Ask the Critic: Where Can I Impress My Lady Friend?

I've been making restaurant recommendations for many, many years, since long before I became the New Times food critic. But these days, I've become somewhat of a personal food concierge for my friends. I get text message requests all the time.

The latest was from a friend looking for a decent date place to "impress a lady friend."

He wrote, "I'm looking for a cool spot, nice ambiance, similar to Cibo/Ticoz' feel. $$-$$$. Type of food doesn't matter. Location . . . anywhere but Scottsdale."

Alrighty then, Romeo. Here's what came to mind:

The atmosphere at St. Francis is awesome, especially right now. They have a great patio, great cocktails, and a groovy kind of comfort food menu (I like the flatbread with figs and blue cheese, omfg). Great date place!

Sens is also pretty darn cool if you're in the mood for Asian food. Love the drinks there, too.

Have you been to the Vig Uptown, on 16th Street and Bethany Home? I like it so much more than the original one -- very cool vibe, and I like the carne asada on a potato pancake. 

Totally off the beaten path but super charming and reasonable (just opened a couple weeks ago, and I had a nice homemade butternut squash ravioli there) is House at Secret Garden, at Baseline and 25th St.