Located behind a black curtain on Ankeny, this secret bar puts you in the mood for mystery right from the start.
220 SW Ankeny St.
Located behind a black curtain on Ankeny, this secret bar puts you in the mood for mystery right from the start. Central has no signage and doesn’t advertise, but you can find its hidden hallway between the crepe shop it operates in its street window and Valentine’s. Once inside, you’ll be welcomed by warm lighting, quirky décor and a friendly staff. Serving a variety of cocktails and crepes, it’s a great place for a classy date. Discover a new way to drink old liquor with the sweetly herbal absinthe and root beer, or if you prefer less saccharine drinks, try a smoky mezcalito.
232 SW Ankeny St.
This bar lives up to its name with a unique vibe that heads straight to the heart. Valentine’s serves fairly standard drinks (highlights include a variety of infused vodkas and some high-quality absinthe), hosts a happy hour every day from 5 p.m.–9 p.m. and tends to change character from weeknight to weekend. The two-story space feels like a laid-back neighborhood bar in the early evenings and does a 180 when the deejays come in on a Saturday night. Valentine’s displays local artwork, caters to a variety of musical tastes and has been known to show episodes of Northern Exposure. Cuddle up in the secluded red-lit room at the top of the stairway, or watch the action below from the balcony bar.
Pied Cow Coffeehouse
3244 SE Belmont St.
A café serving a variety of teas, coffees and desserts, this old Victorian house also has an extensive beer and hookah list. Go inside and imbibe in the dimly lit vintage Victorian living room or choose the heated porch outside. In the drier months, the romantic garden is a favorite. Nibble on fondue (you can choose cheese or chocolate) and sip your way through a beer-led world tour. The Pied Cow has inexpensive prices and an imaginatively romantic atmosphere that’s great for a date.
5008 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
What used to be a seedy inn for sailors and prostitutes is now a sexy vintage bar with red-tinged lighting and candles. The Sapphire hosts a live jazz night every Sunday, and dedicates a few hours to happy prices each day (including weekends). The bar serves beer, wine, sake and a long list of cocktails. Come for dinner, snacks or drinks. The Sapphire also serves specialty non-alcoholic beverages like ginger brew and yerba mate, but the real jewels are the champagne cocktails. For lovers of history and atmosphere, the Sapphire makes for a superbly sophisticated outing. ?
417 NW 21st Ave.
This tiny northwest bar is a cozy place for a causal date. Limited seating makes the M tough on groups but great for couples. Happy hour lasts from 6–8 p.m., and the drinks list is fairly standard. This is a good place to go if you like wine on a budget or you need a spot for a sake fix. Lighting is dim and romantic, and patrons and bartenders are usually pretty friendly. Ideal for first dates, this is a simple intimate space that won’t make you—or your wallet—too nervous.