As love fills the air, choose your eatery carefully
Spring. In Alaska, this season has its own localized meanings — a time of epic dog sled contests, Alyeska Resort’s splashy end-of-season carnival, and the lengthening of light and gradual melting of ice and snow that loosens their wintry grips on roads and trails.
Something else synonymous with spring: romance. As Mother Nature hits that defrost button, something triggers in we humans as we emerge from a collective hibernation. Whether seeking a long-term coupling or more temporary companion, Alaskans are fully on the prowl, and firstdate ambiance is critical to success. Here are some ideas for outings, depending on your selected partner.
He/she loves beer: It’s hard to beat Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse for selection, and the bustling atmosphere and nightly entertainment combines to lift some of that first-date pressure by providing a casual, kick-back environment. Selection rotates regularly and dependably features Alaska brewery samplings. For a more relaxed and quieter venue, try Café Amsterdam, whose local offerings are balanced by European options, like beers from six of the world’s seven “Trappiste” monastery breweries.
He/she is a wine aficionado: Crush Wine Bistro and Cellar offers an intimate, cozy atmosphere, pretty plates of delectable food and a flight — i.e. three smaller pours — of wine. An enjoyable evening can be extended with a trip upstairs to the wine shop. On the other end of town, Southside Bistro boasts an impressive roster of varietals, or will uncork any wine you bring along for a $20 cork fee. For a scaled-down experience — read, less expensive with a more accessible feel — try Killjoy downtown.
He/she doesn’t drink alcohol: Or maybe you’d rather get to know each other on the first date with a clear head and without the woozy booze shroud. Middleway Café or Kaladi Brothers in the Northern Lights Center are low-key meet-up spots, and if things are going well, the date can transition into book browsing at Title Wave or a stroll through REI. For a fun and somewhat interactive dining experience, consider Kobe Teppayaki House, a local staple where tableside food preparation on Teppayaki grills by entertaining, trick-pulling chefs helps ease first-date jitters.
He/she wants entertainment: While a movie is an obvious choice, they actually make for pretty awkward first dates with little chance at interaction. Skip that and try a trivia night. They’re interactive, spirited, and give you a chance to gauge whether your would-be partner is crazy competitive or particularly brainy. Humpy’s offers trivia every Tuesday, or hit up the “Geeks who Drink” night Mondays at Taproot.
He/she is a foodie: Last month, we reviewed Torchon Bistro, a newer restaurant with truly creative dishes that aren’t the typical Alaskan fare. Fat Ptarmigan is a scaled-back culinary experience, where pizza is the prime attraction, pasta is new to the menu, and sauces and toppings are lovingly selected and crafted with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients.
He/she is “easy to please” and “doesn’t care”: With nothing to go on except that his unbelievable claim that anything will make him happy, consider this an open invitation to keep it simple – and cheap. Hit up a drive-in like Tommy’s Burger Stop and picnic at Point Woronzof, or shoot pool at a shabby-cool dive bar like Buckaroo Club.
He/she is artsy: The Anchorage Museum is excellent for a first date. Stroll through the galleries, critique and admire freely, then pop into Muse, the on-site restaurant, for a coffee or glass of wine. If you time it right, Anchorage’s First Friday art walks are excellent for a new couple. You can bounce from gallery to gallery downtown, fill the awkward pauses with artistic reflection, and see where the night takes you.