Yes, Restaurants Are The Third in Your Relationship
Five restaurants in five cities for five stages of your relationship
All February, we'll be talking Romance in Restaurants. Today, Darin Bresnitz—host and co-creator of Snacky Tunes, a podcast tackling food, music, and pop culture—shares his favorite restaurants to mirror the milestones in your relationship.
In his novel, “High Fidelity,” Nick Hornby wrote, “a while back, when Dick and Barry and I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like, Barry proposed the idea of a questionnaire for prospective partners, a two-or three-page multiple-choice document that covered all the music/film/TV/book bases.”
I’d add restaurants to Hornby’s list – and I speak from some disastrous first date experience, where the cuisine was the dealbreaker (once, at Fatty Crab, I chose the crab).
Thankfully, my wife, Anna, and I are compatible in this regard, having shared many life-defining meals together. Some of these meals have been one-offs, while others have been spots that we return to again and again.
Consider the following a guide to some of the places we love, and what specific stage of your relationship they’ll fit best.
Long Distance Dating
Restaurant: Altro Paradiso
City: New York
There’s a certain delight during the early days of long-distance dating: the anticipation, the reunion, the meals together. The start of our cross-country dalliance took place during winter, so when my then girlfriend, now wife, would fly to New York from sunny LA, I always made sure to have a cozy restaurant on hand for our first night, none more perfect than Altro Paradiso. Together, we would linger over Linguine al Nero, while sipping martinis, and enjoying each other’s company in the same city once again.
Tip: Altro is open all day, so set up shop during the off hours for a long, leisurely hang.
What to look for in any city: Your time together is limited, pick a cozy place where the staff won’t rush you out.
First Weekend Getaway
Restaurant: The Catbird Seat
Traveling together is a true test of your compatibility. When navigating Nashville during our first weekend getaway, we capped off the trip with a tasting menu at The Catbird Seat. We were just two of eighteen diners, ringed around the open kitchen, having our minds blown course after course, none more extraordinary than the simple sounding potato.
Tip: Call ahead or DM for a romantic seat near the corner of the chef’s table.
What to look for in any city: First trips only happen once, so splurge on a celebratory, one-of-a-kind meal to mark the milestone.
Restaurant: Funabashiya Honten
My wife and I both dreamed of visiting Tokyo. After bidding adieu to our wedding party, we boarded a flight straight to Narita and immersed ourselves in all of the modern offerings of the city. Towards the end of our trip, however, we were craving something traditional, so we headed to Funabashiya Honten, for an omakase-style tempura dinner of light, airy, golden deliciousness.
Tip: Rely on your hotel’s concierge for reservations.
What to look for in any city: When traveling to a place that is both far away and steeped in culinary traditions, it pays to go to a restaurant that deeply represents the culture and can only be found in that particular city.
Anyone with kids can tell when a restaurant is run by fellow parents (special shout out to Bell’s) and when you are on the road, knowing about these spots are the keys to a successful trip. Hallmarks of these places usually include opening at 5 p.m., a gourmet offering of buttery, cheesy noodles, and a fantastic drink menu. Birdie’s in Austin hits all three of these marks, while also offering a large patio for kids to get their wiggles out, which has made it a must stop when we travel to the Lone Star State for our annual family trip.
Tip: Grab a crisp white at LoLo, then get in line at 4:30 p.m. for a first crack at early seating.
What to look for in any city: Dining out with children can be a roll of the dice, so it helps to know of a spot where the owners are empathetic (i.e. have kids of their own and a kid’s menu).
City: Los Angeles
Adding a new restaurant to our date night rotation is a big deal (considering you’re also paying for a sitter). I had eaten at Yangban on my own and immediately wanted to add it to our short list of shared places, fully hoping that Anna would be equally enticed by their Korean/Jewish deli cuisine. So on one relatively cold night in January, when her eyes lit up after one bite of their Sujebi-Matzoh Ball Soup, I knew we had found another place that we both loved.
Tip: Reserve the Yangban Style multi-course menu in advance.
What to look for in any city: Trying new things is the secret to any long relationship, but so is knowing what your partner likes, especially when date night is on the line.