Denver's five best first-date restaurants

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How is a first date different from a blind date? The blind date is basically an interview, after which you decide whether you'd like to go a second round. First dates imply that some level of familiarity and attraction already exists, and you're making a calculated step, putting your best foot forward to impress someone you'd like to get to know better -- and possibly see naked.

So if a blind-date spot is all about starving off awkwardness, a first-date spot is all about romance.

With that in mind, we picked the Village Cork as Denver's Best First-Date Restaurant in the Best of Denver 2011 because its soft lighting, feminine surroundings and intimate nooks create the perfect spot to move the conversation from friendly to flirtatious.

Denver has some other spots conducive to that jump, though, and here are four more:

A' Côté Bar à Absinthe

Few cultures are more conducive to romance than the French, and A' Côté Bar à Absinthe, which was also our pick for Best Girls' Night Out, channels the spirit flawlessly. This cozy sliver of a spot serves small plates paired with a good wine list and solid cocktails beneath walls lined with art and a gorgeous chandelier made of colored glass.

Green Russell

Our first reaction to Green Russell, which we named Best Contemporary Cocktail Bar, was just one word: sexy. The dark cavern has plenty of tucked-away corners; the pre-Prohibition cocktail list provides the right libations for building romantic tension. Just make sure to reserve a booth -- those bar stools are a little too far apart to allow for accidental hand grazing or knocked knees.

Squeaky Bean

If you're looking for a proper dinner-date spot, a good bet is the Squeaky Bean, where Best Chef Max MacKissock turns out a dinner menu that's equal parts impressive and fun, paired with a beverage program that's never disappointing. The charming cafe is lit by a warm glow at night, perfect for long, meaningful glances, and it's located in LoHi, our Best of Denver Restaurant Neighborhood, which means there are plenty of places to head for an after-dinner drink, thus prolonging the magic far into the night.

Beatrice & Woodsley

Beatrice & Woodsley, our pick for Best Restaurant Decor, has an atmosphere not unlike an enchanted forest, with trees in the dining room, hanging lanterns and other artistic details that give the eatery a fairy-tale air. And since you're likely looking for a little magic over the course of a first date, a magical atmosphere can't hurt. For more privacy, request one of the round booths, which are almost impossible to maneuver without grazing limbs under the table.

More Best of Denver Lists: - Denver's five best restaurants for blind dates

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- Denver's five best burgers

- Denver's six best pizzas

- Denver's five best dive bars

- Denver's five best dinners under $10

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