I’ve gone on a few dates in this city. You don’t need to ask how many or with whom, because a lady never tells and because maybe just let me live my life, dad. Going out for a meal one-on-one with somebody you care about, whether it’s a date or a friend or a family member, is a great opportunity to try something new and to take the time to get to know each other better. And that’s always worthwhile, whether you’ve known each other for 20 minutes or 20 years.
Going out can get pricey, though. So I’ve put together a few relatively inexpensive date and friend date itineraries that I highly recommend you try out this week. Happy Valentine’s Day, babies. Be sweet to each other.
Happy Hour at Frenchish
Frenchish has really, really good food, but it’s also not something us mere mortals can afford on a regular basis. Thankfully, their happy hour and a half (from 5 to 6:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday) make some of their fantastic cocktails and appetizers a little more affordable. You can get the apértif du jour (guaranteed to be good) for $7, their carrot dog for $6, and the skinny burger for $8. They also have a list of interesting non-alcoholic mixed drinks that are ideal if you or your date aren’t drinkers. Wear your nice jeans to this place and tip your waitstaff well if you want to really impress your date.
Sandia Hike and Ale Republic
We’re in New Mexico, which means the hike date is standard fare for a lot of us. I mean, I wouldn’t suggest it for a first-time Tinder date because taking a stranger up to the top of a mountain feels a little axe-murdery, but it’s a good option for once you’ve established a baseline of trust with this person. Personally, I suggest driving up to the Sandia Crest trail, hiking out to the Kiwanis Cabin and that fantastic vista of the southern peaks, then driving back down Highway 14 and stopping in at Ale Republic, a lovely little brewery with tasty craft beers, a free pool table and occasional live music. A word of warning, learned from experience: Your alcohol tolerance is a little impaired at the higher altitude out there, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding who drives back to the city. If you want some more fortifying fare, head to Roots Farm Café in Tijeras for some fresh and tasty salads and sandwiches.
Stone Age Climbing Gym and Amore Pizza
More adventure dates! Drop in to Stone Age Climbing Gym (4130 Cutler Ave. NE) for $16.95 (or go to one of their happy hours when the rate is $14.95: Monday through Friday, noon to 3pm and 8:30 to 11pm) to burn some calories and bond through sweat, then walk over to the Green Jeans Farmery just down the street. There, you have any number of options for lunch or dinner. I suggest ordering some Neopolitan-style pies at Amore Pizzeria and then get them delivered to Santa Fe Brewing, where you can have a couple pints to help ruin the healthy day you were having before. Their Happy Camper IPA is a New Mexico favorite, and they’ve recently released a special raspberry dark lager called the Lustgarten that sounds right up my alley.
Zendo Coffee and Sidetrack Brewing
Coffee and beer in one sitting, I hear you ask? If that idea is so crazy to you, then you must not have had one of those sprawling, multi-hour hang outs that naturally leads from caffeine to alcohol to “whoa, what time is it?” Zendo Coffee and Sidetrack Brewing (413 Second Street SW) live on opposite sides of a wall in the same little building together Downtown, making for a perfect spot for this kind of lazy afternoon/evening. Both spaces fill up quickly on weekends, so try to go on a weekday if you can manage it.
Guild Cinema and Streetfood Asia
Ok, going to see a movie is also not a good first date. Hopefully I don’t have to explain this to you, and you already know that sitting in a dark room with somebody where you focus on something else and don’t talk to them is not a good way to get acquainted. But if you know it’s real, go take your person to see a weird movie at The Guild (3405 Central Ave. NE) and then cross Central to Streetfood Asia, home of the ridiculously large portions of noodles. Split a bowl of their Tokyo street udon ($13.75) and argue about said weird movie.