By: Anjli Mehta
A bottle of Veuve, valet parking, and a seriously great dessert menu—what do all these finer things in life have in common? They’re the makings of a seriously great date night. But fancy doesn’t have to be fussy – nothing about Austin’s laid back vibe is too overdone. We’ve picked the best date night spots for you and your partner to enjoy together, no black tie attire or previous sommelier training required.
Consider this West Sixth St. mainstay a two-for-one—with its sumptuous décor and mood-lighting inside, and its lighthearted, 100-seat patio outside—Arro has a match for a traditional date night or a more laidback double date. And honestly, what’s more romantic than French food? If a trip to France isn’t on the agenda any time soon, then a hop, skip, and a jump to this eatery is in order.
Quick Tips: Crowd-favorites, the Bone Marrow and the Parisian Gnocchi are popular for a reason. Don’t leave without ordering the cardamom-infused Dark Chocolate Pot de Créme. The beautifully curated wine list is the brainchild of Master Sommelier Craig Collins, so peruse it thoughtfully and feel free to pick your waiter’s brain for the perfect dinner pairing.
2. Josephine House
Okay, we know, you totally knew this pick was coming. And however expected it might feel, doesn’t discount how deliciously divine this little restaurant is. The sister restaurant of fine dining institution Jeffrey’s is an icon in it’s own right, from the menu to the atmosphere. Snag an intimate table inside this Clarksville cottage and you’ll instantly feel the warm, inviting vibe reminiscent of a dinner party with good food, conversation and of course, drinks.
Quick Tips: Make a reservation! Prime date night slots are tricky to pull off, so plan ahead and you’ll have something to look forward to all week long. On sunshine-splashed evenings, get there early to lounge on the grassy lawn and we promise, you’ll have a so-in-love smile plastered on your face for the rest of the night.
For those of you thinking there’s nothing romantic about pizza, think again. When creating this pizza hotspot, Steven Dilley ditched his finance career in lieu of something more savory: Neapolitan pizzas. And though he’s not been quoted saying this, we can’t help but believe he designed the space with first dates in mind. The atmosphere and the next-to-nothing design style is casual enough to ease any first date nerves, but polished enough to impress your date. And the best part of all, pizza is something you’ll share, so consider the ice instantly broken.
Quick Tips: You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas on the menu, but we’re partial to calabrese and the roasted mushroom. The bartenders are some of the friendliest we’ve ever met, so bounce wine and beer pairing ideas off them and you’ll reach a new level of pizza dinner perfection.
Looking for sophisticated drinks after a dinner out on the town? This is the spot. Tucked away in a parking garage near the Warehouse District, this cocktail bar is equal parts cool and unpretentious, if you can believe it. Head back to the neon sign and around a black curtain (feel cool, yet?!) and the entrance reveals a sultry, mid-century ambiance and cleverly-named craft cocktails.
Quick Tips: Read up on the Yelp reviews first since the bar’s website doesn’t provide any information beyond the address and hours. The reviews can help you navigate your way back to the bar without getting stranded on a parking lot level. Rave reviewers recommend the Indian Paintbrush and an Old Fashioned.
5. Peter Pan Mini Golf
No, we’re not kidding. Not every date can be crème brulee and champagne, right?! So shake up your date night routine with a taste of old Austin and a competitive game (or three) of mini golf. This spot is B.Y.O.B. so bring a six-pack of craft brew and snake your way around the famed t-rex and pirate statues. You’ll laugh, probably lose your ball a couple of times, and leave the course vowing to come back every week.
Quick Tips: The course is occasionally closed due to weather, so check the website before you head out to see if they’re open. Also, important to note in our credit-cards-accepted-everywhere age, Peter Pan Mini Golf is a cash-and-checks-only joint, so come with some green in hand.