A look at some breezy, busy, and tasty places to take that first step
We’ve all been there before: You’ve asked someone out that you thought was a nice person, you ended up disliking them from the moment you sat down for dinner, and now you’re stuck for two hours making awkward small talk over a meal that — no matter how good it is — just can’t salvage your night. Well, maybe it can salvage it just a bit, especially if you can get away expeditiously.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best first date spots in Coral Gables, places both casual and sophisticated where you can get a drink and a bite — and make a quick getaway if you must.
The Casual Choices
This rooftop bar on Giralda Plaza has some of the best people watching in the Gables and we guarantee ordering one of their hilariously named drinks will break the ice on your first date. Seriously, try saying “Bro, Why Are Your Pants So Tight” or “Your Wife’s in My Pina Colada” in front of a person you just met without laughing. With over three pages of drinks and an inventive food menu courtesy of Chef Jorge Ramos, featuring everything from a whole suckling pig to a raw bar, you’ll never run out of things to talk about here.
124 Giralda Ave.
Probably the best part about taking a date to a Bulla happy hour is that if you don’t like them, it’s almost guaranteed there’ll be someone else there you will! (Not that we recommend ditching your date.) On weekdays after work, a younger crowd is virtually spilling out through the glass doors, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from getting there early and enjoying their famous Spanish tapas over a $7 house martini. And if you like your date enough to stick around for a while, order a pitcher of their excellent sangria ($28) and bond over a custom charcuterie board.
2500 Ponce de Leon
Bay 13 Brewery
This is THE spot for beer lovers in the Gables that also comes with a full bar for the cocktail inclined. When the weather is nice, the big couches on the expansive outdoor patio make it easy to snuggle up to your date and share a plate of beer-steamed mussels or spiced lamb ribs. The daily happy hour has great discounts on beer, wine, and margaritas, and if all goes well, you can bring your partner back for one of their beer-paired dinners or wine tasting yoga sessions.
Bay 13 Brewery and Kitchen
65 Alhambra Plaza
Mamey on 3rd
This third-floor rooftop bar at the THesis Hotel features all the best bites and drinks from the main restaurant’s menu, including a daily happy hour from 3 to 6 pm that features the best grilled cheese you’ve ever tasted for only $6. Thursday through Sunday, there’s live music from 6 to 10 pm, occasionally accompanied by dancing from some of the braver patrons — a nice way to get close to your date. If you don’t want to break the bank on an $18 cocktail, happy hour is an essential here.
Mamey on 3rd at the THesis Hotel
1350 S. Dixie Hwy
The Sophisticated Choices
Perry’s Bar 79
With the summer heat coming on fast, Perry’s Bar 79, with its wide open doorways and stacked bar menu, is a great compromise to sitting outdoors. During “social hour ” — Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm and Sunday from 4 to 9 pm — you can get $2 off bar bites, wines, and cocktails. The bar isn’t huge so come early to impress your sweetie with a round of beef carpaccio or cherry pepper calamari and a cocktail from the extensive drink menu.
Perry’s Bar 79 at the Shops at Merrick Park
4251 Salzedo St.
Fogo de Chão
With the best happy hour in town, Fogo de Chão is upscale enough that you can radiate sophistication while also keeping your wallet happy with a couple of $9 caipirinhas. The Brazilian steakhouse has $5 happy hour bites weekdays from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in the bar area and an all-day happy hour on drinks. The interior is refined with high ceilings and comfortable booths and if you really end up liking your date, you can come back for the $61 “churrasco experience” and spend all night talking over a never-ending parade of meat.
Fogo de Chão
2801 Ponce de Leon
NOMA Beach at Redfish
It might be a little hard to make a smooth exit from NOMA Beach, what with it being deep down in Matheson Hammock Park, but it’d be hard to dislike anyone here enough to want to leave early. Come at sunset and enjoy golden hour from the bar or a table outside along the beach. You’ll be in love before the end of the night — if not with your date, then definitely with the view. Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm is happy hour, where beers go for $6, cocktails for $12, and Chef Donatella’s famous meatball sliders for $14.
NOMA Beach at Redfish
9610 Old Cutler Rd.
This open-air rooftop lounge on top of Fiola might rival its sister restaurant downstairs in terms of price, but its signature events coupled with a gorgeous view of Coral Gables make it well worth it. Sunset happy hour with two-for-one cocktails is available Wednes- day through Friday from 5:30 to 7 pm, and on Fridays you can pair that with live music — or live music and a cigar on Thursday nights. Request a table at the edge of the patio so you can woo your date under the stars and lights of Coral Gables.
1515 Sunset Dr. / 1500 San Ignacio Ave.