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Paying on the cheap without actually looking cheap.
Paying on the cheap without actually looking cheap.
Katie Cannon

10 Cheap Dates That Won't Make You Look Like a Cheapskate

Romantic dining doesn't have to break the bank.

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Paying on the cheap without actually looking cheap.
| Katie Cannon

Love can be free, but the actually dating part can be prohibitively expensive. Plus, there's the importance of keeping up the appearance of spending every last dime on your beloved without actually having to skip a month on the cable bill. We have got you covered with these deals, tips and sneaky tricks for dinner dates that will impress.

- by Molly Mogren

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Butcher & the Boar

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It still can be hard to score a table at Butcher and the Boar, but you can almost always find a seat in their year-round, less spendy outdoor beer garden. The best (and most fun) deal has to be the beer + brat + shot, which is exactly what it sounds like: a Summit, bratwurst and shot of Devil’s Cut, for $12. Side note: In case you’re a cheapskate looking for a date, the patio is very dog-friendly, and we all know only nobody can resist a puppy. Bring one and you’ll have a date lined up for next weekend in no time.

La Belle Vie

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If you’re looking for that special occasion splurge without the special occasion price tag, check out La Belle Vie. The cheapest tasting menu at LBV—you know, the restaurant that put the Twin Cities on the James Beard Foundation’s radar for real—is almost $125 per person with a wine pairing. However, you can still achieve that super-luxe feel in the much-less-spendy lounge. The cocktails aren’t cheap (about $12 a pop), but the food is just as good at a fraction of the price. Score dinner and drinks for two at the fanciest restaurant in town for under $75. [Photo courtesy La Belle Vie's Facebook page]

Mango Thai Restaurant

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This postage stamp-sized Thai spot at Selby and Dale offers all the good stuff you want on a date—a cozy space, great food and buzzy enough that it’s busy, but not a “scene.” However, it’s their no corkage fee policy that makes this spot a genius cheapskate night out. For convenience’s sake, hit up Solo Vino—just down the street—to find a great value wine that doesn’t come with a barefoot or kangaroo on the label.

Matt's Bar

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A trip to Matt’s bar is a Twin Cities right of passage, the perfect façade to hide your real intentions: dinner and beers for about $20. Be sure you both wait the requisite three or four minutes before taking that first Jucy Lucy bite. Nobody wants to make out after they’ve burned the crap out of their mouth. [Eater file photo]

Mozza Mia

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Every single gosh darn day, this 50th and France spot offers a dinner for two, including a bottle of wine and gelato, plus two tickets to the Edina Theater for $45! Purchase everything at Mozza Mia, then simply walk across the street to catch the movie. Cake eaters: they’re just like us! [Photo courtesy Mozza Mia's Facebook page]

Muffuletta in the Park

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If you’re a tightwad looking to save in the long run, go the brand loyalty route. Parasole’s Dining Club offers one point back for every dollar you spend at Manny’s, Salut, Mozza Mia, Chino Latino, Pittsburgh Blue, Muffuletta, The Good Earth, Burger Jones and Prohibition. Spend $250 and get $10 back (hey, at least it’s something!). [Photo courtesy Muffuletta's Facebook page]

Phil's Tara Hideaway

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A mini-road trip adds an element of adventure to any date, so assuming you don’t live in Stillwater*, head east to Phil’s Tara Hideaway. Housed in a small log cabin that’s always buzzing with locals, you and your love can order an appetizer and split an entrée, which comes with bread, a salad or soup and a side. This is one of the few examples of quality and quantity working hand-in-hand—you’ll eat like a king and still leave with leftovers. Start with the grilled octopus, then go for their famed 10 oz. Tara steak. It’s delicious, hearty and economical at $17. (*if you do live in Stillwater, go to literally any other restaurant on this list. Voila! Mini-road trip!). [Photo courtesy Trip Advisor]

Quang Restaurant

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It doesn’t get much better or cheaper than two bowls of pho and an order of eggrolls. And since they don’t serve alcohol, you’ll save even more cashola. [Eater file photo]

Take it to go

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Everyone loves the concept of a romantic picnic, even if in reality you’re swatting mosquitos and trying to ignore your significant other checking out the shirtless hotties running around the lakes. But we digress! Lots of places offer cheapie take-away options. Try bahn mis from Eat Street’s Jasmine Deli; sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie from France 44 cheese shop (bonus: wine and beer located next door); Mediterranean fare, like hummus, tabbouleh and falafel sandwiches from Holy Land; or sandwiches, olives and hummus from Cheeky Monkey in St. Paul. Kowalski’s even offers some decent paninis and salad bar, and the Hennepin location—just blocks form Lake of the Isles—includes a small wine shop, perfect for buying a chilled six pack to drink out of paper bags.

The Freehouse

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Though it’s not actually free, these guys do a decent happy hour, with $4 beer and rails, $5 wines and a huge assortment of five-buck appetizers. Mussels & oysters (fancy!), chicken waangs, caramelized Brussels sprouts and Parmesan truffle fries. Plus, everything can be added to your Blue Plate rewards app, which means you’ll get some later. Meaning money toward a future meal. What did you think we were talking about? [Photo by Katie Cannon]

The Lowry

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Download the Blue Plate Restaurant Company’s app for rewards and top-secret deals ($2 off cocktails or bogos!) at the Lowry, Groveland Tap, Scusi, Highland & Longfellow Grill, Freehouse and Three Squares restaurants. You get a point for every buck you earn, plus points for spreading the word via social media. [Photo courtesy The Lowry's Facebook page]

Butcher & the Boar

It still can be hard to score a table at Butcher and the Boar, but you can almost always find a seat in their year-round, less spendy outdoor beer garden. The best (and most fun) deal has to be the beer + brat + shot, which is exactly what it sounds like: a Summit, bratwurst and shot of Devil’s Cut, for $12. Side note: In case you’re a cheapskate looking for a date, the patio is very dog-friendly, and we all know only nobody can resist a puppy. Bring one and you’ll have a date lined up for next weekend in no time.

La Belle Vie

If you’re looking for that special occasion splurge without the special occasion price tag, check out La Belle Vie. The cheapest tasting menu at LBV—you know, the restaurant that put the Twin Cities on the James Beard Foundation’s radar for real—is almost $125 per person with a wine pairing. However, you can still achieve that super-luxe feel in the much-less-spendy lounge. The cocktails aren’t cheap (about $12 a pop), but the food is just as good at a fraction of the price. Score dinner and drinks for two at the fanciest restaurant in town for under $75. [Photo courtesy La Belle Vie's Facebook page]

Mango Thai Restaurant

This postage stamp-sized Thai spot at Selby and Dale offers all the good stuff you want on a date—a cozy space, great food and buzzy enough that it’s busy, but not a “scene.” However, it’s their no corkage fee policy that makes this spot a genius cheapskate night out. For convenience’s sake, hit up Solo Vino—just down the street—to find a great value wine that doesn’t come with a barefoot or kangaroo on the label.

Matt's Bar

A trip to Matt’s bar is a Twin Cities right of passage, the perfect façade to hide your real intentions: dinner and beers for about $20. Be sure you both wait the requisite three or four minutes before taking that first Jucy Lucy bite. Nobody wants to make out after they’ve burned the crap out of their mouth. [Eater file photo]

Mozza Mia

Every single gosh darn day, this 50th and France spot offers a dinner for two, including a bottle of wine and gelato, plus two tickets to the Edina Theater for $45! Purchase everything at Mozza Mia, then simply walk across the street to catch the movie. Cake eaters: they’re just like us! [Photo courtesy Mozza Mia's Facebook page]

Muffuletta in the Park

If you’re a tightwad looking to save in the long run, go the brand loyalty route. Parasole’s Dining Club offers one point back for every dollar you spend at Manny’s, Salut, Mozza Mia, Chino Latino, Pittsburgh Blue, Muffuletta, The Good Earth, Burger Jones and Prohibition. Spend $250 and get $10 back (hey, at least it’s something!). [Photo courtesy Muffuletta's Facebook page]

Phil's Tara Hideaway

A mini-road trip adds an element of adventure to any date, so assuming you don’t live in Stillwater*, head east to Phil’s Tara Hideaway. Housed in a small log cabin that’s always buzzing with locals, you and your love can order an appetizer and split an entrée, which comes with bread, a salad or soup and a side. This is one of the few examples of quality and quantity working hand-in-hand—you’ll eat like a king and still leave with leftovers. Start with the grilled octopus, then go for their famed 10 oz. Tara steak. It’s delicious, hearty and economical at $17. (*if you do live in Stillwater, go to literally any other restaurant on this list. Voila! Mini-road trip!). [Photo courtesy Trip Advisor]

Quang Restaurant

It doesn’t get much better or cheaper than two bowls of pho and an order of eggrolls. And since they don’t serve alcohol, you’ll save even more cashola. [Eater file photo]

Take it to go

Everyone loves the concept of a romantic picnic, even if in reality you’re swatting mosquitos and trying to ignore your significant other checking out the shirtless hotties running around the lakes. But we digress! Lots of places offer cheapie take-away options. Try bahn mis from Eat Street’s Jasmine Deli; sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie from France 44 cheese shop (bonus: wine and beer located next door); Mediterranean fare, like hummus, tabbouleh and falafel sandwiches from Holy Land; or sandwiches, olives and hummus from Cheeky Monkey in St. Paul. Kowalski’s even offers some decent paninis and salad bar, and the Hennepin location—just blocks form Lake of the Isles—includes a small wine shop, perfect for buying a chilled six pack to drink out of paper bags.

The Freehouse

Though it’s not actually free, these guys do a decent happy hour, with $4 beer and rails, $5 wines and a huge assortment of five-buck appetizers. Mussels & oysters (fancy!), chicken waangs, caramelized Brussels sprouts and Parmesan truffle fries. Plus, everything can be added to your Blue Plate rewards app, which means you’ll get some later. Meaning money toward a future meal. What did you think we were talking about? [Photo by Katie Cannon]

The Lowry

Download the Blue Plate Restaurant Company’s app for rewards and top-secret deals ($2 off cocktails or bogos!) at the Lowry, Groveland Tap, Scusi, Highland & Longfellow Grill, Freehouse and Three Squares restaurants. You get a point for every buck you earn, plus points for spreading the word via social media. [Photo courtesy The Lowry's Facebook page]

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