Where to dine on date night? It’s a tough question, especially when you consider that dating isn’t cheap.
To put it into perspective, the average price of a date —including two dinners, a bottle of wine and two movie tickets — adds up to more than $102, according to online dating site Match.com, whose data crunchers like to keep track of such numbers.
Parents can add about $60 to that; Sittercity, a website devoted to all things babysitting, calculates the average hourly rate of a babysitter to be $15.
But date night is essential to all couples, whether their relationship is new or they’ve been together for years. So, it stands to reason that one way to encourage date night is to find ways to cut costs. We’re here to help you with that. What follows is a list of some potential date-night spots in or around Baltimore, all reasonably priced and all perfect in their own way.
If you are looking for some date ideas that won’t break the bank, let’s start with this tried-and-true date-night combination, Movie Night, but Baltimore-style. Start at Station North and enjoy your pick of a sweet or savory crepe with your date at Sofi’s Crepes, a cafe with options from The Godfather, stuffed with pepperoni, mozzarella, salami, roasted red peppers and spinach, or take a trip to the sweet side with the Banana Royale, made with homemade butterscotch.
Then head on over to the celebrated Charles Theatre, a 1930s-era gem that plays foreign flicks, indie films, cult classics and the occasional blockbuster. Or the nearby SNF Parkway, which sets the cool standard for its indie flicks. Yes, there are two theaters in this block.
Matthew’s Pizzeria in Highlandtown has been serving up thin- and deep-crust pies since 1943. Enjoy a slice and then head on over to the Patterson Lanes, where you and your date can give duckpin bowling a try. Patterson Lanes is BYOB, every cost-cutter’s favorite, so grab some refreshments before you bowl.
A Party for Smarties
If food and trivia are more your scene, check out the Five and Dime Ale House in Hampden. “Wednesday night, we have trivia and all-day happy hour,” says general manager Bryant Fouch, adding that there are opportunities for a successful date night anytime of the week.
“Tuesday is half-off wine and half-off food after 8 p.m. On Thursdays, we offer $4 cocktails, and after 8 p.m., it is half off the entire check — food and drink menu included — throughout the entire restaurant,” Fouch says. (Half off? We like this guy!) “On Tuesday nights, there is often a bluegrass jam and old-time music free for everyone to enjoy,” he adds, working the sell. “The way our seating is structured is very intimate. The lighting is low. It is a nice relaxing experience.”
It can be said that many Baltimoreans don’t take enough advantage of the Baltimore Museum of Art, a world-class museum within the city limits.
The museum has a spectacular sculpture garden, an innovative and contemporary art wing and approximately 90,000 pieces of art, including the world’s largest holding of work by Henri Matisse as well as pieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh — and all perfect to observe while holding hands.
The museum is free, so that means you can spend a little extra dough on lunch or dinner at Gertrude’s, the BMA’s restaurant, which is run by celebrity chef John Shields. Check the museum’s schedule to see special events and tours happening during the summer.
For couples looking to grab a meal without the kids, try out a Saturday or Sunday brunch at Ampersea. “We do a $10 bottomless brunch, and we have an outdoor bar and promenade area, where you can’t get any closer to the water and the view of the harbor,” general manager Kyle Smedberg says. Hey, sign us up.
And, says Smedberg, this summer provides even more fun options for date night. “In May, we started with live music Thursday through Saturday. We also do night golf from 9 to 11. It’s a free swing kind of thing, where we hit biodegradable golf balls. We also do late-night happy hours at the outdoor bar. There is a lounge with fire pits that are great for a date-night feel, or you can grab a cocktail and sit on the water and enjoy that vibe.”
Last on the list is to indulge in some crabs and sea life, landing at the National Aquarium. Admittedly, it’s a touristy date plan, but every now and then you have to indulge in some of Baltimore’s best attractions. Although there are plenty of museums and food spots to pick from at the Inner Harbor, Blackwall Hitch recently opened a restaurant at the harbor that is very date-night appropriate.
Try to plan this outing during the aquarium’s promotional “Fridays after Five” to snag a discount on admission. And while you’re at the Inner Harbor, head over to the World Trade Center and ride the elevator to the Top of the World observation deck, where you and your partner can talk about everything you love most about Baltimore — and each other.