Food & Drink

The Best First Date Bars in Seattle

Published On 10/15/2015 Published On 10/15/2015
Naomi Tomky/Thrillist

The Innkeeper

In the summer, there’s absolutely no place better to take a date than the fresh air and party atmosphere of the Innkeeper’s back patio. In the winter, snuggle at a table with a Moscow Mule and chat about yourselves over chips and dip.

Flickr/javacolleen

Flowers

The only issue with this low-key spot is that the name might remind your date that you didn’t actually bring her any blooms. But other than that, it has the dim buzz necessary to overcome awkward pauses, and it won’t stretch the wallet. So maybe do spring for the bouquet.

Courtesy of John Beck/Super Six

Super Six

Show you know all about Seattle’s newest and coolest spots by taking your date to the Marination folks’ latest spot. The divided space will let you gauge your mood before deciding if you need an isolated upstairs spot or to be in the middle of the barstool action, and if lilikoi-caramel malasadas (Portuguese-Hawaiian donuts) can’t help you get a second date, then it’s probably hopeless anyway.

Flickr/philosophygeek

Quinn’s Pub

There’s an ornateness to Quinn’s that makes it impressive, from the endless beer list to the nerdy whiskey selection, and the gently updated old building, to the indulgent food menu. Whatever it is, it all offers fodder for easily sustained conversation late into the night, the quintessential sign of first-date success.

Flickr/clappstar

Oliver’s Twist

It’s easy to feel at home at Oliver’s Twist, even on your first visit to the cocktail bar. Booths and supplemental bars weave around the room, affording every seat a bit of privacy without isolating couples in potentially awkward spaces. Meanwhile, the drinks (Dickens-themed in name only) are strong and tasty -- which may necessitate ordering a bag of the shareable truffle popcorn and an extended stay at the bar.

Naomi Tomky/Thrillist

Essex

Point out the adorable whale wallpaper, help each other Instagram the picture-perfect wood-oven-roasted vegetables, swap sips of your Americano (tip: not a coffee drink) and her IPA, and watch the rain stream down the big glass windows in the front: the Platonic ideal for the hipster first date.

Flickr/Helen Cook

Smith

Sure, taxidermy makes for strange first-date décor, but it also makes for excellent conversational fodder. Meanwhile, there’s beer, wine, cocktails, and food to please all tastes, and it’s just loud enough to eavesdrop on your neighbors' chit-chat when you run out of things to say.

Courtesy of Kraken Congee

Kraken Congee

Descend into a basement lair, where fish sauce and ube (purple yam) replace ketchup and potatoes. Aside from the immediate allure of the elegant brick space, the food here proves how the chefs won the money to start the place from a reality TV show -- it is that good, and also that different from what 90% of the restaurants in the city are serving.

Vito’s

A dimly lit lounge, soft live music wafting about the room, smartly dressed bartenders serving spot-on martinis: you’re either on one hell of a classy first date, or you’ve time traveled to 1930. Obviously it’s the former, but the latter would be SWEET, right?!

Flickr/T.Tseng

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

It’s said that oysters are an aphrodisiac, so you might as well hedge your bets with the best bivalves in town. Not to mention that the selection of draft beers and wine is worth drinking your way through.

Naomi Tomky/Thrillist

99 Park

Need wow-worthy cocktails and a modern bar? Though it’s mostly a high-end restaurant, the small bar section here is more than worth slipping into for an Old Fashioned and a few French fries. Besides, if it goes well, you’ll never have to think about where to go to celebrate your fancy anniversary dinner every year.

Naomi Tomky/Thrillist

Le Pichet

Take your date to France for the night, but without all those pesky flights. Just order a Lillet on the rocks and share a platter of charcuterie, and it’s almost the same thing. The tiny tables and handwritten chalkboards give off a whimsically French feeling, too bad the drive home over the Duwamish or the canal is unlikely to hold the same allure as a walk across the Seine.

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Naomi Tomky went to one of these spots on her first date with her husband. Feel free to guess which one. Or just follow her on Twitter @Gastrognome and Instagram @the_gastrognome.

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1. The Innkeeper 2510 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98121 (Belltown)

It's a Don Quixote themed bar with spicy Spanish inspired food and drink to match. After you've tried the green chile burger, grab yourself a cocktail and cool down on the back patio.

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2. Flowers 4247 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

This low-kay bar is a great place to bring a date.

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3. Super Six 3714 S Hudson St, Seattle, WA 98118

The latest offering from the crew behind Marination continues their tradition of bringing Hawaiian and Korean flavors to Seattle tables. Look for aloha spirit in cocktails and on the table, in the form of kalbi musubi, spicy Korean chicken wings, and Portuguese doughnuts called Malasadas, filled with lilikoi caramel.

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4. Quinn's Pub 1001 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

This wood-paneled gastropub slings equally upscale and messy plates like foie gras frites, wild boar sloppy joes, and the off-menu "Ultra Burger." That last one is created on the chef’s whim and has previously included bizarre combinations like glazed donuts and whole duck eggs. But for those days when stepping outside your comfort zone just isn't going to happen, there's the juicy Painted Hills burger, made with white cheddar, bacon, and mayo on a buttery brioche bun.

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5. Oliver's Twist 6822 greenwood ave. north, seattle, WA 98103

This bar is a great date spot for couples looking to enjoy some privacy.

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6. Essex 1421 NW 70th Street, Seattle, WA 98117

This place is the perfect first date spot for hipsters.

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7. Smith 332 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112 (Capitol Hill)

Dig into rustic pub fare, craft cocktails, and an "uncommon" beer selection at Smith in Seattle. This Capitol Hill area fave run by the proprietors of other Emerald City hotspots Linda's, King's Hardware, and Oddfellows Cafe, is known for their dependable menu of elevated and seasonal New American dinner and brunch selections. The warm and welcoming woodsy, lodge like interior provides the perfect setting for hearty and unique farmhouse style dishes and drinks.

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8. Kraken Congee 88 Yesler Way , Seattle, WA 98104 (Pioneer Square)

This former pop-up came to be a brick and mortar through an appearance on the TV show “Restaurant Startup.” The Filipino-influence menu offers up several kinds of flavorful rice porridge, like the Pork Belly Adobo. Don't forget to order the spring-roll-like sausage lumpia and leave room for the ube (purple yam) cheesecake.

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9. Vito's Restaurant & Lounge 927 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 (Downtown)

Vito's serves boot food ranging from antipasti (sirloin Carpaccio w/ arugula, shaved Parmesan & capers), to pasta (the black tiger prawns/black angel hair pasta/spicy red sauce'd Scampi Nero d'Angelo), and specials like the red sauce covered 12oz ribeye Steak Piazzola.

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10. Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar 410 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104 (Pioneer Square)

Before it opened shop, Taylor Shellfish was providing oysters, clams, mussels, and crab to most of the city’s chefs. Now with several of its own locations, this oyster bar continues to serve all seafood in its purest form. Not to mention that the selection of draft beers and wine is worth drinking your way through. It seems like it would be some sort of Seattle stereotype that people spend their pre-football-game time drinking craft beers and slurping raw oysters, but that’s why we love it here, no?

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11. 99 Park 99 102nd Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004 (Bellevue)

Helmed by Old Sage and Hitchcock vets, this casual fine-dining destination is bringing composed takes on Northwest-y eats like Neah Bay halibut-rapini, razor clam-uni, and Washington oysters to Old Town Bellevue.

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12. Le Pichet 1933 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 (West Seattle)

The regional and classic style of French food at this Pike Place restaurant has made it a prominent fixture in the area. With an all day charcuterie menu, wine list, full bar, and diner menu there is always something worth stopping in to try.

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