Sometimes you want date night to be fancy, and are willing to spend some extra dollars to get there. And sometimes, you want nothing to do with that noise.
There’s no special occasion required for getting dressed up and doing something extravagant, just like there’s no reason that having a special night out has to mean changing out of jeans or maxing out a credit card. Both kinds of dates — fancy and cheap — can be had in abundance in Tampa Bay.
Here are some suggestions for both. Use them to celebrate Valentine’s Day, or keep them in your back pocket for next time your significant other asks, “What do you want to do?” You’ll stun by having actual ideas.
DINNER AND A MOVIE
There’s a recent study out of the University of Chicago suggesting that when two people eat the same foods during a meal, it increases trust between them. With that in mind, you could share small plates at extra-hip spots like Fly in downtown Tampa and Rooster & the Till in Seminole Heights, but if you really want to get fancy, indulge in a tasting menu, where you’ll both get a set selection of various dishes served in courses for a set price.
Mise En Place in Tampa offers a five-course tasting menu featuring chef Marty Blitz’s weekly favorites for $54 with optional wine pairings. In St. Petersburg, upstairs inside Locale Market in Sundial, FarmTable Kitchen regularly hosts The Chef’s Table, an eight-course meal that’s limited to 10 people, includes a tour and includes tableside service by the chef who prepared it ($105). The Black Pearl in Dunedin hosts occasional, prix fixe chef’s dinners (keep an eye on their Facebook page), but offers top notch new American and French fine dining with an intimate, hidden-gem vibe in its small dining room on any night.
There’s also something extra-fancy about having dessert, or your pre-meal cocktails, at a different location than your dinner. For instance, all within one walkable span on South Howard Avenue, you could have drinks at the sexily-lit Ciro’s Speakeasy (call ahead to get the password), dine on one of the “dinner for two” selections at Elevage at the Epicurean Hotel, and cross the street for chocolate delights at Bern’s famous Harry Waugh Dessert Room. Mix and match those.