Finally landed that date? Whether it was through a dating site, swiping right, friends, or the good old fashioned way of at a bar, now it’s time to figure out the “where”. This isn’t as easy as it may seem. Like giving a gift, the date location choice will speak volumes.
Here are a few spots around the Charleston area worth considering.
Italian Night Out
A newcomer to the Charleston food scene in 2016, Italian restaurant Le Farfalle is already setting itself up to be a go-to spot on date night. They have recently opened seven days a week, so lunch, dinner, and brunch all are on the table. If there’s time for a stop before dinner, swing by the Thoroughbred Club for a drink, and don’t say no to the free party mix that comes with each drink. It’s an easy walk to the restaurant from Lower King, and the people watching in Charleston Place will keep the conversation going.
Not everyone is excited to venture that far down the peninsula, so if Italian food was always the plan then places like Bacco in Mount Pleasant, Trattoria Lucca in Elliotborough, and its sister restaurant Coda del Pesce on Isle of Palms, or Indaco on King Street are all worthy of a visit.
Enjoy a drink at Le Farfalle’s long bar if you forget to book a reservation ahead of time on Resy (Pro-tip: some restaurants in Charleston have moved their reservations over to Resy from OpenTable, so the app is worthy of a download).
Wine and Dine
Park Circle continues to up its game and become a destination for a night out. Cozy wine bar Stems & Skins can fit any possible type of date situations, from meeting for the first time for a drink to making it part of a multi-stop date. The friendly and super-knowledgeable staff helps navigate the hefty list of drink options, from wine to craft beer to vermouth to sherry to cocktails. Definitely take advantage of some of the small plates made on site — choices like grilled octopus and Iberico ham are perfect accompaniments to the quality beverages. With a great record always playing in the background, this bar will make you feel at home. To keep the imbibing going, head around the corner to Brew Cellar for some craft beer, or if more food is required, go across the street to EVO Pizzeria for farm-to-table pizzas. For something sweet hit Park Circle Creamery.
Pulling into a parking lot next to a Wendy’s might not inspire much hope from your date, but upon stepping into French eatery Bistro Toulouse, all worries will be washed away. The menu serves up all the classics, cassoulet, bouillabaisse, steak frites (all excellent), and plenty of French wine to wash it all down with. Pro tip: Let your server know early that you want the soufflé.
Need one more glass of wine after dinner? Swing into Ardoa Wine Bar in Seaside Farms. The space utilizes a self-serve wine system to allow for exploration new varietals. Not everyone likes crossing bridges to eat, so other French dinner options include a stop by Rue de Jean off King St in downtown or Fat Hen on Johns Island.
Long Walks on the Beach
Why not talk a drive out to the beach for the date? Mediterranean-meets-Lowcountry restaurant The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island is the place for that. If your date is into trying different foods, and okay with sharing plates, then take them here. Seafood dishes, pasta, and pizza are the sure shots, but don’t forget an order of their signature Geechie Frites, long strips of fried polenta served with salsa rosa. Leave room for dessert at one of their other concepts, Beardcat’s Sweet Shop (the third being Wild Olive on Johns Island, also a good date spot), located directly below them. Gelato, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches will all tempt you. A before dinner exploration of Fort Moultrie or an after dinner walk on the beach would be good bookends to any date.
North Central Hop
Looking for that cozy, off beat, New York City neighborhood restaurant vibe, then Little Jack’s Tavern is the spot. Green-and-white-checkered tablecloths, servers and bartenders in simple black and white attire, and kissing dog salt and pepper shakers all set the stage for familiarity but not cookie cutter. Start with a classic cocktail, the chopped salad, then go tavern burger with any version of potato on the menu. With the addition of the raw bar, the menu is now even more diverse for any type of eater.
Want a cocktail before dinner to get the conversation going? Check out Faculty Lounge and their eclectic cocktail menu that is a couple blocks from the restaurant. Dessert and dessert drinks are available or take a walk up to Leon’s Oyster Shop, Little Jack’s sister restaurant, for some soft serve or a Grasshopper, Kennel Club-style.
In the end, what any good date boils down to is the person who is sitting across from you, the conversation and the laughs, the rest really just becomes background anyway. Good luck.