Listener Picks: Best First Date Spots in Washington, DC

There are a few crucial pieces of information that every Washingtonian should keep in the back of their mind: the WMATA SafeTrack schedule, where the closest caffeine is to your current location, and whether or not Congress is in session. But arguably, for the young singles among us (hello!) nothing is more critical than knowing the best first date spots in the city. And not just knowing the best spots, but knowing when to use ’em.

So we at DC Diary asked our listeners to help us, help you. At a recent Recording Happy Hour, we asked our listeners to share their wisdom and tell us what is the best first date spot in DC and why they love it. So read on to see our picks, hear why, and even snag some deals for your next date!

The Gibson

Location: U St, 2009 14th St NW

Vibe: intimate, trendy

Why we love it for a first date: The Gibson is a tiny speakeasy at 14th and U. The unmarked black door and intimate dining room adds an air of mystery and excitement to your first date. Plus, they’re open super late so you can head there for last call. “I’ve always found to be very lucky at the Gibson.”

Mention DC Diary the next time you go in between Tuesday and Thursday and you’ll get 10% off your check!


Location: Chinatown, 705 6th St NW

Vibe: bold, memorable

Why we love it for a first date: For a fast-casual date, grab some ramen on the first floor. For something more intimate, head to the second floor, Izakaya, where you can split some small plates and sip some sake. One listener said: “It’s super intimate. It’s different from all of the other restaurants. It’s also cheap — you don’t have to spend a lot of money. And you can really gauge if someone’s interested in learning new things.”

The Salt Line

Location: Waterfront, 79 Potomac Ave SE

Vibe: fresh, lively

Why we love it for a first date: The Salt Line is right on the water, overlooking to Potomac. Grab some fresh seafood and a beer before a Nats game or, try out this move from one of our listeners: “They have oysters and beer and wine, so it’s a bit high-brow/low-brow. And it’s on the water so you can have a drink and then go make out on the waterfront.”

Board Room

Location: DuPont Circle, 1737 Connecticut Ave NW

Vibe: Low key, playful

Why we love it for a first date: The Board Room has stacks of games for you and your date to play, so you’re not just awkwardly staring at each other, talking about your jobs. They don’t serve food, so it’s perfect for a first date before you commit to a full dinner. One listener loves the Board Room to bring out the geeky side of her date: “I like to lure nerds to the Board Room, it’s a very effective measure.”

Get 10% off of your bill if you say DC Diary sent you!

Dirty Habit

Location: Chinatown, 555 8th Street NW

Vibe: upscale, cozy

Why we love it for a first date: We love the outdoor patio, complete with a fire pit and lounge couches. Cozy up to your date over craft cocktail and small bites or move inside to share a Cheese & Charcuterie plate. It’s the perfect spot to start or end your evening.


Location: Logan Circle, 1337 14th St NW

Vibe: novel, sophisticated

Why we love it for a first date: Churchkey is a staple of the downtown happy hour circuit. With a beer list about a mile long, you can test your date on their taste in hops, and see how they perform under pressure (or if they are adventurous and leave it up to the bartender to decide). Check out Churchkey if you want to try something new — even if the date goes south, you at least got to try the new sour beer you’ve been eyeing.


Location: Mount Vernon Square, 1314 9th St NW

Vibe: local, chill

Why we love it for a first date: This neighborhood bar is perfect if you’re into a more casual first date. If you want something downtown, but want to avoid the tourists, definitely check this place out. A&D doesn’t put on airs, and you’ll feel right at home after a couple mulled wines or some pizza and beer.

Eighteenth Street Lounge

Location: DuPont Circle, 1212 18 St NW

Vibe: sexy, vibrant

Why we love it for a first date: Every room at the 18th Street Lounge offers you and your date a different experience. Grab a table and bottle service, catch some live jazz, or hang out on the patio — or combine all three in one evening to change it up. Bring your date here if you want to dance and get close. It’s also a great place for singles to snag their next date.


Location: Logan Circle, 1333 14th St NW

Vibe: bright, casual

Why we love it for a first date: Slipstream is a coffee bar by day and a cocktail bar by night. Bring your date here if you want a not-too-serious coffee or drinks meetup, with the option to grab apps or a light sandwich for a meal. It’s a trendy spot, and it’s the best for dates if you’re still feeling each other out.

Paddle Boats

Location: Tidal Basin, 1501 Maine Ave SW

Vibe: adventurous, outdoorsy

Why we love it for a first date: As our only non-bar on this list, the paddle boats on the tidal basin offer a more adventurous first date. You can gauge how open your date will be to being thrown into new situations as you snuggle up in a small boat and take in the scenery.

Stephanie Logan is the Founder and Host of DC Diary. Check out the podcast to hear more about the personal side of Washington. Episode 5, “The One About Dating in DC” is available now, and explores all the aspects of forging relationships in this city. Find it wherever you get your podcasts by searching “DC Diary” or at