Friday Question of the Day – Best First Date Spots and Best Date Spots in General?

first_dates_dc
Photo by PoPville flickr user jiconoclast

Wednesday’s post about jeweler recs reminded me that we need to update our favorite first date locations and good date spots in general. So while I’m mostly curious about restaurants and bars, I’d also be interested to hear of good non eating/drinking date spots/ideas.

So I guess we can break the question into three categories – favorite bars for (first) dates? Favorite restaurants for (first) dates? Favorite non eating/drinking spot for (first) dates?

72 Comment

  • Town Tavern

  • At a minimum, you must meet at the fountain in Dupont Circle.

  • Steps of the Jefferson memorial at sunset. I brought takeout from Szechuan Garden which is no longer in China Town. 1984. I was 17 an had no clue.

    • Heh, I remember being a teenager in DC in the 90s and really enjoying cuddling on the buttress walls by the Lincoln Memorial steps at night while watching the tour guides waving their umbrellas in the air, since it weirdly felt “away from it all” by our standards.

  • Dumbarton Oaks gardens

  • Hillwood Estates. A little culture, history, art, flowers, and a nice cafe. How can you go wrong?

    • Hillwood’s great for all reasons, and fine first date site. I remember trying to sleuth the hi tech sound system at the fish pond & discovering that it was real deal in action: live peepers singing their hearts out in April! LOL

  • Outdoor movie – show up early, have a little booze and chat, enjoy the movie, and snuggle up as the sun goes down!

    • +1 — I think this would also be a great first date! And much more memorable than just getting drinks.

      • +2
        I had a great second date last summer at an outdoor movie – well, sort of. We tried to see a movie in navy yard but it was canceled due to threat of rain. It ended up being a beautiful evening though, and the organizers didn’t do a good job of letting people know it had been canceled, so there were a few groups picnicking around us. Since the movie didn’t play, we spent 5 hours talking and drinking beer. Metroed back together (we live sort of close to one another) and had our first kiss. :)

  • The Arboretum!

  • House of Secrets

  • Spanish steps is a great makeout spot. My first real date with my ex was Bier Baron (Brickskeller at the time). Sigh…

  • First date with my husband was a concert at Carter Barron amphitheater. My last first date was definitely the best :)

  • Restaurant: Moderately priced tapas (provides a nice transition to more expensive options and price-wise is on par with chain-type food like GB, Clydes, etc).
    Bar: POV or a dive bar with trivia
    Non drinking/eating: Really depends on the time of year….national christmas tree, arboretum, west end cinema or paddle boats

  • Bistro Cacao near Union Station is wonderful. We’ve gone for lots of birthday and anniversary dinners. Request a table with curtains in the red room. It’s a very romantic atmosphere.

    • jim_ed

      I adore Bistro Cacao, but I think maybe its a bit too romantic for a first date. I’d save that one for down the road a bit, keep it more casual for the first date, low pressure kinda place. Probably a great place to propose though, if restaurant proposals are your thing.

  • njb510

    Favorite bar for (first) date – The bar at Kramerbooks. It’s not too crazy, and the setting gives you plenty to talk about.

    Favorite restaurant for (first) date – Somewhere fun and casual like GBD or &pizza.

    Favorite non eating/drinking spot for (first) dates – Walking around Meridian Hill Park or hanging out at the National Portrait Gallery/Kogod Courtyard.

    Favorite overall date – Dinner at 2 Amys followed by a stroll over to the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral.

  • It’s not about the place you go; it’s about the person you’re with! An amazing date transcends where it takes place.

    That being said, though, a coffee (to me) is still the ideal first date setting. It gives you a lot of options depending on how the date ends up going (or not going). I feel like most people with this idea end up at Teaism since it’s hard to find a non-Starbucks coffee place open past 7 or 8pm at night. I’ve seen so many first dates at Teaism that I’ve lost count.

    • Scientifically it’s been shown that we tend to associate feelings with a person based on experiences we’ve had with them and not the person themselves. So your best bet is to do something that’s fun, crazy, beautiful, unique… whatever you want the date to think you are!

  • Not everyone wants to be wined and dined on a first date. Just sayin’.

    The first date that my (now) husband and I went on seven years ago involved trudging around the mall in July heat to visit a few museums. It ended at Fight Club where I think I drank about a gallon of Sparks. Moral of this story – make sure you have malt liquor on hand and you’ll probably get married in a few years.

    Now that we’re a tad older and drink fewer 40s in sketchy alleyways, we like to have weekly date nights. For bars, we like Satellite Room and Breadsoda. They both offer outdoor spaces, while Breadsoda offers up games and an amazing beer selection. For dinner, we’ve really been enjoying the reincarnation of Dino down on 9th Street. They have a great happy hour and we tend to get a shit ton of small plates to try many different things.

    There’s always Fast Gourmet. Test your potential partner’s willingness to get food from a gas station.

  • Anywhere they serve alcoholic beverages. I have had successful first dates at Comet Ping Pong (even though we didnt play ping pong), and American Tap Room. After a few times going out and it seems like you are on the same page – the best date is cooking at one of your homes. I think it does a lot towards breaking the ice and moving things along! And its a fun interactive activity with great rewards (good food) and is generally cheaper than constantly going out to impress your date.

    • That’s where I made my move cooking at home. I had a three date system. First Date: Drinks Second Date: Penn Social (interactive, fun games, lite fare), Third Date: Fancy dinner at my place where I try to see how many bases I can run.

  • National Sculpture Garden – Jazz in the Garden picnic during the summer or ice skating during the winter. Swing dancing at Glen Echo is also super fun.

    • +1 . . . my first date with my wife was to jazz in the sculpture garden . . . and it worked . . . got her! We then had a guerrilla wedding exchange of vows at the sculpture garden two years later, after officially being married at the courthouse a few blocks away. Good times!

  • What about the best place to meet single people?

    • HA! I don’t think it is difficult to find single people, they are EVERYWHERE. My problem is finding quality single people. And straight ones. And ones that actually want to converse with people outside of their friend group. Branch out people!

  • Best first date spot: National Portrait Gallery. You can see as much or as little of the museum as you’d like, it’s free, it’s filled with conversation-starters, and the courtyard is very romantic. Plus, if the date is going well, there are a wide variety of bars and restaurants in the neighborhood where the date can be extended. (Conversely, if it’s not going well, you’re sitting at the juncture of 3 Metro lines and a variety of bus routes, all of which can help you make your escape!)

    • To each their own, but I think that there are many better galleries for first dates than the Portrait Gallery: Hirshhorn, National Gallery of Art (with the pretty underground moving walkway), Phillips, etc.

  • My best first date (and last ever :) ) was an impromptu evening picnic at the botanical gardens, sitting in the outdoor garden rocking chairs while eating thai takeout., pretty fabulous :)

  • My first official date with my boyfriend eight (oh wow..I can’t believe it’s been that long) was Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. It was freezing and raining but it was perfect. So I suggest any cool old historical cemetery..Congressional.. the one by Dumbarton Oaks maybe?

  • I agree with National Portrait Gallery as starting place. My last first date 6 years ago we met there, wandered all over the Mall – down to Lincoln, over to FDR and TJ memorials, through Smithsonian Natural History… had dinner at Oya which was picked based on neither of us knowing restaurants at the time. Went on to Irish Channel (first kiss), then met up with friends. The best thing about it was the company and the unexpected way we fell together so easily, but I would recommend a Mall-centric date to anyone. Except maybe in the summer (this was March).

    • +1

      Our first date was at the national portrait gallery in 2011. Fast forward to 2014, we are married with a 1 year old and another on the way! Thanks National Portrait Gallery!!

  • Drinks at Last Exit was my go to move but I have a GF now who I love and adore.

  • Ft. Reno reservoir. Top of the hill at Fessenden and Belt roads NW. Great view to the west at the highest point in DC. Few people, safe neighborhood, metro accessible, restaurants and bars nearby.

    • If someone wanted to take me on a first date to Ft. Reno, I’d be a bit creeped out. Seclusion is not a plus in a first/blind date.

  • Bistro Du Coin

  • the saloon on u!

    • I was just about to say this, for drinks anyway. No TVs and no standing, so you pretty much have to sit down and have a conversation. Though it’s not a great choice if you’re looking want fancy cocktails or a meal.

  • drag bingo at mellow mushroom.

  • Hank’s Oyster Bar

  • Bar–el Chucho
    Restaurant–chez billy
    Non bar–cafe colombe

  • red hen and thai xing for dates in general

    • I agree with Red Hen but Thai Xing puts you on a time limit and you sit on top of other people (not to mention the food also comes out at a rapid pace leaving minimal time for conversation).

  • I’ve gone on a ton of first dates but I’ve hopefully had my last!

    I always liked drinks for a first date. Why complicate things? Get to know someone first and then be creative for dates #2 and #3. Best first date bars I can think of were Blue Duck, Firefly, the Hamilton (close to work!), Bar Pilar, Black Jack–on weeknights so no place was crowded/rowdy. It’s nice to be able to sit next to someone at a bar instead of across from them at a table. It encourages flirtation. If you want to do food, I’d say keep it classy but casual with Matchbox or Pizzeria Paradiso or the aforementioned Bar Pilar (or similar small plates). Nothing fancier.

    For non food/drink options, I liked going to museums/galleries. I had nice first dates at the Hirshhorn and the Phillips Collection.

    Don’t do lunch. It’s the opposite of sexy. And don’t make the woman trek to Bethesda, Del Ray, or where else you live.

    I cancelled on guys who suggested dive bars. It’s not cute to test women to see if they are “chill.”

    • Instead of cancelling, why didn’t you just suggest something else? I think it’s lame to leave it up to someone else and then opt out when it’s not planned to your liking.

      • I know it sounds harsh and maybe a bit snobby, but we’re all busy people and to be honest if someone thinks a legit dive bar is the place to take a mid/late 20s woman on a first date, I’d probably be wasting both of our times. It indicates to me that the guy is either testing me to see if I “can hang” or is clueless about restaurants/bars, and maybe about dating as an adult in general. I’ve been out with plenty of guys that know how this works; it was just 2 or 3 that either chose wholly inappropriate venues (close to their place but very inconvenient for me, dive bars, etc.), which really turned me off.

  • Rustik Tavern, inside, after dark. That lighting is to die for.

  • It’s okay to meet for a drink on the first date, and any number of places are fine for that. The second date is where it’s at, and you’d better do something other than sit across the table from each other getting drunk. Hiking is a great choice, any number of galleries… something to get you both up and moving and reacting to new things together. It’s not about any one place, it’s about the overall approach.

  • Sometimes the best first dates are spontaneous. Grab a pizza at &Pizza and walk until you find a nice spot outside to talk.

  • Nats games against unpopular teams are a good opportunity to converse with your date without the pressure of having to talk the whole time. Also opportunities to meet up with each others friends, etc. at the bars and what not during the game before/ after heading to your seats.

  • fancier (pricier) – Cork
    delicious – Toki Underground
    drinks – Pearl Dive or drinks and games at H st country club
    activities – wandering through Eastern Market and getting coffee and/or gelato

    • These are all good, but I wouldn’t do Toki for a first date. Unless you’re sure that you like the person enough that you can hang for 1-2 hours while waiting for a table. That’s a lot for a first date.

  • austindc

    For our first date, I took my wife (friend’s coworker at the time) out to see a meteor shower. I think we brought hot chocolate too. We had chatted a lot before the date, so it was not like a getting-to-know-you-for-the-first-time thing.

  • justinbc

    Favorite bar for first dates: The Passenger
    Favorite restaurant for first dates: Estadio
    Favorite non-food/drink: Dumbarton Oaks

  • Restaurant: Afterwords @ Kramerbooks.

  • My husband proposed at the Spanish Steps! Great place for a first kiss, too.

  • It was a second date for me, but we went to Zoo Lights. Get a boozy coffee/hot chocolate and wander around looking at the lights and checking out the nocturnal animals in the animal houses. The animals make for great conversation pieces.

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