PHLGuide

Where To Go When You’re Not Sure If It’s A Date

When it’s not officially a date, but also not not a date, try any of these 10 spots.
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Dating is hard these days. Whether you’re hanging out one-on-one with a friend you usually only see in group settings, or a coworker suggested the two of you grab drinks, it’s sometimes tough to tell whether this get-together is a date. But before you’re able to figure that out for sure, you’ll need to choose a place to meet.

You don’t want a candlelit spot with couples looking longingly into each other’s eyes, and you also don’t want a place so stiff it feels like a museum. Whether or not you want this to be a date, two things are for sure: first, look your best (and don’t overthink it). Second, go to one of the 10 spots in this guide.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Pizza

Fishtown

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCasual Weeknight DinnerDrinking Good WineEating At The BarImpressing Out of TownersLiterally Everyone

Your long-distance crush just moved to Philly and asked if you want to catch up. Tell them to meet you in Fishtown at Pizzeria Beddia. With a modern dining room, a cloud hanging over the bar, and glowing stars on the wall, Beddia doesn’t take itself too seriously. This makes it an ideal place for spending a couple of hours impressing them with some of the best pizzas and small plates in town. Our favorite is The #2, topped with Calabrian cream, mozzarella, and Old Gold gouda. It remains to be seen whether your night will end in a casual friendship or become something more, but in the meantime, you’ll be happy about the great wine list and unforgettable slices. 


At Queen Village’s Royal Sushi & Izakaya, you can focus on sake, chirashi, and Dragon Ball Z playing on the wall instead of your anxious inner monologue. So if your ex reaches out to see if you’d be open to drinks, it’s the place to go.  It’s a little divey, but it’s way less divey than the actual dives you used to go to with them. It’s one of our favorites for a casual midweek dinner, and great for sharing everything from the incredible curry buns and dragon rolls to the peppery karaage wings covered in soy chili sauce. They also have a long sake list, which could lead to a conversation about how they miss having you around in the morning, or to them asking your advice about the new crush in their life. Either way, the food is worth it.


In the morning, this Fishtown restaurant tends to be full of locals drinking espresso and diving into cheesy egg sandwiches, and in the afternoon, the crowd tends to be a mix of people writing their last work emails over patty melts. At night, though, the music blasts and it becomes a fun spot to play pool with someone while sipping on a citrusy mezcal cocktail. It’s always crowded, so you may have to raise your voice when asking questions about their Zodiac sign or favorite bands. Even if it comes to nothing more than losing at 9-ball, enjoying juicy burgers, and deleting a contact from your phone, at least you’ll do it at one of the most entertaining places in the city.


The person you’re meeting up with keeps watching your reels but still takes hours to respond to your messages. You’re not sure exactly where you stand, but a few rosés and dishes at Harp & Crown should solve that. It’s a massive bi-level cocktail bar and American restaurant near Rittenhouse Square that’s good for just about any situation, which makes it useful when you don’t know where the night is heading. They have small plates like Japanese sweet potatoes, bucatini and clams, and wood-fired pizzas (we love the spicy soppressata). It’s a fun spot to come and grab a drink with a friend, or a maybe-date, because it will be a good time either way.


This spot is Permanently Closed.

Going to a bar and grabbing cocktails can be a little tense when you’ll probably know what the person really thinks about you around drink three. But this casual East Passyunk spot next to Townsend EPX is built for nightcaps (their cocktails are some of the best around), sharing small plates, and hanging out under string lights without stress. They have a full dinner menu with everything from charcuterie and roasted duck breast topped with a blood orange marmalade to a brown butter cake to end the night. After a few sips of the coconut-heavy White Lotus, you’ll figure out if they’re looking for a friend or someone to take to their cousin’s wedding.

Center City has plenty of options for fancy dates, like Barclay Prime or Vetri Cucina. It also has lots of choices when you’re trying to keep things low key, like this casual slice shop and bar on 13th Street. With retro furniture and vintage records, a conversation about their favorite childhood Halloween costume or prom date seems inevitable. Thanks to the Freddy Prinze—packed with sweet tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pecorino romano—memory lane never tasted so good. After a few beers and slices of pepperoni, you’ll know if this is the person worth texting every funny thing you see on the subway. 


Your mother set you up with a family friend who “loves the Sixers, just like you." You only agreed to go so she would leave you alone, and assume they did, too. Don’t sweat it: after a pineapple margarita and shrimp taco at this vibrant taqueria, you can handle any romantic surprise or disappointment. The Rittenhouse restaurant is decorated with neon lights and is always crowded with the Happy Hour and weeknight faithful, so the people watching alone should be enough to spark conversations between rounds of guacamole, cocktails, and sweet plantain empanadas.

The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night image

PHL Guide

The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night


You’ve taken shots together while on a ski trip in the Poconos, and you’ve split the bill at a mutual friend’s birthday. But tonight, you’re dining one-on-one. Rather than suggesting a date-y spot like Suraya, head down the street to LMNO. It’s a cool space with neon lighting and plants all around—so it’s kind of like a futuristic greenhouse. There’s also a long glowing bar and a private vinyl listening room inside the trendy Mexican restaurant. There are great tacos, whole fish, and mezcal and tequila-infused drinks on the menu.  After a few rounds, you’ll be ready to solve the riddle of whether yesterday’s “it’s a date” text meant it’s a date date or “it sounds like a plan.”


photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Yes, Barcelona Wine Bar in East Passyunk has candlelit tables and a long wine list, but there are also aspects of this place that’ll give you plausible deniability in case it’s definitely not a date. It’s so loud that it borders on clubstaurant status, you won't hear any love songs if they play them, and you’ll never see couples making out over a plate of whole roasted branzino (at least in the daytime). Go for the tapas like eggplant caponata, spicy patatas bravas, and juicy chicken pimientos, and casually sneak in a question about them having a significant other at the end of your first sangria. 


photo credit: Amina Philly

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It’s hard to tell what a person thinks of you—especially since we’re all texting heart emojis in all shades to everyone. At least at Amina in Old City, you can use their reaction to BET Jams and their mac and cheese preferences to see if you’re even compatible. The Southern spot has a menu full of dishes like tender oxtails, gumbo with crab tossed in, and crunchy Nigerian hot chicken that you can pass around the table while wondering if there’s actually something there.

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Suggested Reading

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The 20 best restaurants in Rittenhouse, Midtown Village, Logan Square, and beyond.

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