Best DC Blind Date Spots: A Handy BYT Guide – 2017 edition
svetlana | Feb 8, 2017 | 9:00AM |

Ok guys, as the hearts-and-chocolate aisle at CVS/RITE-AID/ANYWHERE will not let you forget-Valentine’s day is a mere 5 or  or so days away. If you haven’t already, it may be time to take on a LOVER. Or, hey… even LOVERS.

DREAM BIG!

So-we’re piling on that particular anxiety wagon and posting something fun and useful and date-centric (well, we’ll aim for 2-out-of-3) all week. We did some of these guides before but decided they deserve updates SINCE DC IS A HOTBED OF NEW VENUE/RESTAURANT/BAR activity and there is PLENTY OF NEW OPTIONS TO TALK ABOUT. ALL CAPS.

What is that tingling feeling you sense? Oh, yeah, this:

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Now, before we dive into specific location and activity recommendations (all within DC area, all tried and tested by the rom-com motley crew that is the BYT office), AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER – SOME POST BLIND DATE ADVICE-we should set some perimeters.

First off, you should know there are 3 kinds of blind dates:

  1. the kind where you are asking to be set up by a friend, coworker or stranger
  2. the kind where you’re being FORCED into a set up by a friend, coworker, relative or (relative) stranger
  3. the kind where the internet sets you up (don’t even try and tell us these are not blind dates, BECAUSE THEY ARE. Anyone that has ever been on one knows that no matter how hefty their profile is and how many weeks you spent WASTED on your workshopped Tinder opening lines (clicking on this link is going to help you do it better, btw) or emailing and gchatting – it is still very much a blind date

No matter what you think about one being preferred to the other-they all have equal potential for disaster and/or success. BUT YOU HAVE TO TRY.

THEN, no matter what you do, here are things NOT to do:

  • Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. Those don’t count and are stupid. In fact-no day dates. We firmly believe you will need flattering lighting, alcohol and/or something possibly stronger to make it through this.
  • Don’t overemail / overtext with them in advance. This fosters a false sense of intimacy and no amount of texting or emailing can tell you what kind of chemistry you’ll have with a person.  Save those zingers for when you see them, don’t waste them on random people and their bound-to-be-out-of-date-tinder-photos. Don’t believe me? I met the men I will marry on tinder and our only post-swipe/pre-first date exchange went something like this (I am approximating):
  • Him: Hey there
  • Me: Hi!
  • Him: You seem funny and pretty. Want to grab a drink sometime?
  • Me: Thank you and yeah, that sounds fun.
  • Him: How about tomorrow night?
  • Me: I’m actually free. Hank’s in Dupont?
  • Him: Sounds great.

THE END. The rest of this was done IN PERSON and done well.

  • Don’t go on a COFFEE DATE. REALLY.
  • Don’t google them. Just don’t. You don’t need to see what position they played 0n their college lacrosse team or how they’re an avid tumblrer of The Rock gifs until they disclose this information themselves.

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(though we naturally embraced this semi-opportunity to SHARE a The Rock gif, who is a dream blind/hug date if there ever was one, duh)

  • Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE OR A TEA DATE OR ANY OTHER LETS-SIT-IN-BROAD-DAYLIGHT-IN-UNCOMFORTABLE-CHAIRS-AND-ADD-SOME-CAFFEINE-TO-THIS-ALREADY-ANXIETY-ENDUCING-SITUATION. JUST DON’T.
  • Don’t facebook stalk them. People think this is sort of harmless, but then you find out that their last girlfriend was 5’1″ and blonde or 6′ and Asian and you are none of those things and all of a sudden you start questioning yourself. Oh, and yeah, they only broke up 3 WEEKS A GO. There is really nothing good that can come out of having that information on hand.
  • Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. FOR REAL.
  • Don’t instagram stalk them. Whether they take photos of ALL their food, photos of ALL their pets, photos of ALL their #squadgoals, photos of ALL their bedding, or photos of ALL their juicing habits, NOTHING GOOD IS GOING TO COME OUT OF THIS.

  • Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. FOR REALLY REAL.
  • Don’t plan on anything that cannot be ended in 45 min if necessary
  • Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. FOR REALLY REALLY REAL.
  • Don’t get your hopes up (this includes but is not limited to mass emails to your friends about how awesome this person sounds and how (s)he is e a an ex college swimmer AND a think tanker AND  you always felt you would end up with an ex college swimmer or a think tanker and they are both and omg …)
  • DID WE MENTION YOU SHOULD NOT AGREE TO A COFFEE DATE?
  • (also, please, please don’t pregame, things don’t need to get any potentially awkwarder/sloppier than they will be just because you couldn’t wait 30 min to have a glass of wine. also don’t overdrink. a grown up should be able to be relaxed and handle a couple of cocktails when in the company of strangers. practice with your friends-let them tell you your limits. I KNOW THIS IS HARD, AND WE OURSELVES FAIL AT IT ALL THE TIME, BUT – YOU KNOW…it had to be said.)
  • NO COFFEE DATES! NO TEA DATES! NO COFFEE DATES! NO TEA DATES! NO COFFEE DATES! NO TEA DATES! NO COFFEE DATES!

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(ha! GOTCHA! even if it is Stephen Colbert drinking coffee (and that man is both very funny AND very handsome) -STILL NO COFFEE DATES, ok?)

Things to do

(and remember-much like any other competitive sport, BLIND DATING gets better with practice):

  • Arrange for this to happen on a week day. Trust us on this. Places will be less crowded, the get-out-of-here-excuses will be more readily available and that way if it goes well you can have A WEEKEND DATE THE SAME WEEK.
  • Wear something comfortable but form fitting (if you don’t own anything on the intersection of the two, and yes, I am talking to guys too, then you need to obtain that item of clothing/ whole outfit STAT)
  • Be clean. Smelling nice and/or not having a neck beard is the easiest thing you can do to not alienate someone.
  • Eat something light but substantial beforehand if you’re going out for drinks. NO CHEESE. You’re lactose intolerant and you don’t even know it. Trust us. Everyone is. I grew up swimming in cheese and I am mostly lactose intolerant as a grown up. You WILL get sweaty. You WILL get cheese breath. And, most importantly, you WILL get gassy. And the only thing worse than getting gassy is getting gassy on a blind date. THIS BAR IS NOT A PLACE TO DUTCH OVEN ANYONE.

Now that we know you’re not filthy or gassy, lets talk conversational skills:

  • Brush up on your “get to know me” stand-up comedy routine (but allow room for improv muscle to flex a little)
  • Read (or, ok skim) the newspaper, look at the internet, make sure you’re not completely clueless about the world, the pop culture universe, and other-not-painfully-personal conversation topics in case the occasion takes a breezy turn for the “there’s no chemistry here but we can still enjoy this drink while talking about Switched at Birth and Beyonce and Terry Crews” kind of an evening. Those kind of evenings are totally fine, btw.

  • Which leads us to: Maintain your sense of humor throughout this experience.
  • BUY GUM.
  • Remind yourself to stay sane (not doing the things I told you not to do above should help with this, but lets face it-we can’t get our hopes up too much about this can we? I mean, even the most supremely sane person 99% of time in day-to-day life (like myself) can be supremely insane on 99% of blind dates they go on since the potent mix of danger, despair and job interview dynamic can get the best out of all of us).

ALSO GOOD TO BEAR IN MIND:

  • Listening matters as much as talking. It actually maybe matters MORE.
  • Jumping to conclusions is wrong  (unless they are wearing a cape, in which case you are allowed to jump to any and all conclusions (good or bad) even before the 45 min expiration period)
  • Don’t share all of your date with all of the internet straight away. Oversharing is a very 2000s thing to do but just stay put.
  • If making out/sex/whatever happens – it happens. It is 2017, we’re all grown ups, no one’s a virgin, there are no rules.
  • DON’T BE AFRAID. SERIOUSLY. DON’T BE AFRAID.

Now that we have you settled….

here is what makes a GOOD BLIND DATE SPOT:

  • Places which are not overcrowded (people constantly want to go on blind dates to some bar they JUST read about or, say, TRYST which (on top of the NO COFFEE DATE rule) also means that you will be going through this fundamentally awkward experience WHILE ALSO EXPERIENCING ZERO PRIVACY AND POSSIBLY SITTING IN SOMEONE ELSE’S LAP or (worse) NOT BEING ABLE TO SPOT EACH OTHER. You want someplace you will be seated ASAP and without awkwardness.
  • Being able to go places a little early or a little late helps with this. Showing up to say, Ghibellina or Barcelona AS SOON AS THEY OPEN is maybe a little dorky but it DOES guarantee you a seat. Which also brings me to this point: YOU NEED TO BE SITTING ON A BLIND DATE. You cannot be standing your way through a blind date, trust me.
  • Places where you don’t know EVERYONE WHO WORKS THERE. As someone who knows AND loves a lot of people who work in a lot of bars, trust me- walking in and high-fiving the people who are about to serve you hard liquor and/or small plates of food always feels weird to the other person on the date. And in extensions: Places where you will not know everyone (or anyone). You don’t want this date hijacked. After all (s)he IS the college swimmer/thinktanker of your dreams not their dreams, dammit.
  • Places with potential activities or conversation topics built in.
  • Places with flattering lighting (at least in portions of said places) – YOU GUYS, THIS REALLY MATTERS. Eventually you will hopefully be in a land where they will know and love your every pore, but for the time being they don’t need to even know those pores exist.
  • Places in close proximity to other potential activities and/or modes of transportation should the date go really well or really poorly
  • Places with good cell phone service
  • Places with options: wine, beer, other things.  This is awkward enough without finding out 5 min into it you chose a place that caters exclusively NOT to things your blind date enjoys.

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NO CHEESE!!!!!!!!

OK-now, here are some solid gold

BLIND DATE LOCATION RECOMMENDATIONS

(according to us):

BONUS:  Kate McKinnon as your BLIND DATE cheerleader. You’re welcome

  • THE ROYAL – A great low key spot that can go more casual or more serious depending on time of day / drinks ordered / food ordered and allows for a mix of more privacy (upstairs) and solid people watching (downstairs). And while you may be tempted to get coffee or the cheese arepas, please REMEMBER THE NO COFFEE OR CHEESE RULE.
  • COLADA SHOP – This new 14th and T spot fills the same needs as The Royal, a great, convenient location and a choice of cocktails and small dishes or sandwiches.Check out our first look here.
  • IVY ROOM – Good blind date because it’s lowkey but it looks very pretty and also you probably don’t know anyone in Ivy City who will make your life awkward. If it goes well you can get food at Ari’s Diner after.
  • BEDROCK BILLIARDS -Bedrock Billiards is a great example of a low stress blind date bar. Drinks are cheap, there are built in activities (pool, maybe even shuffle board, a jukebox), it is never really crowded, there are still plenty of semi-tucked away seats to hide in and people that work there are really nice. You can roll in any time, any day of the week and be a-ok for 30 min or 3 hours
  • LYMAN’S TAVERN – Same logic as Bedrock Billiards but insert pinball games instead of pool. A great bar to have a conversation in.
  • DISTRICT DISTILLING – 14th and U may seem like a total nightmare in terms of blind date locations, but the District Distilling is big enough to offer both bar AND table options to walk-ins and their team is a group of some of our favorite bar professionals which is essentially like having a best wingteam by your side. You know the drinks will be good, and Justin Bittner’s very on-point bar menu means that you can eat casually without making it into a big deal meal (and eating while drinking is good because no one likes a super drunk human on a blind date)

  • HANK’S OYSTER BAR – (in this case we are talking about the Dupont one). Mainly because of the options: you CAN sit at the front bar which is kind of busy and fun. Or you can sit at the upstairs bar which is more mellow and conversation conducive. Or you can sit in the downstairs lounge, which is, you know, pretty sexy. Or, eat. You can eat there too.
  • COTTON & REED – Good blind date because (again) you probably won’t know anyone there and also you can grab dinner together / separate at Union Market depending how well it goes (and it is important to stay optimistic about about how it WILL go). Plus, very delicious cocktails help any blind date feel less torturous.
  • GHIBELLINA – As someone who is constantly going on a business blind date to Ghibellina, I can assure you that it makes for a great non-business blind date too. Busy but not too busy, great happy hour, SUPER LONG bar, nice staff, half-off pizzas to make sure that nice happy hour doesn’t go to your head and if things go well, great potential to turn into your regular casual go-to place (Optimism is necessary here! If you don’t have optimism, you’ve got NOTHING)
  • PETWORTH CITIZEN (ON A WEEK DAY) – The weekends in Petworth are becoming sort of like the weekends in places you escaped to Petworth from (read: a little too busy) BUT on a weekday (this means pre-Thursday in bar speak) Petworth Citizen is still a great mellow place with strong and delicious drinks and a bookstore RIGHT NEXT DOOR to go hang out in if you’re there early.
  • THE SOVEREIGN – Neighborhood restaurant bars should be, in theory really good bars for you to go on a blind date on: casual, lit in a way that hides the fact that you maybe filter up those tinder photos of yours, the bars are long, it is busy enough, etc. The only problem is – they’re bound to have people you know in them. Well, NRG’s latest edition is in Georgetown and, for the time being, still a neighborhood wild card. Make the most of it. BONUS: if it is going well, you can move from the bar to the booth, to maybe a table downstairs.
  • MAKETTO – The multi-level, choose-your-own-adventure scenario is blind date heaven. Just don’t choose the coffee part, k?
  • COMET PING PONG – Do it.

  • BOUNDARY STONE – From one of our contributors: “Boundary Stone is the best place to invite potential hookups. They have whiskey and the bartenders won’t make fun of you.” You can’t argue with THAT logic.
  • SHOWTIME – Same logic as Boundary stone and you STILL can’t argue with it.
  • DGS Delicatessen HAPPY HOUR – DGS Delicatessen has one of our favorite happy hours around and since happy hour food is the only food acceptable during a blind date, you may as well make it this delicious. Plus the bar is cozy and just fancy enough so you don’t seem like a cheapskate on a blind date.
  • DUKE’s – I know several people who have Duke’s on their regular tinder first date rotation and frankly-it makes sense: the place is relaxed, the beer/wine selection is affordable (and less dangerous than a liquor/cocktail bar choice), and the sandwiches are both a completely acceptable meal to share on a blind date AND a completely acceptable way to decide whether you’re compatible (if he/she can’t get down with a Duke’s burger-they can’t get down with ANYTHING)

  • LOUNGE AT  THE QUILL AT THE JEFFERSON (IN FACT, MOST FANCY HOTEL BARS AROUND TOWN) – so BYT loves a good hotel bar, we’re not gonna lie. The great thing about hotel bars and blind dates is that there are too many great things about hotel bars and blind dates to count: the staff is super on point, the places are NEVER CROWDED and very classy (and trust me, on a blind date (just like in life in general) it is better to project and air of class than an air of non-class) AND YET filled with that semi-clandestine vibe of a place where people mostly in transit meet (semi-clandestine is good on blind dates too), it almost never features anyone you know in said bar, everyone is minding their own business and random magical things happen like champagne sabering to announce cocktail hour or showtune evenings with proper piano players which are perfect conversation topics when the conversation is running a little on the dry side. PLUS, there are rooms upstairs to be had (not that you should do that on a blind date but it is nice to know that you could, right? right). BONUS TO THE BONUS: VERY FLATTERING LIGHTING.
  • POP’S SEABAR  – Fried food it not what we’d recommend top of the list for a blind date, but the easy/breezy vibes, built-in nostalgia (and conversation topics about youthful summer memories and/or Jersey – two things everyone has an opinion on) creative drinks and a location that is also in the imminent proximity to some of our OTHER favorite date spots makes this a no brainer.
  • BAR CHARLEY  – Great location. Never too crowded. Flattering lighting. Affordable yet high quality drinks. Excellent potential to move from bar to (Casual enough) dinner or vice versa.
  • ALL SOULS – Great location. Never too crowded. Flattering lighting. BONUS: the rose  and Maker’s neat combos are literally the ONE drink special in this city that any girl and guy can share even minutes after they meet.

  • RNR HOTEL ROOFTOP OR DC9 ROOFTOP – Both the RNR Hotel and DC9 rooftops are perfect for casual blind date situations. Never too crowded, with great happy hours/drinks, within easy walking distance to any 12 000 other activities around them and just divey enough so it doesn’t seem like you’re trying hard enough but not dirty or “cash only” or featuring nothing to eat but tiny bags of weird nuts or whatever the other issues truly divey bars may present on blind dates.
  • BLACK JACK on a Sunday daytime – Black Jack keeps a Sunday happy hour and the usually-packed-on-weekends space is surprisingly airy and nice and there’s bocce in the back.
  • VENDETTA BOCCE – See above but nighttime.
  • SAINT-EX ON A WEEKDAY – Go downstairs if you want more privacy, or just sit at the bar or that little window seat scenario and people watch. The only downfall: if you do sit in that little window seat scenario, people may see you while walking up and down 14th street and then they may decide to come in and say HI and then linger and…. so, maybe the downstairs and/or the bar.

  • JACK ROSE ON A SUNDAY LATE AFTERNOON/EVENING – it is perfect. Especially (obviously) if one of you two is into whiskey/bourbon/scotch and/or really good beers.  Great lighting in the downstairs space too.
  • BAR DUPONT – I have had A LOT of first business meetings at Bar Dupont (which are essentially blind dates) and can recommend it for any number of reasons: the early happy hour (4-6pm) is a great deal, the nut tray they give you always makes me happy, and the wrap-around glass makes this an amazing Dupont circle people watching destination.
  • BLACK CAT RED ROOM EARLY IN THE EVENING – All the obvious reasons: the jukebox offers a chance to both bond and judge, the pool table and the arcade offer divertisments, the booths tend to be empty early in the evening, the Food For Thought food is delicious if needed and there is a show to go to afterwards, should you choose to. BONUS: everyone has Black Cat show memories so even if you have nothing else to talk about, you’ll have that.
  • KRAMERBOOKS – Peruse books, drink delicious beer, eat all that pie they have there and if the conversation is going nowhere there is still always the books and beer and pie to make you feel the trip was well worth it.
  • EIGHTEENTH STREET LOUNGE – Back in the day when I worked a real job and went to happy hours, I remember being at ESL with some coworkers and running into a friend, on a blind date. I was all like: “What’s up? Didn’t expect to see you here” and he was all like: “Yeah, this is my go to internet date spot” and I was like “Really?” and he shrugged and said: “Yeah, plenty of room, girls think it’s pretty nice, and you never run into people you know early on. Well, ALMOST never”. And he had a point.

And after the date, no matter how it goes-remember, it IS JUST A (BLIND) date. Even if it doesn’t work out, you will NOT end up lonely for life, making emo(tional) tumblr art forever, trust us.

having said that, please let us include some crucial

Solid Gold POST-Blind Date Advice

  • Do: Send them a text telling them you had a good time (BUT ONLY IF YOU REALLY TRULY DID)
  • Do: make next time plans (even if vague) on the spot to avoid the will-they-or-wont-they anxiety over the next few days. If someone is reluctant to do so (“I am very busy” / “I just got out of a long term super co-dependent relationship” / “I am not looking for anything serious but I’ll see you around” / “I am traveling for the next 3 weeks” are all textbook signs of said reluctancy) – take the hint.
  • Do: be honest with yourself if it DIDN’T go well. There’s other options out there.
  • Do: make out with them if the need to make-out is mutual (this is also the easiest way to avoid the awkward post date hug) but don’t sleep with them if you can avoid it (its nice to have something to look forward to), though, we do understand that sometimes you can’t avoid it.
  • Do: get on with your life. Even if you spent the 10 days prior to this date looking forward to this date: you lived a life before them, and you should be able to live a life after them.

Now that we have the DO’s sorted, it is time for some stuff that may sound remedial from our PRE-DATE guides, but still very much applies:

  • Don’t google them. Just don’t. You don’t need to see what position they played 0n their college lacrosse team or how they’re an avid tumblrer of Terry Crews gifs until they disclose this information themselves. Which will hopefully be on the next date if you see them, and if you DON’T – you don’t need to know anything else about them ever.

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(though, we will admit, tumlbring images to Terry Crews is the 2nd greatest thing one can do as a hobby next to tumblring images of The Rock)

  • On the same note:
  • Don’t facebook stalk them. People think this is sort of harmless, but then you find out that their last girlfriend was 5’1″ and blonde or 6′ and Asian and you are none of those things and all of a sudden you start questioning yourself. Oh, and yeah, they only broke up 3 WEEKS A GO. There is really nothing good that can come out of having that information on hand.
  • Don’t instagram stalk them. Whether they take photos of ALL their food, photos of ALL their pets, photos of ALL their #squadgoals, photos of ALL their bedding, or photos of ALL their juicing habits, NOTHING GOOD IS GOING TO COME OUT OF THIS.
  • Don’t get your hopes up (this includes but is not limited to mass emails to your friends about how awesome this person was and how (s)he is e a an ex college swimmer AND a think tanker AND  you always felt you would end up with an ex college swimmer or a think tanker and they are both and omg …). CONTAIN YOURSELF:

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  • and most importantly: DON’T GET BITTER AND/OR CRAZY IF THINGS DON’T WORK OUT. BitterCrazy is a bad color on everyone.

 

now-tell us some of your recommendations in the comments. PLEASE.  NEXT TIME – we’ll deal with dates with people YOU’VE MET IN PERSON BEFORE.