The Washington Post
Fail-proof first dates photo
(Northside Social photo by Evy Mages/For The Post)

Fail-proof first dates

The Washington Post Staff  |  Updated 02/09/2012

In the age of Internet dating, the first date has gone casual -- why not have a little fun checking out the area's hottest bars and restaurants while also getting to know someone new?


Northside Social

Arlington, VA

Upstairs, Northside Social is a wine bar, and downstairs, it's pure coffeehouse, with indie rock pumping softly, fancy coffee dripping from the espresso machine and delicious house-made cheeses and pastries flowing from the kitchen. Whether you're hoping for a good spot for a coffee date, or something more romantic, this Arlington cafe has it covered.


Room 11

Washington, DC

Room 11 is expanding into the space next door, but it isn't likely to undo the magic that the Columbia Heights cubbyhole has created in just a couple of years. A tiny kitchen turns out comfort foods for scenesters: charred cauliflower salad swimming in garlic and tahini, lamb and chorizo kebabs, a wedge of soy-glazed pork belly. And for would-be couples, Room 11 is casual enough that it's easy to stop in solely for a French press or a glass of wine and a scoop of goat-cheese cheesecake.


Jackie's Sidebar

Silver Spring, MD

You can now skip the reservations at a certain chichi D.C. cocktail bar but not lose an ounce of ambience, thanks to this black-walled watering hole in Silver Spring. It's the perfect place for impressing a date over an adventurous drink and elevated bar snacks.



Bethesda, MD

A wine bar with fine-dining ambitions, Bethesda's Grapeseed is a perfect spot for a sophisticated first date for those looking to avoid the 20-something bar scene.


Comet Ping Pong

Washington, DC

Rambunctious little ones, hipsters and bands all manage to find something to love at this cavernous, industrial pizzeria. The pizzas, for one: The Steel Wills features ricotta and Kalamata olives, the Drive deposits a farm egg amid broccoli rabe, and the Yalie comes topped with clams. For daters, it's fun to split one, and more fun to follow dinner with a friendly game of table tennis; find the tables in back.


Shake Shack

Washington, DC

Carbs are cool again, and this trendy, by-way-of-New-York burger joint is proof. The lines for seemingly simple burgers, crinkle-cut fries and shakes were mind-boggling when the restaurant opened last spring, but these days, the wait isn't quite as long, opening the door for a fun foodie first date, particularly on weeknights. Afterward, slip a couple of doors down to Eighteenth Street Lounge for a drink in one the city's most sophisticated clubs.


8407 Kitchen Bar

Silver Spring, MD

Downtown Silver Spring's bar scene blossomed a little with the arrival in 2010 of Pedro Matamoros's American restaurant; for those getting back on the market or dating in their 30s and 40s, the sophisticated environs hit just the right note for a first date.


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