In Raleigh for the summer? Stop by Gonza, Irregardless or Cup a Joe -- or plan to take your date to Movies in the Garden next month.
Above, Gonza Tacos y Tequila. Photo by Emily Holmes.
This story was written by Emily Holmes, a communications intern at Live It Up! Hillsborough Street.
It’s summer. You know what that means: hot weather, a laidback atmosphere and the perfect time to take your significant other on cool dates to win some brownie points. Whether you’re a summer student, have an internship in the area or are just staying in Raleigh over the summer, Hillsborough Street is the perfect location for your date. It’s close by and has a ton of different secrets I’m here to let you in on.
If you are looking for a date spot with one of the coolest atmospheres, good scenery, and fantastic food, I highly recommend Gonza. Your date isn’t going to be the only great view of the night. Snag a table by the open windows and hanging star lights for great views of the Bell Tower. The artwork and experience give it a vibe you will both enjoy. The only thing that will make this date better is the food! The bar area is also unique, but if you’re 21 and want to continue the night, check out the bar at Aloft on the second floor. It is open to the public on weekends. It has the same cool vibes you’ll find downstairs at Gonza.
Irregardless Café is a cool date spot for any time of day. You can catch live music here every day of the week. The cafe takes on a bit of a European atmosphere, with local and national jazz and acoustic artists performing as late as midnight. That elevates any date beyond the normal restaurant meal.
Irregardless was the first vegetarian restaurant in Raleigh. The cafe is well-known for their vegan, vegetarian and gluten free menu offerings: Open Table named it one of the top 50 vegetarian restaurants in the country. (Yes, they offer options for meat lovers, but I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone.) The world-class menu makes it a perfect spot for impressing someone who has these special diet needs or a safe option for a first date.
The decor and interior make the dining area a great intimate spot, and the light-up bar is an eye catcher. Brunch is one of my favorite kind of dates, and Irregardless has a great weekend brunch. There is nothing like sleeping in and then going to enjoy a nice stack of pancakes with someone you really like. Walk in or beat the crowd by making a reservation.
Everyone raves about date night, but I think morning dates aren’t getting the appreciation they deserve. Unless you are a super blessed “morning person,” most of the population struggles getting out of bed. Kick start your day and your relationship by taking your significant other to get coffee at Cup A Joe. The coffee shop has a cool and vintage feel about it. There are many coffee options, and they also have a good food selection — including large Rice-Krispy treats or muffins for sharing. They also have smoothies if your date isn’t a caffeine person. Seating outside works great for people watching and striking up conversations with your neighbors. Inside, Cup A Joe has multiple configurations so you can either get close and intimate or have room to spread out over stimulating morning conversation.
Mark your calendars: This is one of the best summer date ideas, and there is little to no planning involved. Movies in the Garden is put on by Raleigh Little Theatre, Live It Up! Hillsborough Street, and Raleigh Brewing Company. The name is self-explanatory: Starting July 20, the groups will be screening four movies every Thursday in the Stephenson Amphitheater at the Raleigh Rose Garden. This summer, the movies are “La La Land,” “Cinderella,” “Hidden Figures” and “The Sound of Music.” A movie date is a classic, but a free movie date outside, under the stars, with your own picnic is an awesome opportunity to add a fun and entertaining twist. Outside alcohol is not allowed, and neither is glass, but you can pack your own dinner or enjoy the food trucks that will be on site. Moviegoers are encouraged to show up early to take part in games such as scavenger hunts, trivia and lip sync battles.