A bottle of pop, a crispy taco and thou; The challenge was to have a fun time on 30 bucks or less – and, boy, did we bingo!

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

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Looking for some cheap thrills?

Thirty dollars can buy you and a date a whole day’s worth of them with a little imagination. And Texas Living is here to help with a new feature: Cheap Date, which will appear occasionally on Saturdays.

We’ll send our resident thrill seekers on a date that won’t leave them living on bologna sandwiches the rest of the week. Typically, the date will include food and as much entertainment as $30 can buy.

They’ll report back on the success of their date, detailing what they did and how much elements of the event cost.

Armed with their discoveries, we hope readers will find that a night out doesn’t have to set you back a day’s pay.

Feeling lucky

You know it’s been a good date if, at night’s end, you find yourself thinking: “Bingo!”

Well, why not get the magic word out of the way earlier in the evening? Start your Cheap Date at North Dallas Bingo. The warehouse setting provides endless people-watching opportunities – albeit a different sort than on Greenville or in Addison.

For a mere $6, you get an hour of B-12s and G-53s. At first, you’ll think the game requires only luck, not skill. But watch out, or you’ll end up promptly disqualified for marking up your cards incorrectly. Not that we’d know.

The crowd’s a bit younger than you’d imagine, and you’ll have great fun inventing “Behind the Music”-style back stories for your fellow patrons. And if you get thirsty, the water fountain’s free!

Alas, the bingo gods do not smile upon us, and we walk out without winnings. But keeping with the competitive theme, dinner is a Battle of the Taco Stands. We head up Gaston to my favorite, La Parrillada, and sample the walk-up carnitas. They’re nicely spiced at a buck a pop. We snag, appropriately, Mexican beverages – a Jarritos Mandarina soda and Topo Chico mineral water – at the convenience store next door.

My date prefers the work of Tacos Y Mas at Greenville and Ross. I won’t be swayed from my partisan fave, but I’ll admit her spot makes a nice meaty taco. Although, at $1.25 a piece, they’re downright pricey – that extra quarter can make all the difference on a Cheap Date.

Grab a beer at Ship’s Lounge across the street, then end the evening with one thing everyone can agree on … gelato from Paciugo in the West Village. A schmear of black cherry swirl could bring peace to the Middle East.

Have you gone on a fun Cheap Date lately? Give us your tips on where to go, what to try. Write Texas Living/Cheap Date, P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, TX 75265, fax 214-977-8321 or e-mail texasliving@dallasnews.com.

The Bottom Line
WHAT: Bingo mania and tacos at war
North Dallas Bingo, 7940 N. Central Expy., 214-360-9393. Now with video bingo!
La Parrillada, 7260 Gaston Ave., 214-327-5513. Best use of a dollar in Dallas.
Tacos Y Mas, 5419 Ross Ave., 214-824-8079. Just try to find better tacos in an Eckerd’s parking lot.
Ship’s Lounge, 1613 Greenville Ave., 214-823-0315. Insider hint: A pack of cards is free at the bar.
Paciugo, 3699 McKinney Ave., 214-219-2665. Completely calorie-free. Seriously.
THE TAB: $23.24