Friday Question of the Day/Dear PoP

A reader writes: “I’m actually looking for a restaurant recommendation. Here’s the situation… I want to take this young lady out on a very nice date. She’s the type of girl that’s interested in everything, loves to try new things, etc. So I was wondering if you could recommend any cool places, maybe off the beaten path, an intimate setting is of course very nice… even a place that has some live music and we could make a night out of could be pretty sweet.”

My response after the jump. But for the Friday Question of the Day – What are your favorite date spots in the area?

If you want to stay in the U Street area, you should get dinner at one of three places followed up by some live music at HR57 (jazz). Good places to eat beforehand are Rice, Al Crostino, or the new wine bar Cork. You’ll probably have to drop like $80 total for the both of you on dinner but HR57 is pretty cheap and you can even bring your own wine there. Rice is located right next to HR57 on 14th Street a couple blocks north of P. Al Crostino (a bit more expensive) is on U St. between 13th and 14th. If she’s been to HR 57 before or any of these restaurants a strong runner up would be to take her to Utopia which has live music at 1418 U Street. It has an awesome atmosphere and the music is usually pretty good. I think they only have music on Friday and Sat. though. If you want another place that is kind cool, go to Bohemian Caverns at 11th and U. It has a lot of history and the music is also rather strong in my experience (jazz and sometimes blues).

31 Comment

  • one word: Rumberos !

  • Well my partner and I have spent the last couple Valentine’s Days at Bob’s 88 Shabu Shabu in Rockville. It’s not very romantic, but a really nice way to spend an evening out. Great food, wonderful staff and good prices.

    If you are looking for something more Western and traditionally “date-like”, I recommend Ardeo or Firefly.

  • Domku and Colorado Kitchen are both cozy, funky spots off the beaten path. On U Street I agree that Al Crotino is a more traditional but very good date option, Marvin is also a great date place b/c good food downstairs and then you can repair to the lounge (but on weekends, it is now insanely packed). I second Rumberos, food not wonderful but vibe and music, when they have it, are great. Tabaq top floor with the great view always impresses but just for for a drink as the food is over salted and ranges from poor to mediocre in my view. And the Ethiopian places on U are always fun (Etete has probably the better food) and you can follow up with a night at the 9:30 club.

  • This might be more expensive than you want to do, but my wife and I really like Cashions Eat Place in Adams Morgan. It’s cozy, we’ve had great experience with the wait staff and the food has always been great. Although, it is a little pricier than the other suggestions.

  • Creme. The short ribs will make you drool, and be sure to try a Dark and Stormy. Amazing food, great atmosphere, and you can go catch a show at the Black Cat or 9:30 afterwards.

  • It is something of a schelp, but Bucks Fishing and Camping is great AND organic. Its my wifes favorite romantic dinner spot.

  • One note on Bucks – it is west of the Park, so you can be dinning with that stodgy crowd.

  • Mark’s Kitchen in Takoma Park has really good food and a low-key atmosphere. It’s a good place for a non-dressy, laid back, tasty meal.

  • Chi-cha is a great first date spot, small portions and music

  • Maybe I’m a literalist, but I thought in the area meant Petworth, maybe even Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan. But since others have opened up with other suggestions out of the area, here goes. There’s the tried and true Cactus Cantina, Guapo’s both in Bethesda and Tenley, and the closer Vietnamese place, Nam Viet. Nam Viet is in Cleveland Park and quite untrendy, just good food. For those who don’t know Vietnamese food, ask for suggestions. Of course Adams Morgan’s super-crowded for a reasonable Lauriol Plaza is excellent. Tono Sushi on Calvert and Connecticut is good, Spices is flashy but satisfying for various Asian cuisines.

  • Tabard Inn!

  • Colorado Kitchen or Meridian Restaurant

  • im so sorry toby i dont mean to call you out….but please dont take a girl to cactus cantina or guapos on a first date, it’s a little cheesy. i do think lauriol is good, i’ll give you that one and not cheesy.

    tabaq’s top floor is great….wonderful view. she’ll def remember the date, the place is really cool. havent had the food though, but i think the view takes care of that.

    utopia is a lot of fun and cool. marvin’s is very cool and trendy.

  • I dont recommend Mark’s if you wish to converse…. It is almost always crowded-and is about as intimate as a corwded Metro train….
    I’d go for Nam Viet….

  • the new meridian restaurant on georgia and missouri is great–the atmosphere is very cool and the food is good.

    I’m not sure about Toby’s suggestions–all those places tend to be over crowded and overrated, and zero in the romantic category (though nam viet does have great food), but I second tabard inn!

    jackie’s in silver spring is fun and pretty close to petworth.

  • jackie’s is a hidden gem in the silver spring/dc border….

  • Maybe over the top for a first date, but for, say, a third date: Palena Cafe. My fave restaurant in dc. No reservations required or accepted, incredible space & food. Just expect to wait a while if you come at a peak time.

    Unfortunately, if you want to do a reservation you have to sit in the dining room which is too formal for me, I much prefer the cafe. But the food is consistently amazing

  • i’d say rumberos or jackie’s… my girl and i went to rumberos for valentines day and it was fantastic. great food and music. and overall a nice setting for dinner. and we’ve been to jackies a few times and i reallt dig that place as well. not as romantic but a great place.

  • Definitely don’t go to Mark’s unless you’re looking to have one date and one date only. Bad service + crying children + zero privacy = staying single

  • My favorite date restaurant is Floriana’s Mercury Grille on 17th Street at Q. It is set in very romantic townhouse. By far THE BEST italian food I have had in DC (from a girl who grew up eating on Arthur Ave in the Bronx). Menu is great- wines are great- service is great. Never had a bad meal here!

  • Al Crostino is run by the same folks as Il Tiramisu in Dupont Circle. That means it has the same obnoxious problem that made me swear off both restaurants. The menu lists a variety of dishes and wines in a given pricerange (expensive at Il Tiramisu; slightly less at Al Crostino). The waiter will come to your table and list a variety of food and wine specials without telling you the price. Rest assured, the price for the specials tends to run about twice the average price for the menu items. Their plan: You either have to ask the price of the specials (which looks bad on a date, and which causes the waiter to reply in an annoyed and frankly condescending tone), or you’re unpleasantly surprised when you get the bill.

    The waiters at each place are so consistent about this that it has to be official restaurant policy. I find it somewhere on the border between rude and dishonest. So neither place will ever get my business again.

  • I agree with Tabaq- but make sure you are seated up stairs. I also really like Perrys on 18th and Columbia. Not too intimate, but cozy and comfortable, nice without seeming uber trendy. You could definitely have a conversation there without having to yell.

  • PS- I’ve got to disagree with Lauriol Plaza too. Loud, food’s not that great, and certainly not intimate. Although, if you want to get her tipsy, they have lots of fruity drinks that are very girl-friendly.

  • dcuser – I think folks sometimes confuse what “special” is. I don’t think they are dishes with special prices – what I think of – in the case of al Tirimisu or Al Crostino, I think they refer to dishes that the chief has prepare specially for that given day – so as to diviate from the menu. I think most high end (read expensive) places in the city are like that. Not saying it is right or wrong.

    That said – Hanks Oyster Bar is alway fun.

  • I’ll second Buck’s Fishing & Camping!

    Black Salt is also very, very good! It is in the Pallisades….

  • PoP – can you ask the reader to please let us know where he took the date?!!!!! we deserve to know!!!

  • If you want romantic and yummi, try Little Fountain Cafe in Adams Morgan. The only downside is you have to deal with being on 18th Street, but it is a great “date” spot!
    Rumberos is another good choice. Whether you love the food or not, it is a beautiful space, quiet enough to have a good conversation, but lively enough to have some fun.

  • Montmartre in Eastern Market. period. If you happen to be in Baltimore, Brewer’s Art is fantastic.

  • I think Panda Cafe in Foggy Bottom is a cute place. Granted, it’s near GWU, but I’ve never seen too many drunken college kids there. It’s got a nice ambiance, quick service, and inexpensive food.

    It’s not one of those fancy places where the guy needs a suit and tie or the woman needs a fancy dress and heels, but it is nice.

  • I can’t believe noone else said Tabard Inn. It’s great–come on people.

  • I love how “anonymous” calls out the other suggestions, yet his make him sound like a 19 yo kid. Utopia, Marvin’s and Lauriol.

    I know the owners of Cashion’s. I am sure they hope for more sophisticated clientele.

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