Starting out right: suggestions for some great first dates
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Feb. 18, 2011 at 11:55 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
So, you've finally mustered the courage to ask out Mr. or Ms. Special. Congratulations. Unfortunately, that was not the hardest part of this terrifying process. You are now faced with the crucial decision of where to take this person. Do you go all out? Or do you just chill out? Relax; we've got you covered.
Remember, there's a time and place for fancy, but this is your first date, so don't overdo it. But that doesn't mean you can show up without a plan, either. To help you with this delicate matter, we've compiled this list of casually impressive spots sure to charm your date, no matter which part of town you're in. Warning: Following the first date suggestions in this article may result in securing date number two. OMC is not responsible for second date ideas.
Have you had great first dates in Milwaukee? Tell us where using the talkback feature.
Dinner: Nessun Dorma
2778 N. Weil St., (414) 264-8466
If a perfect date place exists in this city, Nessun Dorma might be the closest thing to it. Its combination of delicious food (mostly panini sandwiches and antipasti), impressive wine list, comfortable and hip atmosphere and affordability give it the essence of a fashionable bistro in a pub-like setting.
Drinks: Foundation foundationbar.com
2718 N. Bremen St., (414) 374-2587
Although Nessun Dorma has a full bar, why not get a post-dinner change of scenery? Just one block west is Foundation, a newly revamped neighborhood tiki bar. It's cozy and intimate enough for conversation, but should the long, awkward silence happen to sneak up on you, there's also has a pool table and good jukebox to turn to for help.
Dinner: Bremen Café bremencafe.com
901 E. Clarke St., (414) 431-1932
Tucked away in an old storefront is this cute and casual café, specializing in tasty hot and cold sandwiches (over 15 varieties), salads and mini pizzas. Most nights the café hosts live music -- from indie, acoustic, bluegrass, blues, to folk -- but you'll be able to chat and get to know each other over dinner since shows don't start until at least 8:30 p.m.
Drinks: Riverhorse riverhorsebar.com
701 E. Center St., (414) 264-4788
If you go on a weekend, this funky little hipster joint tends to get crowed, but you can usually find a couch to sit on in the back room (painted entirely in blue flames). During the week, grab a chrome cocktail table near the bar, select your favorite micro-brew and enjoy the (subtle, not intrusive) indie tunes.
Brady Street area
Dinner: Trocadero ztrocadero.com
1758 N. Water St., (414) 272-0205
The Metro Paris theme of this restaurant scores high on the romance scale, but it's not too much for a first date. Although the beautiful terrace is only open through the summer, the indoor/outdoor heated patio is available year-round, as are the extremely date-friendly Wino Wednesday half-price wine specials.
1875 N. Humboldt Ave., (414) 224-7666
If the Trocadero's upstairs bar, Redlight, is too packed, a bar with a similar name is the where you'll find a more date-like atmosphere. Within walking distance of Trocadero (a few blocks east on Water Street) the Redroom is stylishly warm, low-key and has plenty of comfy booths to relax in to help ease any first-date tension.
Dinner: Cempazuchi cempazuchi.com
1205 E. Brady St., (414) 291-5233
This place is fun, authentic, and it makes the great date list because, unlike some other loud and obnoxiously crowed Mexican restaurants in this city, the tables are decently spaced, allowing for a bit of privacy. Plus, there's nothing like taste testing a few of their 60 tequila varieties to take the edge off a first date.
1800 N. Arlington Place, (414) 276-7101
After dinner, pop across the street to one of Milwaukee's hidden gems. Perhaps not being located right on Brady Street has allowed Jamo's to retain its small, neighborhood lounge feel. Through the front door you'll find a dimly lit, but lively, bar area, but venture further and you'll discover a series of intimate nooks and crannies to sit in toward the back.
Dinner: Astor Street astorstreetdining.com
920 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 278-8660
Inside the Landmark Astor Hotel, this restaurant is a nice balance between casual and up-scale, and has a unique menu that dabbles in both "retro cuisine" and contemporary dishes. Its prime location, boarding both Downtown and the East Side, provides numerous after-dinner options, as well.
Drinks: County Clare countyclare-inn.com
1234 N. Astor St., (414) 272-5273
Although the bar options are plentiful in this area, the charming County Clare Pub (on the ground level of the Inn) is a cool choice. It's not exactly the place to go if you're looking for a quiet, intimate experience, but with a usually boisterous local crowd, live music on the weekends and the Guinness ever-flowing, it sure is fun. And the luck of the Irish just might help you score that second date.
Dinner: Sake Tumi sake-milwaukee.com
714 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 224-7253
Sushi is always a good idea for dates thanks to its share-ability factor, and if you're going out, it's hard to find a better place in Milwaukee than this. Have no idea what you're getting yourself into when it comes to Japanese food? Take turns ordering small samples of a bunch of things and share. It's fun!
Drinks: Kai Buddha Lounge
714 N. Milwaukee St. (upper level)
If you're looking to continue with the Japanese theme, but the sake just wasn't cutting it for you at dinner (it's not for everyone), head upstairs to the Kai Buddha Lounge. Sake Tumi owner Omar Shaikh's lounge (named after his son, Kai) is a cushy space to relax after a meal, and is open Thursdays through Saturdays, from 6 p.m. to bar close.
Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
mandy said: "At Random" is the place to go in Bayview for before dinner drinks or after....it has the most romantic setting in a 60's 70's style.....i would recommend the "love bowl" a drink to can share comfortably and they say at the bottom of the bowl you will both find love...hahaha....it's true
THEFIXMAN said: News flash. Riverwest is not east of the freeway. It is east of Holton Street and west of the river. North of North ave and south of, it's debatable, but I would say Keef ave. And for first dates. Lets not forget Pizza Man and The third street pier with a live jazz band on Fridays, and a walk on the Riverwalk afterward. If that won't do it for you. I can't help you. Good Luck!!!!!
THEFIXMAN said: Julie Oh Julie, I hate to say it but you really sound like a snob. I grew up in the Riverwest nieghborhood and the east Side. And you are right to an extent. It may not be the safest place. But, if you can get over that. You will not find a better place in the city for fun and people watching, and variety of bars. Good luck to you, because your going to need it. Thanks for the humor to everyone else. I enjoyed reading your comments.
Terzah said: How can you not mention The Palm Tavern in Bay View? It's the perfect spot to get to know each other, and will impress with a HUGE selection of beer and Scotch. Totally blows The Highbury away! Also, Taqueria Azteca in BV would be great to start the evening. It offers indigenous Mexican specialties, as well as more Americanized items for the timid. My husband and I have had many "dates" at these two places, and they're both casually impressive. Even Julie x 3 would approve.
chili said: I agree re Hubbard. Best date place I have been was Vivo...dinner was really good, service was good but not intrusive. We went to Hi Hat for a few drinks, which was okay, but ended uptaking our friends back to Vivo b/c the staff was great.
Show me the other 48 Talkbacks
53 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.