Restaurants For Any Stage of Your Relationship

Photo courtesy of
‘Hand in hand’
courtesy of ‘Pianoman75’
Dining out, especially in a city like DC, can be a daunting task. More so when you’re trying to impress someone, like maybe someone you’re trying to get your kiss on with. Or maybe you’ve nailed down the right person for you, and you’re just looking for some creative food to keep you on your toes. Or maybe you’re ready to pop the big marriage question but are unsure of where to do it.

Well, lucky for you, I’ve got a round-up of perfect restaurants for any point in your relationship. From first dates, to a late night married take-out place, I have you covered. Read on, romancer, and let me guide you.
Photo courtesy of
‘Fairfax Borealis’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’

First Date: In my opinion, a first date shouldn’t be in a fancy restaurant. I know, that’s confusing, since I’m a foodie, and you probably think I need impressing. Well, I do want quality food, but I also don’t want some hushed quiet corner when I’m trying to get to know you. So a first date deserves a casual, fun and affordable (but still delicious) place, that is also in the middle of a bustling part of the city, so if the date goes well and you want to go somewhere to get drinks or dessert elsewhere, you don’t have to go far. So my first pick is newbie Eatonville. Casual, cheap, and delicious, the interior vibe is relaxed yet vibrant enough to edge off any awkwardness caused by first date jitters.  Plus when you’re done you’ve got all of 14th and U street at your disposal. If you’re not up for a sit-down date, grab burgers at Good Stuff Eatery or Ray’s Hell Burgers and head for the park. If your potential boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t up for getting burger juice down their chin and into their laps, then I’m not sure you really want to waste your time on them anyways.

Defining-the-Relationship Date: So you’ve been dating for a while. You like her. You think he’s great. You are going to have a DTR, but first you really need to impress the apple of your eye. You’re ready to step it up. This is when I’d tell you to head over to Penn Quarter. There you’ve got a few different choices, and since you’re going out fancy, your price point is somewhere in the $20 plates. Zaytinya is a great spot for someone you’re comfortable with (since you share the tapas) and a fun atmosphere with a bit of extra class. If tapas aren’t your thing, try Poste. The patio is fabulous, and the food is fun. Then afterward hit up any of the surrounding bars for a classy celebratory cocktail.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘quigley_brown’

The Anytime Date: So it’s a random Wednesday night, and you’re in a steady relationship. He’s pretty much everything you ever wanted, but right now you’re both cranky and can’t decide where to go to dinner. He’s not changing out of his UVA tee shirt, and you’re in flip flops, but you want something interesting to the palate. Sticky Rice is your answer. Casual, delicious, and a great hang-out place, you two won’t get mad if the service is crap, and you’re happy to throw back sake while you down some tots using chopsticks. At this point in the relationship, who cares that you don’t really know how to use chopsticks, it doesn’t matter, he’ll love you anyways.

The Anniversary: It’s big guns time. Get them out, cause now is the perfect situation for the fancy. The little black dress fancy. A ways out in Virginia, 2941 is a perfect anniversary spot. It’s not cheap (by any means) but it’s perfect for the couple that’s ready to celebrate themselves, get dressed up, valet the car, and enjoy the scenery. Pretty low light, high ceilings, impeccable service and an extensive wine list. Not to mention creative, complicated food from Chef Chemel. All the perfect libations for a night all about the two of you. Oh, and don’t skip dessert – those pastries are some of my favorite inside the Beltway. Plus, you deserve it.

Photo courtesy of
‘Sailor and girl at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Washington, D.C. (LOC)’
courtesy of ‘The Library of Congress’

The Engagement Date: Now, I for one, do not want to be proposed to in a restaurant (WHAT? How can that be? I am a foodie, you say! But no, people, just no.) but some people find that popping the question over food or in a champagne glass is the way to do it. And who am I to stop you? Just cause it’s not right for me, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you. So, I’d suggest Little Fountain Cafe. I reviewed it about a year ago, a little hidden romantic spot on18th with only 13 tables. Ideal if you want a bit of privacy while still having a night out. Alternately, I saw someone get proposed to at Minibar. Fun choice! Everyone clapped and the bartenders busted out the champagne. Creative food, lovely atmosphere. If only the woman didn’t keep smacking her new fiancee asking him if he was serious, it would have been perfection.

The Keeping-the-Spark Alive Date: So you’re married. HEY! CONGRATS! You have two incomes (hopefully) and lucky you, you can now afford a better price point than us singles (right? right.) so let’s step out to the tune of $20 a plate. Head on over to Dupont’s Firefly. I adore Firefly for it’s swanky casual – adorable interior, gorgeous porch, and fun location. Perfect for a date where you leave the kids at home, and want something chill and quiet. Jeans and heels will do, for guys a collared shirt and khakis.

Photo courtesy of
‘Wine and a movie’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

The Don’t-Leave-The-House Date: So you’re looking for good food when you just want to stay in and watch a DVD. You’ve been out enough, and tonight, you just want some cuddling on the couch. Perfect. Despite what some haters may say, there is some great pizza in this city. Call ahead, and grab it to go. In Virginia, dial up Lost Dog or Piola. In the city check out Pizzaria Paradisio, 2 Amy’s, or Matchbox. Grab a bottle of wine from the corner store and call it a date.

The 80-Years-Old-And-Still-Kickin’ Date: You’ve made it to old age. All of this fuss about going out and getting dressed up is so last decade. You just want some simple food, and a milkshake (what is it with old people and milkshakes?) so you head to the diner. The Silver Diner, that is. They’ve even got a senior citizens discount. You’ve got each other, all you need now is fries, a burger, and a strawberry milkshake. Two straws, please.

Did I miss any relationship milestones? Did I omit your favorite date spot? Let me know in the comments.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

14 thoughts on “Restaurants For Any Stage of Your Relationship

  1. I can think of several stages you left out. What about: “I’m pregnant,” “I’ve been cheating on you,” “I just lost my job and this is the last time we’ll eat out for a while,” “I got a new job in another city,” or “I’m breaking up with you?”

  2. These all seem like pretty good recommendations. But as far as pizza in the city goes, I don’t think any of those places deliver. And although I think 2 Amys pizza is some of the best in the world, literally, I have found that it doesn’t travel well. Pete’s Apizza in Columbia Heights is starting delivery soon, and as soon as it does, I’d go ahead and crown it Best Pizza Delivery in DC.

  3. AHHAHAAH, good thinking, Fedward. So here it is:

    I’m pregnant: I think that calls for ice cream. Moorenko’s (who just moved to McLean)is best ice cream in the area hands down.

    I’ve been cheating on you: This calls for somewhere quiet and small where you cannot make a scene without drawing attention. I’d go with Bastille Restaurant in Alexandria, cause it’s small and if you stood up and smacked someone everyone would notice. And maybe that’s a good thing. Or bad thing, depends on if you’re the cheater or the cheated-on.

    I Just Lost My Job And This Is The Last Time We’ll Eat Out For A While: When I got laid off from my job last year, I turned to the margarita, and did not stop. Guajillos was my savior. I’d recommend it. Lauriol Plaza, as I’ve said a million times before has great margs too.

    I Got A New Job In Another City: Well who am I to tell you what restaurant you’ll miss the most? Nobody, that’s who. You know what you’ll crave when you’re gone, go there.

    I’m Breaking Up With You: McDonalds. ‘Cause if you’re that over the person, you don’t want to spend any more money on them than necessary, right?

    @Catherine – you and me both sister.

    @Taylor – glad you think so. All my pizza place recommendations were pick-up to-go places. Delivery isn’t something quality DC pizzerias have the hang of yet, as you pointed out.

  4. Thanks for the UVA love, Katie!

    I volunteer to take out any of the poor single ladies who love eating at fabulous locations. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

  5. I had a boyfriend who swore he broke up with all his girlfriends over ice cream dates. His reasoning was that they couldn’t throw drinks in his face at an ice cream parlour, and it was a childlike, consoling atmosphere.

    But then I found out he was a pathological liar, and he broke up with me at a bar.

  6. @Addison – Whatchu talkin’ ’bout! Last I heard, you sir, have a lady friend!

    @Jenn – I hope you threw a drink at the liar, S&TC Samantha-style.

  7. excellent post, except i do pretty much completely disagree with your characterization of what a first date should entail. 1) i tend to prefer to save the image of me with burger grease dripping down my chin for at LEAST the third date. first date dinner locations should ideally give me the fewest options to make a fool of myself. which is also why anyplace requiring chopsticks is also out. 2) i love being taken to fancy restaurants any time, but classy restaurant = classy date and i dig it. definitely ok for a first date. write that down.

  8. My last first date was at Zorba’s in Dupont, then across the street to Larry’s for ice cream. Since that was over seven years ago, I can highly recommend it!

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