#NotreDating Week – Date #4 – University Park Mall


The plan for my date was that there was no plan.   Since I have no car, I figured I’d utilize the bus system (and because I’m a newbie to the bus system, the only one I could figure out was the one from Library Circle to University Park Mall).  My date and I immediately made a beeline for Pat’s Pets, the first shop on your right as you walk in to the mall at the entrance where the bus drops you off.  We cooed over all the dogs and rabbits for a while, which of course lead to conversations about pets and families, and the time I was seven that I wanted a bunny so bad but my mom bought me goldfish instead.  We finally chose a cutie to play around with for about half an hour and joked about naming her “Killer” because she kept ferociously attacking the toys, but her mouth was so tiny and dainty she couldn’t quite get her teeth around them.

annie and dog

As we continued to make our way through the mall, we stopped to take a picture with Santa (which we then bought) and popped in a few stores here and there. We got massages on the massage chairs in the middle of the mall and egged each other on about getting various piercings and tattoos from the Piercing Pagoda (I chickened out).

To close our two-hour date, we ran to the food court and feasted on samples.  My personal favorite was the honey chicken from the Chinese food booth next to the smoothie place.  The man at the counter tossed them my way when he saw me taking pictures of the smoothies we’d bought next door.  “Take a selfie while you eat this,” he teased.  I took a selfie with the smoothie instead – $3 for a small smoothie, and you got to pick any two fruits!  Yum.  I went for strawberry raspberry, and my date ordered blueberry strawberry.


Berry smoothies and honey chicken!

Fun: 5/5 – although if you’re going for much longer than 2 hours, you might have a challenge coming up with activities

Romance:  2/5 – we had a blast and a half, but it was no linen tablecloth & white candle thing.

Adventure: 3/5 – It is only the mall, but someone could’ve left with their ears pierced.  Just saying.

Formal: 1/5 – The mall, folks.

Distance: 10-15 minutes on Transpo 7

Cost: I spent $4 (my date paid for the smoothies).  Add an extra $20 if you want a picture with Santa.

-Annie Kuster


#NotreDating Week – Date #3 – Thrift Shopping and drinks at Rein Juicery

Some of my best memories are serendipitous moments, unscripted and unplanned. I really do believe that some of the best dates start out this way too. There’s nothing wrong with dinner and a movie, but for the average college student, well…ramen is like dinner, right? And Netflix is a zillion movies! A zillion times better!…why even go on dates? Seems like too much work. As part of #NotreDating week, the GRC challenges Notre Dame students to rethink “the date”, especially in the context of the South Bend community. Personally, I believe that South Bend is an incredibly underrated city; it would love to take you out if you’d only give it a chance! (Friendzoned? South Bend knows that feel…) Catch a casual concert at The Pool, or a fancy one at the Morris Performing Arts Center. Try Cambodian Thai or Woochi in downtown South Bend, or stop by Girasol a little ways off, where Lucy will make you authentic El Salvadorean pupusas on the spot. So much more, but I digress…

All the above ideas sound wonderful. But as a perpetually broke, busy, and car-less college student, I’ve learned to maximize fun on minimal time & dime. Yeah, I’m talking thrift shopping. Before I dive into the details, I want to preface my review with a Viewpoint by Alice Tollaksen titled “Thrift store truths”. It’s definitely worth a read, but to cite her main points: “Notre Dame shares that thrift store with people from all over the South Bend community and from all walks of life. While many of us at the University  go to thrift stores to find very specific things, others shop there out of necessity. To openly and loudly mock what thrift stores have to offer is extraordinarily offensive…All I am suggesting is when we do decide to embrace our inner Macklemore, we do it with respect.” 

With Tollaksen’s article in mind, my date and I set off to the Salvation Army in South Bend (about a 5 minute bus ride on the transpo #7 from Library Circle, though it’s not a scheduled stop so you will have to pull the cord when you see it). Our date had only one guideline: we each had thirty minutes to shop for each other, no holds barred. After exchanging each other’s sizes, we ran off into our respective sections of the store. My hands, still cold from the whipping wind outside, steered me past the impressive T-Shirt selection. Ah, sweater weather. (See also: gloves, hat, and parka weather). Within minutes I had pulled three promising sweaters from the racks, but I searched on for something quirky and unusual. Finally, I found it–a dark blue sweater emblazoned with a cheery yellow “Kids Are My Business”, complete with cheery embroidering of a school bus and a smiling sun. I could only imagine its original owner–a retired school bus driver? A grandpa? I knew my affectionate, good-humored date would love it. Other finds: jewel green pants perfectly befitting a Highlander, several sassy T-shirts bemoaning the existence of homework, and shorts decorated with an obnoxious orange all-over print of “snooze! waking up is for losers! zzz”.

jenn cha date

After half an hour, we met up to try on the outfits we had (seriously or not-so-seriously) picked for each other. My date took to the school bus sweater immediately, as I knew he would, and even approved of the sweaters I had picked out. Alas, the Duncan pants, sassy shirts and shorts did not fit. As for the pile my date had picked out for me, in the midst of normal, well-intentioned selections I spotted what is now my new favorite T-Shirt: “The Notorious E.L.M.O.”, appropriately captioned “Sky’s the limit”. (Hilariously, according to the tag, at least, the shirt was officially sanctioned by Sesame Street). After taking some pictures, we made our purchases and headed out.

jenn cha

Having some time to kill before the bus was due to arrive, my date and I crossed the street to Rein Juicery. Even though we had arrived 10 minutes after their closing time, the friendly staff waved us in and offered to make us a smoothie. We decided to share a San Jamar smoothie, which was made with carrot, apple, orange, pineapple, mango, banana, coconut oil, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and fairy-dust, presumably. Absolutely divine. We were even able to test the smoothie to make sure it was to our taste before the final blend. Although a drink from Rein seems expensive compared to, for example, a smoothie from Reckers, Rein sources almost all of its ingredients locally. They understand food as a landscape for ethics, and it shows in the care they take in creating their drinks and engaging their customers.

rein juicejena nd date
Helpful links:

Fun: 5/5

Romance:  2/5

Adventure: 4/5

Formal: 1/5

Distance: less than a mile – you can take the transpo #7 bus to and from

Cost per person: Cheap, depending on how much you want to buy! Most prices at the Salvation Army run from about 25 cents to 5 dollars. Rein Juicery drinks run from $6-8.50.

-Jenn Cha

#NotreDating Week – Date #2 – Ice Skating in Howard Park, Pizza at Barnaby’s


Going on a date, especially with someone you might not know very well, can be intimidating. The task of getting to know someone presents a binary dilemma. On one hand, you’re concerned with the other person’s perception of you. On the other, you’re trying to take the time to assess your date to determine if you might want to spend time with them again.

So what can be done to reduce the pressure of a date and give both of you a heightened opportunity to learn about and enjoy each other? Well-planned dates that offer a combination of dining and activity are very helpful. A one-dimensional date, such as a simple dinner date, confines you to a single condition; you’re stuck at a booth or table with someone you’re not necessarily comfortable with. While there is nothing inherently wrong with just getting lunch, dinner, or coffee, these types of dates position the daters in a quasi-interview scenario. Dates with an activity, something to do or create, or something to watch, provide individuals with more avenues for shifting the focus back and forth between the activity and the individual, and provide a built-in conversation topic.

But it isn’t always easy to find a decent place to eat near a fun venue suited for college kids. Luckily, South Bend does offer a few convenient options. I was fortunate enough to go on a date to Howard Park for ice skating followed by pizza at the restaurant adjacent to the rink: Barnaby’s Pizza. The activity helped with taking pressure off (we were always able to “people-watch” or joke about our skating ability if we were struggling to find something to talk about, and this usually led to lengthy, interesting conversations), so we were comfortable enough to get to know each other and to enjoy each other’s company.

Located in downtown South Bend, Howard Park is an old-fashioned, outdoor ice rink just 4 minutes (by car) from campus. We took my car and parked in a hassle-free parking lot right next to the rink, which was happily buzzing with couples, families, and other skaters. We immediately noticed that a fun pop station was gently playing on the outdoor speakers (I suspect they’ll be playing Christmas music soon if they aren’t already). We didn’t wait more than five minutes before we paid for admission, rented skates, and entered the main room to put our skates on. The building that accompanies the ice rink has a snack bar with lots of delicious and cheap hot chocolate, a rustic and romantic fire place surrounded by seats, and plenty of places to sit and get ready. Admission is $6 a person and skate rental is $3 a person, but the website (http://sbpark.org/parks/howard-park/howard-park-ice-rink/) offers a coupon for buy one get one free admission, so it only cost us $12.


Side view of the Howard Park Rink

Overall, the rink was very pleasant: simple and endearing. As an employee at another ice rink and a former hockey player, I noticed that the skates weren’t very well sharpened and the ice wasn’t exactly smooth, but the ice and skate conditions were completely suitable for our recreational skating purposes. The employees pretty much keep out of your business as well; the skate guards stay off to the side and let you enjoy yourself. This helped make it fun because we could be as goofy as we wanted out on the ice without worrying about being reprimanded.

After about an hour of skating in a beautiful, snowy, outdoor rink, we decided that we’d head across the street to split a pizza. We drove across the street to Barnaby’s, a dimly-lit, pub-like family restaurant that serves some of the best pizza in town. They also serve a variety of burgers, sandwiches, fries, and other sorts of bar/pub food. For those of age, they have a decent spread of beer. Pitchers of domestic beer are $7.80, while mugs are $1.65-2.50 ($1 on Mondays). It was wonderful to leave the cold rink and settle down in a cozy, casual restaurant. We had drinks while waiting for the small pizza we decided to split (which was plenty for the two of us), and the pizza took maybe 30 minutes at most to make. It was such a delicious pizza, and the dinner only ended up costing about $20.


Interior of Barnaby’s Pizza

Ultimately, the date was an excellent combination. Skating was romantic, yet fun and goofy, and the restaurant was casual and delicious. This date offers an intimate and unique South Bend experience.

Fun: 5/5

Romance: 3/5

Adventure: 4/5

Formal: 1/5

Distance: 9 miles total

Cost: likely around $40 total if you don’t use any coupons or if you both order separate entrees (my date cost $33), but about $20 per person.


-Michael McFadden

#NotreDating Week – Date #1 – Corndance Tavern in Mishawaka


While I was nestled into a cozy booth in the corner of the Corndance Tavern, dinner patrons chatted excitedly around me. In the corner of my eye, I could see the wood-burning oven ablaze in the open kitchen as busy staffers whisked carefully plated dishes to their respective diners. The low lighting and rustic atmosphere made me feel like I was back in New Hampshire, warming up at the ski lodge before one last run down the mountain. In this moment, I felt that it was possible to forget that the elements might try to kill me if I walked out the front door. Snow was angrily swirling around my window, but I had a plate of delicious food to keep me warm in the meantime.


            If I’m going to be completely honest with you, I had low expectations for the Corndance Tavern. When I first heard that we were going there for our date, I immediately did a quick Google search only to realize that it was located on Grape Road – the epicenter of chain cuisine. While my skepticisms trudged through the snowy parking lot with me, they disappeared the minute we walked through the door.

The atmosphere was cozy and comfortable. Part of the menu was written out on a huge chalkboard, which was perfect for indecisive people like me. It meant I had more time to decide on my meal. They had everything from Pear Ravioli (roasted pear and ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli in a toasted nut cream sauce) to Sashimi Tuna Steak (sliced seared sashimi tuna served rare on top of a bed of asian coleslaw and pad thai noodles). It was a rather unconventional menu, one that I presume would not appeal to picky eaters and/or vegetarians. They offered plenty of meat-filled options, most of which revolved around alligator and bison. Now, if I were Ron Swanson, this would be a dream come true, especially since the Corndance Tavern’s ingredients all come from local orchards and Amish farms, but alas I am not. This menu catered to my date’s palate, but not so much mine.

As we were led into the dining room, two things happened. First, a large chunk of meat artfully dangling on a hook was carried off into the distance in front of me. Second, this large chunk of meat was followed closely by six more chunks of meat that were carefully skewered by a tall sword. Like I said, Ron Swanson would love this place.

After we were seated, we decided on sharing two appetizers to go along with our two entrees. I chose a Kale and Quinoa salad while my date opted for the Fried Alligator. As for the entrees, I ordered the Brick Chicken (a whole cornish hen with wood roasted garlic steak frites) while my date chose the Monster Bison Burger based on that waitress’s suggestion. For dessert, we split a Nutella molten cake which is probably the closest thing I’ll ever get to heaven.

lava cake

Nutella Molten Cake aka the best mistake of my life

While we waited for our food, my date and I began talking. Although the dining room was rather open, our tiny booth in the corner was intimate enough for conversation. The only downside was that it was a little hard to hear sometimes so our discussions were interrupted with the occasional “What?” and “Can you repeat that?”.  Despite the fact that service was wonderful, our food took a little while to arrive. If you like your date and you trust your own social skills, however, time is rather irrelevant. The food itself was great. It was most definitely a welcomed breath of fresh air when compared to the stir fry line at North. The Kale & Quinoa salad was top notch and my date seemed to agree. The alligator was a little too deep fried, but it tasted like chicken and neither of us are experts in alligator cuisine anyways.


Fried alligator in a sriracha aioli

In terms of our entrees, we both thoroughly enjoyed ours. My chicken was cooked perfectly while my date’s bison burger disappeared from his plate instantly. Now, it’s important to note that the portion sizes here are huge. I ended up taking home leftovers since I couldn’t finish all of my food and I barely made it to dessert. Come with an empty stomach.

Overall, my date at Corndance Tavern was fun. We’d go again and my date and I would recommend it to others as well. I’d rate it a 4/5 stars on the fun scale. They had interesting entrees, but it’s definitely not a menu for nonadventurous diners out there. In terms of romance, I gave it a 4/5. Again, it was nice, but it was a little too crowded and a little too loud at times. For the adventure scale, I gave it a 2/5. It’s a restaurant, so there’s really not much adventure going on around here unless you decided to do something weird (which I do not recommend). As for the formal scale, I gave it a 3.5/5. Some people were wearing suits, others were wearing jeans. My date was wearing a pinstriped button down paired with some slacks and oxfords while I opted for tights and a dress. We were dressier than normal, but by no means were we dressed for dinner with the Royal Family (I wish).

In terms of cost and distance, Corndance Tavern may not be for everyone. It is definitely worth it for those of you with cars, but probably not worth it for students without cars. When you factor in transportation, it’s just too expensive and not worth the cab ride. You’d probably have a somewhat similar experience at the Mark on Eddy Street, without the cost of the cab fare. Since my date had a car, it wasn’t terribly difficult to get to the restaurant. It was a quick fifteen minute drive, most of which was spent navigating through the Notre Dame parking lot. As for the cost, it was pricier than what a typical college student is used to. In total, I’m estimating that we probably spent about $85 including tip. Entrees ranged from $18-$35. Overall, I’d recommend it! The atmosphere was cozy,  the food was great, and it was a pleasant dining experience.

Fun: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Adventure: 2/5 (You’re at a restaurant, afterall)

Formal: 3.5/5

Cost: $$$. Pricer than a college student’s budget

Distance: About a fifteen minute drive. Not worth it if you don’t have your own car.


-Kim Mai

Date 4: Trip to Chicago


Fun: Star Star Star Star Star
Romance: Star Star Star(Star Star) depending on where you eat dinner
Adventure: Star Star Star Star Star
Formal: Star Star Star
Distance: 95 miles (either a 90-120 minute drive or 2 hour train ride)
Cost per person: $25 round trip train ride per person; cost of meals (could range from $10-100 dollars depending on whether you nosh on two hot pretzels from street vendors and a couple of cupcakes from Molly’s OR splurge on juicy steaks and gooey molten cake at David Burke’s Primehouse

Heading into Chicago for the day may initially sound like a hassle, but it is actually one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to fill an empty Saturday while here at Notre Dame. Whether you decide to catch an early train and head back on a late one or drive yourself, the route is easy and direct. Between the time change heading into the city and having a date you’re trying to impress by your side, you won’t even notice how long it takes to get there.

By the time you get into the city, you are destined to have worked up an appetite. Heading to Yolk (which now has three locations, it has gotten that popular!) is a must. Yolk has everything from traditional eggs, toast, and waffles, to extravagant sweet treats like Red Velvet French Toast and savory dishes like the West Coast Crepes, stuffed full of avocado, mushrooms, eggs, and two kinds of cheeses. My personal favorite is the Tour de France, a dish featuring a sample of each of the restaurant’s specialty french toasts: lemon poppy seed, banana bread, and sweet orange.

Pancake ComboMy date’s pancake combo… he was happy and full when we left!

Tour de FranceMy Tour de France breakfast

If you’ve chosen to dine at Yolk’s River North location on N. Wells Street, you will be less than a mile walk away from Chicago’s largest shopping hub: Michigan Avenue. Even if you are not planning on purchasing anything, strolling down the street, peeking into stores, and people-watching makes for great conversation with your date. Around Christmas time, the street is decorated beautifully and even Scrooge would feel its warmth and holiday cheer.

After walking for a while, sitting down will probably seem like a good idea. That said, you are in Chicago and can’t just sit down. Instead, you can take an architectural boat tour. I know, it sounds nerdy and boring, but it is so fascinating. Once everyone has boarded the boat, it starts moving slowly downriver as a guide explains the background behind the development of many of the city’s most famous buildings and landmarks. While the tour is not cheap – around $30 per person – 20% and $5 off coupons are readily available online. The ride lasts for an hour and a half and is informal enough for passengers to continue to converse throughout, so your date and you will not have to sit in silence for ninety minutes.

Architectural Boat TourAn architectural boat tour mid-route

After the tour, it will most likely be late afternoon or early evening. Stopping by Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) and seeing Navy Pier are both fun to do once or twice, but I like to try something different each time I am in Chicago. The Lincoln Park Zoo, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum have been some of my favorite spots. Try one at some point, even for just a few minutes. The zoo is free, and most museums are heavily discounted for students.

Now, you have finally walked off your french toast and pancakes, and you blush, embarrassed, as your stomach growls loud enough for your date to hear. It’s time for dinner! An avid foodie, I have explored the ins and outs of Chicago dining, having eaten everything from hot dogs and falafel from carts on the street to roasted maple pork belly and truffled deviled eggs in some of its finest restaurants. I have compiled a list of options for dinner – a range that includes both casual and romantic, relaxed and formal, cheap and expensive stops.

1) Chicago-style pizza at Lou Malnati’s: The debate surrounding who has the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago will never end. I’ve tried three classic choices, and the pie at Lou Malnati’s has been my favorite. Prepare for a wait, however, because they are always busy.
— Location: 439 North Wells Street
— Restaurant Atmosphere: Casual and loud
— Average Price per Person: A small pizza (great for two) is around $11

2) The Grand Lux Cafe: The Cheesecake Factory’s sister restaurant has an expansive menu covering everything from small plates to pasta to burgers to what the restaurant calls “Grand Casual Cuisine.” There is something for every eater here, big or small, picky or adventurous. My favorite dish has been the Crispy Caramel Chicken, battered chunks of chicken breast tossed in a spicy, Thai ginger sauce served with stir-fried veggies and rice. Save room for dessert – the restaurant specializes in baked-to-order treats. These sweets take thirty minutes to make, so you order when you get your meal so that they are ready at the perfect time. The molten chocolate cake and blueberry buckle are to die for.
— Location: 600 North Michigan Avenue
— Restaurant Atmosphere: Fun and casual
— Average Price per Person: Around $20 if dessert is included

Crispy Caramel ChickenCrispy Caramel Chicken from the Grand Lux Cafe

3) Pierrot Gourmet: A classic French cafe, Pierrot Gourmet is romantic at night without being too stuffy or expensive. The cafe is close to Michigan Avenue and serves large salads, refined sandwiches, and flatbreads. The dessert case, stuffed with French pastries, is unreal. I would strongly recommend a classic ham and brie sandwich on pretzel baguette. It is served with a light salad or one of the always delicious soups du jour.
— Location: 108 East Superior Street
— Restaurant Atmosphere: Warm, open, romantic
— Average Price per Person: Around $20 if dessert is included

Pierrot GourmetInside Pierrot Gourmet

4) Frontera Grill: The best Mexican food in the Midwest. Period. Rick Bayless’ high end grill offers dishes that never fail to impress. Having lived in Mexico for a period of his lifetime, Bayless brought what he learned about the cuisine back to America, gave it his own twist, and has become world-renowned for his food. Although the meal can become pricey with drinks, appetizers, entrees, and dessert, it can also be cheaper if a couple decides to split several items off of the “street food” menu. My favorites have been the goat Barbacoa tamale and the sopes rancheros. The first is a succulent, corn masa filled husk topped with melt-in-your-mouth tender shredded goat, chile sauce, and arugula. The second is composed of little masa boats filled with spicy beef, pico de gallo, avocado, and cotija cheese.
— Location: 445 North Clark Street
— Restaurant Atmosphere: Vibrant, colorful, make-you-wanna-dance vibe
— Average Price per Person: Around $50 with tip

Date by Kristin Brennan
Kristin Brennan

Hey everyone! I’m a sophomore in Cavanaugh Hall majoring in marketing and minoring in both entrepreneurship and gender studies. My hobbies include reading, cooking, eating, and reading about eating and cooking… and I’m really not joking. When I arrived at Notre Dame last year, dating was the furthest thing from my mind. I was here to have a fresh start, make new friends, get a degree, and maybe find out a little about myself in the process. Well, I did find out something about myself, and it was that I wasn’t as much of a planner as I thought I was. By October, I was happily dating someone I had known in high school… so much for a fresh start! Throughout the past year, we’ve come up with some great date locations and ideas (most of which involve food, since I’m obsessed), and I hope you give them a try!

Date 3: Show at DPAC (Special Discount!)


Fun: Star Star Star Star
Romance: Star Star Star
Adventure: Star Star
Formal: Star Star Star
Distance: On Campus
Cost per person: Around $12 (varies according to performance)

A creative date idea conveniently located on Notre Dame’s campus is attending a performance at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The center includes five performance venues and a cinema, which means there are always a variety of events students are able to attend. Each of the venues offers a different experience that truly engages the audience during every performance.

DPAC Decio Mainstage TheatreDecio Mainstage Theatre at DPAC

The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center features concerts, musicals, movies, dance companies, and many other types of performances. The box office also sells student-priced tickets for selected performances.

Attending a musical or another performance on campus is a great first date or fiftieth date. The performance makes for a great conversation topic during intermission and following the performance. You and your date have the opportunity to get to know each other without the awkwardness of not knowing what to say. Since Eddy Street is just a 5-minute walk away, you and your date could also grab a bite to eat or a smoothie at the conclusion of the performance.

If you are interested in attending a show at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, opening this month is Cabaret, a musical following the story of an American writer who falls in love with a British singer at a Berlin nightclub during the pre-World War II era.


The performance opens this week, and the performance times are:

  • Wednesday, November 13 – Saturday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 16 – Sunday, November 17 at 2:30 p.m.

Free parking is available after 5:00p.m. on the night of performances in the parking lot in front of the center. Student tickets are $10 each, and if you use you use the promotional code “GRC20” when purchasing online or mention the GRC when buying tickets from the ticket office, you will receive a 20% discount!

Date by Nori Williamson
Nori Williamson

I’m a sophomore business major living in Pasquerilla West. I enjoy hiking, solving sudoku puzzles, and spending time with friends. If you catch me with my headphones in, I am probably listening to urban alternative or rock. I’m very excited to participate in this blog, and I hope you take advantage of these fun date ideas in the Notre Dame community.

Date 2: South Bend Farmers Market

Date 2: South Bend Farmers Market

Fun:  Star Star Star Star
Romance: Star Star Star
Adventure: Star Star Star
Formal: Star Star
Distance: 2.6 mile drive or a 1 mile (very direct and easy) walk
Cost per person: FREE or $5-15 if you nosh on one of the fresh hot pretzels available at Ben’s Hot Pretzels while you’re walking around and/or take home some fresh fruit, veggies, or baked goods for later

I love farmers’ markets. Not only are they great places to discover new cooking ingredients, engage in conversations with local vendors and farmers about their passions, and savor delicious treats, but they also make the perfect location for a date. I would even argue that they are first-date material, which is hard to find around campus if the first date you are imagining doesn’t take place in a dining hall. Why are farmers’ markets first-date material? Well, nothing is worse than a conversation between two people getting to know each other that has been going well and then, for a moment (or two, or twenty, depending on how awkward the situation has become) there is silence. At the farmers’ market, there is so much bustle and things to see that a little bit of a lull in a conversation would never be awkward at all. There will always be a crazy looking vegetable, a joking vendor, or an odd couple to talk about when one topic is coming to a close.

Indiana Corn and PeachesFresh Indiana Corn and Peaches

The South Bend Farmers Market is located just a few miles from campus on Northside Boulevard. During the warmer months, there is an outdoor portion of the market open and even some occasional events going on. The real star though, in my opinion, is the market’s indoor portion where nearly one hundred vendors anxiously await market-goers Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings year-round. In addition to fresh local produce, delicacies like sticky caramel apples, warm breads, silky smooth lattes, and straight-from-the-fryer egg rolls are also available for customers to munch on while they make their way through the maze of the market. I have found that the buttery yet impossibly fluffy and light hot pretzels from Ben’s Soft Pretzels are perfect for sharing. Both white and wheat pretzels are offered, as well as pretzel “pockets” filled with a variety of meats and cheeses. My go-to choice is the whole wheat pretzel Ben’s homemade sweet mustard sauce. So good! If you and your date would like something on the sweet side, the Baker’s Dozen specializes in Eastern European pastries that are out of this world. Everything from the rich cream puffs to the cinnamony elephant ears are delicious and large.

Ben's Soft PretzelA fresh pretzel from Ben’s

If all the foods offered by the vendors are not enough to completely satisfy your appetite, the market has a highly recommended and always crowded cafe located directly in its center. Offered at the restaurant are breakfast foods ranging from traditional eggs and toast to less traditional buckwheat waffles. Hearty sandwiches and soups are available at lunch.

Farmers Market Cafe Breakfast SkilletA breakfast skillet from the cafe

If the date has gone exceptionally well, I highly suggest planning round two for later that night. Scour the market, select some ingredients, and come back to campus and cook a meal together. Sure, the dorm kitchens are cramped and often dirty. Yes, the tables in the 24-hour spaces or desks in the dorm rooms aren’t exactly five-star restaurant material. None of this matters, though, when you are getting creative and having fun with another person. Food has an uncanny ability to bring people together, whether it be two people from chem who can’t believe they are finally hanging out or the ring-by-spring couple who have already been dating for three years.

And the other great thing about food? If things really aren’t going well and you just don’t have anything left to say to your date, you can always stuff another bite in your mouth.

Date by Kristin Brennan
Kristin Brennan

Hey everyone! I’m a sophomore in Cavanaugh Hall majoring in marketing and minoring in both entrepreneurship and gender studies. My hobbies include reading, cooking, eating, and reading about eating and cooking… and I’m really not joking. When I arrived at Notre Dame last year, dating was the furthest thing from my mind. I was here to have a fresh start, make new friends, get a degree, and maybe find out a little about myself in the process. Well, I did find out something about myself, and it was that I wasn’t as much of a planner as I thought I was. By October, I was happily dating someone I had known in high school… so much for a fresh start! Throughout the past year, we’ve come up with some great date locations and ideas (most of which involve food, since I’m obsessed), and I hope you give them a try!

Date 1: Indulgence Pastry Shop & Cafe and Cinemark movie

Date 1: Indulgence Pastry Shop & Cafe and Cinemark movie

Fun: Star Star Star
Romance: Star Star Star
Adventure: Star Star
Formal: Star Star
Distance: 2.7 miles (1 hour walk or 10 minute drive)
Cost per person: $13 ($19 if you take a cab)

The first date in our series is the classic movie date with a delicious twist. The Cinemark Movies 16 is located on Edison Road, west of campus. The Indulgence Pastry Shop & Cafe is located kitty-corner to the theater, and is open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Although driving is quicker and less exhausting, a walk into South Bend is good exercise and can be fun. This date is meant to for late in the night after dinner.

Indulgence Pastry Shop & CafeThe Indulgence Pastry Shop & Cafe in South Bend

When you walk into the Indulgence Pastry Shop & Cafe, prepare to be astonished by their bakery display. According to their menu, they have “15-20 seasonal flavors [of dessert] available daily.” I’m not even going to try to pick the best item, because I am sure they are all delicious. On my visit, I tried the apple crumb cake. It was too delicious for words. They also put in on a plate and did that thing where they squirt the stuff on top in a cool swirly pattern. I think it’s called a garnish? Regardless, get a dessert, encourage your date to get a different dessert, and go halfsies! Bonus romance points if you spoon-feed your date.

Raspberry Mousse CakeRaspberry Mousse Cake, one of the many delicious desserts offered

Although I normally don’t like big movie theater chains (high prices, often dirty, projection/audio problems), I found the Cinemark Movies 16 to be a very nice theater. Tickets are reasonably priced and the place is extremely clean. The chairs are extremely comfortable and have movable armrests to facilitate cuddling. Other than that, it is pretty much a standard movie theater with really big projection screens.

Movie Theater SeatsThese are seats with non-movable armrests. They are an impediment to cuddling and are not your friend.

If your movie ends late, you may want to take cab back to campus just to be safe.

Date by Jon Richelsen
Jon Richelsen

I’m a sophomore computer science student living in Keough Hall. My interest in gender relations stems from the culture shock I experienced upon arriving at Notre Dame from a small Catholic high school. My interests include reading, vintage computing, movie musicals, and home improvement. Around campus, you may see me eating Taco Bell or working in the Engineering Library. On Sunday nights, I do both with great fervor.

Dating in South Bend Web Campaign: An Introduction


Welcome to the Dating in South Bend Web Campaign, an effort by the Gender Relations Center and the FIRE Starter peer educators. One big complaint we hear a lot regarding gender relations at Notre Dame is that students don’t date enough. It can seem that every relationship is either a Notre Dame hookup, or a lifelong commitment to get married and form a happy Notre Dame family, complete with little kids dressed in Notre Dame gear. We are here to show you that there is a happy middle: dating! Our goal is to show you some fun date ideas near campus. These dates are not strict blueprints, so edit these ideas to make them your own. Happy Dating!

Every week, we will post two fun date ideas. Each date will be rated on the following scales:

Fun: 0-5 stars
0 stars being watching paint dry and 5 stars being having a slip ‘n slide party with the cast of Full House

Romance: 0-5 stars
0 stars being a 3am quarter dog run and 5 stars being eating chocolate dipped strawberries on the beach.

Adventure: 0-5 stars
0 stars being taking a different route to DeBartolo Hall and 5 stars being whitewater rafting down Niagara Falls

Formal: 0-5 stars
0 stars being sweats on sweats on sweats on sweats and 5 stars being a royal wedding


Cost per person

Whether you are looking to have fun with your boyfriend or your lab partner, we hope that these metrics will help you pick and dates that match your relationships. Have fun, be safe, and happy dating!