The One-Two Punch: A Date Night Dinner & Drinks Guide
Our favorite dinner-and-drinks itineraries in Seattle.
Everything’s going right on your date. You didn’t awkwardly bump heads when you hugged hello, the conversation flowed more smoothly than the middle of a molten chocolate cake, and incidentally, you also discovered that you both love molten chocolate cake. So far, so good. You don’t want the night to end after you leave this place, but where should you go next?
This is not the time to drop and break your phone while nervously searching around for nearby spots. And if you do your homework beforehand, you won’t have to. Here are our favorite One-Two Punches - bars and restaurants within a few blocks of each other that work perfectly as part of the same itinerary. Good luck out there, and have an extra molten chocolate cake for us.
The One-Two Punches
Not only is Bar Melusine a strong contender for the most aesthetically-pleasing restaurant in Seattle, with its big marble bar, gold accents, and seafoam green chevron tile floor - but it’s also a great spot for a date. Mix and match French small plates, cheeses, and oysters for an overall great time, or split a burger. Just be sure to get the fries no matter what.
Canon is the perfect place for a nightcap after a fancy Capitol Hill dinner - as long as you’ve made a reservation in advance. It’s the holy grail of cocktail bars in this city, with an encyclopedic drink menu and floor-to-ceiling shelves of liquor bottles to drive the point home. Anything you get here will be good, not to mention creatively presented, possibly even in a lighbulb or a soup can. There’s even a “transfusion” cocktail for two served in an actual IV bag that drips into your rocks glass. If you’re really torn, have the bartender mix something custom - they won’t steer you wrong.
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If that romantic island vacation fell through (next time, don’t forget to click “book”), know that dinner at Stateside is nearly as relaxing as lying on a beach cradling a cocktail. Sit as close to the printed palm wallpaper as possible, and try a passionfruit bourbon sour to really get in the mood. Then, share delicious Vietnamese fusion dishes, like crispy duck fresh rolls and bun cha with homemade grilled sausage. Always finish with the Vietnamese coffee creamsicle. You’ll be planning your next (real) trip by the end of the night.
All the One-Two Punches in this guide are convenient, but this is one of the easiest to pull off - after dinner, head right next door to Foreign National, Stateside’s sister bar. The space feels like somewhere double agents might meet for a rendezvous in an over-the-top spy movie, and the cocktails are excellent (get the expat punch). If you’re still hungry, the cheeseburger bao, while not sweet at all, is a suitable dessert.
We’re not sure whether The Backdoor is a serious Prohibition-style speakeasy bar, or a Prohibition-style speakeasy bar that’s making fun of itself - it’s that over-the-top - but it’s a great place to bring a date to drink regardless. You’ll find vintage chandeliers, bookcases stacked with liquor bottles, and decorative touches like paintings/statues throughout. The long list of classic and not-classic cocktails here is excellent, but feel free to put your faith in the bartender to mix you something based on your personal liquor preferences.
Keep the nautical theme going at Navy Strength, No Anchor’s sister tiki bar, which has a variety of tropical cocktails falling into categories like “travel,” “tropical,” “tiki,” “daiquiri,” and “tiki bowl.” Much like No Anchor, the colorful space works equally well for dates and being gently friend-zoned.
photo credit: Chona Kasinger
Italian food is always a solid bet for a date, and San Fermo is probably the most romantic place to get it. Inside one of the oldest historical homes in Ballard you’ll find handmade pasta, small plates, and a chickpea flatbread you never knew you wanted until now. You’ll also realize (in case you ever had any doubt) that eating spaghetti in a dimly-lit space that feels like something from a Nancy Meyers film is a pretty enjoyable thing to do. If they have amatriciana on the menu when you go, get it.
Percy's & Co.
If the tranquility of San Fermo made you both a little sleepy, make sure you get some coffee after dinner so you can fully enjoy the awesome craft cocktails at Percy’s & Co. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an old-fashioned apothecary with plants sprouting out of test tubes, tchotchkes that look like they came from a deteriorating sunken ship, and cocktails that sound like chemistry experiments (in a good way). If it’s nice out, sit on the back covered patio.
So you’ve been texting with your date for a while now, trying to decide where to eat, and as far as you can tell, she’s interested in something casual, fancy, low-key, and lively all at the same time. Well, this is off to a great start. Keep it on the safe side with Black Bottle. It works whether you’re still in work clothes or just in a nice pair of jeans, and you can get great small plates ranging from Korean fried chicken bites to a cheesy Dungeness crab dip with flatbread. If you want to start drinking early, try the excellent Old Fashioneds and guava palomas.
Belltown is like a bar emporium, so it can be tough to choose where to go for a nightcap - but Wakefield is a spot we recommend going out of your way for. Although since it’s only a five-minute walk away from Black Bottle, you really aren’t going too far out of your way. And a bit of fresh air builds character, after all. Here’s the drill: Sit at a high-top table, take in the scene, and get some Afternoon Picnic cocktails made with bourbon, bitters, lemon, cava, and fig/fennel syrup.
Yep, the bar’s first this time, because if you’re taking a date to The Walrus & The Carpenter, you’re going to have to wait a while for a table. Put your name on the list for dinner and head next door to Barnacle to pregame with jamon and classy Amaro cocktails mixed by bartenders who seriously know what they’re doing.
The Walrus And The Carpenter
The Walrus & The Carpenter is one of the most famous restaurants in the city - which means it’s the kind of “Seattle” experience that’s special whether you’ve never been there before or if it’s your hundredth time (if that’s the case, kudos). A table will work, but it’s more fun to sit at the bar, watching the oyster action. The space is straight-up delightful, like a tiny farmhouse with an oyster bar inside, and no matter what you eat - oysters, vegetables, cooked meats, even the bread - it’s all going to be stellar.
Chan is a Korean gastropub near the underbelly of Pike Place Market, and it’s your date night secret weapon - ideal for a post-work date if your offices are downtown, or a meal strategically planned after a lap around the market, during which you just happened to stop by the flower bouquet vendor. Well done. You deserve some bibimbap and bulgogi sliders.
La Cocina Oaxaqueña
It’s your fifth date - time to just have fun and eat good food. So we’re sending you to La Cocina Oaxaquena to kick back with pint-glass-sized margaritas, fresh tortilla chips and salsa, excellent fish and al pastor tacos, and a tomato-braised steak that you need in your life just as much as your new soul mate. By the way, congrats - sounds like it’s going well.
The Pine Box
When you’re ready to swap all of the tequila and limes for some excellent beer, head across the street to The Pine Box, a bar that used to be a mortuary. This is really not the time to request inclusion in your date’s will - instead, just live it up over a few drinks. And if you’re still hungry for dessert, their Big Ass Chocolate Chunk Cookie can only make the night better.
Shaker And Spear
Shaker and Spear is a hotel restaurant that’s actually good, with everything from upscale bar snacks (get the fried scotch olives or spicy chips and yogurt dip) to pasta to a nice piece of fish. Plus there’s wine on tap. Trust us, you’ll like it.
Move straight from Shaker and Spear to the Pennyroyal Bar, also located in the Palladian Hotel - you won’t even need to go outside. It feels kind of like a mix between a speakeasy and a castle, with its low lighting, velvet booths, and regal-looking portraits of people like Bill Gates and Kelsey Grammer in the lobby. The blackberry-cinnamon gin cocktails are our favorites, but the other cocktails are great, too.
FlintCreek Cattle Co.
When you want to eat steak but don’t want to dress like a butler, there’s always FlintCreek Cattle Co. You can get a serious ribeye here (along with some potatoes dauphinoise), or you can keep things casual and split the Happy Hour burger or some lamb tartare at the bar with a dirty martini - equally delicious options, in our book.
The Yard Cafe
You’ve just had a massive steak and the mood is good, so we’re not sending you to a stuffy bar to sip cordials in the dark while you struggle to come up with conversation topics. Go to The Yard instead, and opt for an interesting beer or hard cider. If it’s nice out, sit at a picnic table on the patio, but splitting a booth inside is just as good.
If you work at Amazon, there’s a good chance you’ll end up dating someone at Amazon - and if you both work at Amazon, chances are you might live near Amazon, too. All signs point to 2120 for dinner. This place (which is actually located in an Amazon office building) has an impressive menu of South American fusion food, like manchego mac and cheese with duck fat croutons, and salmon with fregola and salsa verde. Split a punch bowl for two while discussing what to watch later on Amazon Prime.
A couple of blocks away is Le Caviste, a French wine bar perfect for pretending you’re a sommelier in the making. It’s a little quieter than 2120, and the entire menu is in French, so bonus points if you’re fluent - but asking for guidance from the staff is certainly not a sign of weakness. Neither is ordering a cheese plate.
Let us guess: your date wants to go “somewhere in Cap Hill where we can hear ourselves think.” Go ahead and forget about anything you were already planning - unless you were planning on Single Shot. This is a reliable, elegant date night pick where there will be a 0% chance of drunk hooligans spilling whiskey sours all over your pants. What you’ll find instead is a gorgeous bar, an excellent margherita flatbread, and plenty of more substantial things like roast chicken and steak, too.
Sol Liquor Lounge
If you tend to get bored of the same old mixed drinks, you need to try Sun Liquor. They serve house-distilled spirits, from vodka to gin to rum to bitters, and you’ll find cocktail flights, seasonally-rotating drinks, and (on Tuesdays) tiki options like rum punch. There’s enough variety that you’ll never have the same cocktail twice (unless you want to), and if it doesn’t impress your date, it’s a clear sign this person has unrealistic expectations.