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The London Plane.
The London Plane.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

Low-Stakes First Date Spots in Seattle

Have a good time with someone new

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The London Plane.
| Suzi Pratt for Eater

Ah, the incomparable experience of a first date. A time-honored ritual of small talk, awkward pauses, and contrived gestures on quest to find "the one" — or even a one-night stand. Depending on your worldview, first dates can be exhilarating or downright terrifying (or, more commonly, a healthy mix of both).

With so many potential pitfalls to avoid, one consideration not to be taken lightly is the decision of where to meet. A solid first date selection should consider many factors, including, but not limited to, a relaxed ambiance, unobtrusive lighting, balanced noise levels, a decent walk score, a variety of activities in case conversation lulls, and, of course, a lofty drink menu. While good food helps, cheaper options are the preferred choice for many young singles with tighter budgets (and future swipes to get to).

Here's a selection of top first date venues in Seattle, from casual to cozy to romantic, whether it's your first time or your next time.

Note: Map points are ordered geographically and are not ranked by preference. Is your favorite first-date hangout missing from the list? Show it some love in the comments, send an email, or start a forum thread in its honor.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Zig Zag Cafe

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1501 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 625-1146
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Complete with jazzy vibes, rose-colored lighting, and drinks that look like they should be served with a necktie, the iconic Zig Zag Cafe down the steps from Pike Place is more like a throwback bar. A bit more upscale than your typical bar, Zig Zag may inspire you to wear your good shoes. If things go really well, Post Alley is just a stroll away.

2. Jarrbar

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1432 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 209-2239
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This cool, comfy hideaway is a wonderful spot for a first time meet up, with vinyl albums spinning and Spanish-influenced cocktails that mirror the rustic decor. Small tapas-inspired dishes are perfect for snacking in the middle of deep conversations, particularly the slices of cured meat, the seductively sour pickle jar, and salted sardine tins. Jarbarr is about the closest thing to Barcelona without requiring a passport, and it's small enough you may have to inch ever closer to your intriguing new companion.
Adam H. Callaghan/Eater

3. Ocho

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2325 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 784-0699
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Ocho serves some of the best sangria in Seattle, and that’s saying a lot. While the affable bartenders stir up tasty refreshments, the quaint, wallet-friendly plates of boquerones and croquetas are perfect for sharing. The charming interior is heavy on the ambiance and candlelight, if a bit cramped, making even the most awkward dates feel magical.

4. Hellbent Brewing Co.

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13035 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98125
(206) 361-3707
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Everyone is just starting to find out what Lake City locals have known for a while: Hellbent is one of Seattle’s best breweries. A casual watering hole with $8 beer samplers, video games, billiard tables, and big-screen TVs, this welcoming spot encourages friendly competition. And if you and your date are dog-lovers, even better: Bring a furry pal or at least say hi to Steven, the brewery's lovable canine-in-residence.

5. Add-A-Ball

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315 N 36th St #2B
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 696-1613
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Nothing says first date chill like a night of cheap beer and pinball machines. This Fremont hangout has the classic coin-operated arcade games, some of the newer ones, and some you probably haven’t seen before. If the gaming scene becomes a bit dull, there are also board games you can play on tables that stand in front of a giant Patrick Swayze mural. That alone would be worth the price of admission, if there were an admission price. (There's not.)

6. Tavern Law

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1406 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 322-9734
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If vintage charm and Prohibition-style cocktails are your thing, look no further than the nostalgic Tavern Law. Its happy hour menu is stocked with enough appetizers to keep you busy, while the seasonal cocktails are perfectly suited regardless of the occasion. If things go well, take things upstairs to Needle and Thread, a speakeasy that you’ll want to ask about ahead of time.

7. Central Cinema

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1411 21st Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 686-6684
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Admittedly, it’s considered a bit risky to watch a movie on a date, but this indie theater on a quiet street in the Central District could be a nice ice breaker for Hollywood buffs. Central Cinema plays classics, cult and otherwise, while you snack and sip on a local brew. Also, keep an eye on the calendar for movie-adjacent events like sing-alongs, film trivia, and video game nights.

8. The London Plane

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300 Occidental Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 624-1374
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A former bank that feels more like a British bistro than a cafe in Pioneer Square, the London Plane is an intriguing hybrid, effortless in its execution. Part bakery, part cafe, and part flower shop, Matt Dillon’s shining jewel sits inside a naturally lit, open space that oozes with delicate charm and sophistication. Whether you snap a pic of the poached eggs or the chickpea salad with tahini dressing, every backdrop of this brick beauty is perfectly Instagrammable.

9. Café Presse

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1117 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 709-7674
Visit Website
The French have a knack for taking relatively simple concepts and squeezing the most out them. Café Presse is a modest, unassuming bar/cafe that feels very much like a teleporter to one of the inner arrondissements. Enjoy a casual brunch date over freshly roasted coffee and a crunchy baguette with a side of salted butter. If you're starving, try the Croque Madame or another classic off the menu — you can even show off those high school French skills.
Jenise Silva for Eater

10. Tsui Sushi Bar

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6421 Latona Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 402-3553
Visit Website
Four words: all day happy hour. And no one does it quite like the casually hip, up-and-coming Tsui near Green Lake. Get the most bang for your buck by feasting on clean slabs of fresh sashimi and the crunchy, super-bomb bad boy rolls, all criminally underpriced. End things on the highest note possible by throwing down some warm sake, and skipping off to the lake for a lovely evening stroll.

11. Oddfellows Cafe and Bar

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1525 10th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-0807
Visit Website
With big, open windows facing the east and a collection of vintage antiques littered about like a 1930’s garage sale, Linda Derschang’s Oddfellows is a contemporary homage to the past. All the egg dishes here are legit, but the signature classic is baked eggs with ham and cheese. Elliot Bay Bookstore is right next door in case you need some intellectual stimulation, or take it to Molly Moon’s on the other side if the mood calls for dessert.
Emmitt Rudd, courtesy of Destination Lighting

12. Flatstick Pub

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240 2nd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 682-0608
Visit Website
A relative newcomer to Pioneer Square, subterranean Flatstick Pub offers a lot more than your standard sports bar. Besides the impressive number of local beers on tap, there are plenty of fun activities, including an elaborate mini-golf course shaped to form the word “SEATTLE” and a surprisingly challenging "duffleboard" course, a shuffleboard/golf hybrid created by the owners. Order Manu's tacos from the bar for delicious sustenance during your active evening.

13. Brass Tacks

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6031 Airport Way S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 397-3821
Visit Website
If you’re not into overthinking your first date, just head down to Brass Tacks and free yourself from worry. The super hip, quintessential Georgetown hotspot has live DJs and serves an excellent happy hour, including Moscow mules that probably cost as little as your morning coffee. And in case you need more convincing, there’s a “secret” make-out room (it's not so secret). You’re welcome.

14. El Chupacabra

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2620 Alki Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 933-7344
Visit Website
Situated on a prime spot in the heart of Alki, El Chupacabra is an awesome first date meet-up. Obviously, the biggest draw for this punk-themed Mexican dive bar is its location, but it's also known for its tasty margaritas, and it's a low-key amazing spot for gluten-free and vegan-friendly dishes. Invite your date to endless chips and dip, or split early and bury your toes on the beach. Either way is almost guaranteed success.

1. Zig Zag Cafe

1501 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
Complete with jazzy vibes, rose-colored lighting, and drinks that look like they should be served with a necktie, the iconic Zig Zag Cafe down the steps from Pike Place is more like a throwback bar. A bit more upscale than your typical bar, Zig Zag may inspire you to wear your good shoes. If things go really well, Post Alley is just a stroll away.
1501 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

2. Jarrbar

1432 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
Adam H. Callaghan/Eater
This cool, comfy hideaway is a wonderful spot for a first time meet up, with vinyl albums spinning and Spanish-influenced cocktails that mirror the rustic decor. Small tapas-inspired dishes are perfect for snacking in the middle of deep conversations, particularly the slices of cured meat, the seductively sour pickle jar, and salted sardine tins. Jarbarr is about the closest thing to Barcelona without requiring a passport, and it's small enough you may have to inch ever closer to your intriguing new companion.
1432 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

3. Ocho

2325 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107
Ocho serves some of the best sangria in Seattle, and that’s saying a lot. While the affable bartenders stir up tasty refreshments, the quaint, wallet-friendly plates of boquerones and croquetas are perfect for sharing. The charming interior is heavy on the ambiance and candlelight, if a bit cramped, making even the most awkward dates feel magical.
2325 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107

4. Hellbent Brewing Co.

13035 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125
Everyone is just starting to find out what Lake City locals have known for a while: Hellbent is one of Seattle’s best breweries. A casual watering hole with $8 beer samplers, video games, billiard tables, and big-screen TVs, this welcoming spot encourages friendly competition. And if you and your date are dog-lovers, even better: Bring a furry pal or at least say hi to Steven, the brewery's lovable canine-in-residence.
13035 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98125

5. Add-A-Ball

315 N 36th St #2B, Seattle, WA 98103
Nothing says first date chill like a night of cheap beer and pinball machines. This Fremont hangout has the classic coin-operated arcade games, some of the newer ones, and some you probably haven’t seen before. If the gaming scene becomes a bit dull, there are also board games you can play on tables that stand in front of a giant Patrick Swayze mural. That alone would be worth the price of admission, if there were an admission price. (There's not.)
315 N 36th St #2B
Seattle, WA 98103

6. Tavern Law

1406 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
If vintage charm and Prohibition-style cocktails are your thing, look no further than the nostalgic Tavern Law. Its happy hour menu is stocked with enough appetizers to keep you busy, while the seasonal cocktails are perfectly suited regardless of the occasion. If things go well, take things upstairs to Needle and Thread, a speakeasy that you’ll want to ask about ahead of time.
1406 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

7. Central Cinema

1411 21st Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Admittedly, it’s considered a bit risky to watch a movie on a date, but this indie theater on a quiet street in the Central District could be a nice ice breaker for Hollywood buffs. Central Cinema plays classics, cult and otherwise, while you snack and sip on a local brew. Also, keep an eye on the calendar for movie-adjacent events like sing-alongs, film trivia, and video game nights.
1411 21st Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

8. The London Plane

300 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
A former bank that feels more like a British bistro than a cafe in Pioneer Square, the London Plane is an intriguing hybrid, effortless in its execution. Part bakery, part cafe, and part flower shop, Matt Dillon’s shining jewel sits inside a naturally lit, open space that oozes with delicate charm and sophistication. Whether you snap a pic of the poached eggs or the chickpea salad with tahini dressing, every backdrop of this brick beauty is perfectly Instagrammable.
300 Occidental Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104

9. Café Presse

1117 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Jenise Silva for Eater
The French have a knack for taking relatively simple concepts and squeezing the most out them. Café Presse is a modest, unassuming bar/cafe that feels very much like a teleporter to one of the inner arrondissements. Enjoy a casual brunch date over freshly roasted coffee and a crunchy baguette with a side of salted butter. If you're starving, try the Croque Madame or another classic off the menu — you can even show off those high school French skills.
1117 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

10. Tsui Sushi Bar

6421 Latona Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Four words: all day happy hour. And no one does it quite like the casually hip, up-and-coming Tsui near Green Lake. Get the most bang for your buck by feasting on clean slabs of fresh sashimi and the crunchy, super-bomb bad boy rolls, all criminally underpriced. End things on the highest note possible by throwing down some warm sake, and skipping off to the lake for a lovely evening stroll.
6421 Latona Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115

11. Oddfellows Cafe and Bar

1525 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Emmitt Rudd, courtesy of Destination Lighting
With big, open windows facing the east and a collection of vintage antiques littered about like a 1930’s garage sale, Linda Derschang’s Oddfellows is a contemporary homage to the past. All the egg dishes here are legit, but the signature classic is baked eggs with ham and cheese. Elliot Bay Bookstore is right next door in case you need some intellectual stimulation, or take it to Molly Moon’s on the other side if the mood calls for dessert.
1525 10th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

12. Flatstick Pub

240 2nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
A relative newcomer to Pioneer Square, subterranean Flatstick Pub offers a lot more than your standard sports bar. Besides the impressive number of local beers on tap, there are plenty of fun activities, including an elaborate mini-golf course shaped to form the word “SEATTLE” and a surprisingly challenging "duffleboard" course, a shuffleboard/golf hybrid created by the owners. Order Manu's tacos from the bar for delicious sustenance during your active evening.
240 2nd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104

13. Brass Tacks

6031 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA 98108
If you’re not into overthinking your first date, just head down to Brass Tacks and free yourself from worry. The super hip, quintessential Georgetown hotspot has live DJs and serves an excellent happy hour, including Moscow mules that probably cost as little as your morning coffee. And in case you need more convincing, there’s a “secret” make-out room (it's not so secret). You’re welcome.
6031 Airport Way S
Seattle, WA 98108

14. El Chupacabra

2620 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Situated on a prime spot in the heart of Alki, El Chupacabra is an awesome first date meet-up. Obviously, the biggest draw for this punk-themed Mexican dive bar is its location, but it's also known for its tasty margaritas, and it's a low-key amazing spot for gluten-free and vegan-friendly dishes. Invite your date to endless chips and dip, or split early and bury your toes on the beach. Either way is almost guaranteed success.
2620 Alki Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

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