey--there are more than 10 Irish varieties--and filling comfort food, such as homemade crab cake, Irish stew or shepherd's pie. Go on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and enjoy live music and a fireside sing-along--it doesn't get much more warm and fuzzy than that.
Two fireplaces in this Penn Quarter hot spot--one behind the bar and another lining the southern wall of the dining room--add a soft, warm touch to otherwise stark white decor and contemporary, clean-lined design. More about ambiance than warmth, the long, skinny fireplaces add a bit of romance to the comfortable, dimly lit lounge and bar, and shadows dance off white walls from the larger-scale hearth in the dining room to create a lively but intimate feeling setting.
Cuddle up next to a date near the fire in this old, turn-of-century mansion where three original fireplaces--two on the main floor, one above--are still used nightly during the colder months. Grand, Victorian settees--the kind you'd picture furnishing the original mansion--in warm, velvet colors provide a cushy spot to settle in with a cocktail and soak in the warmth. Also relaxing? The signature Middle Eastern and Indian rhythms that define the music label named after the lounge.