Just like first dates, where you have that final conversation sends a message. Make sure it’s the one you intended.
If you’ll want a drink after: The Royal
The coffee date is a great last date for the same reasons it’s an ideal first date. It’s inexpensive, so you don’t feel guilty if the other person buys your drink. It’s built around two people sitting and talking, at a table or in a comfy sofa. It’s easy to bail if one of you just feels like they need to go. And, more importantly for a serious conversation, you’re both sober.
But when you’re picking a spot for a final coffee date, you should consider a place like the Royal, one of Washington’s new breed of cafes that double as bars. Stick to coffee when you’re having The Talk: The lack of alcohol should reduce the chance of things getting too angry, confessional or confrontational. Then, after you’ve done the deed and given your now-ex a hug or a firm handshake, down your cappuccino, stand up and walk over to the Royal’s bar. Ask for the El Bastardo, a spicy-sweet mix of rum, gin and ancho-infused maple, or the frothy, herbal Wicked Games, with roasted-shishito mezcal. Congratulations. You’ve earned it.
The Royal, 501 Florida Ave. NW. Open daily. — F.H.
If you want to avoid temptation: Meridian Hill Park
For relationships where the attraction is still very much alive and you’re worried about backsliding, make sure there’s no booze or a bedroom nearby. Meeting up for an afternoon walk allows you to each process things gradually and can also feel less severe than sitting someone down and saying, “This isn’t working.”
Pick a green space where it’s easy to get in and out. You don’t want to get sucked in to a two-hour ramble through Rock Creek Park or the National Zoo. Meridian Hill Park has plenty of memorials that can provide solace. Maybe you walk by Joan of Arc’s statue, reflecting on how she had to convince a court to get her out of a bad match her father had arranged; hopefully your path to freedom was easier won. If it goes poorly, there’s always Dante’s likeness near the east side of the park. Remember: Even his journey through the circles of hell was considered a comedy.
Meridian Hill Park, 16th and W streets NW. Open daily. — L.B.
If you genuinely want to be friends: Cava
When you’re casually dating, there comes a time when a decision needs to be made: Are you committing or going your separate ways? When there are no hard feelings, and no serious entanglements to unravel, opt for the fast-casual breakup.
Wherever you are, there’s probably a Cava, Sweetgreen or Chipotle nearby. Pick one, load your bowl up with toppings and then deliver the news without that awkward wait for the check or a server constantly coming by to ask how you’re doing.
The fast-casual breakup is the culinary equivalent of saying: Nothing against you, but we’re looking for different things. You like crazy feta, and I’m more of a harissa gal.
Cava, multiple locations. Open daily. — L.B.
If you want to avoid a scene: The Brixton
Sometimes, you’re pretty sure it’s not going to end well. There might be an argument. Maybe a scene with raised voices. Try to let them down easy in a classy bar, and if it goes wrong, every head will be on a swivel. You won’t ever want to show your face in there again.
Instead, to cut ties properly, find a place where there’s plenty of background noise. Try the Brixton on a weekend night, when two or three floors of the U Street bar are humming with people ordering drinks, the drone of talking, and a DJ playing party tunes. Who’s going to notice two people having a loud conversation?
If the Brixton’s a little quiet, suggest moving somewhere else nearby before bringing up you-know-what — maybe Nellie’s or Takoda or the Hawthorne — to keep your anonymity amid the roar of the crowd. Make sure there are plenty of other people around, for safety, and for something else: Distract the dumpee with a room full of potential rebounds, and maybe they’ll move on more quickly.
The Brixton, 901 U St. NW. Open daily. — F.H.