I’ve mentioned several times before how much I enjoy a progressive dinner date night. We typically book a sitter for 3 to 4 hours when Marc and I head out on a Friday or Saturday night and we’ve found that dinner at one spot is usually over too quickly for us, even if we purposefully linger.

So we’ve gotten in the habit of choosing a walkable dining district—Thornton Park, Ivanhoe Village, Sand Lake, etc.—and hitting a few eateries. We have appetizers at one, then entrees at another, and dessert and maybe drinks at a third.

With dozens of great dining options, Park Avenue is an obvious choice for a progressive dinner date night but the trouble is that restaurants here tend to be quite busy on Friday and Saturdays, making it a bit of a nuisance slipping in and out of each spot at our whim. But just up the road, less than a mile away in fact, you’ll find Hannibal Square, Park Avenue’s quieter cousin. The smallish district with its half a dozen dining options is much more subdued than the Avenue’s bustling scene.

We started our evening at 6pm and had no trouble getting a table at three different spots, all within steps of each other. After an easy stroll to gaze at a few of the menus posted outside, we made our selection for the appetizer stop: mi Tomatina Paella Bar.

With a choice of more than two dozen tapas plus a creative cocktail list of reasonably priced spirits, this Spanish-style eatery is an ideal place to kick off the night either inside by the colorfully tiled bar or outside on the breezy street side patio. If you enjoy live music, consider making mi Tomatina a later stop. Entertainment begins at 8pm and the paella would make for an excellent shareable entree choice.

Next we moved to Armando's Cucina Italiana & Pizzeria. This is a great time of year to visit Armando’s where you can choose to sit at one of the handful of tables set right on the street, on the patio, at the outdoor bar, or tucked away in the sweet little outdoor courtyard at the back of the restaurant. You’ll select from a menu filled with brick oven pizzas and traditional pastas. I like this place. It’s got a chic side but it hasn’t lost the convivial atmosphere that makes patrons feel like family.


I have to say though that the night’s most memorable moment was at Hannibal’s on the Square, the adjacent French restaurant that could have easily delighted us for all three courses. We sat at the bar and ordered the chocolate soufflé, sipping cocktails and chatting with the savvy bartender while we waited. 25 minutes later, dessert arrived and we devoured the light and fluffy potted dessert in record time. Then the piano man started crooning and we decided to squeeze in another cocktail before heading home.


Besides the three places we visited, Hannibal Square is also home to Dexter’s, Chez Vincent, and Fresh, a super small farm-to-table eatery that changes its menu daily. You really can’t lose at any of the restaurants here, which is why I love coming to Hannibal Square for progressive dinners. I hope you will too!