26 Great Dates
26 Thrill-seeking, Toe-tingling, Laugh-a-minute, Sexy, Meltdown, Great Dates
Tired of the same old dinner and a movie? Had enough of boring dates, mind-numbing chit-chat and awkward exchanges? If so, it might be time to spice up your relationship. Whether you’re just getting to know each other or maybe you know each other too well, every relationship needs a romantic spark now and then. These hot spots can definitely set the mood.
1. Days of Wine – There’s lots of romance at the bottom of a wine bottle, and we’ve got some great places to crush some grapes while crushing on your date. Start at La Carafe downtown and enjoy your bottle upstairs by the stained-glass window. Then journey to the Wine Bucket Bar. Try the “tasting,” where the selections change each evening. Then head for some delightful fusion cuisine at Scott’s Cellar. Owner/chef Scott Chen will match his world-class wine list to your meal. Round out the evening at the Post Oak Grill’s bar. La Carafe (713) 229-9399, Wine Bucket (713) 942-9463, Scott’s Cellar (713) 785-8889, Post Oak Grill (713) 993-9966
2. Morning Call – Not all dates end with a goodnight kiss. Pack a picnic breakfast for two, and watch the sun come up. Would you want to start your day any other way?
3. Fantasy Spree – Pretend you need spare no expense. Strap on your high heels, knot up your favorite tie and experience a journey of flavors – five steaks with five sauces – at the delectable Chef g’s. Cruise over to Momentum Porsche and test-drive the hot red Porsche 911. Then head out to Quenton Elliott and try on a stunning diamond necklace. Chef g’s (713)522-5551, Momentum Porsche (713) 596-3000, Quenton Elliott Jewelry (713) 528-1641
4. King and Queen for the Day – The Four Seasons will set the stage for the perfect 24 hours of romance. This once in a lifetime offer includes a suite, Dom Perignon, Tiffany & Co. crystal flutes, roses, dinner from Quattro served by a private butler, massages, monogrammed bathrobes and breakfast in bed. Four Seasons (713) 650-1300
5. What’s Old is Gold – Coast down to Galveston and spend the day perusing antique stores. Note for guys: Knock her socks off by knowing the differences between Regency, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Empire, Art Nuevo and Louis XIV, XV and XVI. Double bonus points go to the man who knows what a highboy is and casually mentions how interesting it is that the highboy is the only piece of furniture unique to America. But don’t try to act like a know-it-all. You don’t.
Share a Dare
Conversation or the lack thereof can be the quicksand of dating, but an awkward silence or a blundered sentence can occur in any relationship. That’s why it helps to plan an activity – doing something can definitely take the edge off.
6. Up, Up and Away – At Bear Creek Balloons, they create an unforgettable hot air balloon experience, including a picnic celebration with champagne, croissants, cheese and country sausages. Bear Creek Balloons (281) 463-0080
7. Rock ‘n Bowl – Midnight bowling makes novel use of your parents’ pastime – pins and balls mixed with loud rock music. Don’t worry about making a strike, just try and keep it in the lane. Jillian’s (713) 263-0303
8. This is a Test – Relationships are always competitive on some level – for one thing, you’ve got to know if someone’s a sore loser or keeps score or cheats. And nothing tests a person’s patience like golf. You’ll learn more about your prospective partner in 18 holes of regulation play than you would by dating them for 18 months. Does she count her strokes correctly? Does he improve his lie? Longwood Golf Club (281) 373-4100
9. Winner Takes All – Dating is a gamble, but even if your date’s a loser, you can win at the Gulf Greyhound Park. Depending on how your luck runs, get a club box and eat upstairs, or settle for beer and nachos from a concession stand in the cheap seats. Gulf Greyhound Park (409) 986-9500
10. Be a Tourist for the Day – Tell the concierge at the St. Regis you’re in town for the day and want to see the attractions that are most widely recognized around Houston. Take his/her recommendations and a camera. Bonus points: Make a postcard with one of the pictures from the date. St. Regis (713) 840-7600
11. Clay Together – Decorate pottery at a create-your-own-art store, and stroll the pros at the pottery/antiquities exhibit at the Menil Collection afterwards. Think Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in “Ghost.” Bonus: The pottery store accidentally gives you a great excuse for a second date, in that your finery has to be picked up a few days after you paint it. The Menil (713) 525-9400
12. A Day of Beauty – Nothing says “emotionally available” like a guy in a mud mask trying to be macho. A gentle touch can mean so much. Tovas (713) 439-1414
13. White Trash Bash – Wearing sweats, a white undershirt and plastic sandals, start with a sack lunch. Speed over to a stock car race at Texas Motor Speedway, and down a hearty white zinfandel on the porch to top it off. Don’t forget to borrow appropriate transportation for the day – a Dodge Charger will do nicely. Texas Motor Speedway (817) 215-8500
14. Block that Point – Go to a college or high school sporting event you know nothing about. Cheer for the underdog just as their parents would. The kids will appreciate it, and you can learn together.
15. Movie Star Status – Charge up the camcorder and make a video of the first half of your date. After dinner, edit said video and add a soundtrack with your sweetie. Note for soundtracks: Avoid sappy, as well as psychotic.
16. Break a Sweat, Not the Bank – We’re all worried about our figures. And the couple that runs together stays together. Head to Memorial Park for a quick three miles, and share a light picnic afterward.
17. Spin Cycle – Take your and your date’s dirty clothes to a laundromat and have a picnic while your skivvies spin. There’s nothing like matching socks with your lover.
The Dinner Date
Dining is very similar to dating: You’ll never know what you like until you try it.
18. Laughing Matter – Dine at midtown hot spot Farrago; calamari and fish tacos are crowd pleasers. Then head to the late show at Laff Stop. Just don’t try to copy the headliner when you leave. They’re pros, you are not. Farrago (713) 523-6404, Laff Stop (713) 524-2333
19. Reservations Required – Reserve the ultra-swank M Bar and have your own private South Beach experience. St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin is just up the street. Order out fresh oysters (when in season) and other tasty treats like marlin, grouper and salmon. Light candles, and dine on the famous “bed.” M Bar (713) 222-1022, St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin (713) 227-1511
20. Forget About the City – Dig into grilled buffalo rib-eye, wild boar or elk loin while enjoying one of the most romantic patios in town. The outdoor patio is dimly lit and overlooks a lush setting created by Buffalo Bayou. You’ll quickly forget the bright lights and big city are a few blocks away. Rainbow Lodge (713) 861-8666
21. Jazz it Up – Shoot by the Black Lab for dinner, and journey upstairs for jazz at Cezanne. It’s quiet enough to talk and dark enough that she might not notice the cheese soup on your nose. The Black Lab (713) 529-1199
22. Love is Only Two Steps Away – Have some casual Mexican fare at Los Tonyos and mosey down Alabama to Blanco’s for some live country music and sawdust shimmying. Los Tonyos (713) 521-2815, Blanco’s (713) 439-0072
Dinner and a Movie
It’s the obvious option, and the least imaginative. You spend two hours in parallel silence, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have something to talk about over dinner. Next time, why not offer a surprise answer to the old question, “How about dinner and a movie?”
23. Deli Style Dinner: Bring home deli sandwiches.
Movie: “When Harry Met Sally.” Whether you re-create that famous scene is entirely up to you.
24. Southern Style Dinner: Grill up some good ol’ down-home barbecue right in your own back yard.
Movie: “Gone With the Wind.” After devouring ribs and slaw, you can vow never to go hungry again.
25. Workday Style Dinner: Take out from Friday’s.
Movie: “Office Space.” Jennifer Aniston was never going to leave with you anyhow.
26. Single Style Dinner: Munch on a burger and fries from an all-night diner.
Movie: “Swingers.” You are so money.