Stucu’s Best Date Spots: Boston Edition

Today I’m rounding out our “best of” series (you can check out DC here and Philly here). To recap, we’re providing some of our favorite first date spots in our lovely cities. Up today is the best city of all, Boston. The Charles River is swimmable again, the Big Dig is over, our former mayor is affectionately known as Mumbles Menino, the ducklings get dressed up for every occasion, Boston is one of the best walking cities there is, etc. etc. The only thing keeping Boston from perfection is the baseball team that plays here (but not the ballpark, I love Fenway). Anway, let’s get to it.

D’s TOP THREE BOSTON DATE SPOTS

1) Granary Tavern (170 Milk Street, Boston, MA 02109 – Financial District)

Obviously, a good bar is a standard go-to for a first date. It’s a public place, it doesn’t have a time commitment, alcohol helps with nerves, etc. If it’s going well you might end up a little drunk and almost miss the last train home because you’ve totally lost track of time (this happened to me a few weeks back, on what quickly became my best first date ever). If the date is a dud, you’re out as quickly as you can down your drink.

funneling

Source: Huffington Post

This kid is going to be a CHAMP when he gets to college. Anywho, Boston is certainly not lacking in bar options, with a pretty even spread of shitty, mediocre, and great. I actually LOVE dive bars, but since my favorite one closed years ago (RIP Our House West), and people tend to have strong opinions about dive bars, I avoid them on the first date. Like S, I like a casual place that’s not too loud, and has a decent menu if the date is going well. I also like a bar that isn’t full of 22 year old assholes, a population that Boston has in spades. We are a young city full of colleges. Which was GREAT when I was going to college here (Go BU!), but now that I’m less than a month from 30, I’m over those shenanigans. So, that eliminates every single bar in Faneuil Hall, and virtually all of Allston/Brighton.

But we’re not talking about the worst of here today, we’re talking about the best. So I present to you: Granary Tavern. It’s in the financial district, so it’s easily accessible by T. But it’s also on the fringe of the Financial District, right on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, so there’s lots of other stuff around in the evening. It’s got a good selection of beer on tap, as well as wine and other cocktails. They’ve got a good menu, including a late night menu. And they’ve got a decent amount of space. Also, they have outdoor seating in good weather, that faces out to the greenway. 

granary tavern

Who wouldn’t want to sit out there with a cold drink and a cute guy? I love dining and imbibing al fresco. 

I also love Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. They have insanely delicious cocktails. But it’s much trendier and gets really crowded, eliminating it from contention as my favorite. But it’s a decent back up on the right night/with the right date.

2) Sacco’s Bowl Haven (45 Day Street, Somerville, MA 02144 – Davis Square)

I also love a good activity date. Sitting across from a stranger drinking a beer can be super awkward. It’s nice to have a distraction, something that engages you both. And for that, I love me some bowling. Perhaps it’s the fact that I grew up in a town where bowling and woods parties were basically all we had to entertain ourselves. Perhaps it’s my intensely competitive attitude (my desire to win, at everything, while likely a character flaw, is also such a huge part of my personality that it’s one of the few parts of my crazy that I put on full display from the beginning to weed out the people who don’t find it charming). Almost definitely, a part of it is that my butt looks slammin’ in jeans, and bowling provides a lot of opportunity to put that on display. Besides, New England has the ever-charming and quirky candlepin bowling.

candlepin bowling

It seems like it might be easier, but it’s not. Here’s a delightfully 80’s tutorial that I came across recently while trying to brush up on my skills before a bowling date, as I had talked a LOT of trash leading up to the date (despite the fact that I’m a mediocre bowler, at best). 

There are a couple of places to bowl in Boston, but my favorite by far is Sacco’s Bowl Haven in my old ‘hood of Davis Square in Somerville. Right on the red line, Sacco’s is also easily accessible by T. They only have candlepin, so if you’re not a New England bowling purist, you’re better off going to Jillian’s or Boston Bowl. In addition to candlepin, Sacco’s has alcohol and delicious flatbread pizza. I dare you to find something wrong with the combination of beer, pizza, bowling, and healthy competition. Although they keep a certain number of lanes open for walk-ins, Sacco’s gets crowded fast, so midweek is best for this. Sacco’s will take your number and call you when a lane opens up, so if there is a wait and the bar is crowded, head over to Red Bones (or any one of the numerous other places in Davis) for a beer and/or food. 

3) Castle Island (at the end of William J. Day Blvd. in South Boston)

Since it’s summer, and summer in Boston is lovely (humid as fuck, a specialty of the eastern seaboard, but all the colleges are out and there’s an abundance of parks and waterfront to explore), I’m rounding out my fave first date spots with an outdoor activity. A little vitamin D, a little physical activity, and endless options for ways to continue the date if things are going well. I’m partial to Castle Island for this.  

Castle Island

It’s not actually an island, so if the date is a dud you’re not actually marooned with the fool. It’s got great views of Boston Harbor and the harbor islands, as well as the city skyline (especially if you walk out on the causeway in Pleasure Bay (I hate that name, so much, but I digress)). They open up Fort Independence in the summer, and who doesn’t love exploring a good fort? A nice sea breeze is always refreshing. If the guy is in fact a dud, you can call it a day after one lap around the fort, and at least you got some exercise! If it’s going well and you get hungry, Sullivan’s is right there with seafood, burgers, and ice cream (in case you weren’t sure you were in South Boston, that name should give it away). There’s no bar at Sullivan’s, but a quick walk into South Boston will give you plenty of options if you want to cancel out all that strenuous walking with a cold one.

So there you have it – LSD’s Best Date Spots in our respective cities. Thanks for tuning in while we share our recs! Next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming of dishing about boys, insane messages, and memorable dates (both good and bad), because those things just keep on coming.

P.S. Boston peeps, did I miss any gems you want to share? I’m all ears in the comment section!

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Stucu’s best date spots: Philly edition

Happy almost birthday, ‘Murica, and Happy almost long weekend of binge drinking/eating/fireworking, my fellow Americans.  The subject of today’s post is the fair City of Brotherly Love, where a certain important document was drafted years ago mere blocks from where I’m sitting at this very moment.

Anyway, this is Part 2 of our little ‘best of’ series, and in case you missed it, you can catch L’s best DC date spots here. So let’s get to one of my favorite things in the world: opinions!

opinion

Source: www.bodylovewellness.com

If a guy asks me out, in an ideal world he picks where we’re going to meet up, at least the first time around. But this is the real world, and in the real world, lazy suburbanites who’ve apparently never heard of Yelp usually text me things like: “so where should we meet up?”  or “I don’t know the city that well, any ideas?” I mean….

How-Rude-Stephanie-Full-House

Source: soletstalkabout.com

As annoying as this can be, it’s also an opportunity, because there is something to be said for controlling the location of a first date. I used to think that location didn’t matter much, and it’s true, if you hit it off with someone you will probably do that whether the date is in a trendy upscale restaurant or a dive bar that reeks of urine. But I’ve come to believe that there is a bit of a science to this whole thing.

In honor of that (pseudo) science, here are three types of date spots that I like to keep in my back pocket for when I’ve got a clueless suburbanite on my hands, and that I think every single girl should have in her arsenal:

  • a fun neighborhood bar with good beer/drinks (and lots of room) for first and second dates
  • someplace a little swanky/mysterious/sexy (I couldn’t even type ‘sexy’ without thinking of this–I’m seriously 12:)

  • something different than the typical drinks/dinner scene

You may note that I stayed away from actual restaurants on this list because not to be obnoxious, but Philly has a GREAT restaurant scene, so I don’t feel like it’s hard to find a really good place to eat, ever. Anyway, let’s get to this list, shall we?

S’s Top Three Philly Date Spots

1. First date watering hole: Strangelove’s (216 S. 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107–11th Street between Walnut & Locust)

strangeloves

This is my ideal first date location because it:

  • is casual but not divey
  • is cool but not overly trendy or pretentious
  • is never insanely crowded or loud
  • has good food in case the date goes well and we decide to have dinner
  • is in my neighborhood so I can easily FLEE if I have a serial killer on my hands

Over the past…wow, 2 years (#old) I’ve actually taken….five? dudes to this bar on a first or second date. That I can remember. It’s highly possible the bartenders and waitstaff have a running pool on when I’ll be in next and with whom. What can I say? It’s my old reliable (even though it’s only been under this name/owner for like a year. Shhhh.)

The beer selection is great if you or your date are into that (I am), but there’s a full bar if you’re not. This place is popular and can get crowded, but there’s a big upstairs bar so you’ll never find yourself awkwardly standing and trying to be witty and charming while simultaneously getting elbowed and sloshing Saison all over yourself. And in case you were worried, it has the GOOP stamp of approval (damn it that smug bitch has good taste). Also, there’s something incredibly fitting about having a first date with a stranger you met online underneath a glowing sign that says “STRANGE LOVE”.

If your date turns out to not be an illiterate sociopath (in which case)…..

congratulations

and you decide to stay and eat, the food is delicious and inexpensive. Also, the music isn’t blasting so loudly that you can actually HEAR wtf your date is saying. I realize I sound like the most uncool old person that ever lived when I complain about noise levels in bars…

mindy wifi

Source: starcrush.com

but sorry, haters, first dates are awkward enough without having to shout ‘What??’ and ‘Huh??’ back and forth with a stranger for an hour.

2. Swanky and sexy: The Ranstead Room (2013 Ranstead St, Philadelphia, PA 19103)

https://i0.wp.com/www.wheretraveler.com/sites/default/files/styles/features_slideshow_gallery_articles/public/Ranstead_Room_Courtesy%20of%20the%20Ranstead%20Room.jpg

Usually when someone suggests hitting up a speakeasy that 1. is hidden down an alleyway 2. has bartenders that wear twee little vintage get ups 3. is too cool to have a website and 4. may close at a moment’s notice without warning I’m like:

hipster nonsense

Source: gifmethat.tumblr.com

But I promise you (and Liz Lemon), this is a good one.

I have to give my ex full credit for introducing me to the Ranstead Room, especially since he’s probably reading this post (hey, D). You guys, this place is so fun and so. sexy. Maybe a little much for a first date, but perfect for a second or third. Yes, it’s small, located down a sketchy back street with no sign and yes, there’s almost always a wait, but they’ll take your cell # and call you when a table opens up so you can go around the corner and wait at a bar or grab a bite to eat.

Once you actually enter it feels like Madmen-meets-70s porn set-meets-vampire den, which sounds insane but it fucking works. The drinks are delicious and the atmosphere is perfect for my favorite date activity:

banter

Source: domini-porter.tumblr.com

I’m telling you, RR’s great music, low lighting, vintage paintings of naked ladies on the walls (very non-sleazy/tongue in cheek ) and friendly, non-pretentious bartenders will make you feel hella cool and mysterious, and you will more than likely end up flirting your ass off with whoever is sitting across from you (to varying levels of success, of course, depending on your skill and blood alcohol levels).

clive bixby

Then, when you’ve flirted and bantered to your heart’s content and you inevitably tie a load on from those 4 custom cocktails you just downed, might I suggest…

jess singing

Source: allaboutnewgirl.tumblr.com

Calm down, you pervs. I was actually going to recommend ordering a snack off the menu of the yummy Mexican restaurant next door. Drunk guacamole, people. DRUNK. GUACAMOLE. Get your priorities straight.

Honestly, forget dates (and the fact that this post includes the word “intercourse”); if you’re from out of town and you visit Philly, check this place out.

3. Nerdy and unique: The Franklin Institute (271 North 21st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103)

franklin institute

Honorary mention goes to Art After 5, which is definitely a more “grown up” option, but I’ve never actually gone there on a date (only with friends–woooommmmp #painfullysingle) so I felt like it was cheating to put it on this list.

I love a museum date, especially when the weather’s shitty. I like that it’s something interactive to do with your date, there are conversation starters all around you to fill any awkward silences, and if you get ass numbingly bored after an hour you can just peace out and resume discussing whatever low-brow things you normally talk about while still feeling cultured as shit for going.

mindy price harry

Source: www.tvguide.com

Philly has some great museums, and if you’re looking purely for art/culture, I have a bunch of arguably better recs for you than this one (also if you’re looking to totally creep your date out, I’ve got a rec for that, too). The Barnes is killer. The Constitution Center is great. But the Franklin Institute is …different. Maybe that’s because it’s technically a kid’s museum. BUT it’s also a combination of nerdy, wacky, juvenile, random and totally kitschy, which I love, and I think it makes for a more fun, playful date (at least early on) than your standard art museum. Also, being able to joke/be playful/not take yourself too seriously is a personality trait that I really value, and this is a good way to spot any know it all snoots who wouldn’t be thrilled to climb through a giant heart with you.

Other reasons why this is a fun date option:

  • Planetariums are hella romantic. Just ask Ross and Rachel.
  • You’ll seriously LOL at some of the laughably vintage exhibits
  • An hour or two among droves of screaming kids, and you will definitely both remember the importance of birth control.

jack thumbs up

Source: degrassi.wikia.com

So there you have it. Philly peeps, what do you think? What are some of your favorite date spots? I realize I basically stuck with the Center City area, but I’m always looking for new places to check out.

Have an awesome holiday weekend, readers. I’ll be spending mine lakeside with my homegirl D while L is sunbathing in Europe. (I know, we hate her, too.) Stay tuned for our Beantown edition of best date spots next week!

Stucu’s best date spots: DC Edition

Let’s face it. After a year and a half blogging about online dating, I’ve gone from considering myself a legitimate dating virgin to a semi-pro dater. Extrovert that I am, I love to shout about my self proclaimed expert dating status wherever I go: office party, family dinner, friend of a friend’s party, etc.  

big deal

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3qjz81

So, a question people ask me (and my cobloggers) pretty frequently is: “Where is the best place in DC/Philly/Boston to go on a first date?” So, today, I bring you this post (first in an LSD series) about my favorite DC date spots. A few disclaimers before I get to it…

  1. No one paid us to say anything. If there is one thing consistent about the ladies of Stucu, it’s that we know our own minds. As S put it this weekend when I asked if we had to follow any “rules” during a Painting with a Twist excursion (which was surprisingly fun by the way): “We’ll do what we want. Because that’s how we do.”
  2.  This is more of an art than a science. And by art, I mean that in the most Jackson Pollock kind of way. (God! Painting with a Twist just made me so in touch with the artistic community!)  Our picks are based on our own personal preferences and experiences.
  3. We’re working on our brevity over here, especially because we realize our readers come from all over the place (not just our three cities), so we’re limiting our top picks to three per city. If you’re interested in hearing even more opinions (because GOD KNOWS you don’t get enough of that on this blog already), shoot us an email and we’d be happy to discuss in more detail.
  4. We have a not so secret agenda here (honestly, what could be less secret than a public blog??) to get some great reader suggestions out of this. Please don’t pass up this opportunity to help us sound cool when we suggest potential spots, ever so casually, to our future dates.

So here goes…

DC TOP THREE FIRST DATE SPOTS

1. Beers and banterBoard room (1737 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009)

Remember that place I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Where I’ve literally been on dates with five different men? Well, that place is called Board room and,  it totally deserves my business (and my date’s business).

First of all, it’s conveniently located near bus and metro (not to mention near my office and across the street from one of my BFF’s apartments). I can get there in 5 minutes from work and 15 minutes from home. And if my date lives in a remotely cool location (aka not the suburbs like SOME PEOPLE), he can get there quickly too.

But way more importantly, combining games and beer is a surefire way to make a possibly probably awkward conversation with a total stranger less awkward. Instead of starting with the usual getting to know you questions (So you’re from Ohio…how long have you lived in Logan Circle…did you watch the USA vs. Ghana game…), you can pretend to be concentrating on sinking your opponent’s Battleship.

Plus, there is the added banter aspect. I’ll admit that my preferred style of flirting is what my colleague calls, “playground flirting,” which means that I spend a lot of time teasing guys and challenging them to strange competitions. So, nothing helps me get my groove on more than making eyes over a Connect Four board. Unless it’s kicking some serious butt (I always do), in Scrabble, all while chiding my date for not researching two-letter words before challenging me to a match. (See, I like trash-talking so much I’m literally about to start flirting with myself on this blog right now).

2. Neighborhood classicMeridian Pint (11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010)

This place is even closer to my apartment than Board room. Score! But proximity is not the reason this bar gets the #2 spot on this list. (I’m lazy, but not that lazy). It’s not a dive at all, but it’s still just one tiny step below what I’d actually call a restaurant. I’d call it a friendly neighborhood pub, but I don’t associate pubs with very good food, and Meridian Pint’s nachos will knock your socks off. Plus, they have a killer beer list that not only results in drinking some delicious and hard to find things (Victory Dirtwolf, anyone?) but also is an instant conversation starter about beer preferences, a subject I could go on and on about at length. (Though, my expertise is really in shitty  low cost beers. One of the many things on my bucket list is to write my own version of this amazing list. And, btw, HOW DARE YOU INSULT YUENGLING, WILL GORDON OF DEADSPIN. I’M COMING FOR YOU). 

Plus, Meridian Pint has all the seating options you could possibly desire: outside seating for perfect DC days (of which there about 15 per year, and we will not see again until the end of this already humid summer), upstairs tables or bar for intimate conversation, and downstairs bar for some TV-watching and rowdiness. 

3. Cheese and ChocolateCoco Sala (929 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004)

I know, I know.  I’ve gone on record previously and said I don’t believe in eating anything on first dates. But this place is an exception. Coco Sala’s menu has a heavy focus on chocolate, complimented by lots of delicious dishes involving cheese and, more often than not, bacon.

bacon

https://www.distilled.net/blog/bacon-mouthwash-how-to-pull-off-an-april-fools-prank/

I know S, D, and I have all waxed poetic about cheese on the blog before. But don’t think I’ve introduced you to my personal holy trinity: cheese, bacon, and bourbon. And chocolate. And beer. And Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. (OK, so not really a trinity at all, but give me a break. I mix up religious references all the time.)The point is, Coco Sala has a delicious menu of small plates that could only be improved by adding a slider that resembled Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Plus, the portions are small and delicate enough that you can try a lot of things without getting full, and without resembling this:

burgers

https://www.distilled.net/blog/bacon-mouthwash-how-to-pull-off-an-april-fools-prank/

(I want to retitle that image: L at Shake Shack after a long day).

Coco Sala also has some mad-flattering lighting which I desperately need after a long work day. And, it’s always crowded, but not too crowded, so you can feel like you’re somewhere cool and hip, but still hear your date speak.

That’s it y’all. I decided to wrap this up rather abruptly because even thinking about this place is making me want to defrost some brownies I may or MAY NOT have in my freezer and eat them while watching Orange is the New Black.

So that’s my DC Top Three! Readers, I’d love to hear yours, so don’t be shy; leave it in the comments! And stay tuned for the top three favorites of my Yankee sisters up in Philly and Boston.