The Best Date Spot in 15 DC Neighborhoods

Published On 08/24/2015 Published On 08/24/2015
Laura Hayes/Thrillist (edited)
Courtesy of Maple
Courtesy of Amir Lowery
Courtesy of Rey Lopez
Courtesy of Al Tiramisu
Courtesy of Chez Billy Sud
Courtesy of Scott Suchman
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Courtesy of Wondering Soul Photography
Courtesy of Sam Vasfi Photo
Courtesy of Menomale
Courtesy of Destination DC
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Courtesy of Goran Kosanovic
Courtesy of Co. Co. Sala
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1. Mockingbird Hill 1843 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Shaw)

Sherry and ham are what you'll find at the stained-oak Spanish bar, Mockingbird Hill. In addition to the 90 sherries on the menu, Mockingbird Hill offers cuts of American and Spanish hams, small bites like deviled eggs, and toasted bread, with toppings like garlic, tomatoes, and Manchego. If you’re new to sherry, Mockingbird Hill’s staff will give you all the insight you need to find the perfect pairing with your snacks.

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2. Maple 3418 11th St NW, Washington, 20010 (Columbia Heights)

The lamb ragu alone makes Maple worth a visit. Co-owner Lori Robertson says customers would riot if the dish ever vanished. The neighborhood restaurant’s rustic Italian menu is reminiscent of The Red Hen, and also has a few surprises like a gourmet panini bursting with short ribs, Fontina, and pickled onions. Spend date night on the Maple patio sipping on build-your-own flights of wine or an "Italian Shandy" made by spiking Port City Optimal Wit with Aperol and lime. Pro tip: bottles of wine are half-off on Tuesday.

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3. Harold Black 212 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Eastern Market)

This romantic lounge serves up stiff drinks. Try the Harlem Stir with bourbon, amaro, vermouth, and chocolate bitters

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4. Maketto 1351 H St NE, Washington, 20002 (H Street Ne)

Maketto combines a restaurant, coffeeshop, bar, and clothing store into one massive, 6,000sqft venue on H Street NE. The 60-seat restaurant focuses on Cambodian and Taiwanese food for lunch and dinner, and if you're in the business of brunching, be sure to put the Sunday dim sum brunch on your bucket list. The retail store showcases international brands at upscale price points, and even if the merch is beyond your budget, the sheer variety is worth checking out. The second floor cafe serves Vigilante Coffee and bread from Frenchie's Bakery, plus a few pastries baked in house.

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5. Al Tiramisu 2014 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

An Italian restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere, Al Tiramisu makes for a great date spot. Try the breaded grilled calamari skewers and, of course, the tiramisu.

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6. Chez Billy Sud 1039 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (Georgetown)

The Georgetown offshoot of Petworth's Chez Billy has the kind of South of France charm you should save for a wine n' dine kind of date. Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, Chez Billy Sud puts an upscale and elegant spin on Gallic classics like duck confit, steak frites, and beef bourguignon. Splurge on a bottle of wine, or go for one of the thematically-named cocktails (Champs-Elysees, anyone?).

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7. Mintwood Place 1813 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

The Mintwood Place is an American Restaurant that has an "Oregon Trail" vibe thanks to the wagon wheels on the wall, wood on the tables and bars, and cast iron gears. Pull a chair up to the bar for some draft beer or try any of the delectable tastes on the menu, including the cast iron chicken w/ cippolini shepherd's pie.

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8. Osteria Morini 301 Water Street Southeast, Suite 109, Washington , DC 20003 (Navy Yardnear Se)

This New York City transplant specializes in Italian cuisine from the northern Emilia-Romagna region. Expect house-made pasta dishes like braised wild mushroom rigatoni, simply grilled meats, and cured meat and cheese plates. Osteria Morini's dinner is perfect for date night, while its brunch, featuring ricotta pancakes and frittatas alongside signature pastas, has all the cheese and carbs essential to curing a hangover. The upscale Navy Yard spot is bright and airy with floor-to-ceiling windows and high factory ceilings.

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9. Costa Brava 1837 1st St NW, Washington, DC 20001

This bi-level spot is home to festive cocktails and Spanish tapas served in an intimate setting. The menu is authentic right down to the drinks, like the kalimotxo, a combination of red wine and Coca Cola. DJs make appearances on the weekend and spin everything from salsa to reggae. It's the perfect date spot in Bloomingdale.

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10. Crane & Turtle 828 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011 (Petworth)

This restaurant is eminiscent of a cool café in Japan, serving up French and Japanese-inspired cuisine like straw-smoked tatakis, a cool take on pork cheek ramen, charcoal-grilled short rib, and a scallop dish you’ll be talking about for days.

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11. Menomale 2711 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20018 (Noma)

Menomale is a low-key pizzeria in a low-key neighborhood. The owners of the Brookland spot are certified by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which means their Neapolitan-style pizzas are recognized by the pizza-making authorities in Naples as legitimate. Everything about Menomale's pies is Italian -- the ingredients are sourced from the Campania region and the toppings include the likes of prosciutto, porcini mushrooms, and Italian sausage. The menu also includes sandwiches made with pizza dough, calzones, and gluten-free crust options.

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12. Bohemian Caverns 2001 11th St , Washington , DC 20001 (U Street)

U Street's "Sole Home of Soul Jazz", Bohemian Caverns is one of the oldest jazz clubs out there. It’s provided awesome date nights of live jazz and candlelight since it opened in 1926. You name it, and they’ve performed here: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.

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13. 2 Birds 1 Stone 1800 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Logan Circle)

Situated in Logan Circle, 2 Birds 1 Stone may be hidden beneath Doi Moi off bustling 14th Street, but it’s far from unknown in the DC cocktail world thanks to its expertly crafted concoctions. The chic, often-crowded bar is known for its original creations (check out the punch du jour) and its re-imagined classics, such as a tequila-infused dark & stormy. The stylish, subterranean space is surprisingly bright, sporting plush seating and exposed brick.

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14. Co Co. Sala 929 F st. NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Penn Quarter)

Co Co. Sala's upscale eatery in Penn Quarter is all about chocolate, whether it's in the form of hand-made candies, cocktails, or other desserts (they even expanded the restaurant to include a full-service chocolate boutique). They even mange to work it into some of their Italian-American fare like mac & cheese with chocolate-covered bacon and crispy buffalo chicken sliders with chocolate nib buns. Where its penchant for decadence really shows, however, is in its stone and gold interior.

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15. Ambar 523 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

Traditional Balkan cuisine gets a modern update at Ambar, a Capitol Hill restaurant where elegant rusticity can be found in both the decor (wooden beams and shelving line the space) and the menu's hearty small plates. The extensive wine list and rakia-infused cocktails (a fruit brandy popular in Eastern Europe) pair well with Ambar's solid lineup of sausages, flatbreads, and house-baked pies. There's no doubt the meat and poultry section is the star of the menu, featuring dishes like bacon & peanut pork tenderloin, chicken kebabs, and slow-cooked pork with cabbage slaw.