Food & Drink

Fool Proof First-Date Destinations in Seattle

Where to impress a first date in Seattle

By Patrick Knowles with Sheila Cain and Rachel Hart; additional reporting by Ryan Kindel, Madeline Lootens and Evan Webeck August 10, 2015


This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Seattle magazine.

Just as a potential partner needs to be vetted, a good bit of thought should go into where and how you decide to spend an evening with someone you just met. These spots offer the benefits of immediate discussion topics, a “shared experience” kick-start and, if you are not necessarily feeling it, the opportunity to sit back and let a few other complete strangers entertain.

Funny Valentine: Café Nordo teeters between vaudeville and vanguard as the inventive cast carries a symbolic love letter to the specific fare of various regions of the world. This month’s show, Bohemia, will have Mark Wissing of Oddfellows Café and Bar serving up goulash between an absinthe-forward cocktail program, as heartfelt soliloquies and choreographed madness ensue. 9/10–9/27. 8 p.m. $25–$80. Pioneer Square, 109 S Main St.; 206.790.5166;  

A Night of First Impressions: Like the rush of blood to the head that comes with a first date, the aptly named variety show Spin the Bottle at the Annex Theatre is an adventure for those who want to kick off that first date with an improv spirit. The late-night show consists of a variety of performances: spoken word essays, burlesque skits, sketch comedy troupes, interpretative dance numbers and feats of strength—there’s something for everyone. First Friday of every month. 11 p.m. $10 general, $5 students. Capitol Hill, 1100 E Pike St.; 206.728.0933;

A Tantalizing Digestif: The Saturday burlesque show at Pike Place Market’s The Pink Door has a knack for rubbing the cynicism out of your eyes, and making it all that much easier to meet a stranger’s gaze halfway across a table. Consider it one of the more mischievous nightcaps in the city. Saturdays. 11 p.m. Pike Place Market 1919 Post Alley; 206.443.3241;

Dating Tips from the Pros
You may need to go on as many as 60 dates with as many different people before you find someone compatible, so be prepared to try and try again. That’s according to local pros John and Julie Gottman of the Seattle-based relationship champion Gottman Institute. They suggest treating dating like a job search. Don’t expect that the next person you date is going to be a magical match. It is a process, and you will know when you encounter that exception. Find more first date advice from the Gottmans here.

Tell us your best and worst dating stories! Tweet @seattlemag and hashtag your tales #firstdatesseamag

Cocktails that Impress
The libation you hold in your hand says a lot about you. Hold off on drab standards (the Sazerac and French 75 are so 2014) and accessorize with a new class of cocktail. Head bartender Chad Phillips at the sophisticated Pennyroyal bar at the Palladian Hotel (Belltown, 2000 Second Ave.; 206.448.1111; drops a few hints that will help keep you ahead of the current cocktail trends. Get the recipes for the below cocktails here.

For the ladies: Order a Seelbach. This bourbon-based cocktail is topped with Champagne, making it one of the most refreshing drinks of the moment. Feel free to ask for a lighter, wheat-based bourbon if you are taking baby steps into the world of whiskey. It is a delightful and unsung standard that will draw an approving nod from your bartender and (hopefully) your drinking companion.

For the gents: Stand out with a Corpse Reviver No. 2. This gin-based classic from the early 1900s is refreshing and easy to sip. While an old fashioned or Manhattan are still among the go-to cocktails to order out, this elegant treat will help you stand out from the crowd. The old saying goes, “Drink one to revive a corpse; drink three more in rapid succession to put it back down again.”

The story will not make you sound too snobbish, and better yet, it shows that you have some refinement.


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