Date night can be many things: a chance to impress someone new who you’re pretty sure you like, a time to turn up the romance, or a monthly effort to keep this thing afloat when your jobs and rigorous TV watching schedule limit you to speaking one-word sentences during the week.
For all these situations and everything in between, here’s your cheat sheet to doing date night right. Because you shouldn’t have to worry about your restaurant choice when you have more important things to think about, like whether you remembered to buy Tic Tacs.
The Pink Door goes way beyond the usual date night requirements. There’s a secret entrance, incredible Italian food, great wine, excellent service, upscale trattoria surroundings, and the occasional acrobat suspended above you on trapeze rings. It’s also one of the few restaurants in Seattle where you can wear something classier than a flannel without feeling like a fool. This should be your first choice for an anniversary, Valentine’s day, the one-on-one birthday dinner, or hell, you could even pop the question here if you got the server to wedge the ring between the layers of the city’s best lasagna.
Single Shot flies very under the radar, which means your date has probably never been here before - points for originality. The whole establishment is just one attractive little room with a marble bar and a candle on every table, but it makes you feel like you’re far away from the sidewalk-shaking bass drops of Pike/Pine outside. For a low-key date, get some cocktails and the insanely good margherita flatbread. Or, if you’re feeling celebratory, order a bottle of champagne with a ton of small plates and a nice piece of fish.
Copine is a place you come to impress someone. The space is sleek but still feels intimate, and the French fusion menu is interesting without being unapproachable. Your meal will likely start with an amuse bouche, and should include both the warm thyme brioche rolls and the homemade agnolotti that looks more beautiful than a cookbook photo but is so delicious you won’t have any hesitation about faceplanting into it. Come here to show your date that you have excellent taste, despite the fact that you may or may not still have a couple Lego sets at home.
If you are tired of scheduling every date night, but you also don’t trust your partner’s restaurant judgment, drop some heavy hints that you want to go to Bar Cantinetta. It’s small, on a quiet street, and best after sunset, when you essentially have no choice but to read your menu by candlelight. The small plates, homemade pastas, and pizzas here are great, so you can linger over a bottle of wine, staring into each other’s eyes and promising never to leave the water pitcher empty in the fridge again.
Iconiq is your French-Japanese fusion date night secret weapon. There are incredible views down Rainier Valley out your window, the Asian riffs on French classics are unexpected but delicious, and the chef usually greets you at some point during your visit. The whole experience is unpretentious, but still special enough to increase the chances of something exciting happening tonight. And by exciting, we mean finally catching up on Game of Thrones afterwards.
Bar Cotto is the ultimate date night move if pizza is the love of your life. OK, second love of your life. Share cured meats, fried bread, and the absolute best pies in Seattle (get the bufala) by candlelight instead of the sickly glow of your laptop, which has basically just turned into a Netflix machine at this point.
The Corson Building is a great place to go for pretty much any relationship milestone. If it’s pretty early in the game but you want to lock this down, an a la carte meal outside on the beautiful garden terrace, overlooking wood nymph sculptures and string lights, can only help you. Maybe in a few years you can propose over a tasting menu inside the antique-looking dining room. Or even get married here - it’s a wedding venue that does catering, too. Not to get ahead of ourselves.
Shaker and Spear does small plates and seafood in a nice room with an incredibly friendly staff. It’s perfect for when you’re not quite sure where you want the night to go. If you want to call it a day after splitting some seafood and wine on tap, not a problem. If you want things to get a little crazy because the bruleed mac and cheese blew your mind, a nightcap at Pennyroyal makes for a fantastic one-two punch. Or you could always splurge on a hotel room upstairs.
This place looks like a designer furniture showroom if the inspiration was “pirate ship,” which means you get a lot of submarine lamps and big planks of wood. The small dining room and low lighting make it a great setting for a date. True love is all about sharing, so get the French dip and a burger, and split them both.
When you want to whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears but also go deep on some carnitas, head to Barrio. The main design element here is candles - lots and lots and lots of candles. Ask for one of the booths and drink enough on-tap margaritas to forget that your boyfriend/girlfriend hasn’t unloaded the dishwasher in months.
Bastille is one of the best French restaurants in the city, and that alone means it’s a solid date night pick. There’s a rooftop garden, a charming covered patio, and a back bar where you can have a cocktail before dinner. And their steak frites is probably sexier than your date. No offense.
So, you bought one too many couples sensory-deprivation tank Groupons, and now you won’t be able to afford that trip to Italy you wanted to take together. Not a problem, you have Spinasse. The absolutely incredible pasta here is handmade in the back of the restaurant all night, the wine is fantastic, and the food isn’t the only thing reminiscent of Italy - the entire dining room feels authentically European. Plus, you don’t have to deal with any jet lag.
If the weather is nice, you should be doing date night at Westward, where you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a nautical-themed wedding’s cocktail hour. Sit on the waterfront Adirondack chairs to drink a spritz - then move on to oysters and some of the most creative entrees in the city (like braised pork cheek with pecans and cabbage).
Volunteer Park Cafe is where to go for date night when you wanted to take a romantic weekend trip to some woodsy small town, but couldn’t get anyone to watch your French bulldog. The serene farmhouse/bistro thing they have going on is equal parts relaxing and romantic, it’s usually not too busy, and the farm-to-table menu is excellent, whether you get the chicken pot pie or the braised brisket over polenta. If things go well, return the next morning for brunch.
Nothing says “I love you” like bringing your significant other to an elegant dining room that has dainty china plates and raw cow carcasses on display. Bateau is a date night no-brainer if you enjoy eating beef in any and every form: as one of many different, often limited-quantity nightly cuts, or rendered down as cooking oil for the addicting fries, or ground up and used to make the best burger in the entire city.
Noi Thai Cuisine is the fanciest Thai place in Seattle. You’ll feel like you’re in some kind of royal palace with columns, geometric archways, and golden accents everywhere. Not only that, but they serve their spring rolls inside a wine glass, their satay on a slate board, and their fried rice in a hollowed-out pineapple.
The dining room at Upper Bar Ferdinand doubles as a wine shop, so you can expect to feel like you just got off a plane in Europe and you’re eating a candlelit dinner inside some kind of dark, sleepy market covered in string lights. Come here to drink wines you’ve probably never heard of, and eat homemade bread, house-cured meats, and original entrees. The menu changes daily, so you always feel like you’re trying something new here.