Coffee is a great way to end a date, but finding a coffee shop that stays open past dinner can be a challenge. Here are spots with good coffee, some atmosphere, and late hours.
BEST PLACE TO CHAT
Pound the Hill
621 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-621-6765
Pound the Hill is always busy, but you don’t notice the bustle in the quieter back room, which has a half dozen tables and glass doors that open onto a garden-lined patio. End a date night with Pound’s Nutella lattes, a drink that’s like a dessert. Open Friday and Saturday until 10.
BEST FARM-TO-TABLE CHARM
Big Bear Cafe
1700 First St., NW; no phone
Order coffee with cream and sugar at Big Bear Cafe and you’ll get French-press Counter Culture coffee with fresh-from-the-farm milk and natural cane sugar. Try to get one of the candlelit tables on the patio in front, near the organic garden. Open until 9 on Friday and Saturday.
BEST FOR COFFEE SNOBS
Grape & Bean
118 S. Royal St., Alexandria; 703-664-0214
Coffee at Old Town’s Grape & Bean is made to order in the Clover, a machine that grinds and brews one cup at a time and promises more flavor than traditional brewing. Beans are from all over the world—Africa to South America. Open until 10 Wednesday through Saturday
2459 18th St., NW; 202-232-5500
Finding a seat at Tryst can be hard on a Friday or Saturday night. But get one and you’re rewarded with good people-watching—from college students fueling up for a night out to workaholics tapping on laptops. A menu of spiked drinks includes bourbon-laced black tea and vanilla chai with rum. Open until midnight Sunday through Wednesday, till 2 am Thursday, till 3 am Friday and Saturday.
BEST FOR LIVE MUSIC
St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub
2300 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-739-9268
The eclectic music at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub is one of the draws. Jazz quartets, alt-country bands, and folksingers take the stage Wednesday through Saturday night. Check the calendar before going—kid-focused performers sometimes are on the bill. Open until 10 Monday through Saturday.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.