I'll preface this list by saying the following:
- I prefer to go places where I can dress up a little. It's a first date -- why wouldn't you put your best foot forward?
- I prefer to go places that are not isolated, i.e. there are many other bars/restaurants/what have you nearby. Why? If the date is going well, we can move to another location and get dinner/more drinks. Moving locations builds rapport.
- I prefer places that are Metro-accessible. Obvious reasons here.
So without further ado, here's my list!
The Gibson 2009 14th St. NW
The good: Ohhh, have mercy! This little speakeasy is just a black door on 14th Street, which makes it feel exclusive and awesome. Additionally, the candlelight/strong cocktail combination ignites romance like gasoline to an arson. Any man who's taken me here has subsequently ended up with my panties in his mouth.*
The bad: It's super expensive and more often than not, you need reservations.
PS 7's 777 I St. NW
The good: This little bar just off the main strip in Chinatown boasts some of the most award-winning bartenders in town. Their constantly changing cocktail menu and amazing happy hour deals make this a can't-miss place.
The bad: Because their happy hour deals are so awesome, it gets really crowded and tough to find a seat.
Vinoteca 1940 11th St. NW
The good: The red walls of this U Street wine bar help foster a romantic environment, as do its delicious wine selection and phenomenal gourmet happy hour food offerings. Additionally, there's a little bocce court out back, so if you're feeling competitive you can play with your date.
The bad: Again, this place can get crowded. Best to get there early so you don't have to stand.
Masa 14 1825 14th St. NW
The good: Another place with amazingly delicious cocktails. Moreover, their selection of Latin-Asian fusion small plates are fun to test out with a date who has an adventurous palate.
The bad: Expensive, crowded.
Biergarten Haus 1355 H St. NE
The good: Fancy beer! In ginormous glasses! And the back patio is a beautiful, breezy place to enjoy your craft brew.
The bad: This pick breaks most of the rules I set forth when I started writing this entry -- it's more casual, and it's far from the Metro. Also, German food is decidedly NOT date appropriate (schnitzel and sauerkraut have ZERO business being anywhere near your mouth region when there's even a remote possibility that you'll kiss someone). That said, H Street is a fun neighborhood, so there are plenty of places to go for food nearby (Dangerously Delicious Pies is one of my favorites).
That's it! Now get out there and ask out some cute men or women at that next networking happy hour you attend.
*This was just a figure of speech. No one has actually eaten my underwear. Yet.