Though it can be difficult to make the time for regular outings, you can get a wealth of benefits from planning routine date nights. Get away from the bustle of daily life and put away the to-do list for the evening as you head out with the singular goal of enjoying your partner’s company. Merrillville and the surrounding areas offer plenty of places for dinner and entertainment, so you can easily put together a special escape. Try these suggestions for your next evening out.

Gamba Ristorante


Image by Stu Moffat is licensed with Unsplash License

Gamba Ristorante offers upscale Italian cuisine in an intriguing dome-shaped dining room. As something of an architectural oddity, Gamba is worth a visit just for its distinctive ambiance. If you’re looking for a memorable date-night destination, book a table for dinner at Gamba Ristorante and indulge in a multi-course feast with your special someone.

Start your dinner with antipasti like grilled octopus, extra colossal shrimp in cognac sauce, fried calamari, and roasted Brussels sprouts. Next, for the soup and salad course, enjoy a classic Italian soup like pasta e fagioli. Or, for a lighter selection, choose the Belgian endive salad with radicchio, d’Anjou pear, grapes, walnuts, and gorgonzola. If you’re craving pasta, you’ve come to the right place. Ravioli gets a flavorful twist when filled with Chianti-braised beef short rib and served with brandy cream. The Paccheri Modo Torinese features large pasta tubes with roasted Brussels sprouts, ricotta salata, lemon zest, nutmeg, and mint.

If meat and seafood are your preference, try something different with the grilled New Zealand wapiti elk chop in peppercorn sauce or rabbit legs in a spicy plum tomato sauce. The broiled jumbo lump blue crab cakes deliver decadent flavors from the sea, while the grilled 8-ounce filet mignon offers the ultimate steak dinner. You can satisfy nearly any craving at this delicious destination.

Location: 455 E. 84th Drive, Merrillville.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Catch 22 Table & Tap

If you’re looking for a casual date night, Catch 22 Table & Tap is the perfect destination. This classic American pub features a savory menu of bar food faves like street tacos, wings, and chili. You can settle in to watch a game or enjoy an evening of live music while sampling appetizers like soft Bavarian pretzel sticks, loaded tater tots, and Wisconsin cheese curds. Get your veggies in with a hearty salad like the Southwest chicken or Ahi tuna salad.

If you’re looking for a more filling entree, try the Catch Burger with applewood smoked bacon, avocado, grilled onions, mushrooms, and bleu cheese. You’ll also find delicious options like teriyaki pineapple salmon, fish and chips, and flatbread pizza. Catch 22 Table & Tap provides the perfect relaxed atmosphere when you want a laid-back evening away from it all.

Location: 500 E. 81st Ave., Merrillville.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Theatre Northwest & Arts on Broadway

A night out to see a theater production is the perfect date activity, and Broadway-style shows are closer than you think. The Department of Performing Arts at Indiana University Northwest hosts Theatre Northwest and Arts on Broadway. Theatre Northwest is a performance company that presents music, theater, dance, and other forms of live entertainment. In contrast, Arts on Broadway presents community programming.

Theatre Northwest and Arts on Broadway utilize the Main Stage Theatre for the majority of their productions. This 500-seat auditorium features state-of-the-art technology for a truly memorable experience. In addition, Black Box Studio hosts more intimate performances in its 100-seat venue. Check the calendar for current productions and spend an unforgettable date night at the theater.

Location: IU Northwest, 3400 Broadway, Gary.

Hours: Showtimes vary.

South Shore Arts

South Shore Arts maintains The Center for Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), which highlights local artists and creators throughout its 5,000-square-foot gallery. The CVPA also features a ceramics studio, photography studio, and classrooms.

For your date night experience, you can visit CVPA to take in the current exhibitions. Enjoy a leisurely stroll of the galleries and discuss your impressions of the work with your partner. You can also sign up for one of the facility’s adult classes to learn a new skill together. You can explore photography, ceramics, pottery, needle felting, and more as you broaden your horizons for a one-of-a-kind date experience.

Many of the courses include multiple classes, so you can sign up together and enjoy a recurring date. Pair your visit to the studio with a special dinner before or after, and make this a new routine for you and your special someone.

Location: 1040 Ridge Road, Munster.

Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, noon to 7 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Region Cat Cafe

If your partner loves cats, there’s no better date than an afternoon at the Region Cat Cafe. This facility houses friendly adoptable cats and kittens. The cat cafe features animals from Second Chance 4 Pets. You can cozy up with the cats during your time slot and help them stay socialized. The cafe serves wine and beer, so kick back, relax and play during your 50-minute visit with a feline friend. The Region Cat Cafe has a 10-person limit, so you’ll never have to worry about feeling crowded.

While the cats are available for adoption, you are not obligated to take a furry friend home. Settle in, enjoy the ambiance, and have a playful afternoon with your partner as you snuggle up with some adorably adoptable cats. Make your reservations online in advance to secure a spot. If you’d rather just drop in and watch the kitties while you eat, have a seat at the counter with a view of the cat lounge. Order a cappuccino and a cookie, or choose a sandwich from their grab-and-go cooler.

Location: 281 W. 80th Place, Merrillville.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Did we include your favorite date night destination on our list? If we missed any great spots in Merrillville and the surrounding area, contact our team at Steiner Homes and let us know. We want to have the best recommendations for our new residents so we can point them toward great locations for local entertainment.