Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where to Brunch: La Boum at L'enfant Cafe

A little while ago, while it was still technically summer and I was not so technically drinking a lot before fall semester started and I still had a life, I went to L’enfant Cafe’s La Boum brunch with my friend Lisa.  Having read A Single Girl’s review of what can only be described as their “party brunch,” I knew we were in for a good time.  Reservations are hard to come by- and to get in, you'll need a reservation- but we had gotten lucky and found an opening pretty quickly. 

Lisa and I arrived at 2:00 pm on a hot, rainy, Saturday, and were promptly seated at the bar.  We had been chatting for a few minutes when a bartender assumed her post in front of us.  

She leaned over and flashed us some cleavage.  “What are your names, girls?”

“J and Lisa,” we told her.

“J and Lisa,” she said.  “My goal today is to get you drunk!”

The three of cheered and downed shot glasses of champagne as the DJ in the corner started spinning some music.  The lights were turned down low and we were instructed to boo anyone who opened the door and let sunlight in.  Bottles of champagne topped with sparklers were passed out around the bar and the noise level gradually rose, shouts of laughter punctuating the ruckus.     

Once meals had been served and eaten- this is probably the only brunch in the city where the food is not the main point- the party really got started.  
This is what brunch looks like for the first five minutes (Source: L'enfant Cafe)
This is what brunch looks like the rest of the time (Source: L'enfant Cafe)

First people stood up and began dancing.  Then they got on their chairs.  Then they climbed on the bar.  Champagne was a-flowin and the music was pumping and Lisa and I joined the party as soon as we finished polishing off a nutella crepe.  Priorities.  

At one point there was a male stripper walking around dressed as a priest, which proved very unsettling when he started removing his clothing.  Someone passed me a champagne bottle and I took a swig as we watched the priest harass a guy celebrating his birthday.  Hey, I never claimed to be classy.  

At another point, a bride-to-be climbed on the bar only to drunkenly fall moments later, nearly catapulting onto the floor.  

At another point, I began dancing with a shirtless guy who was beautiful and clearly gay (naturally).  He was very sweaty but we hugged like long-lost friends as Lisa snapped pictures of us.  

At yet another point, I yelled at a guy Lisa had been talking to after he told me, for a third time, “You don’t look like you’re having fun, loosen up.”  

I am dancing to Ke$ha with a sweaty shirtless man!!  What more do you want from me?!  So I yelled at him to stop getting on my case and he promptly moved to another part of the room.  Sorry, Lisa.

After hours of revelry, Lisa and I returned to our initial spots at the bar to close our tabs.  I was tired and sweaty and had frizzy hair, so naturally, this was when a cute guy wearing a red shirt chose to approach me.  

We only talked for a minute or two before he asked for my number- his friends were already half out the door and were waiting for him.    

“You’re not going to text me,” I said skeptically.    

“I will!” 

And what do you know- he was true to his word. 

So, tell me- where else can you find a brunch in which you can eat a delicious quiche, see a priest strip down to his underwear, get your dance on atop the bar, and at the end of it, exchange numbers with that cute guy or gal you've been eyeing from afar?  La Boum is truly one-of-a-kind in the typically tame D.C. brunch scene. 

The only downside?  The embarrassing pictures of you drunkenly flailing to Britney that are sure to pop up on Facebook the next day.

*Note that the La Boum menu recently changed to a 3-course menu for $28 per person.  Trust me, it's worth it, and you'll need that much food anyway to sustain your day-drinking.   


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where to Brunch: Cafe Deluxe

I love brunch so much. Why? First, it's a great way to bring everyone together the morning after a night of debauchery and do what my friend and I like to call "de-briefing." Aka recapping the night before. Filling in the pieces for those who went home early or drank too much. Telling the hilarious interaction that someone missed while they were doing shots at the bar. Second, the food options. You can do breakfast OR lunch. Oh, the genius behind the brunch.

One of my favorite brunch places in D.C. is Cafe Deluxe. It is located at 2338 Wisconsin Avenue between the National Cathedral and Tenleytown.*

The atmosphere is friendly and neighborhoody. There are huge mirrors along the walls, mahogany booths, white table cloths, black and white checkered tiles on the floor. The servers wear collared shirts and ties and are attentive and friendly. Cafe Deluxe feels like an Italian or French bistro, but the overall vibe is extremely laid back and relaxed.

The crowd varies from big groups of friends meeting up, to families coming in after church, to couples having a leisurely weekend meal together. There is outdoor seating, and the patio is the place to be on a warm, sunny day.

Now, the menu. Oh, the menu. In addition to weekly kick-ass brunch special, the menu is fantastic. Everything from eggs benedict (my go-to brunch choice) to burgers to salads. The menu also features the most delicious sides ever: mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and french fries. All perfect food to cure that hangover.

The only downside? Like most D.C. brunches, Cafe Deluxe does not take reservations. But you can call ahead and add your name to the list. My advice? Show up around 11:15 or 11:30. That way you get in before the after-church crowd.

*Cafe Deluxe also has locations in Bethesda and Tyson's Corner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where to Take Your Mother When She Visits

Let's get this out of the way first: I'm from Ohio. That is the state where a river caught on fire, Jerry Springer was mayor and exotic animals ran amok. And we call "soda" "pop," for christ's sake -- something that makes me a target of merciless ribbing in all workplace cafeterias each time I want to sup from a tasty, tasty carbonated beverage. It's no wonder that my mother would hear the siren's call of Big City Livin', pack her bags and hightail it to a flight out of CVG faster than you can sing "Hang On Sloopy."*

I'm sure others who hail from similarly less-than-exotic locales and now live here will occasionally wake up to find their mothers knocking on their apartment doors. And that begs the question: What do you do with old Mumsy when she waltzes into town?

It only takes a visit or two to exhaust all the standard touristy stuff (and by "standard touristy stuff," I'm referring to the Mall/Smithsonian museums, major monuments, Capitol building and the White House). I pride myself on being a pretty great tour guide, so if you don't want to take the woman who pushed you into this world to the Air and Space Museum for the billionth time, check out the following mama-approved places:

FOR A DAYTIME ACTIVITY: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW

Hillwood is the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, owner of the General Foods. She was a big collector of Russian art, and she instructed that her home should be turned into a museum after her death.

The estate is a bit out of the way -- off Connecticut Avenue, about a 15-minute walk from the Van Ness-UDC Metro Station -- but it's a beautiful old home filled with intricately carved antiquities. Furthermore, it's surrounded by themed gardens, which are lovely to stroll through on nice-weather days.

Also, since Merriweather Post was known as much for being a socialite as she was for her business savvy, the museum frequently features rotating exhibits of the luxurious clothing she wore (as an example, right now, the highlighted exhibit is Merriweather Post's four wedding gowns, as well as bridesmaid and flower girl dresses worn by her daughters).

Moms love gardens and antiquities. Moms love historical fashion, too. And when the estate's tagline is "Where Fabulous Lives," how could you NOT take your mom for a visit?

FOR A NICE DINNER: Bastille, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA

Talk about "off the beaten path" -- this restaurant is located on the edge of the edge of Old Town Alexandria, in what looks to be a rail yard:

If it weren't for that red arrow, you'd never know there was a restaurant there, right? Let's take a closer look:

Inexplicably located though it may be, Bastille has served my mom and me some of the most succulent, traditionally French coq-au-vin I have ever tasted in my life. And with the exception of Bastille Day, when the restaurant does a celebration and special-event menu, it's never hard to get a reservation and great service.

Full disclosure: My mother lived in France for a year, so the food at Bastille may offer her an extra helping of nostalgia in addition to her glass of Cotes du Rhone. But the bottom line is, there are so many fantastic restaurants in the D.C.-area, it takes something pretty special to make me a repeat customer. My mom and I have eaten here three times.

FOR EVENING ENTERTAINMENT: The Capitol Steps, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center)

Who doesn't love a good political satire set to music? The Capitol Steps have been hamming it up at the Ronald Reagan Building every Friday and Saturday night for years. And if your mom comes to visit, a $40 ticket to listen to such gems as "God Bless My S.U.V." ("God Bless the U.S.A.") and "I'm So Indicted" ("I'm So Excited") will be money well-spent.

FOR THE BEST VIEW OF THE CITY: Skydome Lounge, 300 Army-Navy Drive, Arlington, VA (at the top of the DoubleTree Hotel)

If you've ever crossed the Potomac on I-395, you've probably wondered what that little circular thing is at the top of the DoubleTree Hotel:

That's Skydome Lounge, and it rotates, which means it's a bar AND a ride. Pretty sweet.

The cocktails here are pricy and the trail mix on the tables is of questionable origin, but with sweeping views of the Pentagon, the Capitol Building, the White House, the National Cathedral, the Potomac, and the planes taking off and landing at Reagan National Airport, for my money you can't get a better view of the city (and that includes at P.O.V.).

Trust me: Your mom will be thrilled.

FOR A BUDGET-FRIENDLY BRUNCH: Firefly, 1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW

This is the cute little fancy-backyard-themed restaurant in the Hotel Madera, which is a cute little boutique hotel in Dupont Circle. (I've been inside one of the rooms -- they're nice!) The restaurant specializes in taking dishes your grandma (or mom, perhaps?) might make and jazzing them up for quality meal presentation.

Brunch, in particular, was a delight for my mom and me... and the rest of our family, actually, because I took them all there. And that's why Firefly is so great for brunch -- its menu is fancy, but not so fancy that meat-and-potatoes eaters can't find something they'll enjoy.

My mom and I shared the "Pop Pop's French Toast" -- orange- and vanilla-dipped challah with apple-raisin compote and maple syrup -- and "The Elvis Sandwich" -- peanut butter, bacon, banana and maple-honey on pan-fried challah bread -- and both were insanely delicious. (Although, out of the two, GET THE ELVIS SANDWICH. You won't regret it.)

And at about $12-$14 an entree, you really can't beat the price. Also, they serve their receipts in mason jars a la what you used to catch fireflies in as a kid:

I assure you, that's what this is... my BlackBerry camera sucks.

FOR AN OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH MEMORIAL: The Einstein Memorial, the intersection of 22nd Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW

I lived in the D.C.-area for three years before I even knew this memorial was here. It's quiet and not quite as well-traveled as the other memorials/monuments, and it's kind of fun to take your picture on Einstein's lap. And when you look down and see a map of the universe marked out in little metal dots at your feet, the whole thing makes you feel kind of small and happy to be alive.

That's it! Now, go call your mother -- she probably misses you.

*In truth, Ohio ain't so bad. Cleveland does rock, after all.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where to Run in the District

I must preface this post by saying that my recommendations pretty much stick to Northwest D.C. Why? Because that is where I live. What I hope is that others will weigh in with comments on other cool places to run in and around the DMV.

The National Mall
Distance: approximately 3 miles

Every single time I run on the National Mall I feel lucky. Lucky to live in this city. Lucky to be surrounded by beautiful monuments that commemorate and honor our founding fathers, our democratic system, and our military. Man, I sound sentimental right now. But, seriously, go for a run on the mall and you will, too.

I like to start off on 3rd Street, right near the Capitol, and then run up the mall, around the Washington Monument, down to the World War Two Memorial, and back. The loop is about three miles. In addition to the monuments, there is always a lot to take in-- people watching, beautiful architecture, Members of Congress huffing and puffing, kick ball and softball games...cute men.

The run itself is mostly flat and all of you DC runners know that this can be hard to come by in our hilly city. My favorite time of day? Either early morning or right before dusk. There are less tourist during these times and on sunny days the monuments just seem to shine all around you. It is lovely :)

Not a runner? The mall is also a great place to go walking with a friend after a long day at work. And walking dates have far less calories than happy hour drink specials...just sayin.

Embassy Row, upper Massachusetts Avenue
Distance: approximately 4 miles

As the nation's capital, D.C. is home to over sixty foreign embassies. Most are clustered together, and located on Massachusetts Avenue between Dupont Circle and Wisconsin Avenue. This is one of my favorite run routes for two reasons.

First, the architecture on this route is gorgeous. It feels very European and it's fun to glance at the different flags and plaques that indicate different embassies. Second, if you start from Dupont Circle and run up Mass Ave, it is a challenging run because it is up hill pretty much the entire way. For about two miles. But all the hard work pays off when you get to turn around and run back down the hill.
Pretty decent view, huh?

Jefferson Memorial/ Tidal Basin 
Distance: 1.8 miles

Looking for a short, quiet run? If yes, this is the place to do it. The Jefferson Memorial has a small path that runs around the perimeter of the tidal basin. It is a peaceful and and wonderful little two mile run. The Jefferson Memorial is my favorite monument because I love going inside and reading the inscriptions on the wall. I often times will do this after I finish up the run. Note: do not attempt this run during cherry blossom season. The path gets completely packed with tourists.

Potomac River/ Memorial Bridge
Distance: approximately 4.5 miles

This run starts at the Georgetown Waterfront and follows the Potomac River past the Kennedy Center, and then across the Memorial Bridge to the gates of Arlington National Cemetery. Why do I love this run? Oh, so many reasons.

First, it is another *mostly* flat run. Second, it is cool to stop mid-way over the Memorial Bridge and take in our gorgeous city. Third, there are always, and I mean, always, hot men running without shirts on along the Potomac. I don't know why this is where they all run, but they do. And you won't hear this girl complaining about that. At all.

The final reason I love this run is bragging rights. Once you finish the run you can tell all your friends that your run spanned multiple states. Or at least that is what I do every time I run this route. 

So, there you go- my top places to run in the District! Do you have a favorite route to run? If yes, please share it below!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where to Eat: Zabb Modern Asian

Last week, I got a text from a gentleman with whom I'd recently had a nice first date inquiring if I wanted to have dinner with him that Saturday.  I replied that I would, and he followed up by asking if I preferred Thai or Mexican, which is kind of like asking if I'd rather go sunbathe in Tahiti or Bali.

I like both, so I'll let you decide, I responded.    

Great, let's meet by the Dupont metro at 7:30 and we'll go from there.
Saturday rolled around and I was eagerly anticipating enchiladas when my date spotted me by the metro and came over to hug me hello.

"So, I was thinking we could check out Lauriol Plaza," he said.

Seriously, you want to go to Lauriol Plaza?  On a Saturday night?

"Well, that sounds good," I said.  "But just to warn you, it gets pretty crowded on the weekends."

"Hmm, true, but maybe it won't be too bad since there's just two of us."

Incorrect, I thought.

"Okay, let's go check it out."

Unsurprisingly, we arrived to a zoo of girls tottering on heels and hordes of bro'ed out men.  After waiting for a few minutes just to put our names in for a table, my date turned to me and said,

"Okay, you were right.  Want to go check out that new Asian place across the street?"

Turns out, Zabb Asian is like the Asian version of Lauriol Plaza- the food is nothing to write home about, but it's a nice atmosphere and the service is good.

We sat on the patio upstairs, which was quite a lovely and romantic setting, though it didn't really distract me from the increasing lameness of my date's jokes.


I ordered a tofu and veggie dish, which was okay.  My date didn't like his sushi, but I don't know that I'd trust his opinion that much since he thought it was a good idea to dress up in a child's superman costume last year and then go into detail on our date about how he had stuffed the crotch.  Feeling uncomfortable, I grabbed my strawberry basil mojito and downed half of it.  Like the food, it was just okay. 

In short, if you go to Zabb, you can count on the fact that the service and setting is nice.  If you sit outside or by the window, you can point and laugh at the suckers waiting in the long line for Lauriol Plaza.  But that's really all it has to offer, unfortunately.

Well, that, and it's a great backdrop for stories about crotch stuffing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where to STUFF YOUR FACE: Mellow Mushroom

I woke up so happy this morning.


It's not because I got laid last night (I didn't), because it's a beautiful day (though it is) or because everyone reading this post right now is about to send me ONE MILLION DOLLARS (I'll link you to my PayPal account later).

NAY, dear readers -- it is because I stuffed my face full of cheese, dough and sauce like a goddamned glutton at the brand-spankin'-new D.C. franchise of Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan last night.

And I feel totally OK with that life choice.

I had heard of Mellow Mushroom before, when I dated a man who lived in Raleigh, N.C. Apparently, this rampant-illegal-narcotic-use-alluding pizza chain tends to crop up around college campuses in the South (you mean, students like to smoke pot and eat pizza? GET THE FUCK OUTTA TOWN.). And when I heard the joint (pun totes intended) was planning to open a location in D.C. on Monday, I simply had to be there for its opening night.

It is no secret the District is crying out for a decent pizza place. The much-ballyhooed spots we have now (Fuck you, Two Amys -- your paper-towel-thin excuse for a pizza ruins EVERYTHING) are just not cutting it. So, I gathered a crew of intrepid pizza lovers and set out for the little strip of 18th Street Northwest where Jumbo Slice usually reigns supreme. (Also: Fuck you, Jumbo Slice -- you suck at life but I can't stop eating you when I'm drunk.)

In its Southern variations, Mellow Mushroom is very much a hippie-dippie spot, seemingly straight out of the 1960s. In a buttoned-up, collared-shirt, don't-put-these-pictures-of-me-on-Facebook-because-I'm-planning-to-run-for-office city like D.C., however, I'm not sure that sort of environment would fly. Fortunately, whoever is responsible for the AdMo location -- which is in the building where 18th and Red used to be -- realized this fact and steered the place toward a circus-sideshow theme:

Images courtesy of Justin Cook
That's particularly awesome because ever since Palace of Wonders on H Street Northeast joined forces with the Red and the Black to become Red Palace, siphoning off all the character that made Palace of Wonders worth going to in the first place, D.C. has been suffering from a distinct lack of circus-sideshow-themed establishments. Win 1 for Mellow Mushroom.

It was the pizza place's opening night, so of course there were a few hiccups: Their table buzzers appeared to be faulty, lighting up and vibrating to alert us a table was available for our group when, in fact, no such table existed; additionally, the dining room lights kept flickering. They were also out of a couple of the beers on their extensive beer menu, which was disappointing, but understandably not out of the realm of possibility for a first run-through.

We decided on three pizzas:

The Red Skin Potato Pie

Olive oil- and garlic-based pizza loaded with red potato,
Applewood-smoked bacon, carmelized onions, cheddar
and mozzerella cheese, sprinkled with chives and drizzled
with sour cream and spicy Ranch dressing

The Philosopher's Pie

Olive oil- and garlic-based pizza with grilled steak, portobello
mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and provolone,
feta and mozzerella cheeses

And the Funky Q Chicken

Barbecued chicken, mozzerella and cheddar cheeses,
carmelized onions, Applewood-smoked bacon and a
barbecue-sauce swirl

I think I can speak for all of us when I say: FOOD-GASM.

The Red Skin Potato Pie tasted just like a loaded baked potato, except more awesome. The meat on the Funky Q Chicken was tender and delicious. And the Philosopher's Pie? The freshest kalamata olives paired with perfectly grilled steak. Win 2 for Mellow Mushroom.

Everything was just. so. good. Our table, which had been energetic and noisy prior to being served, immediately got quiet as we shoveled in the doughy delight. (And that's another thing that's awesome -- the dough has a honey-wheat flavor, a welcome sweetness to cut the saltiness of the toppings.)

Even better, Mellow Mushroom boasts a pretty impressive beer list, and if you join their beer club and try 75 of them, you get a special mug and other prizes. Naturally, I joined, as did my dinner compatriots.

I'm definitely going back, especially in about eight months when the summer swelter sweeps over the District again -- Mellow Mushroom has a KICK-ASS open-air roof deck. WIN 3!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Happy Hour Hullabaloo!

What evil lurks in the heart of men? If they're in the District, it's probably that they're politicians cheating on their wives with their campaign managers (let's be real).

But let us not be deterred by infidelity from our true purpose: a happenin', haunted happy hour hosted by Sign of the Whale -- and your favorite Gamma Girls, naturally! 

Come join us for drink specials and chow down on one of the bar's signature "Titanics" from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27. 

As for the dress code, well, you've heard of "White Parties," right? This is a "Black Party" -- get dressed in your sexy dark-of-night duds and come psyched for an awesome evening.

We can hardly wait!

WHAT: Doing the District Halloween Happy Hour Hullabaloo!

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011
               6 - 9 p.m.

WHERE: Sign of the Whale
                  1825 M St. NW
                  Washington, D.C.

Please RSVP so we know how many of you fabulous people to expect:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where to Shop: D.C. Fish Market

This past weekend, while driving down the George Washington Parkway after a day of hiking in the unseasonably warm October weather, my hiking date asked if I wanted to check out the D.C. fish market and pick up some fish to grill for dinner.

I had never heard of the fish market and it seemed like the perfect weather for grilling -- so off we went.

We crossed the river back to the District and headed toward the market, located on the Southwest waterfront. Readers take note: As we parked, my date told me that the best time to visit the fish market is on the weekends because it is virtually impossible to find parking during the week.

As we approached the market, I observed that the first section is not fish at all. Instead it has a variety of food to order. Everything from chili dogs, to crabs, to fish and chips. As we walked along checking out the food, my date asked if I liked raw oysters. I admitted that I had never tried an oyster before. "Want to try one?" he asked. I hesitated but feeling adventurous I decided to go for it. He ordered four oysters while I grabbed us drinks at another counter.

The oysters? A little slimy but not bad. My date, a raw oyster veteran, told me that they tasted very fresh.

After eating oysters and drinking fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade, we were ready for the main event: the fish. Now, as a girl from New England, I'm embarrassed to say that this was my first ever trip to a fish market. I had no idea what to expect. I sort of envisioned a bunch of random stands like a farmer's market. I was way off. It is way more legit.

The market itself is shaped like a giant U with counters on all three sides. I felt like I was at a carnival. The men behind the counters yell and ask patrons what they want to order, much like carnival workers try to lure children to play their games.   

The Little Mermaid
totally got it wrong
The market has every type of fish one could possibly imagine. My date was a great tour guide and pointed out different fish to me as I oohed and ahhed. He also knew a lot about fish. Did you know that flounder have both eyes on one side of their head?

We made our way around the market's perimeter checking out each and every counter.

mmmm, delicious
Red snapper

We eventually settled on some red snapper. It was my first time trying this type of fish and was afraid it would be too fishy. But, my tour guide assured me that red snapper is mild. And he was right. He fired up my grill later, added some olive oil, pepper, garlic salt and parsley to the fish. We also threw some asparagus on the grill and made a fresh heirloom tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad.  

The result? The fish was mild and delicious. It tasted very fresh and was about half the price of what it would cost at Whole Foods.

My advice if you check out the fish market? Find yourself a cute guy. One who can cook. Bring him with you to pick out the fish and bring him home with you after to grill the fish. And just like that you will have yourself the perfect little Saturday night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where to Eat and Date: Comet Ping Pong

I have been to Comet Ping Pong on dates with no less than four different gentlemen.  I think we can infer from this several things:

- I am apparently very bad at dating
- I've become pretty good at ping pong 
- The pizza at Comet is the stuff dreams are made of
- It's a great place for a low-key date that offers opportunities beyond the typical dinner and drinks routine

As made evident by the name, Comet's gimmick is that it houses several ping pong tables in the back of the restaurant, in addition to one kept on the sidewalk in warmer months (volleying within feet of heavy traffic on Connecticut Avenue: an activity for a soul more confident in their motor control than I).

My Photos by

The interior has a renovated warehouse feel that manages to pull off both minimalist and festive at the same time, to surprisingly cozy effect.  This juxtaposition of contrasting perspectives continues into the late evening when the ping pong tables are folded up to make way for local punk bands (you can check out upcoming shows on their website or Facebook page).

While D.C. has no shortage of tasty pizza options- Two Amy's, Matchbox, and Ella's among them- Comet is near the top of that delicious, delicious list.  The pizza is thin crust, wood-fired, and is served only in individual sizes, so you can order exactly what you want and not feel obligated to split it with your weirdo date who likes anchovies.  Comet offers gluten-free crust and vegan cheese, and according to their website, nearly all of the food served is farmed and harvested in a sustainable manner.  By going to Comet, you are basically giving the Earth a hug. 

Comet's also a fun place to go hang out even if you're not hungry or if you haven't decided yet whether you like your date enough to pay for dinner.  Order some Allagash White and chat on the bar stools, and if the conversation starts to stall, head on over to the tables for a few games of ping pong.  Especially on the first few dates, it's a great idea to have a built in activity ready to go if needed; even when you're hitting it off with someone, hours upon hours of sitting and talking can start to feel tedious. 

Now, the downside: Comet is a hike to get to if you don't happen to live nearby.  It's about a fifteen minute walk from the Van Ness Metro, but look- walking is good for you!  It burns calories and all that crap, so walk up that hill and then go eat some delicious pizza.  If you want to drive, you can easily find street parking, or you can take the bus- hop on an L1, L2 or L4.

The following comment featured on Comet's website explaining why it's such a good choice for a date puts it best:  "It’s a great chance for each party to prove they don’t take themselves too seriously. I mean, would you really want to date someone who refuses to drink beer and play Ping-Pong?"