Dinner date in DC
April 27, 2011 12:16 PM   Subscribe

DC Filter: Affordable and romantic dinner date spots in DC? Warning: Extremely picky criteria inside.

Looking for suggestions for a relaxed, romantic, dimly lit and reasonably priced place for dinner in NW DC. Criteria:

- Reasonably priced - In the $25-$35 per person range...no more than $40 max including drinks+tax.
- Atmosphere - Dark and dim lit, romantic, and classy but not "fancy". Trying to avoid stuffy white table cloth types of places and looking for a more cozy and inviting feel. Quirkiness/Alternative-ness is fine.
- Noise - Should be vibrant and far from dead/empty, but I want to be able to have a conversation and hear my date. Let's say Lauriol Plaza is a threshold for noise levels: If it's as crazy as Lauriol, it's probably a no go. No blaring music please.
- Food - Any genre of food is welcomed, as long as it's not disgusting and you could see yourself eating there with a first date.

Trying to stick to NW so Cleveland Park, Dupont, Adams Morgan, U St., Logan and all that good stuff (sorry H st fans, not this time). Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights might be a little inaccessible for the other party but if it matches all criteria I could consider it, it's just that we're going to be meeting from opposite ends of town and I'd hate to make her trek way out somewhere she's not entirely familiar with by herself.

Date-in-a-bag suggestions are also welcome ("go to X, then get a drink/go for a walk/do something else at Y!").
posted by windbox to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Medium Rare in Cleveland Park fits this bill, I think.
posted by downing street memo at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2011

Response by poster: Medium Rare is amazing but I'd prefer a place with more than one thing on the menu. Second date, maybe.
posted by windbox at 12:28 PM on April 27, 2011

2 Amy's and a walk through the National Cathedral Gardens.

Comet Ping Pong and Author reading at Politics and Prose

Spices, Siam House, or Indique and a movie at the Uptown
posted by chrisulonic at 12:33 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is Georgetown out of the question? If not, I suggest Martin's Tavern. Fun place, reasonably priced. Plus JFK proposed to Jackie there, or so the story goes.
posted by digiFramph at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2011

Cashion's Eat Place in Adams Morgan may work.

It fits with the dark, dim, classy without being stuffy. It may be louder later in the evening but when I've gone there I've always been able to have a conversation without feeling like I'm yelling.
posted by statsgirl at 12:36 PM on April 27, 2011


But I'd be a little more adventurous and head out to Eastern Market and go to Cava
posted by deanc at 12:49 PM on April 27, 2011

Bistrot Du Coin!

It might not score a 100 on your "cozy" criteria because of the high ceilings and occasional odd musical selections, but it's far from blaring. It's unpretentious, yet distinctively French (ie. it reminds me of actually eating in France rather than the weird romanticized version of how Americans think that Europeans dine).

Dessert at KramerBooks is always a nice way to punctuate a date night that's gone well in Dupont.

I went to Red Rocks in Columbia Heights for the first time a few weeks ago, and was pretty impressed by it. Definitely a place I'd consider taking a first date, and not too hard to get to from the Metro or Circulator.

Once you've reached date #4 or 5, and have confirmed that they are not allergic to peanuts or cats, take your date to Thai Xing.

And, even though you specifically said "No H Street," Grainville Moore's pretty much fits every one of your criteria to a T.
posted by schmod at 12:50 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

schmod beat me to it - Bistrot Du Coin is yummy and seems to fit the bill. I'll also second 2 Amys!
posted by alaijmw at 1:05 PM on April 27, 2011

Cashion's Eat Place is awesome, as is Bistrot du Coin.
posted by kdar at 1:16 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, I had one of the most romantic dinners at the Bistro Francais in Georgetown. All your criteria applies. Awesome atmosphere, romatic lightning, reasonably priced. I loved it!
posted by Tarumba at 1:43 PM on April 27, 2011

whoops, god excited and didn't see your location requirements.
posted by Tarumba at 1:44 PM on April 27, 2011

Bistrot du Coin is noisy and cramped - I've been there several times with friends and we like it, but it is not romantic or classy. It's not as frantic as Lauriol but there's a lot of ambient noise.
posted by mrs. taters at 1:45 PM on April 27, 2011

If you do one of the Cleveland Park restaurants that chrisulonic recommends, you can hit up Ripple after for drinks/fancy cheeses/desserts. Definitely meets your criteria for noise level/seating/atmosphere without being stuffy.
posted by SugarAndSass at 2:05 PM on April 27, 2011

Seconding Indique and a movie at the Uptown. They're close by, right next to the Metro, and the Uptown is a neat place. Scream 4 is playing, fyi. Indique is good whether or not you do a movie.
posted by davextreme at 2:40 PM on April 27, 2011

Dinner at Rasika preceded by a walk through the Portrait Gallery / American Art Museum.

IMO The Portrait Gallery / American Art museum is one of the more interesting museums - there are some permanent exhibits. Plus it's one of the Smithsonian museums - so yeah - its free :)

The courtyard in the middle of the building is surprisingly huge and very cool. And its open relatively late (till 7 pm).

Bonus points for gelato at Pitango after dinner. And all this is right off the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro.
posted by busybee at 2:48 PM on April 27, 2011

Zaytinya is great and right off of the Gallery Place metro (it may be a bit too loud/not cozy enough for your needs, though). I've never had the food at Urbana in Dupont, but the atmosphere was very romantic and cozy. I really loved the meal I had a Proof, although it could get a bit pricey depending on what you order. Jaleo (in the same restaurant group as Zaytinya) could be a good option, too.
posted by hefeweizen at 2:54 PM on April 27, 2011

It's probably not dimly-lit enough for you, but I like Dino in Cleveland Park. Great food and if your date is early-ish on a weekday, you can get a great deal, 3 courses for $27.
posted by Fortran at 3:12 PM on April 27, 2011

I always say Oyamel in Gallery Place, but Portrait Gallery + Oyamel is great standard DC date.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:20 PM on April 27, 2011

It's more of a bar/lounge than a restaurant, but Chi-Cha Lounge meets most of your criteria and I think the food is pretty good, even if the menu is a little limited. I think of it as very date-y.
posted by dredge at 3:23 PM on April 27, 2011

It's been years since I lived in DC, but for my money, nothing is cozier and more intimate for a date than Tabard Inn, whether for brunch or dinner.

Zaytinya, in my opinion, is exactly the kind of screamy scenester hangout that isn't good for a date early in a relationship. Or a marriage. Or even a friendship that you care about.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:58 PM on April 27, 2011

Agree with ImproviseorDie, the poster requested 'cozy' and Zatinya does not fit that requirement. I suggest Bar Pilar, Dickson, or DC Noodles in U Street. If you go to Bar Pilar, Black Cat is right next door and 9.30 is right next to Dickson.
posted by seesom at 4:33 PM on April 27, 2011

As far as U Street, Utopia is affordable $9-18 entree range, and the ambience is great (low light, art on the walls, etc).
posted by waylaid at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2011

I'm a bit fan of Room 11 in Columbia Heights. It's technically a wine bar, but has really well thought out food and desserts, and, being in Columbia Heights, has a lower price than similar/worse places like Dickson/Vinoteca/Cork. Also, the waitstaff are unpretentious and friendly, which makes it even better.
posted by aaanastasia at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2011

Cafe Deluxe near the Cathedral.
posted by jindc at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2011

I've lived all over DC and love many of the places suggested (and am very partial to H Street lately , but Tabard Inn meets your criteria perfectly. That place is a gem.
posted by semacd at 6:48 PM on April 27, 2011

U Street: Bar Pilar, Cork, or Marvin on U St, then fancy amazing drinks at the Gibson. You usually need a reservation for the Gibson, at least on the weekends. Cork can be loud in the front room, but the back room and the little upper area are more quiet. Bar Pilar is decent noise-wise and the food is delicious; cocktails are good too. Marvin is also very good and meets your other criteria. Marvin takes reservations, which might be a plus; Bar Pilar doesn't and Cork only has reservations before 6:30. If you want to go more casual for drinks after dinner, there's Solly's for the dive scene or The Saloon for a great beer selection. Vinoteca might be good too; I've only been once and remember it being pretty decent but a little expensive for the quality of the food. (fwiw, I love DC Noodles, but it's not romantic and it is really loud.)

Dupont: Pizzaria Paradiso then gelato at Dolcezza, then sit in the circle and people watch.
posted by min at 6:11 AM on April 28, 2011

Bistro D'oc gets my vote. Affordable, awesome French cuisine. Never had a bad meal there. And if you're in the mood for a movie, the E Street cinema (think art films/indie) is right nearby.
posted by GriffX at 8:20 AM on April 28, 2011

I'd say Utopia - very date-y. Bistro du Coin is very not dimly lit.
posted by Pax at 9:32 AM on April 28, 2011

The gf and I had a lovely time at Acqua Al 2 when we visited a couple months ago. I believe this satisfies the Atmosphere/Noise/Food requirements, but depending on what you order it might be a tad expensive. Check the menu before you go (and check a map because I don't know DC well at all).

If you do end up going, we shared the salad sampler and steak sampler and they were both great. The blueberry steak in particular.
posted by soonertbone at 8:33 PM on April 28, 2011

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