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Easygoing First Date Places?

...enough with The Happy Gnome and Nina's. Honest to goodness, I cannot go on another first date to either of those places...

Looking for a quality short list of places--coffee, pastries, drinks/nosh, even light/not particularly spendy meal--to save myself from fortysomething-dude-suggested-place-ubiquity.

Bonus points for: parking lots, good people watching, fun or interesting atmosphere, a feeling of accessibility (i.e. food is not too sophisticated or challenging), Saint Paul or Minneapolis North Loop...also, maybe you have had a good first date experience somewhere.

I was married (but no longer) to a fan of chains, so don't have recon for a lot of suitable date places under my belt yet. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Toast Wine bar in the north loop is a good first date place. Typically easy to find metered street parking very close by.
    http://toastwinebarandcafe.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: St3ve

      second Toast as a great option. Much prefer outside to inside, especially during the day.

    2. How about Kopplin's for coffee and then you could walk over to Izzy's if you want to extend? (HA! My husband rejects this. Sorry.)

      ~TDQ

        1. Saint Paul: Groundswell (Hamline and Thomas) for coffee, beer, or wine (I think they have wine). They also have snacks. Also, Grand Central (On Grand, west of Snelling a little bit). Good coffee and snack place. And, Cheeky Monkey (Selby, between Western and Dale) for drinks/nosh. Only Cheeky has a lot for parking, though.

          Edited to add two places: Forepaugh's. They have a free lot across the street. And it's on the less pricey side if you meet your date there for happy hour. Three seating options: bar, lounge across from bar, and outdoors (the outdoor seating is sort of a best kept secret).

          Black Dog Cafe (Lowertown). There is a lot somewhat nearby. Coffee, beer, wine, small plates, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            I feel like Forepaugh's is a bit much for a casual first date - even if it's just happy hour, the whole Victorian mansion thing is pretty intense.

          2. Ngon on University, great bar for drinks and affordable food. Has a small lot on the east side of building.
            Agree with Groundswell coffee.
            Senor Wong's downtown St. Paul, fun happy hour, great food, pool table, parking lot
            Pizza Nea in NE Mpls
            The new Red Cow on Selby
            Eli's East on Hennepin
            Sonora Grill on Lake Street, great patio, parking lot, super cheap great food