HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Nice Date in Claredon

  • j

I have a second date with a guy and we're planning to check out a wine bar and have dinner at a restaurant in Claredon. I rarely head out to NOVA (yeah, I'm a District snob). Can someone suggest a nice date place to first grab drinks at (lounge, wine bar, nice/swanky bar)? I definitely don't want one of those bars where ex-frat boys are reliving their college days (I often categorize the Arlington bar scene to be like that). After we grab a drink we want to get dinner. i would like a nice place but one that won't someone remortgage their house. Ideally New American, Seafood, Pan-Asian, Mediterrean-type food but somewhat open. We will be going out on a Friday night.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Harry's Tap Room seems to fit the bill, along with Tallulah. I don't know what Harry's is like around happy hour, so I'm not sure if it goes to frat-town at that point.

    What is the plan for dinner and wine?

    1. Upstairs at Liberty Tavern would fit the bill. It has a far different atmosphere than the bar downstairs and is a little higher on the dining scale than Harry's. Also, Restaurant Three, a block above Harry's, is quiet in the rooms that are not part of the bar. The food is Southern upscale.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BookGuy

        I second Liberty Tavern, it's my favorite restaurant/bar in the area (excluding Ray's the Steaks, which is my all-time favorite restaurant ever, but no bar scene). It seems like the bar downstairs can get a little crowded, but I just go directly to dinner. I love their selection of half-bottles, great way to try a variety of wine in one evening. And I highly recommend their roast chicken with lemon jus with mashed potatoes and brocolini, it's addictive.

        I also like Eatbar, which is next to Tallulah's, maybe start there and migrate to Tallulah's? Except I've always had such a good time at Eatbar I've never made it to Tallulah's. Love their charcuterie plate and their sliders. I don't know how I'd classify the bar-scene, guess I'm not too picky about that?, so I'm not that much help there.

      2. You could grab drinks at Eat Bar and then go next door to Tallulah for a nice dinner.

        Alternatively, you could have a drink downstairs at Libery Tavern and then go upstairs for dinner.

        Personally, I prefer Tallulah and Liberty Tavern to Harry's Tap Room.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jaydreb

          I second the recommendation for Eat Bar and Tallulah. It's my favorite wine bar in the area, has a nice atmosphere, and serves delicious small plates at the bar if you want a cheaper option to dining next door.

          I personally think Liberty Tavern's bar is a bit too loud for a date... I always feel that I have to yell at the people I'm with when I'm there.

        2. There's a tapas joint nearby if that fits the Mediterranean bill...La Tasca?

          1. I love Eatbar, but it is a little bit of a walk you might do that if you went to Tallulah. Upstairs Liberty Tavern is quieter I think they have good food at good value. The Vermont pizza is great they have good salads the steak is good.

            Sette bello is also good I like the salmon penne with vodka sauce. The chicken asparagus pasta and the veal shank with risotto. Their lounge is nice but can get loud. The lounge at Harry's Tap Room is large they have a reasonable wine list not too loud, but the ambiance isn't awesome IMO.

            You might also consider eleventh street lounge or perhaps getting drinks at Eventide.

            1. sette bello. http://www.settebellorestaurant.com/

              i'm crazy about this salad "CAMPAGNOLA" --
              Arugula and shaved fennel with pecorino Campano and lemon vinaigrette. i find their seafood specials to be very fresh and nicely prepared. last time i had a mixed seafood, with octopus. very tender and tasty.

              5 Replies
              1. re: alkapal

                I made it out to Sette Bello last week and wasn't overly impressed (I couldn't remember what salad you had recommended alka- wish I had). Service wasn't great, but not bad. Food was good, but not extraordinary. I started with the mussels in tomato sauce and while good, they weren't the best I'd had as far as freshness and I didn't care for the sauce (too pureed, more like tomato sauce you'd find on spaghetti- I didn't think it paired well). Maybe I've just gotten spoiled because I've had some of the best mussels I've had in my life here around DC (Brasserie Beck and Montmarte), these were good but not up to the outstanding quality of other places. For an entree I had the grilled branzino (dorado) with grilled vegetables. Well-prepared and not over cooked, but not a ton of flavor.

                All in all, it's a good neighborhood spot, and a good choice for Italian, but all things being equal, I would probably choose Liberty Tavern right up the street. They did have some nice happy hour deals with wines by the glass and some appetizer choices.

                Still wondering if Jacey just could never bring herself to make it over the bridge, what with the herds of ex-frat boys we have roaming the streets here...

                1. re: mjhals

                  If you ever go again, the penne with salmon is very good normally, so is the risotto with veal or lamb shank.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Well, it looks like I AM going again next week, for a work/social function. Hostess tried to reserve at Eventide which I was excited to try as well, but no room so back to Sette Bello. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to use your suggestions and report back yet again.

                    I want to like this place, I love having a variety of options in my neighborhood, so I'm glad to have an opportunity to give it another chance. I'll let you know!

                    1. re: mjhals

                      Yeah it is wierd, I mean Fiancee got some risotto that I wouldn't have thought to be bland and it really was, it tasted like they used water instead of stock. I think they are just inconsistent. When they are good, it is good, when it is bad it is bland.

                      But I have had a couple great things there. I think Tallulah, Liberty and Eventide are much more consistent, but I really like Italian food, and it is close so we go every now and then.

                      1. re: mjhals

                        One more thing to add to the list, their cavetelli with mushrooms and sausage is to die for, but ask for it with a white cream sauce rather than the red. Cooked perfectly al dente and fabulous fresh flavors. It's so hard to find cavetelli pasta!!

                        Their grilled seafood with arugula is also declicous, especially the calamari.

                        Though I wouldn't bother with their bolognese.

                2. we had dinner at eventide recently, it was good solid food, very nice, intimate atmosphere. i liked the way the tables were all nice and spaced out so you really are having dinner just with your companion. it was on the pricier side but definitely not exorbitantly expensive. i had a lobster tagliatelle that was very good, the BF got a strip steak that was cooked perfectly. also they are on opentable.

                  1. I am not from NOVA, but went to Clarendon during RW to Restaurant 3. www.restaurantthree.com. Nice sophisticated-but-not stuffy-New Orleans-type atmosphere, with southern and new american cooking. Nice bar, historic building, and the owners are real restaurant folks.

                    1. Thanks everyone for your posts. Friends have suggested most of these places so far. Are there any places like I suggested in my original post that might be in Ballston, Courthouse or Rosslyn? I would really like to stick to those cuisines mentioned (not a fan of Southern food--tend to stick to healthier options).

                      Also, how's Me Jana? I love Leb food but also want to make sure it's a nice atmosphere.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Jacey

                        sette bello is in clarendon, which is the only specific neighborhood you mentioned in your original post, and it has seafood and a good wine list and cool enoteca with a good vibe.

                        me jana has gotten decent but not rave reviews here, but the atmosphere looks nice.

                        good luck in your search. and on your date ;-).

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Ditto Liberty Tavern, it's in Clarendon, which is the area you mentioned, and it serves "New American". Not sure what else you're looking for...maybe you should stick to DC.

                          Not a real fan of Me Jana, the price is a little high for the quality of the food, IMHO.

                        2. re: Jacey

                          In Ballston I would recommend Willow for dinner -- solid upscale american cuisine with a bit of a Euro slant. Go to www.willowva.com. Also in Ballston is a nice small wine bar/restaurant you could go to first -- its called Grand Cru -- go to http://grandcru-wine.com/. Willow also has a nice bar area if you want to just do everything there.

                          In Courthouse there is a new loungey bar restaurant called Yaku. Go to www.latinconcepts.com. You could go there for drinks (and dinner?) and then go to Me Jana a few blocks away for dinner. Me Jana is a nice place and their Lebanese food is very good.

                          In Rosslyn, there is a very good Italian restaurant at the Hotel Palomar -- yes, I know its at a hotel, but its a cool, hip kind of place.

                          Let us know where you go and how the food was.


                          1. re: BRL

                            Personally, I think Me Jana is okay, but not great. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for a second date because many of the tables are super close together and you don't have much privacy for conversations.

                            I think Liberty Tavern would really fit your bill.

                            1. re: julialimei

                              Agreed. OP should just go to Eat Bar/Tallulah or Liberty Tavern, both of which fit perfectly.

                            2. re: BRL

                              domaso in hotel palomar. it is wonderful. so good and unexpected and gorgeous, too. the food i had at yaku was beyond terrible but the sangria was good. domaso would be a good choice.

                          2. To report back, we changed plans to head out to Old Town for dinner. We grabbed some good sushi there.

                            In Ballston (or one-two stops away), where is there the best hot and sour soup and where can we get delicious Lebanese.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Jacey

                              let me know if you find great hot and sour soup ANYWHERE nearby...i've been craving it for the past two years and still haven't found a good one. as for lebanese, look up me jana and layalina. those are the two places i hear about the most, i believe they're more middle eastern than lebanese-specific but may roam in the vein of what you're requesting. good luck!

                              1. re: Jacey

                                Me Jana is Lebanese and is an longish block away from the Court House Metro station on Clarendon Boulevard (I think that's 4 stops away). While not specifically Lebanese, there's an Aladdin's on Fairfax Drive close to the Ballston Metro where you can get decent salads and pita wrapped grilled meats.

                                There's a Chinese restaurant on Fairfax Drive near the Ballston station which some have reported "OK for a quick lunch" but no reports specifically about their soup. I suspect that the closest Chinese restaurant near Metro that might have a decent hot and sour soup would be Full Kee in Chinatown. But then, what constitutes "the best" or even good hot-and-sour soup is highly subjective. Which would you prefer - a recommendation from someone who enjoys what he's eating, or someone who still can't find a bowl of soup that tastes like what he had at a street cart in Beijing when he was 12 years old? <g> (no finger pointing intended here)

                                1. re: MikeR

                                  The Chinese restaurant is Hunan Gate and I do take their hot and sour soup out every so often and think that it is one of the better quality H&S around with excellent noodles provided. It is worth a try although I have found that Chinese food is one of the types where taste is very hard to figure out.