Where Do Our Beloved Local Celebrities Go For The Perfect Date? | Dish | Indy Week
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Where Do Our Beloved Local Celebrities Go For The Perfect Date? 

click to enlarge A messy dinner date at Parts & Labor in Durham

Photo by Caitlin Penna

A messy dinner date at Parts & Labor in Durham

With all the hype surrounding our food scene, we wondered which restaurants served the perfect date-night meals to a few of our most beloved residents. We asked local chefs, musicians, and artists where they get hopelessly romantic or simply go to spend quality time with the people they care about.

Jamil Rashad aka Boulevards

"A perfect date night for me is going to my favorite restaurant, Capital Club 16. The atmosphere is vibey and makes you feel at home and comfortable. Jake [Wolf] is a great chef and serves a solid and diverse menu that I love. It's a perfect setting for a date with someone you hope to find chemistry with."

Justin Laidlaw, director of operations at Runaway

"My girlfriend [Eliza Mathew] and I are suckers for bar food. Parts & Labor is a go-to spot; we get a solid bite and start our night out in one place. The udon salad was my favorite for a long time. Eliza likes the chicken wings; we both enjoy the fries with a side of tomato chutney. Is it romantic? No. Can we live without it? Absolutely not. Plus, we love Geoff [Register]. Hands down, the best bartender in town. We often treat ourselves to Sitar. Some chicken tikka masala goes a long way when you need a pick-me-up or want to reward yourself. I never had it before we started dating but now it's in my top five favorite meals. Sitar is the only restaurant where I eat exclusively with her."

click to enlarge Eliza Matthew and Justin Laidlaw At Parts & Labor - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Eliza Matthew and Justin Laidlaw At Parts & Labor

Jessamyn Stanley, author of Every Body Yoga

"It's usually Dashi. I just like communing over a bowl of ramen. Accordion Club around seven p.m. on a weekday is nice and quiet. Gocciolina for the specials. It's like being in someone's house. Oh! And the terrine. So good. El Chapin—that is the spot! All the food is really good: the tierra y mar plate, those potato turnovers. It gets packed, so I'll do Uber Eats and order in for a cozy date."

Coleen Speaks, chef, Hummingbird

"For [my husband] Nick and me, Stanbury is one of our go-tos. It feels like walking into a party where everyone's welcome, you can watch the chef at work in the kitchen, and the food and drinks are delicious and adventurous. It's hard to beat chilled raw oysters, their brined bone marrow, salt-crusted ribeye, and pretty much whatever bartender Joseph [Jeffers] is pouring."

Matt Kelly, chef, Mateo, Lucky's Deli, Mothers & Sons, and Saint James Seafood

"Chefs don't get a lot of date nights, because we work at night. But for date lunch: Parker and Otis. I like it because I work nights and they're open on Saturdays for lunch and brunch. It's tasty, and you can get all kinds of chocolate there. It's accessible too; it's around all my restaurants, and I have to go to work afterward—that's the honest reason I like it. But it's also just really tasty."

Ricky Moore, chef, Saltbox Seafood

"Pizzeria Toro—that's a good date night. First of all, my wife endorses it. She appreciates how the food is being prepared there, and the simplicity of it, and the authentic welcoming experience. And in Raleigh, I'd say Bida Manda. They take it to another level with their style of food. If you go there at a certain time, around nine thirty, there's romanticism to it. It could be a particular night when it's raining outside, and we just come from a theater, and we're walking in through the door and shake our coats off. There's this warm light, we go to the bar and relax there and get a really thoughtful cocktail. Then we get a table for two in the corner, and all of a sudden some certain music comes on, and you weave into a conversation. And let's not forget the food—perfectly seasoned, with gracious service."

Joe Choi, co-owner, Namu

"When my wife, Shinae, and I go on a double date with Bo [Kwon, co-owner of Namu], and his wife, Kyuri, we go to Waraji in Raleigh. Their tatami-style rooms are fun and remind us of the way we sit in Korea. Our favorite dishes are the chirashi sushi and tempura udon. The quality and amount of food you get for the price is outstanding. We always ask for the grated wasabi, which brings out the truer flavors of the fish. For special occasions and celebrations, we go to Gocciolina. In fact, Shinae and I have spent almost every anniversary and Valentine's Day there. We are in love with their great selection of Italian wines. Their food is nothing too complicated, but every dish is executed perfectly with the right balance of flavors. Every time we go, we order all the pasta [on the menu] and share. We request the bar seat close to the kitchen window; it's really entertaining to see all the action going on in the tiny kitchen."

click to enlarge Jamil Rashad with Megan McInerney at Capital Club 16 - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Jamil Rashad with Megan McInerney at Capital Club 16

Drew Maykuth, chef, Stanbury

"This date begins at a food truck, El Rey del Taco. These folks set the standard to judge all other tacos by. It's simple food done right. I get a mix: the lengua, asada, pastor, and tripe. A couple each. Get 'em to go, bring a six-pack of Pacifico beer and lime, and take a little walk, less than a block, and jump on the greenway. Find a down tree by the creek to sit on. Eat some tacos, drink some beer, and if you're lucky, you might see an old snapping turtle surface."

Reese McHenry, musician

"My husband, Justin, and I go to four different restaurants when we want to look at each other instead of the TV. The place we frequent most is Allen & Son on 15-501. It's the best barbecue. Come at me. We also go to IP3 and get pizza that makes one repeatedly burn one's mouth. The pizza is worth every third degree burn. In Durham we go to Thai Cafe. My favorite restaurant is Beasley's Chicken + Honey, which I loved even before Justin's cousin Chris Tobin was the head chef. Their chicken is divine and they have Stroh's! Neither of us drink beer, but if we did, we'd be Stroh's people."

Lily Ballance, owner, William & Company

"I like taking my four-year-old son out after picking him up from school on Fridays. He loves Five Star, always orders the sesame chicken and asks for extra broccoli so that he can also have dessert! Then we go upstairs and play pool. He's gotten really good and calls it 'hustlin'.' I like going out on grownup dates to Gallo Pelon, late, when it's not crowded, for a mezcal and snack from the bar. I love the Blind Barber, quiet and tucked away and on the way home."

Petey Pablo, rapper

"I love to cook, so my perfect date would be a trip to the North Carolina Farmers Market to pick out fresh, local ingredients based on what is in season. We'd then have a night in experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes."


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