University is about serious, academic pursuits — except when it’s about fostering your blossoming love life. Like it or not, if you’re in the 18-24 age bracket, a university campus is a veritable smorgasbord of eligible mates, or just hook-ups, and a big part of the “college experience” for many is getting their feet wet in the unpredictable waters of the dating pool.
If you’ve just spent another Thanksgiving facing the dreaded “When are you going to find a nice boy/girlfriend?” interrogation from your relatives, there’s no better time to start looking for someone to fill the void next year — or even just someone who can be a good stand-in when the time comes. But convincing your cute classmate to be your full-time cuddle buddy through the winter months might not be easy. And if you manage to get them to agree to spend a bit of time getting to know you, heed our advice to be ready to impress them with budget- and campus-friendly dates.
The 109 Street Date Night Extravaganza
With a plethora of restaurants, cafés and entertainment options on 109 Street between 88 and 87 Avenue, there’s no way to go wrong when you plan an evening out in this area.
Not only does it offer great date options, but there are plenty of ways to expand or cut off the evening as you see fit. First, grab a bite to eat and a beer at the campus restaurant standby, the Sugar Bowl. If you make it through the one-on-one conversation without too many awkward moments, continue on to catch whatever’s playing at Metro Cinema that evening. And if things are still going well, cap the night with a late visit to Remedy Café, since it’s open until midnight.
The possibilities for extending your time with your date are endless, but it’s also easy to bail at a moment’s notice if the chemistry isn’t right. Just make your excuses about needing to catch a bus on campus or Whyte Avenue and make a run for it. On the other
hand, if you snag a follow-up date, rent something at the Movie Studio to watch… at your place.
La Poutine (8720 109 St.)
Another 109 Street location, La Poutine is a quirkier food option for a night out. If your date can’t appreciate the thoughtfulness involved in treating them to a plate of crispy fries covered in cheese curds and gravy, they simply don’t deserve any more of your time. There may not be much space to sit down and eat here, but the food at this specialty restaurant makes for the greatest comfort meal around — there’s even a vegan option.
Three Boars (8424 109 St.)
If you can manage to snag a spot at one of the most popular new eateries, you’re sure to get into your date’s good graces. Despite the tiny restaurant space, there’s a giant beer, bourbon and scotch list to go along with a constantly-changing menu focused on local ingredients. Even with its hipster inclinations, this place is seriously fancy, and a perfect outing for two.
Leva (11053 86 Ave.), Good Earth (8623 112 St.) and Steeps (11116 82 Ave.)
The coffee date is an early romantic gettogether standby, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good option for testing the waters — all those cafes in the U of A and surrounding area aren’t just for studying. Leva, nestled in the Garneau neighbourhood, offers the perfect quiet atmosphere for long talks, and usually serves some pretty tasty food too. If you’re trying for something even more intimate, share a pot of tea in the laidback ambiance of Steeps. And if you just don’t want to walk that far, Good Earth Café is located centrally on campus, offering comfy couches and hot beverages to soften your date up.
Wunderbar (8120 101 St.)
If you’re trying to woo someone with a taste for the eclectic, head over to Wunderbar any night of the week. The cover charge is cheap — usually around 10 bucks — and there’s a different band there just about every evening. Better: don’t look too deeply into what that night’s act sounds like, and you’ve proven yourself a spontaneous music aficionado.
Garneau Pub (8514 109 St.)
This may sound like a risky choice, but if your idea of the perfect night out involves annihilating a giant pitcher of combat juice and belting out drunken jukebox tunes, you might as well not hide it. Your partner will find out soon enough anyway, and goodness knows you don’t want them to come between you and your favourite dive bar. Play somepool, buy a round of drinks and bring plenty of change for the jukebox — this can also be a great test for your hopeful beloved. If they’ve got poor jukebox selection, things just aren’t going to work out.
RapidFire Improv (Friday and Saturday nights at the Citadel Theatre)
While it’s perhaps not quite as convenient as the old Varscona Theatre location for the university crowd, RapidFire’s new downtown digs are still easy to access by jumping on the LRT. There really is no way to break through the awkwardness of a first date than laughing through a gutbusting improv session, and if the humour can’t crack your date, maybe it’s a sign to cut your losses.
Picnic/skating in Hawrelak Park (9930 Groat Road)
Just a short walk from campus, Hawrelak Park is a fantastic, scenic Edmonton location. During the summer or a warm day in the fall, its open, grassy areas are ideal for an evening barbeque or afternoon picnic coupled with a game of frisbee. Since it’s probably a getting a little chilly for that now, wait until the lake freezes — there are ice skate rentals available so you can hold your partner’s hand while you glide around. Plus, it’s easy to walk there and back from the university, making for prime surreptitious snuggle opportunities to “keep warm.”
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