A friend asked for a restaurant recommendation with a challenging twist: He was taking a woman he really liked to dinner for the first time. But he didn't want it to feel too much like a date. It needed to be something casual with great food and a vibe that would not force lengthy intimate conversation. Here are a few that would give him exactly what he wanted:
The food at Las Ramblas, the tapas bar in Dilworth, is imaginative and consistent. Small plates lead to a natural dialogue about the food. With people comparing notes on dishes, the place exudes a warm energy that impresses without intimidating. Try the grilled scallop and artichoke puree ($14).
Dilworth is also home to Big Daddy's Burger Bar, a gourmet burger spot that offers endless topping options. But do yourself a favor and try the Sam I Am burger, topped with American cheese, ham, pesto and a fried egg ($9.50). Big Daddy's serves as a perfect date spot thanks to a cozy patio, a noisy bar area and classic video game console in the corner. These distractions will keep first-daters from having to deal with the awkward silences that may occur elsewhere.
With its proximity to Uptown, where they intended to hang post-dinner, my friend chose to go with Feast, the restaurant inside the club HOM. It's a Mediterranean bistro with many simple yet delicious options. A favorite is the brilliant roasted pork sandwich with Swiss cheese, avocado and mango on a toasted baguette ($10).
Feast seemed to be the perfect fit for my friend's date, thanks to the House music in the background and its position between the clubs on HOM's other floors. This atmosphere definitely creates a more relaxed mood, and the food is just as impressive as much more expensive restaurants.