Thank goodness for dates

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

While currently single this Valentine’s Day, I would like to talk for a bit about how completely fun and exciting the dating process is. Sure, the date himself might be a dud, but you have a reason to go out and try something new. My friends and I routinely try new places, but it’s rare that we’ll eat somewhere different. Food is not typically the center of our activities. Do we eat food? Yes, and usually lots, but we’ll pick up something from a food truck on our way to the next spot or order something and bring it to a bar.

We’re not drunks by any means, but we spend most of our evenings on Rainey or the east side enjoying each other’s company.

However, when I’m dating someone, it’s typically protocol to visit an actual restaurant, sit down, order a meal and eat it while staying at the same place the entire time. Crazy, I know.

A few places stood out in particular and they deserve a shout out. I should put in a caveat here that these spots are not guaranteed to make you fall in love with your date or to even make you like your date. That’s up to Cupid and whether or not your date is more like Jason Segal or John Mayer. (In this case, Jason Segal is the winner!)

Backspace – My boss has amazing taste in restaurants and had been recommending this place for a year. Sisters with Parkside, Backspace is a super small Neapolitan pizza restaurant with an incredible chef. Happy hour goes until 6:30! Sadly, we didn’t order wine. What’s Italian food without wine?! Alas, it was still good, but I think a glass of Italian wine would have made it even better.

Easy Tiger – While it seems like every blogger has written about Easy Tiger over the last month or so, I must include it as well. We went with a group of friends and enjoyed the fairly large selection of beer, an Antonelli’s cheese plate and a few hot dogs. My date, at the time, is a beer connoisseur and asked for several different choices on the menu before he landed on one that they actually had. I’m happy with ANY kind of beer, so this wasn’t an issue for me. I tried the Left Hand Milk Stout and thought it was terrific.

Frank – Another hot dog eatery, I recommend Frank for its brunch. Get the Makers Toast and prepare for a sugar high that beats none other.

Sagra – Walking into Sagra for the first time, I immediately felt at ease (that’s saying a lot for a first date) and was overcome with amazing smells. It’s certainly romantic, but it’s in no way stuffy or uptight. Your waiter will push wine on you – accept it. His recommendation will be perfect. I typically order the Maccheroni al Forno, but everything is good.

Vespaio – This is another place that my boss is constantly talking about and for the longest time I thought I’d never been here. Turns out, I’ve actually visited with three dates. Located on South Congress, the wood-fired pizzas are perfect for sharing. I’m sure the entrees are great, but there’s something more romantic about sharing a pizza?

Eastside Café – Some of the restaurants on Manor Rd. remind me of college and nights when I would treat myself to a decent meal that wasn’t too far from campus. When a date took me to Eastside Café recently, it plucked at my heartstrings. My favorite dishes are the Panko and Pecan Encrusted Chicken Breast and the Sesame Catfish, but you can’t go wrong with the veggie enchiladas or cheeseburger.

Contigo – If you haven’t been here by now, get going. Truly my favorite spot in Austin right now, Contigo is the perfect setting for a date, brunch with your parents or a dinner party with friends. Order everything and share – you must order the crispy green beans. The cocktails are fun too. And the TWINKLY LIGHTS. I love twinkly lights a ridiculous amount and hold a special place in my heart for restaurants that decorate with them. I think I’m bound to fall in love under twinkly lights, so I might as well start at Contigo.

For all my single ladies enjoying margaritas with girlfriends tonight – embrace the life of dating and offer to split the check. A real gentleman will never let you, but it doesn’t hurt to show that you can stand on your own two feet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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