In my role as in-house matchmaker at Tribe 12, the #1 question I get asked is probably “is today a Jewish holiday?” A close second is definitely “where should I go on a first date?” So I’ve put together a “First Date Hacks” series, where I follow my three great first date guidelines — somewhat unconventional, not too pricey, low time commitment — to lead you to the date spots that best invite conversation and shared experience.
I’ve sprinkled in some super cheap dates, a couple classy ones, and best of all the ones that seem fancy but won’t break the bank. The full list surprisingly skews a bit Old City heavy (Old City, you sneaky devil you) but gives you decent selections for most parts of the city.
Here are my first three suggestions (with photos from our Instagram). Enjoy!
Here’s a sure way to seem extremely cool without actually, you know, being that. Last year Bon Appetit Magazine named Pizzeria Beddia the “Best Pizza in America”, sending hoards of carb-hungry Philadelphians to this literal shack-in-the-wall. The owner, Joe Beddia, is as awesome and quirky a hipster as they come, so despite his success the place has no phone, is cash-only, has no bathroom, and only makes 40 pies a night. The hype has died down a bit, but there are still some acrobatics you have to go through to get a pie — so here’s what you’re going to do.
Around 4pm on any Wednesday through Saturday, you and your date will head to Beddia and get in the modest line which will have already formed. You’ll chat while you wait for it to open, and place your order around 5:45pm. It will take another two hours or so for your pie to be ready (yes, really), so you’ll head not even a block away to the indoor/outdoor beer garden Frankford Hall, where you’ll split a gigantic Bavarian pretzel as an appetizer and play some ping pong or board games. Then you’ll head back to Beddia to enjoy your pie on the stoop (or, if you’re very lucky, at one of the two tables inside) and declare with mouths full that yes, it was totally worth the wait.
You’re taking a bit of a risk with a long first date, but the payoff of seeming effortlessly in-the-know and having a uniquely Philly experience together is totally worth it.
Upstairs at North Bowl — 909 N. 2nd Street (Northern Liberties)
Lucky Strike is basically the redheaded stepchild of dating in Philly. Everyone suggests it because a bowling date seems alluringly “different” — something active! neon lighting! upscale atmosphere! — but let’s all be honest about how lame bowling actually is for a date. You’re literally taking turns walking ten feet away from each other.
So if you’re in the market for “something active” that also has the bonus of actual interaction, go to North Bowl — but don’t bowl. Head upstairs where they’ve got arcade games, air hockey, foosball, a full bar, and you can still order the tater tots North Bowl is so (rightly) famous for. Plus, it’s Israeli-owned, so there’s a built-in conversation topic for that first awkward pause.
Shakshuka brunch at Cafe Ole — 147 N. 3rd Street (Old City)
For a casual, no-pressure first date, head to Israeli-owned Cafe Ole and get the shakshuka, Israel’s quintessential tomatoey poached egg breakfast and a pair of “cafe hafuch”s, their delish riff on cappuccino. With Israeli realtors shouting into their phones all around you, a million hamsas hanging on the wall, and a sign that says “this place is not kosher” in Hebrew, you’ll feel like you’re on a date in Tel Aviv.
More great date ideas are coming your way throughout the month. Happy dating!
Our in-house matchmaker is a nerd about love. As the only “non-profit matchmaker” in the country, Danielle blends traditional Jewish matchmaking with modern sensibilities. To meet up with her for coffee, email firstname.lastname@example.org.