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Commentary: Dating in Des Moines

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Call after call, ten-minute hold after ten-minute hold, the age-old panic setting in as the eighth restaurant in the last hour tells you they’re fully booked. This story is not unique.

           Instead, it is an annual occurrence. Every year, restaurants across cities such as Des Moines are flooded with desperation as spouses and lovers hunt for an open Valentine’s Day reservation. One of the more difficult aspects of this comes from finding the right restaurants to call in the first place.

           While it’s impossible to solve lovers’ procrastination in a 600 word article, it might just be possible to lift some stress off said lovers’ shoulders. That said, here are the top Valentine’s Day date destinations surrounding Drake University.

           To start, some intangibles need to be considered. College students tend to avoid two big things when considering a date destination: hefty prices and pay-per-hour parking. While a holiday such as Valentine’s Day deserves to punch a bit of a hole in your wallet, it doesn’t have to break the bank. These top destinations find a perfect mixture between an intimate atmosphere, manageable pricing, free parking and, of course, highly rated food.

           First up is Americana. This is the only location on this list that I have personally taken a date to, and I can vouch. It finds the sweet spot between fancy and relaxing. The red and black walls are covered in framed photos of musicians of generations past, and it only adds to the homey atmosphere. It’s a place you could show up to in a suit, sweatpants, or shorts and never feel out of place. They keep the lights dim, and that just enhances the intimacy of an already comfortable atmosphere.

           Americana is housed across the street from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. This offers a nice view, provided you snag a window-side table.

           In terms of pricing, Americana knows their worth. For a brilliant burger, two drinks, and the best shrimp fettuccine I’ve ever had, I walked out having spent $52 including the tip. Not bad for a great date location, especially when considering the free parking.

           Second up is Bravo!, an Italian kitchen perched within the Jordan Creek Shopping Center, allowing for a quick hallmark movie or shopping spree just before or after your dinner.

           Bravo! provides an unexpected atmosphere when considering their relatively cheap prices. The restaurant styles itself after Ancient Rome with large, cracked vanilla pillars towering over the tables. The restaurant is wide open in terms of organization, something that tends to give restaurants an extravagant and less stuffy feel.

           Bravo! provides brilliant bread servings on the house, coupled with oil. I visited this restaurant with a group of 12, and the bread servings were never empty. Adding to this, the restaurant did not disappoint with their main dishes. Their take on Italian food is on point — take this from a New York native.

           Given that the restaurant is at Jordan Creek Mall, parking is free. The 20-minute commute from Drake University is a bit of a hassle, but it’s well worth the distance.

           Last up is Eatery A. Eatery A is a Mediterranean restaurant home to the once-headquarters of the 2008 Obama caucus about 10 minutes west of downtown Des Moines.

           The restaurant itself checks off every possible need in terms of atmosphere. The hardwood floors, wood paneled ceilings, and cleverly designed wood-plank-covered walls provide the perfect rustic look. While the restaurant isn’t quite as wide-open as the previous two, its dim lights and modern design set up a perfectly intimate setting.

           It’s clear that Eatery A isn’t trying to be overtly extravagant nor fancy, and it works. The location also provides free parking, which is always a plus.

           While I haven’t tried the food personally, it is rated as one of Des Moines top 15 restaurants on Yelp.

           While these restaurants hold their own as great Valentine’s Day locations, they maintain their draw on any given Friday night. That said, consider these locations when you plan your next intimate outing, no matter the date.

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