So you’ve got yourself a first date — and obviously, you’re hoping this goes well. Beyond figuring out what you’re going to wear and how you’re going to do your hair, there’s a much bigger decision before you. Where are you going to go?
So many factors must be taken into consideration here. Take your date to an Italian place and before you know it, you’re talking about your childhood dog with spaghetti sauce all over your face from the unruly path of a stray pasta noodle. You can forget about Mexican — and maybe Indian, too — because, well, certain post-dining results may vary.
A first date is all about getting to know one another and just having a good ol’ time. So with that in mind, here’s a list of a few of our suggestions — based on relationship history and the dates that got us to a second outing.
Bryant Lake Bowl
Bryant Lake Bowl is the perfect setting for a relaxed, fun evening. Whether you’re here for the food, the drinks, the bowling or a great show, I’m sure Bryant Lake has a rich history on making love connections. And sure, it might be cliché but there’s nothing like getting an up-close-and-personal lesson on how to avoid a gutter ball to help break the ice. Stop by on Mondays for Cheap Date Night — two entrees, a bottle of wine and a round of bowling for just $28.
W.A. Frost & Company
For a first date in the summer, you can’t go wrong with the incredible patio at W.A. Frost. The patio furniture is nice and comfy and the setting, with overhanging tree branches and elegant umbrellas, is spot-on for a romantic evening. Head here in the fall and winter for a seat in the new lounge, featuring a wood-burning fireplace and cozy cave-like setting.
Bar La Grassa
Bar La Grassa is a great place to impress your date, have an excellent dinner and — perhaps the best part — not break the bank. The food here is phenomenal and the atmosphere is both cozy and casual yet, with a discreet elegance. This does slightly break my “no Italian” rule but the pastas here — fresh, homemade pasta, at that — are so divine that one doesn’t even need to be proficient with a spaghetti fork to successfully scoop these perfect portions.
Red Stag Supperclub
Choose a night out at Red Stag and you’ll impress your date with your decision to support a restaurant that is known for its green initiatives and local, organic food. Plus, you’ll get the pleasure of dining on some super tasty entrees at the same time. Stop in for a night of dinner and music (check the events calendar for a list of bands that’ll suit your taste) or come by on Tuesday for Red Stag’s Cheap Date Night — two entrees, dessert and a bottle of wine for $32.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Vineland Place and Lyndale Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Again, some may call it cliché but taking a walk through the Minnesota Sculpture Garden — especially, if you haven’t been there before — is truly an adorable way to spend an afternoon date. Stroll along the uber-famous Spoonbridge and Cherry and saunter through the many sculptures, making comments along the way to what exactly those sculptures are supposed to be. Then head into the conservatory, check out the beautiful surroundings and if you’re hungry, walk right over to the Walker for some delish eats at 20.21.
The Melting Pot
Yes, it’s a chain but a romantic evening at The Melting Pot in downtown Minneapolis is a really fun way to let loose and yes, play with your food. Try to reserve a spot in the row of comfy, romantic booths, tucked away from the rest of the restaurant — and according to restaurant staff, a popular place for proposals. Then order up some cheese fondue — save room for the chocolate fondue — and get dipping.
Nothing says romance quite like French cooking. And while your date watches you attempt to order your entrée — some of them with a bit of French in the title — it’ll go one of two ways: impressive if you nail it, adorable if you don’t. Stop by on Mondays for 10 wines for $10 a bottle, split an order of oysters and settle in to your checkered-tablecloth table, pretending your feasting at a French bistro.
The Happy Gnome
How can you go wrong at a place called The Happy Gnome? This little local gastropub proudly serves 70 craft drafts, more than 400 bottled beers and countless varieties of scotch and whisky — and a fun little conversation starter as you both try to settle on a decision from the bar. The atmosphere is casual, laid back and yet there’s plenty of pockets within the restaurant for those romance sparks to start flying.
Chatterbox Pub is my dream come true in a bar — good food, good drinks and, wait for it, board games galore. And not just board games, but old school Nintendo, and at a few locations even super old school Atari. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend a first date than by taking them down in Mario Kart or mercilessly beating them in a heated game of Battleship. I’d head for the St. Paul or Edina location, just for a better chance of comfy seating.
The great thing about a date night of skating at The Depot is, whether you’re Kristi Yamaguchi or might as well have jello for legs, it doesn’t matter — the fun ensues. And you can’t get much more romantic than in the inside of The Depot, with walls of great, open windows that overlook the bustling winter traffic of downtown Minneapolis. Once you’ve fully exhausted yourself — either triple axel-ing or falling down profusely — you can snuggle up with your date afterwards and enjoy some delicious hot chocolate, perfect on a chilly winter evening.
And then sometimes you just have to go with the old standbys. Who doesn’t love pizza? And honestly, if your date’s the type of person to wrinkle their nose at the thought of sharing a pie instead of a $50 filet mignon, well, then, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Punch Pizza has some of the best pizzas in town and their simple, modern settings for consuming pizza offer the perfect atmosphere for good conversation. I’d go with the Highland Park Punch or the Grand Avenue Punch, just for the great options for a post-pizza stroll along the sidewalk.