What to Look for in a First-Date Restaurant

Related To:
First dates are one of two things:

1. They turn out to be thrilling evenings of lust and intellectual discovery spent with someone who just might be your soul mate, or

2. They are colossal wastes of time.

We’re generalizing, of course.

But since life is like a box of chocolates, and some of them are really good walnut caramels and others are turtle dung, it pays to choose a first-date restaurant destination that will let love flourish.

Below are the top five factors to consider when selecting a first-date restaurant. Think of a few restaurants that fit these criteria in your neighborhood, and keep them written on a piece of paper in your wallet or tattoo them on your forearm to avoid that pre-date “I don’t care, where do YOU want to go?” banter.

  • Lighting

Perhaps the most crucial element of a first-date dinner is making sure that everyone looks their most attractive. Are there candles on the table? Does the restaurant owner understand how dimmer and dinner go hand in hand? With soft light glinting off stemware, it barely matters what you’re eating.

  • Cost

When it doubt, go upper-middle. Chances are one of you will insist on paying while the other politely demurs, but to suggest a Michelin four-star penthouse restaurant that just opened last month seems a little high-maintenance. That being said, if you suggest hitting the Kenny Rogers Roasters near the airport, your date may question your critical-thinking skills and taste. Aim for a new, interesting place with good buzz and entrees that cost about $12-16. And if they allow BYOB with no corkage, do it, you crazy lovesick animals.

  • Options

Unless you’ve already covered the topic of vegans vs. carnivores in your pre-date flirting, it’s always good to prepare for the possibility that your date doesn’t want to go to an all-meat schwarma palace. Check ahead and ask if he/she has any "dietary considerations" (use that term instead of "weird screwed-up food neurosis"). At least one or two veggie options on the menu will mean avoiding the chance of one of you picking hungrily at a plate of lettuce.

  • Loud Music

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN ACOUSTICS ON A FIRST DATE? WHAT? We think you said no. But we couldn’t hear you over the blistering '90s metal lams the waiter is playing. Other conversation killer? Restaurants with crazy-high ceilings or marble floors. The clatter from dishes and the din of other diners can strangle even the most well intentioned getting-to-know-eachotherness. If you’re not sure about ambiance, case the joint the night before to see if you’ll be “mingleshouting” through a meal with someone you might love -- if only you could hear them.

  • Valet

Maybe this is just an L.A. thing, but valeting on a date can be worth the extra few bucks. Here’s a super secret from one of our girlfriends (OK, one of us): If you’re not too excited about the date, valet your car so that at the end of the night, there won’t be an awkward smooch. I mean, all the valet guys are watching and the whole restaurant can see you. Clean getaway! But if there are already sparks, park down the street; you'll HAVE to use the buddy system, which leaves plenty of time and space for that end-of-the-evening peck (read: make out).

Keep Reading

Next Up

Cooking Channel – Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Get familiar with The Cooking Channel, a network for food people, by food people.

Rock This Look: How Nadia G. Looks Her Best

See how to rock Nadia G.'s style from the Bucket List episode of Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen.

Look at Chocolate in a New Way

We love a good brownie, but here are some unique ways to work chocolate into a recipe from Cooking Channel.

Rock This Look: How Nadia G. Would Look Good as a Mom

Let Nadia G. and the color purple inspire you to reclaim your style and become an all-out "momshell." Get it?

Rock This Look: Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen "Hitched and Ditched"

Rock Nadia G.’s style from the "Hitched and Ditched" episode of Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen.

Rock This Look: Nadia G.'s '50s Style

In the ’50s, you had the choice between looking sharp and looking square. Nadia G. won’t be switching up her leopard print for soft pastels anytime soon, but she wouldn’t mind adopting the end-of-day drinking tradition.

On TV

Carnival Eats

10am | 9c

Carnival Eats

10:30am | 9:30c

Carnival Eats

11am | 10c

Carnival Eats

11:30am | 10:30c

Carnival Eats

12pm | 11c

Carnival Eats

12:30pm | 11:30c

Carnival Eats

1pm | 12c

Carnival Eats

1:30pm | 12:30c

Good Eats

2pm | 1c

Good Eats

2:30pm | 1:30c

Man Fire Food

3:30pm | 2:30c

Man Fire Food

4:30pm | 3:30c

Man Fire Food

5:30pm | 4:30c

Man Fire Food

6:30pm | 5:30c

Man Fire Food

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Man Fire Food

8pm | 7c

Man Fire Food

8:30pm | 7:30c

Man Fire Food

9:30pm | 8:30c

Big Bad BBQ Brawl

10:30pm | 9:30c

Good Eats

11pm | 10c

Good Eats

11:30pm | 10:30c

Man Fire Food

12am | 11c

Man Fire Food

12:30am | 11:30c

Man Fire Food

1am | 12c

Man Fire Food

1:30am | 12:30c

Big Bad BBQ Brawl

2:30am | 1:30c

Good Eats

3am | 2c

Good Eats

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot
What's Hot

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

New Episodes Sundays 8|7c

Pick a Side!

The Snackdown

In our new animated series, we debate the most-pressing food matters of our time, like is cereal a soup?

So Much Pretty Food Here