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Along with chicken cordon bleu and red maître d’ jackets, the formal dress code appears to be on its way to the restaurant-ephemera graveyard. Though the D.C. nightclub scene has held fast to its velvet ropes and strict sartorial standards, dining establishments have slowly relaxed their rules—maybe due to Casual Friday creep or perhaps because in a recession, telling a man he has to wear a jacket to eat a pork chop feels horribly 1-percentish. But a few eateries (and one extraordinarily strict bowling alley that doubles as a restaurant) are holding out, including a smattering of newer spots that want the men to look like “gentleman” and the women to look like “ladies.” Here’s where you and your grubby-ass flip-flops will not be welcome.

Rialto’s downstairs dining room, Sala Grifone

2915 M St. NW

Contraband: Flip-flops, jeans with holes, T-shirts without collars, and caps. Also: children under 10.


728 King St., Alexandria

Contraband: Flip-flops, shorts, tanks, T-shirts, caps, hats, and worn-out jeans

Required: Jackets for gentlemen

Ben’s Next Door

1211 U St. NW

Contraband: Sleeveless tops on gentlemen

The Prime Rib

2020 K St. NW

Contraband: Shorts

Required: Jackets for gentlemen


2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Required: Jackets for gentlemen

The Huxley

1730 M St. NW

Contraband: Sneakers, hats, sunglasses, baggy or ripped jeans, and shorts.

Required: Collared shirts and leather dress shoes for gentlemen. For ladies, “chic cocktail wear” is demanded.

Lucky Strike

701 7th St. NW

Contraband: Athletic wear of any kind, including shorts, jerseys, sweats, and hoodies (game days are exceptions); headgear (exceptions for stylish hats); sleeveless or plain white T-shirts; chains; ripped or soiled clothing; excessively baggy clothing (no tuck-ins); work boots (seasonable exceptions); and “motorcycle/gang colors.”

Man putting on necktie photo via Shutterstock