Step 1: Choosing the Restaurant
Okay. This is going to go one of two ways: either you'll pick his restaurant or her restaurant. You could try to compromise but that usually ends in a lot of options that no one wants and then you'll end up going with her – excuse me – one of the original choices.
The best way to avoid unhappiness about the choice of restaurant is to just be together so long that your minds are basically melded and you have the same thoughts. Just kidding. The best way is just to suck it up if you don't get your way and just enjoy your partner's.
Tucked inside one of the many quaint, converted houses on that stretch of Tennyson, El Chingon is often crowded, but not to the point that you have to wait for an hour to be seated.
Nothing worse than taking a hot honey out to dinner and realizing you have nothing to say. Hopefully you brought your pack of "Getting to Know You" question cards, otherwise this will be a long dinner. Good thing El Chingon's food is so good that you might not need to talk at all. Besides, those cards never work. (What kind of breakfast cereal would you be?)
If you have to wait for your food, sip on your delish drinks, crunch your chips, lick up the last bits of chili from your papas plate and enjoy watching the sun set over the peaceful haven that is the Berkeley area of North Denver. Looking around the homey dining room and out across the tables spaced around the front porch (Who has porches in Denver? That's a southern thing!), you can almost forget that you're basically in the middle of a huge metro area.
When your food arrives, enjoy it heartily. Come up for air once in a while to grin at your partner as if to say, "We made the right choice." The entrees, like the cocktails are few in number compared to some restaurants, but every choice is a good one. The Chingon Carnitas, which executive chef Gloria Nunez has been making the same way for decades, is one of my favorite choices. At only $14, the plate comes with a sizable hunk of slow-roasted pork shoulder, served with green chili, pickled onions and cilantro. Instead of pre-shredded carnitas, you have the pleasure of cutting into the pork yourself and witnessing the true meaning of "falling apart tender."
Step 4: After-dinner Entertainment
It sure would be nice to stay at El Chingon all night, surrounded by North Denverites, and the friendly staff there, including general manager Nelson Caballeros who you'll probably meet. He's the super nice guy running around making sure everyone has an awesome time.
But date nights beg for variety, and Tennyson Street has lots
of options for some after dinner entertainment. The Oriental Theater is less than a block away, and several blocks in the opposite direction you can find the grungy, in-your-face music venue Tennyson's Tap. The Tap has live music almost every night of the week, and the bands and styles vary from jazz to reggae to hard, hard rock.
However, if you are hardcore, you'll love it! The place was full of rockers and motorcycle chicks that I can only dream of being as cool as. We didn't stay long, but that's ok! Date nights are all about trying new, exciting things to help the two of you grow closer as a couple.
After any night out, it's nice to have at least an hour or so at home to unwind and relax in the comfort of your own home while you do completely ordinary things.
Grab some self-serve frozen yogurt if you're into that kind of thing and head home to cuddle up on the couch. I always find that a big bowl of creamy sugar topped with sugar in various other forms pairs exceedingly well with a good Disney film, say, Pocahontas. (Wow, that movie is out of touch with modern gender/racial sensibilities. But that's a whole nother article.) Right now, all you need to do is relax with your signif other, secure in the knowledge you you just totally nailed your date night in Denver.