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Valentine's on a Student Budget: Affordable Date Spots in Hamilton

Blog/NewsFebruary 11th 2019
Hayley Mullen

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and CFMU couldn’t be more excited. Throughout the week, we’ll be releasing Valentine’s Day-related articles, videos, and content to celebrate our love for our community and those who support us.

Not everyone is a fan of St. Valentinus and his holiday, but it’s always nice to celebrate love with the ones dearest to you, especially in a chaotic and worrying world such as ours. If you’ve got a special someone out there, chances are you might want to go out for Valentine’s Day, but perhaps you’re hesitating on the location. What places are delicious but inexpensive? Where will I get the most fun for my funds? Luckily, there are plenty of places to go without breaking that piggy bank open (or overdrafting that credit card).

Remember, you don’t need money to show someone you love them, but a romantic night out or an afternoon of fun will undoubtedly put a spring in your step and warmth in your heart for days afterwards. Here are some restaurants, dessert places, bars, and activities perfect for Valentine’s Day (or any day with the ones you love).

Dinner Date:

541 Eatery & Exchange: 541 Barton St. E

Total with Tax: $18 + $4 Tip = $11/person

- House Salad (seeds, goat cheese, cranberries, & vinaigrette): $4

- Southwest Sweet Potato Chili (V/GF): $5

Accessible?  Yes

541 Eatery & Exchange is a non-profit café where folks can pay-it-forward by turning dollars into buttons. 5 buttons from the jar counts at $5 towards a meal, and anyone can use the button jar once a day. This charitable and kindhearted system allows for all kinds of folks to enjoy 541’s tasty meals and welcoming atmosphere. If you’re a student struggling with food insecurity but would like to enjoy a good meal for Valentine’s day, 541 will fill your belly and heart. Conversely, if you have the money to spare, why not make someone’s day by paying it forward?​

Burnt Tongue 182 Locke St South, 10 Cannon St East

Total with Tax: $24 + $4 Tip = $14/person

- Kale Caesar Salad: $5

- Medium Size Soup: $7-9

Accessible?  Yes

For many, soup is a divisive food. But for those who love it, Burnt Tongue is the place to go. With two different locations in Hamilton and a menu of frites, burgers, salads, sandwiches, and an ever-changing soup menu, Burnt Tongue is sure to crave one’s appetite and keep both of you warm during the chill of February.

Eden’s 1548 Main St. W

Total with Tax: $30 + $6 Tip = $20.25/person

- Pita for 2: $22

- Served with French Fries & Greek Salad

- Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake: $8

Accessible?  Yes

Eden’s boasts a wide menu of not only mediterranean food, but also fresh smoothies, juices, and superfoods. Not only does Eden have live piano music every Friday and Saturday evening, but they’ll also be hosting a pianist to set the mood this Thursday. Having spent last V-Day here, I can attest to the wonderful atmosphere, kind staff, and extensive menu.

Sweets for Sweethearts:

Hazel Tea & Dessert House 1686 Main St W #5

RELATED: Check out our first HamOnt Date spots list here.

Splurge = waffle + topping + ice cream

Happy Sundae = topping + ice cream

I’m Broke AF = ice cream cone

Accessible? Yes

Hazel has an adorable atmosphere and a huge array of desserts to satisfy any sweet person’s sweet tooth, from milkshakes to buttermilk waffles. In the back are board games and card games that guests can enjoy, and a whiteboard for the artistically inclined. Hazel’s even provides a helpful guide for what dessert to get based on your budget:

Sugar Marmalade 65 King St E

Some Notable Picks:

- Hazelnut Mocha Panna Cotta: $5.99

- Green Tea Parfait: $6.49

- Strawberry Banana Pancake with Sundae Supreme: $7.49

- Chocolate Egg Waffle: $8.99

Accessible?  Yes

Established in 2010, Sugar Marmalade offers tasty food stuffs such as Japanese Style Popcorn Chicken and Crunchy Takoyaki, but the main attraction is their delectable desserts. Sugar Marmalade offers a wide menu of Hong Kong Style Desserts, Traditional Chinese Desserts, and Fusion Style desserts. You’re almost guaranteed to find something you enjoy.

Chocolat on James 123 James St N

If you’re a traditional sort of person (or simply a hopeless romantic), picking up your sweetheart some chocolate goods is most likely on the list, and no place has more charm than Chocolat. They offer a full chocolate shop featuring truffles, fudge, barks, and other novelty chocolates to make anyone smile. They also have a coffee and espresso shop which brews Hamilton-based Balzac coffee (which I can personally attest to as delicious).

Accessible?  Yes

Frugal Fun:

Gameopolis 223 King Street East

1000+ games available to play for only $5

Accessible?  Yes

I’ve always said I couldn’t marry someone who didn’t like the game Clue…luckily you can find out which games your date loves (or loves to loathe) at Gameopolis! The shop offers 1000+ games available to play for only $5, with Tuesdays being half-price all-you-can-play. They also serve coffee, tea, sandwiches, snacks, and are liquor licensed, if going bankrupt in Monopoly makes you crave a drink. You might like their Galentine’s Day event this Wednesday, Feb. 13th. It starts at 7 pm and is open to women-identified, trans, non-binary, and genderqueer folks.

Lazer Mania 865 Upper James St.

$4.50 games on Tuesdays

Accessible?  Laser Tag area has tight spaces and sharp inclines inaccessible for mobility aids

Who says you can’t shoot your date? Recapture the glory and adrenaline of Laser Tag at Lazer Mania! They offer $4.50 games on Tuesdays, and have a sizeable arcade if you want to win your date a prize. Though, let’s be honest: if you take your date here, you’re the real prize.

Crock A Doodle 101 Osler Drive

Pottery Painting Date Night Event, with $10 pre-registration fees

Accessible?  Unknown

Between readings, midterms, essays, and labs, when do you get to express your creative side? Perhaps this Valentine’s Day, pottery painting is the answer! Crock A Doodle allows for drop-in fun where you and your significant other can paint pre-made pottery pieces to take home and treasure forever (or use as dishware!) This Valentine’s day, they’re having a special Date Night Event, with $10 pre-registration fees to hold your spots, and refreshments and treats to enjoy while painting your pottery piece of choice.

Good Old-Fashioned Drinks:

The Brain 199 James St N

Accessible?  Washroom is down flight of stairs

A cozy hole in the wall identified only by its brain logo and bright yellow walls, The Brain has personality to spare and is frequented by many locals of Hamilton. Their draught beer menu is affordable and always being updated via their instagram @herecomesthebrain. Alongside beverages, they also offer foods such as meat pies, paninis, samosas, and regular dessert pies, though their Smores pie is anything but regular. Enjoy a drink while chatting with a friend or ruin said friendship by playing some of their available board games.

Fair-weather Brewing Company  5 Ofield Rd Unit #1

$4 Thursdays Beers

Accessible?  Yes

Fans of beer, look no further. Fair-weather Brewing Company opened its doors back in 2017 and serve wonderful brews with names such as Silky, Dream Pop, and Barbarossa. The best part is their $4 Thursdays, and Valentine’s Day so happens to land on a Thursday this year. Who wouldn’t want to save like that?

Snooty Fox 1011 King St W

Wallbanger Wednesday’s $3.75 Rail Shots and $4.50 Harvey Wallbangers

Twisted Thursday’s $5.50 Hop City Pints and $4.50 Twisted Teas

Accessible? Yes

A classic among Mac students, Snooty’s resides close to campus in Westdale and offers food and drink galore for those needing a break from student life. Snooty’s has deals all week long, such as Wallbanger Wednesday’s $3.75 Rail Shots and $4.50 Harvey Wallbangers, and Twisted Thursday’s $5.50 Hop City Pints and $4.50 Twisted Teas.  If you’ve never been, you’re sure to have a good time.

We at CFMU hope you have a good Valentine’s Day, no matter where your heart takes you!​

Hayley Mullen is a 4th year Communications student and the Production Coordinator at CFMU. She hosts Study Jams every Thursday on CMFU, and has been a devoted musician/composer for over eight years.