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Since our ancestors first began swiping on Bumble and Hinge, it has been a widely-debated topic of how to knock your first date out of the park. Of course, you can always mail it in with some coffee or cocktails, but some like to roll the dice and do a full meal to kick things off.
I’ve always been the latter.
It is through my vast experiences during my 20s that I entertained the best and worst ideas when it came to which type of restaurant to choose after securing a date. Were mistakes made? Of course. People are still talking about what happened during The Great All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Hut Fiasco of 2012, but the masses aren’t quite ready for that story yet.
Learn from my mistakes by taking the following restaurant ranking into consideration.
Are you kidding? Run the risk of being hungover the first time you come into contact with someone you’re trying to court? Are you new?
No one in the history of mankind has ever sat down at a BBQ restaurant and not stuffed themselves to the point of no return. No one. Unless your date puts in a special request to go somewhere that welcomes elastic waistbands and breeds meat sweats, there are a myriad of other options that won’t leave you both avoiding physical touch until the night finally ends when you can both go back to your respective apartments to put on pants that normally would be a size too big.
Whether you’re tossing some Sweet & Spicy Chicken over white rice or splitting some egg rolls before going in on some Mongolian Beef, you’re essentially committing to the same fate as you were with BBQ. Yeah, you’ll get full, but your body will be so overridden with MSG and salt that you’ll legitimately feel hungover the next day even if you don’t drink.
Chinese food is “been dating for three months and want to stay in watching Netflix” type of shit. Order it, fall asleep on the couch next to each other, and spend twenty minutes rewinding trying to figure out just exactly where you dozed off during episode three of The Crown.
7. ‘Bar’ Food
Hitting up your local McCallahan’s Pub after connecting through Bumble is never going to be a bad move. Just don’t eat there unless you’re prepared to indulge in a mediocre Caesar Salad with three-day-old croutons.
First date finger foods are a dicey proposition no matter how you slice it. I’m in the “only eating bone-in wings when I’m not next to people I care about” camp, and trying to eat a cheeseburger while impressing the person sitting across the table is more reckless than taking a first date to a wedding as your plus-one.
Some 22-ounce beers and a couple vodka-sodas to shut the night down? Have at it. Just eat beforehand and stiff-arm the waitress when she starts doling out menus.
Considering the fact that both of your profiles both include “fan of tacos,” this is going to be a natural choice for you to throw out there. But I urge you to proceed with caution.
A couple tacos? Harmless. Run train on that hipster bar that has a food truck out back. Sure, the tacos will be mediocre, but it’s essential you don’t go to an actual Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant. The second you start incorporating bean and rice sides is the second you commit to having gas the rest of the night. Unless playing fart chicken is your idea of an icebreaker, don’t spend the entire date wishing she’ll go to the bathroom so you can let one fly.
Italian is a romance language, but the cuisine is not. The second you dip a piece of bread into some olive oil and shovel it into your mouth, you’re pretty much begging to get a stain on your shirt. Double down and order the bucatini? Slurp City, population: you.
The pros in this situation are obviously the ambiance and the wine selection. If you can throw out a ‘Sangiovese’ or ‘Montepulciano’ to the waiter with a flawless accent, you’re pretty much guaranteeing yourself a second date based on suaveness alone.
Pro move? Order the ravioli, bowtie, or ghnocci. No slurping required and you can reuse that starched white shirt at work later in the week.
Now we’re in the zone.
Of course, when you think “first date,” you don’t exactly default to “steakhouse.” Steakhouses are reserved for special occasions and celebratory events which is why this isn’t ranking atop the list. It’s an aggressive move at best.
Where you’ll lose out on the wallet, you’ll make up for in simplicity. A straight-forward steakhouse menu will leave you each eating some middle-of-the-road cuisine that you know will be top-notch if price isn’t an issue. Sure, you may want to make sure your counterpart is made of wife or husband material before hopping on OpenTable and making a 7 p.m. Thursday rezzie, but you know what you’re getting: consistency and quality.
3. Seafood & Oyster Bar
Seafood is polarizing. About as polarizing as whether or not to get an actual meal of food for a first date, but that’s neither here nor there.
Oysters are hot in the streets right now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slide in some seafood discussion prior to booking a reservation. Work it into your initial texts or just blatantly get clearance. The upside of seafood is that it’ll be a light fare that leaves you open to switching locations for more drinks once you’ve signed the bill. The downside? Well, the bill itself. Chilean seabass ain’t cheap.
Oh, and I hear oysters are an aphrodisiac. I can’t confirm this because I always end up getting too drunk whenever I eat them, but science is science.
Overall, tapas are trash. Small bites that leave you unfulfilled by night’s end where you inevitably ask your Uber driver if they’d mind going through a Taco Bell drive-thru (make sure to get them a taco of their own so they don’t mind).
Where tapas comes out ahead is that there’s a little something for everyone. You can play it safe by ordering some shishito peppers, or you can show your wild side by getting some braised oxtail and experiencing something new together. You don’t run the risk of your date ordering a $42 filet because there’s nothing on the menu, and you can order as you go which allows you to stop the second you feel even slightly full.
Get some sangria while you’re at it. You’re not driving. Well, hopefully not.
“But what if they don’t like seafood?” you ask. “Didn’t you just poopoo rice as a viable first date option?” you question.
I know, I know, I get it. But sushi isn’t just rice-wrapped fish. It’s fucking sushi. Totally different. For some inexplicable reason, people who hate seafood will eat sushi. Expansive menus covering everything from California Rolls to Shaggy Dogs, you can mix and match much like you can with tapas. You hover along in between feverishly starving because it isn’t enough and feeling too full because all of the sudden you’re buzzed on sake and just took down one-and-a-half rolls each. Bingo, bango, bongo, you’re out the door for under a hundred bucks with nothing to worry about except the sake hangover the next morning at work.
Except if they insist on ordering a roll with cream cheese in it. That’s when you escape out the bathroom window. .