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Best DC “SEAL THE DEAL/ Special Occasion” Date Spots: A Handy BYT Guide
February 6, 2013 | 9:00AM

Good morning DC! As you (hopefully) noticed by now, every week leading up to Valentine’s day this year we are publishing a handy “date/get-together-with-a-person-you-are-maybe-sexually-interested-in/whatever-the-kids-are-calling-it-these-days” guide which mines our extensive embarrassing dating histories for your own benefit (and hopefully amusement). In the past three weeks we have handled the early/relatively non-committal side of things:

  • BEST DC PLACES FOR A NON-DATE/DATE-HANG Dates (aka “where to go with people you are purposefully avoiding using the word DATE with, for now”)
  • BEST DC PLACES FOR A BLIND DATE (aka “where to go with people you have never met in person but have temporary semi-high hopes for”)
  • BEST DC PLACES FOR A FIRST DATE (aka “where to go with people you HAVE met in person before, after you two mutually decided that some one-on-one time to explore your potential future of nudity and Sunday afternoon marathons of Law & Order SVU is in order”)

all of which, we know, can be as stressful as they are fun.

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But-providing you’ve made it through the wilderness of of early “dating” and are just about ready to make it really count… WELCOME TO OUR “SEAL THE DEAL/SPECIAL OCCASIONS” Date Guide.

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This date situation is applicable to any number of occasions, so we figured we’d just lay those options out for you, so you don’t decide on a wrong place at the wrong time:

  • On the most casual level, this is the kind of date you take someone to who is refusing to get properly physically intimate with you until they “KNOW YOU TRULY CARE”, and are as such, obviously looking for a romantic gesture to soothe their (temporarily) insecure hearts.
  • On a more committed level, this is the kind of date you want to take someone on when you’re planning to tell them you want to JUST date them and no one but them and/or you love them, and you want then buttered and happy enough to agree to this deal/say it right back
  • On an actual relationship level, this works for: birthdays, celebrations of promotions, making people you love feel better if something bad just happened, getting out of the doghouse, anniversaries, BRINGING ROMANCE BACK INTO A RELATIONSHIP THAT IS ALL TOO COMFORTABLE ALL OF A SUDDEN (hey, we’ve all been there, no judging here) and such.
  • No matter what, emotions are ALWAYS involved on dates of this sort and they REALLY matter. Got all that?

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Some notes before we dive in:

  • KNOW YOUR VICTIM DATE: this is not about you, this is about them. Your job is to look nice, not smell or act like a wet sock and indulge them. What do they want? What do they need? Where have they always wanted to go? How can you make that thing they always wanted to do even better?
  • Listening to them helps with this. To paraphrase “High Fidelity”, it is not about what you are like, it is about stuff you like. Books, movies, etc (they like)-these things matter. They’re all filled with clues just waiting from you to decipher them and turn them into the best date ever.
  • As such we will not package any single complete evening out for you but offer options in each category (theatre, drinks, food, movies etc) that can be then mixed and matched for maximum impact with your person of choice.
  • Also, yes, some of these options are pricey, but creativity still counts for more than cold, hard cash (though, trust us, cold hard cash always helps) so we will offer some tips to save a few pennies, if this is needed. YOU ARE WELCOME.
  • Ready now?

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DRINKING

  • COLUMBIA ROOM – this is sort of the most obvious of choices, but the combination of quality, potent alcohol, minimal food, high level of personal attention from Derek Brown and absolute non-crowdedness (8 seats and that is that) goes a long way on a SEAL THE DEAL date.
  • VERITAS -lets face it, women love wine bars. It is a gross generalization but as they say, stereotypes exist because they started out as truths. The problem with wine bars, naturally, is that because women love them, they tend to be packed and loud and sort of gossip-y in vibe. Veritas in North Dupont is that rare place which is dark, and cozy and never all that busy, allowing for lingering conversations, eye contact all the while incorporating chocolate truffles and more than 70 wines by the glass into the mix.
  • PX - first of all, Old Town Alexandria is like the Godmother of DMV Area’s SEAL THE DEAL DATES. The old school main street, the excellent restaurants that line the streets, the CHRISTMAS LIGHTS over the holidays…this place is working over time to make you look good. PX just adds to the magic you’re experiencing. Warm, cozy, less crowded than some other “speakeasy” joints, it also features the dizzying array of Todd Thrasher’s cocktails, all of which you need to try, now.
  • POV @ The W – the official power seal the deal spot. Try and get a table reservation for maximum impact. Then, enjoy the views and yourselves over some seriously good cocktails.

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EATING

(please check out the (NORMALLY SPECIAL OCCASION WORTHY) FANCY PLACES WHERE IF YOU SIT AT THE BAR IT IS OK FOR A FIRST DATE” portion of our FIRST DATE GUIDE for more suggestions (including The Source, Bourbon Steak etc-all of which we LOVE TOO) but what we’re really looking to focus on here is the pure romance of the dining rooms/experience)

OK-now, a tasting menu or something that elevates the experience from you usual dining date (see: tasting menus, semi-secrecy etc), and yes, these can get pretty expensive, but you can’t put a price on love, now can you? Still, for options sake, we’re mixing in some truly delightful, flatteringly lit “regular” restaurants

  • Komi – I have eaten at KOMI a total of 2 times. Once was for my 29th birthday when it was a surprise meal (I CRIED WHEN I FOUND OUT, AND THEY WERE TEARS OF PURE JOY, you guys) and the next time was on a very special anniversary the next year (which, blessedly, coincided with my tax refund check arriving the week before). I am literally counting the days till I have a $135+wine pairing worthy excuse to go again. The food is perfect, the service is immaculate, the pairings and the intimacy of the dining room go a long way to set the tone, and while yes, the 3 hour tasting menu experience is being poo-pooed on by some food critics as an example of culinary tyranny, when it is done this well, it legitimately feels like a vacation. Pro tip tho: don’t go here with someone you may not like for really real, you will want to remember the experience forever and you don’t want to have it tainted by a memory of unfortunate dating decisions. Not that we’re speaking from personal experience or anything.
  • Little Serow – KOMI’s little sister downstairs offers the more casual, and even warmer version of the dining experience upstairs. The Northern Thai menu changes regularly, the price is right ($45, not including drinks), the lighting is the most flattering we’ve encountered of late and the noise levels are just where they need to be. The only issue is: they don’t accept reservations and you will probably have to wait unless you show up at 5:30pm on the dot (and even then-cross your fingers). So – the pro move is to show up early, put your name down, then let your date know when dinner is. Cool? Cool.
  • Bombay Club – After spicy Thai, spicy Indian? We know that spicy does not spell romance in most of your dictionaries but everything else about Bombay Club does. You walk in-and you are transported to another time (1920s) and another place (some British West Indies private club). There is a piano, there are white tablecloths and cozy booths, and the service is the kind of operation that you don’t really see that often in 2013.
  • Suna – the new kid on the tasting menu block, Johnny Spero’s Capitol Hill restaurant offers creative, nature inspired dishes and is available in 4- or 8-course tasting menu for 48 and 78 dollars respectively.
  • Restaurant Eve – owned by the same team that also own Society Fair, TNT and PX, the tasting menus by Chatal Armstrong (there is a 5 or 9 course option) in the tucked away dining room, are a true delight.
  • Tabard Inn – who doesn’t want to pretend they’re in an enchanted castle on their seal the deal date? BONUS: in the summer, sit outside in the garden, under that giant parachute they use as a screen.
  • Cork – Cork is one of my favorite places in DC mainly because it balances the special and the casual so well. The lighting is amazing, the front room is a bustling mix of girl dates, bro dates and casual dates, but in the back things get quieter and a little darker and the tables are pretty perfectly sized for ease of reaching over them and touching hands, ALL THE TIME.
  • Buck’s Fishing and Camping – an underrated player in the SEAL THE DEAL date game, BUCK’s offers great but simple food (so as not to alienate nor insult anyone’s palate), amazing lighting, and a cozy vibe. Also-never too too packed, so lingering is probably ok. And trust us-you’ll want to linger.
  • Seasonal Pantry’s Supper Club – a tasting menu with true foodie street cred.
  • Palena Dining Room – warm, luxurious, and featuring Frank Ruta’s signature Continental/American mix. Bonus points: this is not a place EVERYONE has been to, but EVERYONE will be thankful being introduced to it, which puts YOU in a great “seal the deal” position.
  • Blue Duck Tavern  -  Blue Duck is one of those places that does everything well. What puts it slightly over the top in this category, in our eyes, is the dessert menu-which is probably one of the best, if not the best in town. And amazing desserts are hella romantic, in case you didn’t get the memo.

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THEATRE

With theatre it is not about what you’re seeing, it is more about what going to the theatre means in 2013 to the person you’re going to the theatre with: it shows effort, good taste, investment, planning, and a desire to make this evening a little more special. While it can get definitely pricey, here are some of our favorite places to see things on stage in DC and how to get around the high price ticket, if that’s what’s stopping you.

  • Kennedy Center – join their MY TIX program NOW.
  • Woolly Mammoth - are always very good with their pay-what-you-can nights. Keep an eye on their website.
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company – If You Are Under 35 and have a valid ID to prove it, tickets to Shakespeare Theatre Company are only $15 for you. Start using and abusing that fact NOW.
  • Arena Stage - recently launched their UNDER 30 SUBSCRIPTION plan, which allows you to get 4- or 8- play package for just $20 a ticket.
  • Studio Theatre - offers all sorts of useful discounts: Student Rush: $15 tickets day of show, must present Student ID when picking up.  or just plain Rush Tickets: $30 tickets on sale 30 minutes before curtain time as available. or Nov 2, Dec 1, Feb 29, May 23, Jun 13. Ticket Price: $20 for patrons who live or work in the Studio District, with proof of address. Tickets only available day of event. What is the Studio District? The area between 11th and 17th Streets NW, and from N ST NW to Florida Ave NW.
  • Signature Theatre – are always very good with their pay-what-you-can nights. Keep an eye on their website.
  • Check out the League of Washington Theatres website for updates on specials.

just remember, no matter WHAT, this is the wrong attitude to take:

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MOVIES

  • AFI - classic movies, classy setting. Nothing in this town can really beat AFI for a power movie date (bonus: currently playing is SCREEN VALENTINES series featuring the kleenex wielding/panty dropping classics like A LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, ONCE, THE WAY WE WERE, BEFORE SUNRISE, NINOTCHKA and yes, VALLEY GIRL)
  • when the nice weather hits, a home packed picnic and one of those outdoor movies will go a long way (for extra adorableness points, check out our URBAN PICNIC GUIDE).

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OTHER SMART IDEAS:

  • Getting them tickets to a sold out show of their favorite band EVER
  • Staycations – EVERYONE loves checking into a hotel, even if they’re going nowhere. Keep an eye out for special deals that make things a little easier on the wallet. Por ejemplo: right now Kimpton is running this promo where, the more nights guests stay, the bigger the discoun. (One night stays are only 10% off, two night stays 20% off, and three night stays 30% off.) This rate is available for Thursday – Sunday night stays now through March 3, 2013 – including Valentine’s Day weekend.
  • Classes, especially the ones involving food: we just reported on this BLT Steak’s barrel aging class, or Tel’veh just started hosting a monthly oyster class which is a great date deal if we ever saw one ($35 per person (all inclusive), it involves eight different varieties of raw oysters (both East Coast and West Coast varietals) followed by two cooked oyster preparations and an oyster shooter, plus two glasses of Domain Chandon Brut and Melon de Bourgogne, which we hear pairs perfectly with the oysters)

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Obviously-more than the spot itself, the success of the date depends on well, the two of you and how much sealing that deal is actually meant to be.. We just hope this listicle takes out a portion of the stress out and you can focus on the important stuff (like: not saying something stupid or overly dramatic) instead.

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Now-tell us some of your recommendations in the comments. PLEASE. Next week-we’ll deal with the super important BREAK UP date scenario.

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Recent Comments:
  • Peter says:

    You might want to remove Suna, since it only lasted two months before closing.