How To Pick A First Date Restaurant


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Ok, so it’s dinner date time.  Where do you take that girl for your first big night out?  You want to impress her, have her enjoy the meal, but also be comfortable.  Here are some guidelines to keep you from going broke, or treating her to McDonald’s.

Well, if you have read my article on being a regular, you may decide to take her to your regular place, where “everybody knows your name.”  Sure it will impress her.  Sure you will get good service.  But, don’t do it.  Your regular spot is NOT first date ready.  What if there isn’t a second or third date?  You may end up bringing all sorts of girls to the regular spot and the staff will think your just a playa or, at the very least, think you’re trying to show off to every lady in town.  You also run the risk of having a waiter or hostess say something awkward, like calling the girl by the last weeks date’s name, or making reference to you “always having a pretty lady around.”   Lastly, if things go bad here, for any of the above reasons, you will potentially lose your favorite, and regular, place to go.  So, pick someplace else.

I have also written an article about dining at the bar, and while that might be great for a second or third date, I am going to not recommend it for the first one.  It can be distracting, and it doesn’t give you time to get to know the person and have a good conversation.

So where do you go?


Well, let’s first choose a location.  In some cases it may not be important at all, but in others it’s critical.  If you are both coming from work, try to pick a place that’s convenient for both of you.  Picking the place across the street from your office while she has to travel a half hour is rude.  Same goes for picking a place in your neighborhood.

If there is any other event that is going to be part of this evening (a movie, show, concert, etc.) make sure the restaurant is convenient to that as well so there won’t be any rushing around after dinner.  If a bar or lounge is not part of your plans, you may want to scout one out near the restaurant of choice so if you hit it off there is an opportunity to extend the evening.


It would be wise to talk with your date about what type of food she likes or doesn’t like.   I would also suggest you stay away from very specific or very unusual places.  The steakhouse or the Ethiopian restaurant where you eat with your hands may be off limits unless you know that your date likes these sort of things.

You should also pick a place that you have been to before.  There is nothing like showing up (or worse, not being able to find the place) and finding out that it is a dump, or the food is lousy. If you haven’t been there before, at the very least, check Zagat’s or Yelp to see how the restaurant’s food and service are rated.

Next, take a look at the menus on line and see that there are enough choices.  If your date is vegetarian, or has other dietary restrictions, picking a place where she has some good choices will make her not only feel comfortable, but also make her feel that you care about her.  Even if there are no dietary restrictions, don’t pick a place that, while good, may only have a choice of four entrees.  It is not exciting, and not fun if there are two fish, a chicken, and a steak dish on the menu and both of you don’t really like fish or steak.


You want to pick a nice place, with good food, but you also don’t want to break the bank.  It may also be a turn off if the lady thinks you are trying to be a show off by picking the priciest place in town.  It may also make her uncomfortable.  Pick something fairly reasonable.  If there isn’t a second or third date, you will have wasted your money.


This can be tricky.  You want a lively place, that’s fun, but you also want some romance and be able to have a conversation.  I wouldn’t pick the newest, hottest place in town as they are often more about hype, and less about good food and service, particularly if they’re new.  I also wouldn’t pick the old stuffy classic restaurant.  A place with dry, old waiters that look as if they are two steps from the grave, where you can hear a pin drop, is not fun and can be slightly awkward when there are those moments of silence.  Pick somewhere in between, with some good background music, and a lively atmosphere.


Lastly, pick a place that takes reservations.  You don’t want to drag your starving date to a place that tells you there is an hour wait for a table.

Remember, unlike your regular spot, it’s ok to have a regular first date spot.  Once you get a good one, hang on to it.  If you don’t go to the trouble to make yourself known to the staff as a regular, you don’t run any of the risks mentioned above.  It also takes some of the pressure off of going on the first date.  So scout one out and jot it down so you are ready for next time.  Better yet, jot down a few so you can recommend them as soon as she says “Yes!” to going to dinner with you.

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