Sunday, February 7, 2016

Let's talk date night in Dallas.

Don't let your budget keep you from delicious dining. As it turns out, you've got options for optimal eating all over town.

When it comes to date night in Dallas, the possibilities for fine wining and dining are endless. Unfortunately, our allowance for said date night is not. Here are some quality places to impress that someone special when you're looking to stay on a budget. Whether you are searching for casual, chic, or southern charm, there are quite a few places to enjoy great food for less than $50. And if you're lucky, alcohol can even squeeze its way into the equation.

Laid-Back Love Affair

Brian Luscher invites hot dog lovers to taste 'Texas Chicago style' at his new Commerce Street shop. Grab a table for two at the relaxed Luscher's Red Hots, and focus on the flavors of the Post Oak, which features piccalilli, white onions, Lemley's tomatoes, pickled sport peppers, and spicy brown mustard all nestled atop a pain au lait poppy seed bun. Because all sandwiches and dogs are under $10, a craft beer or two is a must.

If you are fiending barbecue, head to Pecan Lodge, a Deep Ellum institution where you can buy meat by the pound accompanied by delicious side likes mac and cheese, collard greens, and fried okra. Can't decide which meat to eat? Try The Pitmaster featuring brisket, pulled pork, and sausage topped with slaw, barbecue sauce, and fresh jalapenos for only $9. Pro tip: skip the line by grabbing a Boss Lady Rustic Red and ordering from the bartender. There is also live music on the patio on Friday and Saturday nights.

Some would argue that a patio pizza at Taverna, a Knox Street staple, is quintessential Dallas. Cozy up for an evening of people watching while sipping red wine and sharing a pie. The Bianca ($14.50) is a crowd pleaser featuring prosciutto, arugula, shaved Parmesan, and mozzarella. Finish the meal by ordering the tiramisu with two spoons. If your date is a dog lover, feel free to bring your four-legged friend.

Foodie Fantasia

Who says dining at Dallas' hottest new restaurant has to break the bank? Chef Julio Peraza is serving up duck confit enfrijoladas, wild setas, and bone in pork chops that are complimented by Michael Martensen's agave and brandy focused cocktail program at Madrina. Dine this menu on a dime during its killer happy hour that offers 50 percent off specialty cocktails, wines by the glass, beer, and the entire dinner menu. The only caveat? Happy hour is limited to the bar or lounge from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Everyone can relate to this familiar struggle. You go to a movie and when its time to decide what to eat afterwards, all of the restaurants serving respectable food are closed. Victor Tangos is your solution, serving creative dishes with unexpected flavors by Kirstyn Brewer until midnight. Sharing is ideal and for $44, you can enjoy the peaches, grilled treviso, ricotta and red pepper jam flatbread, confit pork shoulder with greens, polenta, and bagna cauda, and warm sticky toffee cake with mascarpone cream.

If you know that your date's diet skews healthy, head to Greenville Avenue where HG Sply Co., a Paleo-inspired restaurant, proves that a nutritious meal doesn't have to taste like grass. The chill bowl can't be beat with its quinoa, wild rice, roasted baby beets, cucumber ribbons, baby kale, avocado, dill, and green onion in green goddess dressing. Add a piece of grilled Scottish salmon if you crave extra protein. Happy hour here is every week day from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and you can score $3 craft beers and a selection of appealing apps for $5.

Rise No. 1, an adorable salon de souffle and wine bar, is the perfect place for romance. Enjoy both sweet and savory souffles ranging from violet to escargot while waxing poetic about your travels throughout France. Don't leave without ordering the famous marshmallow soup, which consists of hearty tomatoes and fluffy pieces of cheese. Souffles start at just $12 and an unbelievable 122 calories. How's that for an added bonus?

Hole-in-the-Wall Wonders

If you want a full meal with booze on a budget, Scalini's, a Lakewood landmark, serves large portions of pasta at an amazing price. Start with the toasted ravioli and Caesar salad while enjoying a glass of wine. For dinner, the hardest decision is whether to order the combo plate (lasagna, ravioli, and spaghetti) or the spicy chicken scaloppine, both of which are only $12. For dessert, the cappuccino pie is a no-brainer.

In Texas, you can spend your whole life dining at fancy Mexican food restaurants that offer you pomp and circumstance, but ultimately lack on flavor and authenticity. Mia's Tex Mex exerts all energy in the kitchen and leaves the fancy dining room design to its competitors. House-made chiles rellenos and Butch's original brisket tacos are the way to go, and with both of these dishes coming in at around $10, there is plenty of wiggle room for a mango margarita or two.

Expect checkered-tablecloths and old school service at Daddy Jack's, a New England-style seafood and chowder house. Although it doesn't look like much from the outside, the warm and fuzzy feeling felt while dining here has Dallasites coming back year after year. Wine by the glass can be found for under $10, which only compliments the perfectly portioned seafood entrees that start at $13.95. Locals know to ask for the crab fingers, which are an available special from time to time.

Special Day Destinations

Sushi has long been a date night favorite, however, it is no secret that the price for these carefully crafted pieces of edible art can be quite pricey. And although there are plenty of respectable sushi restaurants in Dallas, Little Katana sets itself apart with a deal that cannot be beat. On Monday nights, guests can enjoy half-price rolls and bottle sake. That puts the Katana Roll, which includes shrimp, eel sauce, crawfish, cream cheese, avocado, chili-spiked mayo, and Chili sauce, at just $8. On Wednesdays, bottles of wine are half off.

If you consider Uptown Dallas to be your stomping grounds, don't miss Quarter Bar, a McKinney Avenue outpost offering half-price food and selected whiskey on Wednesdays. The whole menu is up for grabs, however, trying the voodoo fries piled high with queso, jalapeno gravy, crispy pork belly, Sriracha and scallions for as little as $3 is a must. Your date not a whiskey drinker? Glasses of wine start at just $8.

Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen is an adorable South American restaurant is run by a motherdaughter duo and serves home-style cooking with soul. Although fitting in a full meal for less than $50 may be difficult on a regular night, the Wednesday night happy hour special make it possible. From 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., enjoy half price appetizers like the cheese, beef, and duck empanada trio and the crispy rice beef croquettes. These paired with the vegetarian entree, consisting of a corn cake served with escabeche and yogurt cucumber salad, are perfect date night nibbles.

Let's talk date night in Dallas.

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