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I couldn't say, since I am rather shy and would prefer NOT to talk with people of the opposite sex unless I'm rather well acquainted with them already by group activity and discussions.
But a real, sincere "How are you?" is lovely. If you really know someone, you'll know if they really mean that when they say it, or if it is just a throw off. I have a few friends who really care about the answer, and you surely can tell! Nothing makes you feel as good as someone who really cares how you are.
I don't think 'What do you like about this place?' is a good one as it might put her on the spot. Maybe it is close by or cheap. Then she'll be embarrassed because she doesn't like a bar or cafe or wherever because it has ambience or has a cool vibe or something.
Go to park; find someone walking their dog; talk to dog and the person will answer for them. Also works with small children in a supermarket (talk to the baby and the parent answers (of course being a new parent they're also pretty likely to not be single, but hey babies are cute)).
Alternatively make random references to shows or books you enjoy while doing normal activities and wait for another fan to notice and say hi.
There's always the obvious of look for someone who might need a little help or a listening ear and offer to provide that as well.
Did we mention I'm pretty crap at meeting people and starting new friendships?