Unwrap the romance-enhanced clichés, drown yourself in a pungent nose-stinging cologne and practice your sexy O faces in the mirror because it’s DATE NIGHT! Whether it’s a first date, last date, secret date, or a date where you are looking to impress, here are some suggestions for that perfect date spot, all aimed to *enhance* your chance of sealing the deal by the end of the night.
The First Date
First dates in Buenos Aires should be held at a fun restaurant, with hefty quantities of alcoholic-enhanced concoctions. Nothing too romantic since you don’t want to look like you are trying too hard, but nothing too casual as eating at the pancho stand isn’t quite the right place to make all your sexy-time moves. Modern, casual yet upscale pizza joints could be a good place to start. Filo, Siamo nel forno, Pizza Piola and Amici Miei all prove to be solid options. Il Ballo Mattone makes for a fun, lively spot while restaurants like 878 and Gran Bar Danzon are for more serious romance seeking first daters that want to get their quality drinking on. For a casual atmosphere with both great food and mixologist-mastered tragos, Dadá is your answer.
***Note: The cardboard-tasting pizzas at Almacen de Pizzas are not recommended, I just couldn’t resist sharing the ridiculously designed pizza box.
**Another important note: Most girls probably won’t eat a lot so it’s ideal to choose a restaurant where sharing is encouraged and salads are not available. Girl, if you are an eater, don’t order a salad on a first date. Boy, if you are an eater, a girl who orders a salad on the first date probably isn’t the one for you.
The Secret Date
Looking for a more discreet dining experience? Let’s call ‘intimacy’ for what it is, either you are shallow and your date has a serious case of the uglies or you are trying to keep a low profile, whatever your reasons may be, just stay off the Palermo-San Telmo track. Venture off to Villa Urquiza and check out Billinghurst Restó. Sure, the crowd may be on the older side, but you can eat well and most likely won’t run into anyone you know. If you are willing to spend some pesos, Nihonbashi in Congreso one of the top sushi spots in the city (and they have a private room!) It’s the ideal spot for slurping up fresh sashimi and sucking up face (simultaneously if you’re into that kinda thing). Tipo Casa (shown left) in Almagro is another puerta cerrada hybrid, serving up great Argentine food in a comfortable, homey environment. Since reservations are essential, you can be assured unwanted pop-ins won’t happen. Other off-the-grid restaurants include Bar Urondo in Parque Chacabuco and Brotes del Alma in Belgrano.
The Foodie Date
Serious eaters who are just as into the food as the company, you need to pick a place where the bomb ass food comes first. Embark on a culinary journey to Paraje Arevalo, a 6 or 8 course extraordinary meal, all in a nice atmosphere with spot-on service. The dinner will last a few hours, so make sure you have enough to talk about. For something a bit more affordable, Brotes del Alma is located in a beautiful old converted house in Belgrano with an inventive menu of Argentine-inspired dishes. Call ahead for a reservation as the small space only seats about 10 tables. Other charming restaurants banging out great foodie-food are Caseros in San Telmo, a casual yet romantic ambiance where each table centerpiece highlights a fresh fruit or vegetable. And of course one of my all-time favorites, Las Pizarras in Palermo Soho, a solid recommendation for a go-to casual date spot. Get one appetizer and two mains to share, because sharing food is sexy. For authentic Japanese lovers, Niji in Belgrano has all the elements for a perfect date: fresh selection of high quality fish, oddly tacky decor and a quiet restaurant that rarely gets full. OK, maybe it’s not the perfect date spot, but the Japanese food is great. Bar du Marché for the ultimate wine and cheese snob.
The Romantic Date
If you are a more traditionalist when it comes to hitting up the dating scene, looking to wine and dine with some good food in a romantic setting, snuggle up on one of the couches at La Maison and get in ze zexy French mood. You know you are in good hands at Paladar Buenos Aires, one of my favorite closed door restaurants in the city that offers a luxurious five-course menu with wine pairings, brought to you by the chef-sommelier power couple. Other PDA favorites include the low, pillow seating tables and dimly lit Lotus Neo Thai, candle-lit French bistro A Nos Amours, pasta-rific perfection at Doppio Zero, and earthy-ness love at Puratierra.
The Cheap Date
Dating on a shoestring in Buenos Aires can be quite the challenge, with restaurant prices soaring making even the shitty places an expensive splurge. Luckily there are still some bargains in the city, where atmosphere and food quality isn’t compromised by lack of pesos. The lovely daytime café, Cusic, opens up every Thursday night with a special menu a la gorra. Each week there’s something different on the menu, except the 10 peso beers that are always in abundance, and with no set price for the main course diners, pay what you think the meal is worth. I’m a good example of a cheap date: give me a platter of good meats and cheese, with some wine and/or beer and I’m a happy girl. El NoNo Amigo, a favorite neighborhood spot, and get one of the promos, a tray filled with queso y fiambres and a liter of quilmes – called the picada para dos (and can easily feed three if you’re into a menage) that will run under 100 pesos. For something a bit more casual, grab drinks and some plates to picar from La Esperanza de los Ascurra, a bohemianster (bohemian + hipster, or hipstemian?) Villa Crespo vermouth bar that has prices reminiscent of Buenos Aires circa 2009. For a taste of Venezuelan, Arepera should be your go-to spot (and only spot since there is only like two Venezuelan restaurants in the city). The Oldest for burgers and Cumaná for inappropriate porno crayon table drawings also prove to be cheap and good. For the Peruvian persuasion, Chan Chan can get loud, lighting is oddly bright and the tables are close together, making it essential for close-talking, and ceviche breath sniffing. Or take a romantic stroll by the Costanera or park and hit up some of the best choripan stands in the city.
The I’m-Gunna-Get-You-Drunk Date
Let’s face it, not everyone is a food-obsessed weirdo. Some people live to eat, other people eat to live, and others live to get shit-faced. If you are the latter, looking to drown your dating nervousness and insecurities in some sweet drunk-filled nectar, check out these finds that are known more for their alcoholic wonders than food. Fábrica del Taco or La Adorada are good choices if you can snag a table outside, order some guacamole to share, and down lots of maracuyá margaritas. But beware: the tacos have been known to cause unpleasant gastronomical problems, eat it at your own risk. Other spots worth visiting are the sexy once secret bars that are no longer a secret: 878 and Puerta Uno. Both with low lighting and strong drinks, the ideal recipe for PDA induced suckface-a-thon. If you find yourself in the centro, sink into the low tables at
Le Bar and listen to the eclectic mix of jazz, funk, soul, and electronic. The rooftop terrace wall art of a “cock rocket” is especially romantic. Rey de Copas is also a winner.
The I’m-Looking-To-Impress-You Date
Serious daters who are really looking to impress (or flaunt your fatty wallet), take that special someone (or flavor of the week) on a luxuriously expensive eating experience. One of the only restaurants in Buenos Aires to dabble in molecular gastronomical-esque cooking, Aramburu is a romantic yet fun spot to eat a creatively presented multi-course meal. Tegui is another tasting menu fan favorite, the portions are small so no need to do a two-finger diet afterwards. For wine lovers, Casa Coupage is a good bet, but make sure to bring a cheat sheet of conversation topics because the meal is lengthy. Other suggestions for treatsy dinners on that oh-so special night would be Chez Nous (order the tasting menu), Chila, Sipan and Paraje Arevalo. Word on the street is the food at Tarquino also makes for a hot date night.
The Healthy Granola Eating, Tree Hugging Date
Looking to pretend that you are into the health craze? Put on your yoga pants and hit up Artemisia for a (mostly) vegetarian menu filled with lovely organic wines. For super health freaks, Kensho is the place to get your raw food eating on. While my experience at Kensho wasn’t the greatest (the food tasted like earth), other reputable sources rave about it. Hierba Buena in San
Telmo gives that health-inspired kick, while also appealing to the manliest of juice drinkers. For experienced daters, head out to Casa Felix and get your puerta cerrada action on. At this closed door restaurant, diners have their own tables. REMEMBER: Communal table closed door restaurants for early daters could be a massive disaster.
The He/She’s Just Not That Into You Date
It’s happened to the best of us, sometimes you get stuck on a date with one of those people who just shouldn’t be no dinner thang. If this happens to you, and you are the type to accept an invitation even if you don’t want to go, make the message clear by choosing an awful restaurant. AcaBar is a prime spot, always packed, with terribly unfun games that are missing pieces, and horribly tasting food that are missing deliciousness. Nothing says I totally-don’t-like-your-face like a big plate of MSG-packed Chinese food. Da Dong Fan Dian serves quality and cheap Chinese food (great dumps, shrimp fried noodles, and sweet and sour chicken) in an incredibly unromantic setting.
The Next Morning Date
Hurrah! Triumph! You made it to the next morning, congratulations! If you still like the person enough to keep the date going, eat some sandwiches at A`Manger.
Or, grab some of their treats para llevar, and head out to the Bosques de Palermo, find a grassy knoll that doesn’t have tranny condoms in the near radius, and picnic-it up. The café- brunch-sandwich-tarta-salad type place is always good, La Crespo for pastrami and bagels, Baraka for a lamb burger, Loreto for regular burger or Lord Hector, or Cusic for lots of lovely things. It’s always great to start a relationship pretending to be someone you are not, so how about heading out to the Ecological Reserve to pretend to be “active” and stuff face with choripanbondiolavacionpan.
A comer y coger!
(Otra version en español acá en el blog de Guia Oleo: La cita perfecta)