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'Date Night' recs for 2 college students

My boyfriend and I are coming to the MSP area this weekend to watch the holidazzle parade and go out to eat, as well as maybe catching the Macy's display. Last year, we went to Hell's Kitchen and we both loved it. We are not looking for anything very expensive, (less than 50 for both of us).

Although we are of age, we don't usually order drinks just because it racks up the bill so quickly! Walking distance from the parade would be nice. Nothing too casual, but also nothing too fancy. We'll be wearing jeans, (nicer ones, no holes or anything). Hopefully trying to find a place where we won't get treated like "kids." Any suggestions would be GREAT!

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  1. 112 Eatery, but you will likely need a reservation.

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    112 Eatery
    112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    1. Barrio or Solera could work. I also like the 112 Eatery suggestion, the $50 might get a little tight, although definitely possible.

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      112 Eatery
      112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

      Solera
      900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

      1 Reply
      1. re: b ster

        Plenty menu items at different price points at 112. I also like it better for a date than Barrio or Solera, which can be better suited for more than 2 people.

      2. Zelo or Masa would be my recs, and both are right on the Nicollet parade route. Solera's also nice.

        I wouldn't recommend Barrio for a date--I've always found it loud, with terrible service. The only redeeming quality is their drinks.

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        Zelo
        831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

        Masa
        1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

        Solera
        900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

        1. Maybe the lounge at La Belle Vie? I'm looking at the menu and it seems to me you could get out for under $50 (not counting drinks), sharing 3-4 of the bigger plates.

          http://www.labellevie.us/menus-and-wi...

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          La Belle Vie
          510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

          1. The bar area at Vincent would be nice if you can grab a table. Right on the Mall, beautiful atmoshpere, and the bar menu is not expensive (though your choices are more limited).

            I also like Masa. The food is pretty good, it's open, airy and has a downtown feel.

            112 is best if you really care about the food. You'd have to walk from the all though.

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            Masa
            1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

            1. Tuesdays at Victory 44 is Date Night, 2 for 1 5-course tasting menu. I believe, $35. Total.

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              Victory 44
              2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN

              10 Replies
              1. re: semanticantics

                That's a long walk from the parade.

                Based on liking Hell's Kitchen (and casual level of atmosphere with interesting food) my recommendations would be The Inn (www.inneats.com) which is, essentially, ON the parade route, or Haute Dish (www.haute-dish.com). I like 112 Eatery too.

                1. re: semanticantics

                  That is a long walk!

                  But just for my own info, do you mean $35 for two people at Victory 44. Eg. me and my boyfriend (I need to call him a "manfriend" because he is way too old to be a "boy.")

                  This sounds like a very good deal.

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                  Victory 44
                  2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN

                  1. re: karykat

                    Well, walking distance wasn't a requirement, although I did pooch the days.

                    Kareebear, a place very similar to V44, and a smidge closer to DT would be Travail Kitchen & Amusements. Their crew left V44 a few months ago to open their own place. I'd imagine you'd have a great time at either one, they are both fancy plates, small portions (so you can get more items), and jeans and t-shirt kinds of places.

                    1. re: semanticantics

                      Travail is great, and not really too far from downtown (particularly if you just take broadway/81) but Solera would be walking distance and much easier to find...

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                      Solera
                      900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                  2. re: semanticantics

                    I checked out the menu at Victory 44 and it's definitely appealing to us! Does anyone know about how long it would take to drive over there after or before the parade? Would there be anything similar to this (price wise- it looks like this place has great values for your money) or would we be better off going to Victory 44?

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                    Victory 44
                    2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN

                    1. re: kareebear

                      It's ten minutes from downtown, though the 2 for 1 tasters are only available on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

                      If you are going before the parade, you might consider Bradstreet. They have a nice happy hour and cheap small plates generally. If you go, you must order a cocktail, as they are world class.

                      Another great date night spot is Black Sheep pizza. Coal-fired, thin crust pizza in a cozy room with an open kitchen. If you are going before the parade, be sure to get there before 5, as the line can get hectic.

                      At both places, and at V-44, you should be able to get out for under $50 while getting the best of what they have to offer.

                      1. re: kareebear

                        I would put the drive from V-44 at closer to 20 minutes in good conditions. With downtown traffic surrounding the Hollidazzle, I'd plan for 30 minutes, to be safe.

                        1. re: BigE

                          With the recent snow, I'd tack on another 30. It literally took me 1 hour to get from the 11th Street exit off of 35W to the downtown Target last night. Total nightmare.

                          1. re: Seige

                            Also note that driving time is affected not just by the parade-going crowd.

                            It entails waiting for the traffic closings along the parade route to re-open -- some of which remain blocked until floats are trundled back to their storage area and volunteers are shuttled back to the start.

                            Estimates assume that we park on the same side of the parade route as our destination, and exit that parking area onto a street that leads AWAY from Nicollet Ave.

                          2. re: BigE

                            Yeah. I live by V-44, and used to work downtown, so I can nail that trek. From door to parade (or vice versa), a total of 25-30 minutes is a good bet.

                            FWIW, wife and I went to Black Sheep for V-day last year, and plan to do the same this year.

                      2. Eating at The Local can always be fun too. It's an Irish bar, so it's not anywhere you'd likely go on Valentine's Day but it can be a nice change of pace.

                        112 is nice but $50 is the max and they'll definitely find it hard to get out for less than that. Date night doesn't mean that it has to be the best, just that the memory is the best (based on so many other factors than just the food).

                        1. A long walk from the parade route (especially depending on snow and temperature), but Bar La Grassa would also be a good fit. Some may feel it's a bit on the fancy side, but I've seen plenty of people in jeans there. By sharing several small plates, you could easily get out of there at around $50, and you'd have a tasting of one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities.

                          Short of that, I'd echo the bar at Vincent, or, if you like pizza, Black Sheep, as it's the best pizza in the Twin Cities (though there is some dissent on it, I think most people would agree it's at minimum in the top 3 for pizza).

                          At all three places, you get high quality, and among the best dishes in their respective genres. Reservations required for BLG, get there early for BSP.

                          Short of those, Solera is very nice, if you're looking for something not quite date-y, but something a bit more hip and different. Again, Solera is among the top in the Twin Cities in the small dish category, and probably the best for Spanish tapas.

                          Zelo has consistently solid food, but for its price point, I think there are several options that are every bit as good food-wise, with styles and menus that are a bit more creative.

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                          Zelo
                          831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                          Solera
                          900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                          Bar La Grassa
                          800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                          1. So Kareebear, where did you end up going?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: GutGrease

                              WOW sorry this is so late- school has been getting the best of me. We ended up going to the Local, It was right on the parade route and we couldn't have been happier! They did seat us at an awkward hi-top for 2, that was right by the stairs going up, and we had lots of people squeezing by us which was a little strange, but all in all they had GREAT prices and good food. I can't remember exactly what I ordered for my main meal- perhaps something along the lines of a pulled pork, but the date ordered the chicken pot pie and it was phenomenal. I also got stuffed mushrooms for an app and it was DELICIOUS! Haven't been able to make it back there but hopefully I will soon.

                              Thanks to everyone for your help!!!!

                              1. re: kareebear

                                it's never too late to reply back! thanks! & your response will help others w similar questions in the future :)