SHARE PLATES: A gorgeous banchan spread plus Korean barbecue for two at Everyday Good House equals an A+ date night.
There are all sorts of reasons that romantic relationships go stale, but restaurant ennui shouldn’t be one of them. I mean, Friday Chinese on the couch in sweats plus Netflix doesn’t really cut it, even if you are queuing up Like Water for Chocolate or Eat Drink Man Woman. We’re not suggesting you bankroll a foie-and-caviar-gilded dinner at Lacroix, though — that place sure seems a lot less affordable now that we (and, we assume, you) lost our vast fortunes in the bond market. So we’ve lined up five solid, wallet-friendly date nights based on the following criteria: (A) Dinner and drinks for two for under $75. (B) No takeout. (C) No canned romance — i.e., no run-of-the-mill aphrodisiacs, carriage rides, opera-singing wait staff, etc.
So, without further ado, here’s our five.
Everyday Good House
No one has ever called Olney the Paris of Philadelphia, but this warm, wooden-picnic-tabled Korean barbecue joint is pretty damned cozy. Start out with a few Heinekens and a sharable bottle of sochu and before you know it, a glorious spread of banchan (small plates of Korean sides) floods the table. A recent visit saw charred shishitos, creamy macaroni salad and a totally amazing plate of sliced hot dogs tossed with sesame oil and gochujang. Go for the barbecue for two and you’ll be there for hours, making your way through a very serious plate of rosy cuts of pork belly and skirt steak grilled by one of Everyday Good House’s attentive servers. Then grab another round and head to one of their private karaoke rooms. 5501 N. Front St., 215-276-7942.
You know who doesn’t like pizza? Someone we would never want to go on a date with. Located on a scenic stretch of Passyunk Avenue, Stogie Joe’s is home to our favorite square pie with cheese on the bottom, sauce on the top. Split a large (the leftovers are even better the next morning, if you know what we’re saying), a pitcher of Yards Pale Ale and maybe an order of the incredible meatballs and you’re going to be in for some Lady and the Tramp-caliber action — all for under $50. Bonus points for Sinatra Sundays with Rat Pack tunes from Rick Baccare. 1801 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-463-3030, stogiejoestavern.com.
An exotic tour of Southeast Asia with your main squeeze is the stuff that honeymoon fantasies are made of, but if that’s not in your budget, a trip to this Chinatown Burmese joint is much more affordable. Flavors are out of the ordinary (that thrilling Southeast Asian combo of salty-sour-sweet-spicy) and chardonnay by the glass is $4 for a generous pour. Somehow the salads at Rangoon are the most exciting part of the menu: We’re particularly fond of the deep-fried watercress with flash-fried leaves dressed in a striking blend of basil, chile, lime and mint. 112 N. Ninth St., 215-829-8939, rangoonrestaurant.com.
The old-timey feel of the diner in Port Richmond’s Krakus Market is warm (in a Soviet kind of way?), and there’s something decidedly romantic about sharing a comforting meal here with that someone special. Servings are hearty — think plate-sized potato pancakes and steaming bowls of bigos, a Polish hunter’s stew (that has to be good for virility, right?). Plus, the selection of oversized (and high ABV) bottles of Polish beers ensures that you’ll both get back on the El feeling all warm and fuzzy. 3150 Richmond St., 215-426-4336, krakusmarket.com.
Full disclosure: We’re apprehensive about sharing our most beloved, super-secret date spot with the public. Sure, there’s a towering neon sign advertising this stuck-in-another-era gem in Pennsauken, but still. The Pub is pure magic. Make your way into a massive dining room that feels like Medieval Times — if they had Medieval Times in the ’70s. Drinks come in two varieties: over-the-top girly (mudslides and massive pina coladas) or manly (a Manhattan served with a full shaker in reserve to re-up your cocktail). The menu and portions are similarly massive, but a steak plus multiple trips to the endlessly intriguing salad bar is the way to go here. 7600 Kaighns Ave., Pennsauken, N.J., 856-665-6440, thepubnj.com.
Fountain Porter (1601 S. 10th St., 267-324-3910, fountainporter.com) for the best and cheapest burger in town, an A+ beer selection, candlelit vibes and an all-vinyl (we’re pretty sure they’ll say yes to reasonable requests) soundtrack. Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef (2149 S. 20th St., 215-463-4114, nicksroastbeef.com) because roast pork sandwiches plus ice-cold Budweisers and life-changing gravy fries really do put us in the mood.
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