• Acabar LA

  • Knightsbridge Restaurant Group

  • Avenue

  • Coqueta

  • Craigie on Main, Michael Piazza

  • Boka Restaurant Group

  • Facebook/Jaleo Las Vegas

  • Gayot.com

  • Facebook/Mulberry Project

  • The Optimist

You worked up the nerve to call, and she finally said yes to a date. Be prepared for her next question:  "Where?"  Thoughtlessly picking the wrong location could hurt the odds of getting that second date, so make a good first impression. 

Ordering drinks at a bar gives both people a chance to get to know each other as well as cut the date short if need be.  But you want to keep your options open in case both parties want the date to turn easily into a meal. 

Presented in alphabetical order, here are top bars in the U.S. for a first date--where cocktails for two could turn to dinner or something more.

  • 1. Acabar

    Acabar LA

    1510 N. Stanley Ave.
    West Hollywood, CA 90046

    Chef Octavio Becerra conjures up the French colonial spice trail in this beguiling restaurant and lounge. Enjoy the luxurious lounge or spacious bar (perhaps at a tabletop fire pit strewn with rose petals beneath the open-air dome). Potential conversation starter: a list of cocktails by historical eras dating back to 1632.

  • 2. Ardeo+Bardeo

    Knightsbridge Restaurant Group

    3311 Connecticut Ave. NW
    Washington, DC 20008

    Ardeo+Bardeo exudes a cocktail party vibe that can remove a lot of first date awkwardness. Besides offering wines from distant ports, it also surprises with a fine selection of dessert wines, brews, and flights of brandies, vodkas, malts and scotches. Choose from more than twenty wines by the glass, which are also offered in half-glasses so you can sample the selection. 

  • 3. Avenue

    Avenue

    Pier Village
    23 Ocean Ave.
    Long Branch, NJ 07740

    What better way to fill awkward silences than with the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the beach? Your date will also be impressed by the sea view filling Avenue's floor-to-ceiling windows illuminated by floodlights. Enjoy specialty cocktails by the cozy fireplace for a truly intimate experience.

  • 4. Coqueta

    Coqueta

    Pier 5, The Embarcadero
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta is a particularly appropriate spot for a first date as the restaurant’s name means “flirt” in Spanish. Nibble on Spanish-inspired tapas and then take a stroll hand in hand along The Embarcadero.

  • 5. Craigie on Main

    Craigie on Main, Michael Piazza

    853 Main St.
    Cambridge, MA 02139

    Craigie on Main’s cozy bar area features an array of unusual artisanal cocktails, as well as local beers on tap, unique bottled selections and an extensive wine list. If the date starts off well, you can keep the evening going in the dining room with a tasting menu from chef Tony Maws.

  • 6. GT Fish & Oyster

    Boka Restaurant Group

    531 N. Wells St.
    Chicago, IL 60654

    GT Fish & Oyster has all the trappings of an authentic East Coast seafood house, one brought up to modern day speed. Snag a pair of seats at the bar and order up the lobster roll and bacon-rich, chunky clam chowder, which are stand-outs on the small plates menu.

  • 7. Jaleo

    Facebook/Jaleo Las Vegas

    The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
    3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
    Las Vegas, NV 89109

    Culinary celebrity José Andrés continues to spread the gospel of Spanish cuisine at Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. One of the best seats at Jaleo positions you within arm’s reach of the tapas bar, where you and your date can have a bird’s eye view of the teamwork involved in melding the myriad ingredients in the small plates.

  • 8. Le Pichet

    Gayot.com

    1933 First Ave.
    Seattle, WA 98101


    Get closer at Le Pichet's intimate bar. The wine — served by the glass from ceramic "pichets" or by the bottle — is first-rate and fairly priced. It's a full bar, so cocktails are also offered, as well as traditional French cuisine.

  • 9. Mulberry Project

    Facebook/Mulberry Project

    149 Mulberry St.
    New York, NY 10013

    Stylish cocktail lounge Mulberry Project specializes in bespoke beverages and sophisticated small plates. Glance at the chalkboard on the wall listed with available seasonal ingredients --- from various exotic fruits to spices --- and tell the bartender what you want. The staff will manage to mix up something inventive that will be sure to impress your date.

  • 10. The Optimist

    The Optimist

    914 Howell Mill Rd. NW
    Atlanta, GA 30318

    Styled after a fish camp, The Optimist fields both a restaurant and a raw bar operation adjacent to the main dining room. Here's where you will want to stop in for a late plate of raw or wood-roasted oysters. We forgo the fancy fixin's, which include house-made wheat crackers, and just order some lemon wedges.

    More on Gayot.com

    Sexy Restaurants Near You

    Top 10 Aphrodisiacs

    Most Romantic Restaurants Near You

    Best Valentine's Day Restaurants, Gifts and More