There's no official sandbox for RPGSE, so I'm hoping it's cool to get my question refined here.
I run a homebrewed D&D 5e campaign for two players. We're fairly heavily into the roleplay side of the game and really enjoy all the storytelling aspects. This is my first time DMing so we've tried a couple different things along the way to see what we do/don't like. We tried a dungeon crawl and were not a fan at all (too grindy, limited chance for story, combat got too repetitive) and I've been haunted by the dungeon combat feel ever since.
I want to ask a question that basically boils down to how can I make combat more interesting for my players, but with the understanding that I'm looking for ways to make it interesting from a roleplay perspective.
Is this a good question? Is there some way I can refine it? As it stands I'm worried it'll get closed as too broad, subjective, or potentially a dupe if I don't explain myself well enough. There's plenty of questions about making combat more mechanically interesting, but I didn't find one about storytelling.
My ideal output is suggestions on both how to design a better encounter to give my players more options, and also possibly things I can be thinking about to keep my monster movements/choices more interesting.
Edited to add: Stepped away and came back, and I'm now wondering if the above is too broad, if I can instead try something like "How to show (not tell) my players that roleplay is always an option, even in combat". Ie, how to introduce roleplay elements naturally from my side to teach them that they too can choose to roleplay instead of just whacking it with a stick until it goes away.