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Top 5 date-night locations

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My wife and I like to do a nice dinner out around once a month. What are your top 5 date nights? We usually like a more trendy atmosphere - Central and Rasika would both make my current list. I'm curious to see where others would choose!

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  1. My Top 5 date night spots:
    1. Marcel's- romantic and excellent food.
    2. Hook- I like to be able to mosey after dinner and I love their food.
    3. Restaurant Eve- because the cocktails before and after make the food even better.
    4. Palena- Back room because it is so intimate feeling.
    5. Eat Bar- because sometimes I just want a good burger on a date night.

    For me I tend to like to get really good food and go places a little more upscale and dress up for a date. We do a lot of eating at small places so this makes it seem like a real "date" since we see each other all the time, sometimes you need something to differentiate the time. It also needs to be someplace quiet enough we can relax and talk after stressful days. Hook even when hectic once you sit down can be intimate depending on where you sit we like the tables by the kitchen the most. Also valet is a big perk as Fiance hates to find parking on the street and isn't huge on finding a garage.

    I love Central it would be more of a date night place if I could get reservations with less planning time in advance, date night tends to be more last minute what fits into our schedule. But it is Fiance and my fav restaurant. Although anymore we try to get to new places so we don't really have any one standard date place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      For great burger in a "datey" kind of place try Kemble Park Tavern in the palisades.

      1. re: keithdcil

        Eeeeuuwwwwlll, burger and date night atmosphere, this place is going on my short list, thank you, I am such a sucker for good beef.

    2. I guess it depends on how old you are. Judging from the two you have said, I'd suggest:

      Brasserie Beck
      PS 7's
      Cafe du Park
      The Source

      Less trendy, but one of my favorites New Heights. I agree with ktmoomau about Palena's back room, Marcel's and Restaurant Eve, but they are a little more sedate but the food is great, and at my age, perfect for taking my wife out as we are now empty nesters.

      1. My boyfriend and I really like dinner at Bistro D'Oc and then a movie at E St. Cinema. Not trrendy but delicious french bistro cuisine.

        We've also enjoyed Central, Zola, Hank's Oyster Bar, Palena (front of the house), Grill from Impanema, Creme, and Butterfield 9.

        1. 1. Guajillo. It's just comfy and home-y, with good food.
          2. Minibar. Ok probably not a fair entrant, but our best dinner date was totally when we celebrated Christmas/our anniversary here!
          3. Bombay Club - great food, super romantic, a bit more formal without being pretentious.
          4. Delhi club. Can you tell I like small, relatively untrendy ethnic restaurants for dates? :)
          5. Bamian - I like getting one of those booths with a lot of privacy and enjoying the food there.

          5 Replies
          1. re: bylinemjf

            OK am so jealous of the Minibar thing... maybe I can get that for birthday this year. I wish that was a date night spot for me even for one date. Kudos to you.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              Yeah, I don't see it being a repeat spot, hehe, though I'd love to go back! Seriously, you need to go - it's seriously one of the most fun, unique experiences I've ever had. It took my poor boyfriend like 2 months to get reservations, though.

              1. re: bylinemjf

                We snagged a reservation at Minibar for our 2 year wedding anniversary and can't wait to try it! Byline, how long ago was your date there? Any comments on the entire experience? We're looking forward to going at the end of the month.
                I had posted on here previously requesting suggestions for somewhere to go to catch some live music and a drink after our 6 pm dinner, but my post was taken down since it didn't have to do with food (despite there being an entire board about wine)...Sigh...

                1. re: KWynn

                  Hey KWynn.

                  I went in January. It was really awesome. I believe we ended up having somewhere in the vicinity of 30 dishes. They all are super small, so my worries about being too stuffed to enjoy everything were unfounded - we felt pleasantly full but not stuffed.

                  You definitely get the chance to get exposed to a lot of high end ingredients, things like caviar, truffles, oysters, sea urchin, wagyu beef, etc. But the whimsical preparation and wild techniques (a lot involving dehydrators, nitrous oxide, etc) is what really makes it stand out. Things you don't expect to be that impressive end up really blowing you away - the caprhina and pringles that started our meal, for example. I really dug the theatrical stuff, like the "dragon's breath" popcorn ball that makes smoke come out of your nose.

                  The chefs were really unpretentious and happy to answer any questions we had.

                  If you really want "spoilers", I took a photo of every single dish we got, hehe: http://flickr.com/photos/10622530@N00...

                  The atmosphere ends up feeling a little more intimate than you'd expect just because it's right in the middle of Cafe Atlantico, but it seriously just depends on what you're looking for; this didn't bother me. And the servers treated us like kinds and queens, asking if we were in the industry (I think b/c we were younger than the typical attendees, maybe), walking us over to the bar before dinner and telling the bartender to take care of us, that kind of thing.

                  I've read a lot of postings here and elsewhere that don't recommend the wine pairings but we really enjoyed them, and found the pricing reasonable. I just went on the site for some reason and don't see the pairings listed anymore, so maybe that's been discontinued.

                  Anyway, I expect you'll have an awesome time. Are you going on a Friday? If so, maybe you could go to jazz at the sculpture garden afterwards; not sure the usual time on this, though.

                  1. re: bylinemjf

                    I was there in 2003 (or was it 2004?) and my experience was largely the same as mjf's. it's a little overwhelming and I almost wish I'd taken notes, but that would have pulled some of the fun out of it. I'm not a huge fan of the Bulli-novelty-chemistry type of food, but it is fun at least once. and the flavors are tremendous. I remember a thimble of foie gras soup and the kobe sliver. lucky for me the SO hates liver so whenever that was involved I got double! mmm cotton candy swirled over a perfect cube of it.

                    it's dinner theater for a hound.

          2. Iron Gate Inn

            1. 1. 1789
              2. Obelisk
              3. Proof
              4. Willard Room
              5. Palena (back)

              If it's a REALLY special date night i'd like it on over to Inn at Little washington. Haven't tried City Zen yet but it's on the list...

              2 Replies
              1. re: DCDOLL

                Can I be your date? lol Your list is MY special occasion list (Palena, back room, 1789 etc).

              2. Thanks for all the recs! This will definitely broaden our dining horizons, and I will be sure to report back...

                2 Replies
                1. re: aal22

                  Just to add one to the list - Petits Plats. The outdoor area is pretty casual but inside near the fireplaces on the second floor (particularly in the winter) is really romantic. The food is simple but well prepared and the service is attentive but not to intrusive.

                  And one comment about 1789 - my husband and I went after having received a gift certificate and we were really disappointed. Aside from looking old and faded (both the decor and the crowd...) the food was nothing special. Our waiter got into an argument with the table next to ours and our entire room had to listen. Kind of ruined the romantic atmosphere. Maybe it is nicer downstairs but I certainly will not go back for a date!

                  1. re: karinabean

                    that's a shame. We've been probably 30 times over the years and never had anything but wonderful food & service (and no we aren't old OR faded! :). Maybe the downstairs is where the regulars go. Not that you shouldnt' expect great food & service no matter where you are. Give it another shot and ask for a banquette table in the main DR. If you are dissatisfied w/ anything send it back. That is the kind of place that would want you to leave happy.

                2. If you're at all interested in steak BLT is great. They also have good seafood and the bar is always busy. The atmosphere is lively and it caters to a slightly younger crowd than say Prime Rib or the Palm. It's a nice departure from the more formal and stuffy steakhouses in D.C.