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!
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….
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)
- 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)…..
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…
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)
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:
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:
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).
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…
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)
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.
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.
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!