Love at first bite: Panthers dish favorite date spots


A look inside Union Grill's cozy atmosphere. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

By The Pitt News Culture Staff

For this year’s Dining Guide, we wanted to figure out a question as old as the University itself — how do you impress a date? Instead of giving you our opinion — this Culture Editor once invited a woman to his first-year dorm to watch “Jane Eyre,” so he’s disqualifying himself — we wanted to hear from you.

So we asked for your opinions on Twitter, took some responses and asked our writers to test it out after that.

First date

Most of the responses we received were exactly what you’d expect: Chains on Forbes or the tried-and-true trip to Southside Works. “What about Chipotle?” one Tweeter suggested, or “Take them to the Cheesecake Factory.”

Luckily, Twitter eventually came up with two separate ideas we thought would make a good combo: sharing a bag full of O fries and a free movie screening on Flagstaff Hill.  

There’s one catch: A couple of weeks ago, Patrick Bohse, a sophomore bioengineering major, tried to take a date there, but they had to take a rain check. Literally.

“It rained so we didn’t end up going, but I think it’d make for a romantic evening,” Bohse said.

He might’ve missed his O-pportunity, but Flagstaff Hill holds a special meaning for Bohse. Shortly into his relationship, Bohse went to Flagstaff with his now-boyfriend and his boyfriend’s friends. It was a crucial bonding moment for Bohse and the group. Returning for a movie night would have been the perfect way to reminisce.

If Mother Nature intervenes, or if the walk to Schenley is too far, you can still grab the fries and enjoy them in the lobby of the Litchfield Towers, located right around the corner from the O. Calories don’t count on dates, right?

  • Deanna Druskat, for The Pitt News
The exterior of the Original Hot Dog Shop, famous for its tasty fries. Elaina Zachos | Visual Editor
The exterior of the Original Hot Dog Shop, famous for its tasty fries. Elaina Zachos | Visual Editor

The “Defining the Relationship” date
While Union Grill on Craig Street has an impressive variety of meals — complete with hefty portions — it’s the restaurant’s atmosphere and design that make it one of Oakland’s best places to ask the big question: ‘Are we a thing?’  

That’s what Jessica Pelland did. The recent Pitt grad endorsed Union Grill as a quality date spot.

“It’s romantic and a nice place to put down your phone and focus on each other and have a good conversation,” she said over Twitter.

If you’re of drinking age, Union Grill’s draft selection provides a variety of alcoholic beverages to chill out if you’re feeling nervous. If not, there’s still Union Grill’s comforting interior, which is lit by a combination of string lights and warm fixtures, providing an organic and inviting atmosphere. After a hearty dinner, you and your date can partake in a s’mores plate together, which in the urban sprawl of Oakland is the closest you’ll get to a classy camping date.

  • Nick Holzer, for The Pitt News

The group date

Once your friends finally let go of their high school relationships and find a respectable collegiate lover, you can graduate to the group date. No longer will you meet up for greasy burgers and fries on a park bench — you can leave that nonsense to the single folks and the pigeons. Your first group date is at Pallantia, a Spanish tapas restaurant on Ivy Street in Shadyside.

The restaurant’s interior reflects a comfortable atmosphere with curved walls and cozy nooks beneath arched ceilings, allowing a couple of couples to settle in for an evening of tapas, wine and conversation. Urban and rural Spanish landscapes hang on each wall under the dim lighting, while chattering lovers pile small, empty dishes on top of one another.

Jeremiah Cessna, an electrical engineer and seasoned patron at Pallantia — he’s been there 10 times to be exact — said that in comparison to the other tapas restaurants in the city, Pallantia is the best because it is “good, fun and exciting.” Cessna often brings a group of friends to sip sangria and sample his favorite dishes: patatas bravas — smoked potatoes with saffron oil and manchego cheese — and albondigas de cordero, or succulent lamb with salsa verde and crushed almonds.

According to Cessna, the ideal seating arrangement for a group date would take place at the Chef’s Table in the back room, where you can receive special attention from the head chef, Gonzalo Cembrero, and have that extra privacy to revel in the great fortune of your love lives.

  • Ariel Pastore-Sebring, for The Pitt News
The entryway to Market Central. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer
The entryway to Market Central. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

The proposal

Now that you’ve run the gauntlet of Pittsburgh eateries, it’s looking like you found “the one.” Why not pop the big question where it all began — Market Central. Hey, what better way to exit the dating marketplace than the Market itself? Remember those tender moments from your first year, when you pounded chicken patties and discovered the culinary masterpiece that is a Market-assembled coca-cola float? Or when she told you how to make a super-burger by smushing two of the cheeseburgers together to resemble a double stuf oreo? Relax, unwind and relish in the memories.

“You can stay as long as you like,” said the Pitt-famous, longtime Market cashier Ophelia Ferguson. And you will need the time, she added, because “It’s an all-you-can eat buffet: It includes everything … the drink, desserts, everything.” For just one measly swipe, you can give your soon to be life partner everything, too. He or she will be sure to appreciate your frugality as well as your dapper choices in cuisine. Just make sure that ring doesn’t smell like onions.

  • Kevin Lynch, for The Pitt News

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