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Dating on a Dime

Stay out of the poorhouse (and the doghouse) with these budget-friendly date ideas.
Monday Aug 03, 2009.     By Stacy Warden
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

<A HREF=/restaurants/taqueria-uptown-lawrence.html>Taqueria Uptown</a> Edgewater's Taqueria Uptown boasts terrific tacos at a two-bit price.

Let's face it; dating in the city is no longer a cinch. Sure, it's easy to meet other single folk, but figuring out where to take 'em without breaking the bank is another story entirely. We should know, as we've been around the block—and left for broke—more than we care to admit. But now we've ditched our expensive errors for these low-cost locales.

Eat cheap (and hit the beach) with Taqueria Uptown (Bryn Mawr)
Our beloved North Side Mexican joints have long been a go-to for cheap eats, so it should come as no surprise that this Uptown spot is high on our list of favorites. For starters, the tacos, priced well under $2, cost about as much as a Snickers bar, and they're bigger, too (not to mention far more substantial). Stuffed to the brim with your choice of steak, chicken or pork, these are not to be compared to your average taco. In fact, the oversize tortillas are more akin to, say, miniature burritos—just one or two and you and your date should have enough fuel for a few rounds of volleyball at the nearby Foster Avenue Beach. But before you head off to the lake, we recommend grabbing an ice-cold horchata for the trek.

Take a tango lesson at Nacional 27
A great way to keep your love life cheap is to date during the week. You're bound to find discounts at every turn, as plenty of bars and restaurants offer food and drink deals during this time in order to keep a steady clientele. Personally, we prefer Nacional's Tango Tuesdays (offered on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.), when lessons are complimentary with any food or beverage purchase. To make it even better (read: more affordable) the restaurant also offers a special "Tapas Tuesday" tasting for $9.95 per person. Of course, you could always opt for dancing at a nearby dive, where the brews are likely cheaper; just be prepared for the term "tango" to take on a whole new meaning.

Up the ante at Big Joe's 2 and 6 Pub
If you insist on jumping in on the weekend action, we recommend spending a Friday night with your guy or gal at Big Joe's. That’s when the otherwise unassuming Ravenswood spot lets loose with its weekly turtle races. Yes, you heard us right: turtle races. For every pitcher of beer you purchase, you'll score a ticket, which will then be thrown into the pool. Every 15 minutes, six tickets are drawn and the lucky drinkers (that's you) are assigned turtles (with names like Swisher, Lola, Doozy and Chicks). Your little reptile then gets to flex his competitive muscle on the racing arena (aka a pool table). And folks, this is one race where losing wins (losers score free beer, winners get a t-shirt).

Cool Down at The Original Rainbow Cone
When your date's a little a too hot to handle, you can cool her down with an icy treat at this South Side staple. She's sure to swoon for the shop's signature rainbow cone, featuring five layers of sheer bliss including orange sherbet, chocolate, pistachio, strawberry and Palmer House (a cherry-nut concoction) ice creams. It's no surprise that the shop has been serving up its namesake treat on the cheap since 1923 and is still going strong today. So strong, in fact, that Rainbow Cone has plans to open a second location downtown in the landmark Page Brothers building.


Explore More

Bars & Clubs

Brand-New Bars

Brand-New Bars

Get divey on Grace; go downstairs at River North's Curio.

Food & Dining

New Restaurants

New Restaurants

Go Dutch at Vincent and satisfy a familiar sweet tooth at BomBon.

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