Date Night in ’09

kissDozen roses or gourmet chocolates are common ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Those are fine gifts for a beloved, but when given or received out of routine duty, it may be time to fill the relational tank — time being the operative word. Quality time invested in relationships and connecting with others tends to result in delight, whereas a lack of it tends to result in duty, giving way to drudgery, and then drought. I am no psychologist, but even Andy Warhol made the connection and lamented, “When I got my first television, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.”
Maybe television or another form of technology (or something else entirely) has you distracted and experiencing a relational drought, but don’t dismay. Whatever the root, let February be a window of opportunity for renewing efforts to spend time with others. Dates can come in all different flavors, so don’t limit planning to merely romantic pursuits. Consider meeting with friends, family, business associates, classmates or others in your sphere, including someone in need. For the age-old mantra promises, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Put your time to the test and watch as your relational cup runneth over.
Here are seven creative date ideas inside 78209, one for each night of the week. Check out our restaurant guide for addresses and times of service.

Monday Night
Game Viewing and Dinner at Stonewerks
If the Spurs are playing or if it’s NFL Monday Night Football (or any sporting event any night of the week), Stonewerks is prime real estate for front row viewing. The bar area is stylish and spacious, offering over 80 wines, 40 beers and a plentiful selection of top-shelf liquors. Stonewerks is a great choice for a date because it’s more than just a sports bar; the food is excellent as well. The menu reflects upscale, rustic American cuisine and includes an impressive oyster bar. On a beautiful day or evening, dine on their outdoor patio.

TreTrattoriaTuesday Night
Witte Museum and Dinner at Tre Trattoria
General admission is free at the Witte Museum on Tuesdays from 3 until 8 p.m. Take advantage of the free admission and discover natural history, art and Texas heritage, and a body science exhibit for children and adults. Walk the lovely grounds, which back up to the San Antonio River, and end your evening at chef Jason Dady’s Tre Trattoria located next door. Enjoy not only superb authentic Italian cuisine, but also rich conversations stemming from your memorable Witte experience. Be sure to order the fresh house-made mozzarella cheese, along with any of the sides, vegetable sides and salads to accompany your meal. You and your date may even decide to make these sides your main meal to share and look forward to a colorful, healthful and, most of all, very flavorful meal.

bravabravaWednesday Night
Pinot’s Palette and Dinner at Braza Brava Pizza Napoletana
Pinot’s Palette offers a variety of painting classes each month at around $45 per person. Invite someone to join you in the creative process. Use another side of the brain and relieve some stress. BYOB. Their online calendar features schedule and sign-up. With masterpiece in hand, walk across the parking lot to Braza Brava for a scrumptious dinner of Neapolitan pizza. Order either the D.O.C. version for an authentic experience (certified recipe and buffalo mozzarella’s origin is from Campania region). Alternatively, try other pizzas – they offer many exquisite departures. They also serve homemade pasta dishes, the most popular being the papparadelle pasta with a hearty short rib sauce. Also worth trying are the delicious salads, antipasti and paninis. Sit at the bar if possible and watch the wood-burning oven (from Naples) in action. This is true craftsmanship.

Thursday Night
McNay Art Museum and Dinner at Nosh
The McNay offers free admission from 4 until 9 p.m. on Thursdays, so don’t miss this golden window for a date night. Browse their collection of over 20,000 objects of American art since World War II, modern American and European prints and drawings, the Tobin Collection of Theater Arts, and many others. You and your date will soon be hungry, and Nosh is just a few blocks east on Austin Highway. The restaurant’s phrase, “Small plates, big taste,” captures the essence of the robust and diverse flavors created by celebrity chef Luca Della Casa. The steamed mussels in tomato broth served with fries are spectacular. Another favorite (among many) is the green chili and goat cheese mac and cheese. Between the Texan and Italian influences, it’s a match made in heaven. When you visit, look for Nosh on the first floor, underneath Silo, its sister restaurant located on the second floor.

Friday Night
Bowl at Astro Bowl and Dinner at La Fonda Alamo Heights
When was the last time you went bowling? I have gone with my child to attend birthday parties, and the last time I went, I participated — my first time to bowl since my high school youth group days. I was rusty, but quickly became hooked on the retro fun. Visit Astro Super Bowl (off Austin Highway and Harry Wurzbach Road) with a group of friends or with a date, and be prepared for some laughter and camaraderie – also a great team-building activity for a corporate group. After you have savored the nostalgia and worked up a good thirst, head to La Fonda Alamo Heights, nostalgia venue #2. La Fonda Alamo Heights is a generational treasure. Many families in the area have been eating there weekly for decades. Did you know that the bartender, Juan Romero, has been making drinks for over 30 years? The most popular drink there is their margarita – a “true margarita.” Many restaurants rely on a pre-made corn syrup-based margarita mix for their margaritas on the rocks. Juan, however, uses fresh squeezed lime juice, tequila and triple sec – nothing else sweet is added. It’s the perfect amount of puckering. For food, the marinated beef fajitas are legendary, but plenty of fans prefer their combo plate rituals.

Saturday Night
Dance Lessons at Ballroom Dance Annex and Dinner at Frederick’s
Saturdays are more leisurely, leaving room for a classy evening of beginning private ballroom dance lessons. Danielle is one of the instructors available to teach at the Ballroom Dance Annex, located just inside 410 at 8123 Broadway. She offers a trial lesson at a discounted rate of $30 for 45 minutes (30 minutes of instruction and15 bonus minutes for talking). After the lesson, go with your dance partner to Frederick’s Restaurant for a stellar menu filled with French and French Vietnamese dishes in an intimate setting.

Sunday Night
Quarry Movie and Torchy’s Tacos
Sunday is the day of the week when true rest is in order. Why not make a date night out of resting? Take in a movie at the Alamo Quarry either before or after a Torchy’s Taco binge. Is it authentic Mexican? Not really. Is it tasty? Yes! The whimsical tacos are filling, so save room for the green chile queso and chips. That’s where “binge” comes in … you won’t want to stop sneaking another crunch of this cheesy, spicy, creamy bliss. What a way to recharge your battery for the week ahead!

As one of our country’s renowned motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, once put it, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Don’t put off experiencing the delight of being with people. Utilize the many outstanding restaurants and activities in the Alamo Heights area to quench your relational thirst this month.

BY LAUREN BROWNING

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