HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

Discussion

Need a date place that's not a date place. In D.C.

  • b
  • bjr26 Feb 3, 2011 06:02 AM

Former SF Chowhounder here. I recently moved to DC and looking for a good place to take a date to this Saturday. Parameters:

-- Cuisine: Authentic and/or unique. Good beer selection important. A place like Churchkey that is not Churchkey and maybe skews a little
-- Neighborhood: Ideally, Columbia Heights, H Street, maybe 8th Street corridor. But I have a car and am open to anywhere.
-- Atmosphere: Fun, trendy, not stuffy, not too young (Adams Morgan makes me break out in hives). Divey yet upscale is the dream.
-- Price: Not a concern.

Suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Forget trying too hard, go to any of the Teaism branches, do not order noodles.

    If you just want to have drinks or just a snack, you can do that. If you want a meal, you can do that there, too. Good atmosphere to just talk, too. You can both pay separately or one of you can pay for the other when ordering your food. Not too much pressure either way.

    -----
    Teaism
    2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

    1 Reply
    1. re: Elyssa

      I didn't even know they served brunch and, given the Asian fusion theme, I wouldn't expect that would be their best meal. I think they are a good option for lunch-- salmon ochazuke, esp. on a cold day, or a bento box.

    2. How excellent does the beer selection have to be? The only places I know of in the District that rival Churchkey are the Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown, Brasserie Beck, the recently reopened former Brickskellar - Bier Baron, and maybe the Biergarten on H St?

      1. Granville Moore's. It's on H Street, lots of Belgian beers, good food (famous for the moules frites), and very cozy in a dilapidated way.

        Other options without the beer element: Souk (also on H Street), Moroccan small plates, very good food. Dark atmosphere.
        Ethiopic (also on H Street) - good Ethiopian, could be fun to eat with your hands.

        I had one other idea: Domku in Petworth. It has a funky Brooklyn-y feel to it. Polish/Slavic food, not sure about the beer selection. It's the kind of place that has funky decorations and none of the furniture matches, but it's up-scale.

        -----
        Domku Bar & Cafe
        821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

        5 Replies
        1. re: hamster

          I was thinking Granville Moores too (except for the issue of them not taking reservations).

          1. re: Doh

            I always forget about that place because I still haven't been there, but it sounds great for the OP. And the OP asked for somewhere like Churchkey and they don't take reservations either.

          2. re: hamster

            Granville Moore's was the first place I thought of, as well. If the date goes well, Church & State (next door, above Fruit Bat) would be a great place stop after dinner for a cocktail.

            1. re: lilkimbo

              I'd also say Granville Moore's or, on Barracks Row as you mentioned, Ted's Bulletin.

              -----
              Ted's Bulletin
              505 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

            2. re: hamster

              Hamster, you are a STAR. Solid suggestions all around, but Domku sounds near-perfect. Thank you!

              -----
              Domku Bar & Cafe
              821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

            3. Another vote for Granville Moore's. H St., divey, yet upscale (moules and frites and 2-3 beers per person came to $80-something for two), good beer selection, "fun, trendy, not stuffy" ...

              2 Replies
              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                Granville Moore would be perfect, but the one time I went there (on Saturday) the wait was two hours. I may give it a go anyway, because I've heard awesome things and this thread affirms my interest.

                1. re: bjr26

                  Granville Moore's is sooooo good. Realy fun date place, go, be prepaired to wait, get on the list, and wait it out in The Pug - The bar just a couple doors down... good beers, divey kind of place, they have board games you can play and the locals are fun. all in all that is a good night out.

              2. Maybe Thaitanic? Not the best neighborhood, but not too far from U St.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ann_l

                  The OP requested "authentic and/or unique" cuisine. That rules out Thaitanic, IMHO. I don't remember it as having a good beer selection either.

                  1. re: ann_l

                    Also, the 14th St corridor is an *awesome* neighborhood.

                    1. re: Raids

                      Agreed! That's why I live in the heart of it, and after a whopping four months living here, need to explore some other 'hoods. You are in the right zone.

                      1. re: bjr26

                        Sadly, I moved to Penn Quarter/Chinatown. Which has a lot to recommend it also, but it's not the same.

                        Funny, a couple of friends and I spent from brunch through dinner at Domku once. Great atmosphere - very relaxed and casual and the waitstaff does not mind at all if you camp out as long as you keep ordering stuff. It was a really great time.

                  2. how about Ceiba. not in the neighborhoods you requested but in DC

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dining with doc

                      Looks intriguing. Thanks for the suggestion.

                      1. re: bjr26

                        cieba isnt divey but it is fun, chic, latin, great tequila selection, great margaritas, ceviche sampler, delicious food... good eye candy. perfect for a date

                    2. Bar Pilar on 14th.
                      Red Rocks Pizza in Columbus Heights.
                      Agora near Dupont Circle (not sure of the beer selection here)
                      Vinoteca on 11th at U.

                      -----
                      Vinoteca
                      1940 11th street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                      Bar Pilar
                      1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                      Red Rock Pizzaria
                      1036 Park Rd NW, Washington, DC 20010

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dcandohio

                        I second Bar Pilar, only I wonder how crowded it will be on a Saturday. I went there for the first time a few weeks ago and thought "This would be a great weekday date spot!"

                        -----
                        Bar Pilar
                        1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                      2. Not 100% in the neighborhood you were talking about but Pizzeria Paradisio is a good recommendation.

                        Another idea would be Commonwealth---especially if you can snag a table at that little enclosed area.

                        I also hear good things about Meridian Pint, but have never personally been.

                        On H Street Granville Moore's seems like the perfect spot.

                        Good luck! Have fun!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Elyssa

                          Try U-topia on U St nothing fancy a laid atmosphere tasty food that won't break the bank.

                          1. re: Elyssa

                            Good suggestions! I've been to Meridian Pint -- atmosphere and beer selection meets the criteria, but the food was so-so. (Though SF may have spoiled me, I admit.) Thanks for replying.

                            1. re: Elyssa

                              Also Coppi's on U Street might be a good option.

                              -----
                              Coppi's Restaurant
                              1414 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                              U Street Cafe
                              1301 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                            2. OK, these are good suggestions, but I just want the OP to know that many are nowhere close to "divey". Ceiba? Vinoteca? These places are pretty stuffy.
                              Bar Pilar is a good suggestion, though yeah, seating will be difficult. Seating will be very difficult at Granville Moore's as well on a Saturday night, unless you get there early.

                              That is why Domku might be easier. It is off the beaten path so hopefully won't have the crazy crowds, and it is definitely the vibe you're looking for. Just my two cents.

                              -----
                              Vinoteca
                              1940 11th street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                              Bar Pilar
                              1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                              Domku Bar & Cafe
                              821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hamster

                                To each his/her own, but I do not find Vinotech or Cieba to be stuffy. At all. The bar at Cieba is quite friendly and laid-back. Same for Vinoteca. In fact, I don't think any of the suggestions made here is stuffy.

                                -----
                                Vinoteca
                                1940 11th street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                1. re: dcandohio

                                  I really like Ceiba and they make a good cocktail, but I didn't think it was quite as lively and/or laid-back as what the OP was looking for. Granted, Domku is lively either, but I find the whole vibe of the place to be very conducive to great conversation. But I like that you can take a group of 6 there and almost always count on being able to get one of the larger areas in the lounge if you get there before 6pm.

                              2. I always thought Science Club btw L and M NW would be a cool date place, just cause they have these small (small) booths in the front room, you'd have to get there early to snag one - the food is ehhh bar snacks (not bad, just nibbles really, but there are plenty of real food place choices not far and a walk btw drinks and dinner can always help refresh the mood)

                                plus I don't remember table service if one wants to play fetch. (hey can be sorta charming)

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: hill food

                                  Do not go to Science Club on a Sat night. It's packed, hot and a crummy place to take a first date on a weekend.

                                  You could also do Tryst. Hard to get a seat but they have coffee, booze, food and a hipster atmosphere.

                                  1. re: spinachandchocolate

                                    oh after 6 on ANY night it's too packed to walk in, but that's true for so many places.

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Just FYI, Science Club appears to take reservations, at least for groups of more than four, possibly for other occasions also. The back room behind the bar tends to be a little bit better as far as noise, but in the front room on a Saturday you're going to get repeatedly bumped by drunk lobbyists and grad students at those front tables and the blast (good) hip hop all night.

                                      It's one of my favorite places to go out, though. :-) The bartenders are very friendly and the crowd tends to be nice. But probably not for a date, unless you have a patio table in the summer. I usually end up going there as part of a bar crawl on the way to 18th St Lounge.

                                    2. re: spinachandchocolate

                                      I hate trying to get a seat at Tryst, plus it's too loud for getting-to-know-you conversation. The coffee's all right, the booze is eh, and the food takes a while. I would not recommend.

                                      1. re: SandyCat

                                        And a bar on the weekend is not?

                                        1. re: spinachandchocolate

                                          I just feel like some of the other suggestions were a bit more worth the wait and crowds. Just my opinion!

                                  2. Woman here...

                                    I think Bar Pilar would be good, but you'll have a hard time finding a seat unless you go early. I don't think their beer list is up to par with Churchkey but it will be hard to beat that. Brasserie Beck doesn't meet your criteria but a place to look into if you want beer (and mussels). I like Cava in Eastern Market for a date place as well as Agora (yes, you head that right). Cashions and Room 11 are some other cool places.

                                    -----
                                    Brasserie Beck
                                    1101 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                                    Bar Pilar
                                    1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: spinachandchocolate

                                      Room 11 is a great date spot and is in the Columbia Heights area. I just don't remember what their beer selection is like. It's more of a wine bar.

                                      Teeny tiny but I love that place. I wish it was in my neighborhood.

                                    2. I thought that the Evening Star No. 9 Lounge was quirky (go up the back staircase) and romantic, especially if you can sit on a couch in the dark near the bar. Good bar food and the restaurant down stairs is supposed to be exquisite.

                                      The Del Ray neighborhood is fun and diverse. I got a parking ticket last time I was therre so watch the meter.

                                      -----
                                      Evening Star Cafe
                                      2000 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301

                                      1. It doesn't meet all your criteria, but Vapiano might be worth considering. It's definitely fun, trendy, and not too stuffy. It's casual (seat yourself, no waiter service), but funky and arguably upscale. I'm not sure the food is "unique," but the pizza is good, which is pretty rare for this town. There's one in Chinatown and another in between Dupont Circle and Farragut Square.

                                        -----
                                        Vapiano
                                        1800 M St NW, Washington, DC

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Garlic Guy

                                          While I like going here with friends, definitely don't take a first date here if you even want to remotely impress her. Vapiano's is an upscale cafeteria-style place that serves booze. The paying structure is too odd for a first date if you were to treat her to drinks/food.

                                          -----
                                          Vapiano
                                          1800 M St NW, Washington, DC

                                          1. re: spinachandchocolate

                                            Agreed. Vapiano, which has many charms, is NOT a first date place. NOT.

                                            -----
                                            Vapiano
                                            1800 M St NW, Washington, DC

                                            1. re: dcandohio

                                              It's interesting to see the responses from both spinachandchocolate and dcandohio. I'm not trying to argue, but two different women have both suggested to me that Vapiano is, in fact, a good first date place. It's certainly not a romantic place and it's not someplace I'd take a date that I really liked and was trying to impress, but my friends both felt that it's casual and cheap enough for a fast, easy, "do we like each other enough to commit to spending more than 30 minutes together?" first date with someone you don't know well (say, someone you met briefly at a party, or online). In other words, it's half a step above a quick, casual coffee date, but is admittedly nothing romantic.

                                              My friends--one of whom, in her single days, never let a guy pay for her on a date--actually praised the paying structure as less awkward than a traditional restaurant, since it's still easy to grab your date's card if you want to pay but also makes it a lot easier to split the check if either party decides they want to do so.

                                              Again, I'm not trying to argue, I'm just trying to reconcile the above comments with those of my friends. As a guy, I claim cluelessness myself.

                                              -----
                                              Vapiano
                                              1800 M St NW, Washington, DC

                                              1. re: Garlic Guy

                                                Sorry need to weigh in on this. If it's a first date just grab a drink at a bar. But do not go to Vapiano. I agree...it is loud, crowded, not intimate in the least, and the pay structure is all wrong for a date (regardless of who is paying).

                                                I like Vapiano...I go there for lunch sometimes...therefore I immediately rule it out for a first-fourth date. But maybe that's just me.

                                                -----
                                                Vapiano
                                                1800 M St NW, Washington, DC

                                        2. So where did you end up going, bjr26?

                                          1. Per Spinachandchocolate's question, here's an update on where we ended up:

                                            Decided on Domku, the Polish/Swedish restaurant recommended by Hamster. It was an absolute home run, nay, grand slam of a suggestion. The atmosphere was perfect -- bustling without being crowded, hip without being trendy, felt like a little slice of Brooklyn plopped in the middle of Penworth. As for the food:

                                            -- Began with a flight of aquavits (flavor infused vodka), 3 for $16. The red chili pepper was terrificly spicey, The lemongrass-ginger was refreshing as it sounds. I'd avoid the lingonberry, however; the infusion was subtle-to-nonexistent, so it basically tasted like straight vodka.

                                            -- For starters, we tried the cream-baked smoked sprats and the unpronounceable Placki Ziemniaczane (potato latkes). Turns out sprats are like mini-smoked trouts, served in a little bowl of (oily but delicious) cream. Not entirely clear how you're supposed to eat them with the bread -- we ended up dunking the bread in the sauce and eating the sprats separately. The latkes were a bit of mixed bag. They came with sour cream and small salmon roe on top, very tasty and light, which clashed with the borderline-burned quality of the latke pancake they rested on.

                                            -- For our main course, we shared the czech potato dumplings and the also unpronounceable
                                            Bigos Warszawsk, or Polish Hunter's Stew. The dumplings were prepared with potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and something that reminded me of cous cous that I'm guessing is kasza, based on the menu I just downloaded. Really nice dish and a great option for the vegetarians reading this. The hunter's stew was decent, but a medley of sausage, bacon and sauerkrat should be a little more flavorful than this ended up being. Not bad, just not very memorable.

                                            -- For dessert, the waitress talked us into the beet cake, which she billed as "like carrot cake, only with beets." An accurate description. Less a cake and more like a mini-beet-loaf that isn't overly sweet.

                                            -- A few other random notes: we tried four different beers, all of which tasted exactly the same (think crisp pilsner). The slight exception is the beer that comes in 4%, 8% and 9% alcoholic content versions; we tried the 9% and, unsurprisingly, you could taste the difference. In a good way.

                                            -- Over on that other restaurant-reviewing website that rhymes with Smelp, there are a number of people who seem to have bad service experiences. That was manifestly NOT the case last night -- our waitress Haley was friendly, attentive, and even played along with our "close our eyes and point at a random beer on the menu" game. Smelpers also complain about service being slow, but that wasn't the case either, even with the restaurant 80-90% full.

                                            If you've read this far, you must be wondering, "yes yes, but how'd the date go?" I'll just say that she (a) seemed to really like the restaurant, both in food and vibe, and (b) enjoyed herself enough to suggest we go elsewhere afterward to continue to chat. You came to play this week, Chowhounders, and now I'm armed with this great list of other places to check out! Many thanks.

                                            -----
                                            Domku Bar & Cafe
                                            821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: bjr26

                                              I like happy feedback (that I was of no help doesn't matter)

                                              1. re: bjr26

                                                Thanks for the review! I've been meaning to try Domku (but have been too lazy to actually go). I feel spurred to try it now!

                                                -----
                                                Domku Bar & Cafe
                                                821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

                                                1. re: SandyCat

                                                  Amen to that -- as soon as I read this OP I thought of Domku (and Granville Moore's), but since I haven't actually been there didn't chime in. Always nice to hear when a date goes well, too!

                                                  -----
                                                  Domku Bar & Cafe
                                                  821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

                                                2. re: bjr26

                                                  Thanks for the review, and I'm glad it worked out well for you!

                                                3. Can I ask a dumb question? What is a "date place"? and what would be good about a "date place that is not a date place"? At first I assumed "date place" meant trendy, popular, and crowded. So, not sexy romantic... but quirky romantic?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                    I define a (maybe first?) date place as one that's lively enough to be amusing, but not overwhelming and distracting and not so intimate that one seems needlessly intense and stalker-ish/obsessive. casual, but nice, neither wacky or stuffy. a place where if the conversation falters the silence is unlikely to deafen but nobody has to shout. YMMV

                                                  2. For those still tracking my culinary lovelife, went on a second date this past Saturday. Per the suggestions of many chowhounders, decided to brave the wait at Granville Moore's (1.5 hours on Saturday at 8 pm) and also check out Fruit Bat. Quick reviews:

                                                    Fruit Bat: Cute bar right next door, has sort of a Che Guevara Havana feel going on to it. Not a bad drinks-date place. They have some interesting cocktails -- my date ordered a carrot-juice based drink that almost seemed healthy. I had a Brazilian beer, which tasted surprisingly light for being an alleged "dark" beer. (Me to waitress: "What's this one like?" Waitress: "I don't know, it's dark I guess.") We also ordered some food, including absolutely delicious plaintains with sweet cream and red beans and rice, and tasty sweet potato fries.

                                                    Granville Moore's: First, the decor of this place is fantastic -- exposed brick and rafters give it a French countryhouse sort of feel (apart from the wall-to-wall people, of course). Our waitress was also terrific and friendly and fun. The beer selection is incredible, particularly if you like Belgians (and you should). As for the food -- well, tough to give a fair assessment, as we were slightly full from Fruit Bat. We ordered the fried catfish -- they're doing a new soul dish every week to celebrate Black History Month, which is cool in and of itself -- which came with pan-fried cabbage. The catfish was fine, but lacked anything to make it special, and the pan-friend cabbage just looked really unappetizing (tasted fine, however). I wanted to get mussels but my companion is allergic, so we got some of the frites, and I gotta say, I think Fruit Bat's sweet potato fries are better (and I don't even like sweet potato). Nice place and definitely want to give it another shot.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bjr26

                                                      Thanks for the update! Did you get to wait for your table at GM's at Fruit Bat?