These are officially the best 13 date spots in Exeter – just in time for Valentine’s Day
PSA: it still counts if you’re taking yourself out
Generally Valentine’s Day can low-key suck, but if it means a round up of all the best eating and (more importantly) drinking spots in Exeter then I might forgive it just this once. Whether you’re taking your girls out, surprising your S/O, or full on Eat Pray Love-ing it and taking yourself out, these places will really hit the spot.
1. The Flat
If you’re not only looking for a good vegan / veggie friendly place but somewhere with intimate but relaxed vibes this place is literally perfect. My personal fave place in Exeter, it’s only got seven tables so is literally always full and buzzing without being crowded. The food is insane plus there are plenty of cocktails in case the date isn’t going too well… Whether you’re going with friends or someone you’re trying to impress, this place is a solid option – it never has an off day and unless you’re with someone who doesn’t like pizza (and if they don’t that’s probably your first red flag), it never disappoints.
2. Topsham Brewery
Although this sounds like a trek, it’s actually only on the quay. A micro-brewery as well as a pub and banging pizza place, it’s perfect for someone who makes liking beer their personality. As it’s a bit further afield, you’re less likely to bump into any ex’s, friends who would take the mick, etc. Although more popular in summer with it’s festoon-lit garden over-looking the water, my housemates and I can personally attest that it’s super cosy and just as vibe-y in winter.
Hidden away on the edge of Gandy Street, not only does it feel tucked away, it has the most insane gin and spirit collection which really does cure all. Housing artisan gins, rums, and everything in between, it’s got the perfect indie vibes to impress someone whilst getting sloshed in a classy way. A slightly better kept secret than Revs, you’re almost guaranteed an uninterrupted night. Plus the bartenders are some of the nicest (and coolest) people on earth.
Want to pretend you can surf without going anywhere near the sea? This is the place for you. Surf boards stacked up on the side, yoga sessions in the morning and great coffee on the quay, this place is perfect for a chilled coffee and a walk around the quay, truly proving you have surfer-stuck-in-a-city vibes.
It wouldn’t be a list of best Exeter date spots without our beloved Firehouse. Candles in wine bottles, pizzas to share, and the cheap house wine – the perfect combo for a good evening. It’s basically a slightly classier take on ordering Domino’s, and drinking the leftover Echo Falls in your kitchen next to the dangerously leaning IKEA candles perched in the mostly empty Gordon’s bottle. You know what you’re getting with Firehouse, and chances are there’ll be a good mix of friends, dates, and locals to balance it out.
Dating a humanities student? Take them to Waterstones and challenge them to pick out a book for each other. Spend time browsing, getting to know their fave books (always a good test) and most importantly, rewarding that hard work with a coffee afterwards. You can even make the next date a reading date, making a start on the books you picked out for each other and comparing notes afterwards. Trust me, the English girls will be swooning.
7. Puerto Lounge
Tapas and wine on the quay? Sorted. With good weekday deals and great cocktails, Puerto Lounge had to make the list – despite being a chain. If you want to keep it chilled but a little special, heading down to the quay to get away from the main town, it’s an easy option which is likely to be a crowd pleaser for any student on a budget.
8. DIY dinner
When consulting my friends for the final list of top spots, one of them wisely said that cooking someone a meal yourself shows how much you care (thanks Brad) – definitely an unexpected valid point from him (no offence). Although it does come with a couple of caveats: lads, first of all, make sure your kitchen isn’t a walking health hazard, maybe shove a candle in an empty bottle à la Firehouse (no, San Miugel doesn’t count), make sure you can actually cook, and maybe just check for any allergies or vegetarians etc. Repeat after me: a date tends not to be the best if it ends in a trip to the emergency room…
It’s like going to a speakeasy without having to be cool. It’s definitely on the spenny side, but arguably worth it for the drinks and general vibe. There’s often live music on Thursdays and Fridays so if you want to show you’re cultured, (and you listen to something other than Sam Fender) taking someone for an Old Fashioned at a Jazz Club is a good start.
10. Calvo Loco
Probably one of Exeter’s best kept secrets, Calvo Loco is an authentic tapas bar on Magdalen Road. If you want to show them you’re in the know, surprise them with this hidden spot which – although it can be a little spenny (to be fair, it’s the cost of living crisis, where isn’t?) it’s defo worth it.
11. Zuki’s (by the station, not Sidwell St.)
Zuki’s is perfect for a lunchtime date or grabbing a coffee where you’re less likely to sit next to someone you know (*cough cough* Pura Vida). Next to Exeter Central, it’s perfect for anyone who’s in a long-distance relationship and wants to take their S/O out before a train back home. Or if you have a completely horrendous date it’s close enough you can hop on a train and be back home, crying on your mum’s shoulder in no time (rail strikes depending). For everyone else too, it does simple but i n c r e d i b l e food as well as coffee and Turkish treats. Popular but never over-crowded it’s one of the best spots in Exeter.
12. Turk’s Head
If you want to follow every rugby boy / business lad in Exeter, why not go to the Turk’s Head on a Saturday? Although a popular date spot for the entirety of Penny C boys, it’s still a good spot. It has a micro-brewery on the premises so there *is* a chance someone will talk non-stop about the different variety of brews and ales you can get – so be warned. In case you’ve decided to be yourself on dates and not lie to impress like the rest of us, you don’t have to pretend you like hops and gag as you knock back a beer, they have an entire bar’s worth of booze to get you drunk enough to be interested in the difference between larger and beer (just).
13. Dish of the day
For those of you scoffing, hear me out. Although started as a joke suggestion, we quickly realised it’s actually a secret winner. Nothing fancy, nothing too pressured, you can go on a cute campus date in between lectures / studying, lost in the hubbub of campus. You both know what you’ll be getting, and there’s a 50/50 chance it will be the same thing depending on whether it’s a jacket potato or the dish of the day. Get it in the little takeaway boxes and find a spot on campus before going back to the grind. Plus, you’re only spending £2, so you won’t feel cheated if the date isn’t great – or get a bargain if it is. The underdog of date spots for sure, dish of the day is a bit of legend in itself and may surprise you for a chilled date idea.