Providence’s Best (and Worst) Date Spots

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Maybe it’s the inspiring autumnal backdrop, the joy that stems from crunchy leaves under our feet, or the fact that it’s the perfect weather for sharing your coat with a new special someone. Whatever the reason may be, the dating season is upon us.

With the help of my fellow Bloggers, I’ve compiled a list of ideal – and unacceptable – date spots, based on factors such as ambience, price, and the probability of something awkward happening. Now go out there and face the horror embrace the beauty that is a first date!

Sawadee

Located on Hope Street, Sawadee is one of your best options for date night. This Thai joint is a Brown student favorite and is a good balance of on- and off-campus eating (i.e. still near campus, but far enough away as to not make you look lazy). It’s also BYOB! The yummy food and cozy (read: small) atmosphere make for good conversation, and will leave your date with the impression that you have an adventurous palate. On a similar note, make sure that the person you’re taking out likes Thai.

Price: $
Atmosphere: 8/10
Avoid: Sitting at one of the shoulder-to-shoulder two tops. One time, my date and I accidentally ate dinner with a former roommate and her entire family. The booths are cozier and more secluded.

Ken’s Ramen

The new ramen joint downtown on Washington St. is similar to Sawadee in that the food is delicious and the venue is petite. However, Ken’s Ramen is a more unexpected choice and therefore potentially more impressive. It’s relatively new, so there’s a good chance you’d be taking your date somewhere they haven’t been before, which is a plus.

Price: $
Atmosphere: 7/10
Avoid: Slurping noodles in an unattractive manner. Good luck.

Haruki Express

Unless you are planning on taking the sushi to-go and enjoying a picnic very far away from the “restaurant” (if you can call it that), avoid a date at Haruki Express. Don’t get me wrong, I love Haruki Express as much as the next Brown student (I see you, Rock n’ Roll), but this is not the place to explore budding romantic feelings. The stank on your clothes post-date is not conducive to a sexy hook-up. It says a lot about your admirer if they ask you on a date to Haruki Express. Proceed with caution.

Price: $
Atmosphere: STANKY (1/10)
Avoid: A date at Haruki Express.

Al Forno

You must really like this phe, huh? If Haruki Express is the stankiest, Al Forno is the swankiest. This famous Italian restaurant is the definition of romantic – picture a chic yet laid-back vibe, sensuous lighting, and that scene from Lady and the Tramp. Order one of the baked ziti dishes, their renowned grilled pizza, or the fruit crisp for two and prepare for your date to swoon.

Price: $$$$
Atmosphere: 10/10
Avoid: Slopping tomato sauce on yourself/your date.

Harry’s Bar and Burgers

This burger joint is a without a doubt a crowd favorite and Providence staple – but may not be the best option for date night, unless you’re in boyfriend-girlfriend territory. The sliders, impressive beer list, and BOMB sweet potato fries make for a casual yet delicious night out. However, if you’re aiming to impress, consider choosing a less low-key venue. Unless the phe you’re asking out is like, really into burgers. Then you’re set.

Price: $
Atmosphere: 5/10
Avoid: Sitting near the window that overlooks the courtyard. One of our Bloggers claims she once spotted a “huuuge rat” outside. Ignorance is bliss.

Shark Bar & Grille

If someone tries to take you to Shark – even ironically – delete this person’s number from your phone. Next.

Price: It doesn’t matter.
Atmosphere: This isn’t an option.
Avoid: I’m serious.

Flatbread

As one of our Bloggers said, “Who doesn’t LOVE Flatbread?” While you won’t win any points for getting off campus, Flatbread is a solid option for first, second, even twenty-third dates. The food rarely fails to disappoint and the place is big enough that you won’t feel like you’re choking on the fog that is first-date tension. The salads are also on-point, which is great news for the lactose-intolerant crowd.

Price: $$
Atmosphere: 8/10
Avoid: Eating pizza if you’re lactose-intolerant. But I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

GCB

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The GCB is a great option for seniors. There are cheap drinks, dark corners, and it’s easy to get lost (i.e. escape) in the throng of classmates if the date starts to go south. If you’re looking for privacy, though, you probably won’t find it here, as you will undoubtedly run into at least five of your friends on any given night. Con: difficult to find a place to sit. Pro: The ‘Gansett coasters are a good way to tell if your date is dumb as rocks. 

Price: $
Atmosphere: 6/10
Avoid: Trying to take an underage date here.

Apsara Palace

The menu is cheap, extensive, and Apsara Palace is BYOB, making it a prime option for date-night. No need to decide between Vietnamese and Thai, as this joint features dishes from all over Southeast Asia. You’ll need transportation to get to the Hope St. location, but it’s definitely worth the trek.

Price: 1/2 $
Atmosphere: 5/10 (“A little dirty and cheap looking,” says one of our Bloggers)
Avoid: Too-spicy foods if you can’t handle the heat (a la Along Came Polly).

New Rivers

The cozy vibe (think fairy lights) and sophisticated menu make New Rivers a solid option for first dates and fiftieth dates alike. The food ranges from the sea variety to gamey meats, and is “very New England-y” according to one Blogger. Four for you, New Rivers, you go, New Rivers!

Price: $$$
Atmosphere: 10/10
Avoid: Trying to go on a Sunday (they’re closed).

Abyssinia

“There’s nothing sexy about eating food with your hands on a first date,” explains a Blogger. Unlike Thai food, Ethiopian can be a bit polarizing for a first, or even second, date. While Abyssinia has BYOB working in its favor, it’s maybe best kept for mid-relationship dates, or extreme risk-takers.

Price: $
Atmosphere: 7/10
Avoid: Spilling. All. Over. Yourself.

North

North, created by Momofuku-mastermind David Chang, is an excellent way to impress your date without being obvious, like Al Forno. The eatery delivers an Asian flare and offers a menu that can please almost everyone. The amazing food and atmosphere come together to create an ideal date location. Bonus: they have oysters on the menu, which we all know is an ~aphrodisiac~.

Price: $$$
Atmosphere: 10/10
Avoid: Going on a busy night. North doesn’t take reservations, and the wait can be extensive. 

The Ratty

Do more.

Price: $
Atmosphere: 2/10
Avoid: Going on a Ratty date, probably. Is this even considered a date? Or just “lunch”?

A picnic

A picnic is a wonderful option for a date. It allows you to avoid the awkward chit-chat while waiting for a table, the oppressive stare of onlookers in close quarters, and is a great chance to offer your phe your coat if they’re chilly (who said chivalry is dead?). This is an awesome way to utilize all of those food trucks, and it’s BYOB if you’re sneaky. Some prime picnic locations include India Point Park, the grass steps outside of Granoff, and Pembroke Field.

Price:$-$$$ (depends on from where you pick up)
Atmosphere: 8/10 (dependent on weather)
Avoid: Sitting in dog poop, a rainy day, and hecklers. [Ed’s note: People heckle at picnic-ers?]

Red Stripe

Ahh, a classic. Like Sawadee, Red Stripe is a Brown student favorite, and rightly so. The complimentary bread is out-of-this-world delicious, and the rest of the menu doesn’t disappoint, either. We suggest the moules & frites, the Red Stripe Grilled Cheese, and the chopped salad. Bonus: a giant bowl of mints on your way out. Pucker up!

Price: $$$
Atmosphere: 10/10
Avoid: Dates who decline the complimentary bread. Unless they’re allergic, we question this person’s lifestyle choices.

OOB Show

For those who don’t know, Out of Bounds is one of our beloved improv troupes here at Brown. This is a great opportunity for group dates: a) because all of your friends will want to go, and b) because it will be impossible to find secluded seats for your date and for yourself. Laughter is the best medicine to ease date-related tension, and it will give you a good idea of what kind of humor tickles your date’s fancy.

Price: Free! (But suggested donation)
Atmosphere: 6/10
Avoid: Getting caught BYOB-ing.

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