Cheap date night ideas - $20 dollar date night

Cheap date night ideas! Join Christy Pessemier, and her willing guinea pig husband – as they scour King & Snohomish Counties in the Seattle area to prove you can go out as a couple and have a great time for under 20 Dollars.

Bullfighting and Boar Wrestling…Well, not exactly.

“We’re going to The Matador” Hubby declared as embarked on our date night last weekend. “What’s The Matador? I asked” He smiled and drove on. He loves to tease me and leave me hanging. Visions of angry bulls and red capes flashed in my mind. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place where I had seen this restaurant’s name. I guess that’s the fun about being surprised.

Recently, to jazz things up, we decided to take turns choosing the date night restaurant or activity. Since I tend to be the one that usually comes up with the ideas, I told Hubby it was his turn. So, when we pulled up to the huge square brick building on Leary Way and Cleveland Street in Downtown Redmond, I was curious.  Walking in past the steer skull emblem on the door, I got lost in two thick curtains on our way to the hostess seating table.  A cheery hostess greeted us as she informed us of the 35 minute wait. Swarms of people behind the curtains revealed themselves, killing time on their phones as they waited for tables to become available. “This must be a good place to eat. It’s pretty popular.” I commented to Hubby. Hubby added his name to the list, and we were back out on the streets of downtown Redmond, with no idea of where to go.

Our eyes fell on the blazing Half Price Books sign across the street. Being that it’s still winter, there was a chill in the air, which I conveniently forgot when I picked my date night outfit out. All I was wearing was a thin sweater and my teeth were starting to chatter. “Let’s go there,” I said. So, we crossed the street and immediately appreciated the warmth of a heated building when we walked in. But after walking around the store for a few minutes in two different directions, we realized we were not paying any attention to each other. Bad date night etiquette! I tore myself away from the slew of cookbooks calling out my name, and we headed to Redmond Town Center.

For those of you who haven’t been there, Redmond Town Center is one of those mixed use outdoor shopping/living areas that are becoming so popular. Check out my recent 425 article on some other local ones here:

Hubby took pity on me and wrapped his warm wool coat around me as we took a brisk walk to the Town Center just around the corner from Matador. Then, I felt sorry for him because he looked like a stiff robot walking in the cold, but he wouldn’t let me give his jacket back.  See, if we were sitting on the couch at home watching TV and saying our budget was too tight to go out on a date, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be chivalrous like that.

Isn’t Redmond Town Center Pretty at night?

I found that walking was nice and I liked the spontaneity of it. I didn’t feel so guilty about what we might be eating in a few minutes. Yeah, I probably only burned 38 calories, but it still made me feel good, so that counts for something, right?

We strolled in and out of a few stores and before we knew it, it was time to go back. Upon arriving back at Matador, we were barely able to squeeze in the door and get to the hostess table this time. Once inside, I boldly moved the curtains aside and took in the surroundings. Matador is definitely the perfect name for this place.  Candles and hanging torchlights set against rustic brick walls gave it a Latin castle like flare. As a second hostess came to seat us, we followed her down a dark corridor – and I almost expected to see Antonio Banderas or Dantes  from the Count of Monte Cristo come popping out of the corner. Wow. I gulped. This might be waaaaay over our budget. But my fears were eased as we sat down to look at the (left side-but I’m okay with that) menu. Hubby reminded me that he brought his Passport card (, which gives us one free entrée every time we visit – yes, even the same restaurant. Score!

As usual, we were starved. So, the giant bowl of chips and salsa the waitress brought us was a welcome treat. I don’t know what they do to their salsa but it had this amazing bite to it and a smoky aftertaste that caused me to eat way more chips than I should have. Probably more than 38 calories worth.

I ordered the pork sandwich at $9.95 and Hubby ordered the Barbeque Pork Carnitas sandwich at $9.95. We also shared a Mac & Jacks African Amber Ale – and it was especially good due to the mug being cold and frosty, and the cool surroundings helped too. Things always taste better when you feel like you’re in a castle in 15th century Mexico, right?

Our meal came quickly and just as we were biting into it, a strangling, high-pitched sound came from a few tables away. It sounded like someone was wrestling a boar, but I knew that couldn’t be right. Oh no! someone’s choking I thought, about to run over and help when Hubby looked back and said it was just a woman laughing. So, the boar wrestling sound continued on throughout our dinner – and was quite amusing. Little did this woman know that her laugh would be included in my date night blog. Hubby was asphyxiated with his meal due to its extreme spiciness and the tenderness of the meat. I thought mine was pretty good too, though I had to cut out a few chunks of fat from the pork. No big deal though, it was still tasty.

When I tried to recreate the woman’s laugh for our children later that night, our kids looked wide eyed and amazed. “It was the craziest laugh I ever heard.” Hubby said.

Other than being amused by our surroundings in both sound and décor, we spent some much needed time talking about the upcoming year and what we are thankful for in our life right now. And when the bill came, I was so proud. With the tip, we hit $20 exactly. Score again! And, this really was like a fine dining restaurant. Way to go Hubby!

Are these the coolest restaurant kitchen doors, or what?

P.S. Remember I said he would probably try to take me to a brewery? Well, the Black Raven is on the way home and he tried to get me to go there! But then, it wouldn’t have been a $20 Date Night and we would have failed you. So, Hubby has it on his list for next time.

So, here are my ratings:

  • Atmosphere (romantic appeal): 5+
  • Food: 4 (Hubby’s was a 5++)
  • Budget Friendly: 4 (5+, if you have a Passport card!)
  • Fun and unique: 5+ (LOVED the candles, torches, and fire pit against the brick wall. And, the doors to the kitchen were amazing!)
  • Memorable: 5 (I can see why people wait for this place)