10 New Holiday Party Venues in Washington

Buddha Bar

Photo: Spielman Studio

It's that time again—time for the company holiday party. Here are new restaurants, bars, and other event spaces that can work for corporate holiday events, employee gatherings, and other end-of-year festivities.
1. Chef Guillermo Pernot opened the fourth branch of his popular Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in October. The 9,000-square-foot space features a Hollywood-style re-creation of an old Havana street scene and can seat as many as 170 people in the main, L-shaped dining room. Groups can also reserve the 28-seat private dining room or the 50-seat bar and lounge, where guests can order one of 13 signature mojitos.
2. At 20,000 square feet, Carmine’s in Penn Quarter is the largest restaurant in Washington and can host groups of eight to 400 people in its nine private dining rooms. Opened in July, the Washington outpost of this famous eatery offers enormous portions of Italian specialties, all served family-style, which is ideal for groups. 

3. Spanish tapas restaurant Estadio has been one of the most talked about eateries in Washington since opening in July. Executive chef Haidar Karoum created a contemporary Spanish menu that offers both classic and all-new dishes, as well as house-made breads and a cheese and charcuterie selection. The intricately designed 2,800-square-foot space seats as many as 113 people and is available for partial or full buyout.

4. Chef Todd Gray and his wife and co-owner, Ellen Kassoff Gray reopened their restaurant Equinox in May after a fire destroyed the kitchen. The renovated space now has three private dining options for groups, including a 12-seat wine room, the 55-seat atrium, or a full buyout for as many as 110 people.  

5. The Washington dining scene welcomed back one of its namesake chefs when Roberto Donna opened the bilevel Galileo III in October. The 80-seat restaurant serves many of the classic Italian dishes that made Donna a local star. The 6,100-square-foot restaurant also features two private dining rooms that can host 50 additional guests.  

6. Another New York dining institution made its way to Washington when P.J. Clarke’s opened in the former Olive’s space in October. The 125-seat restaurant offers an impressive raw bar with some of the East Coast’s best catches, along with its famous burgers and steaks. Anchoring the space is a wrought-iron solarium originally owned by Walt Disney, which also leads guests downstairs to Sidecar, the restaurant’s 86-seat private dining room.  

7. After finding success downtown, local hospitality firm Whisk Group expanded its Againn gastropub concept to Rockville with Againn Tavern. Executive chef Wesley Morton oversees both locations, and the tavern menu features many of the same signature items, like fish and chips with mushy peas and bangers and mash. For groups, the 8,100-square-foot restaurant features two semiprivate rooms off of the main dining area that can be reserved for cocktail and dinner parties for as many as 50 people.  

8. Opened in May near the convention center, international restaurant and lounge chain Buddha Bar has been drawing large crowds nearly every evening. The 9,500-square-foot venue has 22-foot ceilings and an 18-foot-tall signature Buddha sculpture in the center of the 170-seat dining room. The Washington location also has a 50-seat lounge where guests can order from the extensive sake menu. Full or partial buyout is available.  

9. The Neighborhood Restaurant group opened the second branch of its popular Rustico restaurant and bar in November in Arlington. Known for its farm-driven menu and extensive beer selection, the new 260-seat location boasts more than 443 options for beer aficionados. A 25-seat, semiprivate dining room is also available for groups.  

10. Michel Richard’s newest restaurant, Michel, in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, offers three spaces for holiday events. The restaurant can seat 110 people for a full buyout, while smaller groups can reserve the 18-seat private dining area or the 12-seat illuminated onyx chef’s table. The last offers views into the kitchen, where Richard’s signature French cuisine is prepared.

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