Even if you’re familiar with the downtown bar scene, it’s all too easy to overlook a neighborhood gem like Tiny Lounge. It would be a shame to miss it, though, because this romantic North Center bar is the sort of place where you and your beloved can go to sip some of the city’s fanciest cocktails without having to dress up in your fanciest outfits. Make a point to visit on your next date night and you’ll have such a pleasant, relaxing time that it just might become your special spot.
Guide your sweetheart into a cozy room with blond hardwood accents and earth and chrome colored furnishings, just the type of place you can settle into without the hassle of reservations or lines. The bartenders might have world-class mixology skills, but they’re thankfully unpretentious and laid back, so don’t feel like you have to order a sidecar or an old fashioned if you don’t want to. If you’re in the mood for a piña colada–or even a cosmo–they’ll happily make an excellent version for you, and it won’t be served with a sneer.
If you enjoy it, though, let Tiny Lounge do what it does best and order at least one signature sipper from the list. We recommend the Bittersweet. A take on the negroni, this luxe cocktail of Campari, Finlandia grapefruit vodka, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, and orange juice is topped with cava–a sparkling wine from Spain–to give it a refreshing effervescence. One sip and you’ll see why sweet cocktails aren’t the only game in town.
The focus here might be on cocktails, but the kitchen turns out some excellent dishes as well. You can go for shareable bites like marinated olives and fried cheese curds, or really delve into the menu with plates of seasonal risotto and roasted sweet potato empanadas.
Because the staff here aims to please, you can spend the evening concentrating on your date, especially when the slow, groovier tunes hit the speakers and give the place a grown-up yet funky vibe. The hours will feel like minutes as you savor the company, sipping and chatting into the evening until it’s time to leave–but not before making plans to return soon.