kristy holland

T here's an awesome nostalgia involved with reminiscing about an old stomping ground. Thoughts of tasting a warm comfort-food meal cooked by mom, curling up on a super-familiar couch, or dancing close with a high school sweetheart can cause a flood of feel-good endorphins -- a high that you can take advantage of when you're getting to know a new love interest.

This weekend's homecoming celebration, like all homecoming celebrations, inspires a longing for the old days among University of Colorado alums. But as a current student, there's a good chance that dormitory living or sharing a flophouse off campus doesn't instill the same schmaltzy sentiments that the alums are getting out of the festivities. Instead, your sense of hometown warm-and-fuzzies may come from wherever you spent life before settling in the Boulder bubble.

So this weekend, when you're considering feel-good destinations that will inspire some get-to-know-you conversation between you and your date, consider skipping the alum-centric antics around campus. Instead, opt for a destination that'll recall pre-CU life and your old neighborhoods. Here are a few suggestions:

This town is a mecca for fine dining. But getting your fill of hearty, home-style cooking can be tough -- unless you grew up eating kale chips and truffle fries. Where's a boy to go if he wants to bond with a gal pal over a plate of Americana? Try the new BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse location on 28th (1690 28th St.; bjsbrewhouse.com). The new dinning room is less crowded than the old Pearl Street one, but they still serve up comfort-food-style boneless wings, pork chops, and ribs -- or a dozen other homey meals from their well-rounded menu. Would you rather do brunch? Check out Le Peep (2525 Arapahoe Ave.; lepeepbreakfast.com) for their mom-made-style French toast, heartland biscuits and gravy, or a cheesy-crusted melted sandwiches. Bonus: There's hardly ever a wait for a table.

Want something even more down-home? Wow your lady friend with a meal that you actually cook yourself. Stick with an easy pasta and combo, or make a joke of the hot-plate-assisted effort by prepping something folksy like Hamburger Helper or Stove Top stuffing. If you're truly helpless in the kitchen you can still impress: Pick up soup, salad, bread, dessert, and whatever you crave from Whole Foods' (2905 Pearl St.; wholefoodsmarket.com) extensive pre-made section and transfer everything to warm plates for an candlelight meal on your kitchen table -- or on pillows beside your coffee table to make it more intimate. Even just serving a delicious meal shows that you devoted energy and thought to the evening, which is a sure-fire recipe to warm her heart.

While I relate going home with relaxing, not everyone feels the same. For those of you who want a more energized (or perhaps less emotionally intimate) date night, hit the Absinthe House (1109 Walnut St.) on Saturday night for a bumping and grinding set of dance beats spun by local DJs. Drink specials and the country's largest selection of the venue's namesake psychotropic elevate the dark and cavernous dance floor into a grown-up version of your high school prom--but with a sexier dress code and permission to keep things rolling with your date as long as you want. Bonus: Drink specials are super affordable, well cocktails are just $2.

Kristy Holland writes about dating once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date-night ideas at boulderdatenight@gmail.com