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The best Philly date spots, just in time for my favorite Hallmark holiday

The best Philly date spots, just in time for my favorite Hallmark holiday

Ah, Valentine's Day, the most romantic of all the capitalistic Hallmark holidays.

Let's get this out of the way: Valentine's Day is a silly, sometimes emotionally-destructive cashgrab of a fake holiday designed to sell chocolate and make you feel bad about being alone (or, on the flip side, not being a good enough partner). This isn't my opinion, it's just a fact.

That being said, I've always kind of liked it, even if it is the perfect symbol of the kind of soulless, capitalist American society I despise. 

I liked giving out superhero valentines to my classmates in elementary school. I like finding silly cards for my boyfriend now. I buy heart-shaped cookies for my coworkers and every year my family eats all the chocolate we can get our hands on before Lent starts (in a truly cruel twist of fate, this year Lent starts ON Valentine's Day, which means no chocolate for my parents). If you don't take it too seriously, Valentine's Day can be a lot of fun.

Typically, my boyfriend and I don't make any big plans for Valentine's Day. Everyone knows that going out for V-Day is a ripoff, so we usually take it easy and just cook at home. Despite the fact that we don't go all out for the holiday, we are big fans of going on dates. We're going on four years at this point, and we still try to have date nights a few times a month. Now, what we consider to be a "date" may be different than what you do (donuts and Chinese food, anyone?), but in the spirit of today, here are our favorite date spots.

Federal Donuts

3428 Sansom St

There is nothing more romantic than getting up at the crack of dawn to go on a donut date before work. Nothing. You can keep your flowers and sonnets and all that garbage. I will take two donuts (a strawberry lavender and a fancy donut for the both of us) and a thermos of coffee consumed in a mostly-empty Federal Donuts at 7 am before work starts.

Wm Mulherin's Sons

1355 N Front St

There are two types of Mulherin's dates: the fancy version and the pizza version. The fancy version is typically reserved for anniversaries and special occasions and involves ordering so many plates of pasta that we can barely see each other over the stacks. The pizza one consists of grabbing seats at the bar, ordering a couple pies and knocking back a few cocktails. Both are good dates. 

Hop Sing Laundromat

1029 Race St

Hop Sing was actually the site of our very first date, and it continues to hold a special place in my heart. Besides the obvious sentimental value it holds for me, Hop Sing's also the indisputable king of date spots: not only are you forced to dress up, but the bar's speakeasy-schtick gives it a more glamorous air than the other bars in town.


306 Market St

Let's be clear: we don't typically go on dates this fancy. If you're going to go to Fork, you need to be getting the house menu (a starter, a pasta, a main and a dessert, complete with bread pairings). And if you're getting the house menu, you need to be prepared to shell out a pretty penny. But for special occasions, this is where you'll find us. 


48 S 2nd St

When someone asks me for a good first date spot, I usually suggest Sassafras. It's cool and a little funky, with dim lighting, candles and even the occasional jazz band. It has a laid-back vibe while still seeming impressive and even a little sexy. It's one of my favorite bars in the city, and a frequent date spot for us.

Dim Sum Garden

1020 Race St

I've lost count of how many dates we've been on to Dim Sum Garden. At some point, it became our date-night spot of choice. Of course, you have to be prepared to eat plates upon plates of noodles and dumplings in front of each other, so this may be better suited for established couples or particularly brave first dates. But aren't soup dumplings the way to anyone's heart?

Murph's Bar

202 E Girard Ave

Sometimes I want a date to be cheap and convenient. That's usually when we head to Murph's. It's close, the bottle list is solid and cheap and they have some of the best pasta around. Plus, every time we go I like to make the joke that a place so committed to blending Irish/Italian American culture is perfect for us, which I'm sure definitely never gets old.

Holy Tomato

9 S Black Horse Pike, Blackwood, NJ

Throwback! When we lived in Jersey, we used to always go to Holy Tomato, a pizza shop in our hometown that makes ridiculously good pies. We would always go on Tuesdays, when they had a pizza and salad special (I swear they make the best house salad in the entire world). We're not often in Jersey during the week, but every once in a while we make the trip across the bridge to go on a Tuesday pizza date.

Cake Life

1306 Frankford Ave

I am a dessert person. My boyfriend is not. I have to basically force him to order desserts at a restaurant or join me on an ice cream run. However, the one thing that we do agree on is how much we love the baked goods from Cake Life. Whether we're meeting for after-work cake slices or making an early morning trip for cinnamon buns and sausage rolls, Cake Life has made our relationship stronger, probably.

Also check out: Best cocktails in Philly 

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