Ahhhh the month of LOVE – a good old reminder that you’re still single. With Valentine’s Day approaching you may have a date or two lined up and do not have a clue where to take them. I personally love good conversation on a date to get to know someone better, therefore, I have compiled a list of my favorite Vancouver restaurants to check out whether you’re scheduling a brunch date, lunch, dinner or drinks.
The Brunch/Lunch Date:
Happy Hour: Mon-Thurs 3pm-6pm
The Settlement building, home to The Belgard Kitchen, is a true architectural gem in the “not so nice” area of town. I was meeting a friend (yes just a friend) for brunch at the time, and remember thinking how great this spot would be for a first date; not too loud, perfect seating arrangement, and good beer selection. If you struggle sometimes to keep the conversation flowing on a first date, take two seats at the bar. Bartenders have a sixth sense when it comes to awkward silences and know exactly when to pop in and out of the conversation.
Oh em “g”, aka Giovane cafe + eatery + meat market is a fantastic place to meet your date for a casual brunch or lunch on the weekend. Located in the Pacific Rim hotel in Coal Harbour, this cafe is nicer than your average and plating five star food. If the date is going well and you’re feeling the chemistry, you always have the option to extend it either to the Pac Rim Rawbar or grab a sweet treat at Bella Gelateria (arguably the best gelato in Vancouver).
Cafe Barney is the perfect joint for a casual bevie with two locations – one on Main Street and the other South Granville. Barney is great for an afternoon Caesar or Cappuccino (if your dates’ not a drinker). Also, the prices are totally reasonable so you’re not breaking the bank on someone you’re just getting to know. The service is quick as well, so if the date isn’t going as planned, you can keep it short.
The Drinks/Dinner Date:
Happy Hour: Mon – Tues 9pm-11pm, Wed-Sun 2pm-5pm
Three words: Molten Cheese Bowl. A molten rock bowl full of stretchy queso fundido will have any date swooning. Yum yum YUM! Not only is the food absolutely delicious and playful at La Mezcaleria, (Mezcal as the locals say) the kitchen is open concept, the bartenders are cranking out tasty drinks (highly recommend the classic margarita or the salsa verde Caesar) and the tables are lit with candlelight oh la la. If you date is a food lover like myself, you’ve scored points just walking through the doors of Mezcal.
Live Music: YES all kinds + Flamenco dancing
Step into the “Chai Lounge.” East is East is superior! I’ve only been once but it left a lasting impression on me. Hands down, the best Chai tea in town, if not North America (OK, maybe that’s too dramatic but it’s my favorite Chai I’ve found thus far in my life). My boyfriend and I were on a mission to enjoy East is East’s Chai Feast which is a tasting menu inclusive of your selection of soup, salad, and two main dishes which are all you can eat. We waited over an hour for a table, but the lovely staff gave us heaps of Chai tea to keep us warm and happy. Well worth the wait! A perfect spot to watch some live entertainment, sip on hibiscus tea, and feast on the flavors of the Silk Road. Tip: Order loads of Boulani, its UNREAL.
Vegetarian Lebanese food – you can’t go wrong and this is coming from a carnivore! The food is packed with flavor and the options are plentiful you’re bound to find something you love. This restaurant is romantic and intimate; tucked away on Commercial drive which is great for bar/restaurant hopping with your date if all is going well. If you’re not looking for food, their bar has some serious drinks – I highly recommend the DooDoo shot to loosen up and the Hibiscus Bloom as a refreshing sipper.
Happy Hour: Seven Days a week from 5pm-6pm
Talk about sexy, Cuchillo is my go-to for a Friday or Saturday date night. Not the week night date, that you rush over coffee, this place should be kept for that one you’re really excited about. The menu offerings are eclectic from Lamb Albondigas (lamb tacos with popcorn on top) to Bison Short Rib Mole, you and your date can try an assortment of what this kitchen is cooking up. I highly recommend ordering an Old Fashioned and finishing the night off with the Dulce De Leche dessert.
The Post Dinner Date:
Entertainment: Yes, Go-Go Dancing
For anyone who appreciates a fruity cocktail and exploding volcanoes, this place is FOR YOU! Seriously, the volcano erupts every time someone orders the “Mystery Bowl” which is basically a bowl of different alcohol lit on fire and met with oooo’s and ahhhh’s from every patron in the restaurant. Highly recommend. There is so much to look at in this bar, that you and your date will never be at a loss for words. On a few nights, you can even catch a show from sexy Go Go Bungalow dancers!
Every night should end with a warm, gooey pie, should it not? No, I’m not suggesting a scene out of Jason Bigg’s, American Pie, I’m talking about the mouth watering sweet and savory pies at The Pie Hole on Fraser Street of course. This little gem is open till 10 pm on Friday’s and Saturday nights so you and yours can pop in for a slice oh pie to cap off a successful date! You’ll feel like Betty and Archie at Pop Tate’s Chok’lit Shoppe. Oh you two!