A date suggests you’re looking for a place where the food is good but not complicated (read: no snails), the venue is cozy (read: dark lighting), the atmosphere is relaxed (read: attentive with the booze) and where there is enough background noise and space to have a private chat (read: because everyone loves to eavesdrop a potential first date).
Ambar Bistro, Giesing
On their homepage Ambar Bistro describe themselves in four words: craft beer, wine, food. What more could you possibly want? It’s hard not to have a good time at this spot in Giesing. The upbeat mood of owner Gianluca Massa never falters and his knowledge of the beers on offer is impeccable. There are over 40 to choose from, while the changing selection of dishes from Naples is presented at your table on a blackboard. The antipasti platter to share is a must. Unless it’s too soon to share.
Baal is a pub with a Mediterranean twist. For those who are hungry, there are Italian pasta dishes such as tagliatelle agli spinaci freschi and penne all’arrabbiata. For those whose date nerves have got to their appetite, the small plates of Spanish tapas are good for snacking. A neighbourhood favourite since the 1980s, Baal has continually evolved to meet the demands of the changing clientele. The one constant: chilled Bavarian beer.
The concept of this restaurant is fast ‘slow food’. With a focus on sustainable and regional gastronomy, the menu here changes with the seasons and calls upon local producers. While Nudo means naked in Italian, this is not the reason this venue made the date list. Nudo in fact reflects the restaurant’s philosophy of having nothing to hide when it comes to the ingredients used in the kitchen. Dishes include gnocchi with lamb ragout or homemade beetroot ravioli. With exposed brick, old wooden furniture and warm lighting, Nudo has an edgy but welcoming feel.
Drunken Dragon Bar, Glockenbachviertel
Opened in September 2016, the Drunken Dragon Bar is the smaller and more intimate spin-off of the hugely popular Hutong Club in Schwabing. Serving what they refer to as “progressive Chinese cuisine”, deciding which of the delicious-sounding offerings to order could put any relationship to the test. Highlights include the aromatic flatbreads with coriander, sesame and lime, and the Mongolian lamb dumplings. The bao steamed buns are also great. And these are just the starters. In retrospect, it might be worth coming here for more than one date!
This small candle-lit bar is all about wine. Italian wine. From Campania to Liguria, through Basilicata, Marche and Tuscany, the list takes a full tour of the country, stopping for snacks along the way. Permanent fixtures on the menu include generously loaded bruschetta and cheese plates, while specials include gems such as courgette and parmesan carpaccio. If you want to eat, keep in mind that the kitchen tends to close around 9pm.
I’d head to this restaurant any day of the year, but it certainly has something romantic about it. Expect a cosy upmarket pub vibe and alpine-inspired dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients. The beer is served ice cold in traditional Bavarian mugs. Later in the evening, people tend to come here for a drink, making it feel more like a bar than a restaurant – so if your evening is going well, you can just stay!