4 Tips and Tricks for Picking the Perfect Date Restaurant in Any City

November 11, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Are you going on a date? Are you in charge of picking a restaurant for the evening?

That may sound like an easy job, but it’s not! Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or going out with your wife of 20 years, you’re responsible for how the evening unfolds. Will the food be good or bad? Will the service be amazing or rude?

Will your date even want to see you again after you take her to that weird restaurant by the train tracks that looked cool and quirky online but was actually really bad?

These are all good questions. Today, I’m going to share the best 4 tips and tricks anyone can use to find the perfect date restaurant in any city:

4) Look at the right review websites

Obviously, most people start their search by looking for reviews from real customers online. That may seem like an easy task, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The problem lies with the quality of review websites. Some review websites are filled with fraudulent reviews that are so good they’re obviously fake. Others have no reviews, or a bunch of oddly hostile reviews. So who do you believe online?

Avoid Yelp

Yelp has faced a lot of criticism lately for its mishandling of its review system. Today, many legitimate restaurant owners struggle with their Yelp profiles. Yelp has been accused of leveraging negative online reviews for its own profit. Specifically, business owners who buy “Yelp Advertising”, which costs between $300 and $1,000 per month, will notice that positive reviews are highlighted on their page while negative reviews disappear. Some people have even called this practice “extortion“. Anyways, the next time you read about the hottest new restaurant in town on Yelp, avoid the temptation to trust the reviews at face value.

Instead, use UrbanSpoon, Fodor’s, or Zagat

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that UrbanSpoon, Fodor’s and Zagat are more trustworthy than Yelp. However, so far, all three of these three restaurant review websites have avoided the negative publicity which has hit Yelp in recent months. People are starting to trust reviews on these three websites more than they trust Yelp reviews.

No matter which review website you use, just type in your city, or your neighborhood, sort by best rating, and find a restaurant in your price range. If you were looking for restaurants in San Diego, for example, you would type in “Downtown San Diego restaurants” 

Once you’ve identified a few of the unanimously best restaurants in town, pick one. After all, they’re all going to be of similar level of service and quality if they’re rated that highly.

3) Ask where your friends go on dates

Still haven’t picked the perfect restaurant? Talk to your friends and ask where they go on their dates. Ask friends if they liked the food, the service, the atmosphere, and the price at a particular place. Make sure you tell them you’re bringing a girl or guy there on a date, and ask them if it’s an appropriate restaurant for that date.

This tip is the most obvious one on this list, but it’s a tip that many people forget during the panic that sets in when you’re picking a restaurant.

2) Think about what you want to get from the date

Do you want your date to be impressed by how much money you can spend? Pick an expensive restaurant in the trendy part of town.

Is your date down-to-earth and loves to watch football? Take her (or, more likely, him) to a gastropub or casual restaurant for a big game.

Think about what you want to get out of your date. Do you want to do something before or after the date – like watch a movie, go bowling, or walk down by the water?

Do you want to a nice quiet restaurant where you can have long conversations with your date? Or would you rather have live music and entertainment playing?

Think about your date and what that person likes. But more importantly, think about what you would like to happen on the date, then pick a place where you can make that happen. 

1) Avoid picking an overly romantic place for a first date

I can’t emphasize this tip enough: if you’re picking a restaurant for a first date, try to avoid a place that’s overly romantic. In most cases, both you and your date will just feel awkward. You’ll be surrounded by loving couples who are holding hands, sharing plates, and sneakily pointing at that awkward couple who are on their very first date.

Go to a place where you can both feel comfortable being yourselves without being weighed down by expectations.

Ultimately, picking a restaurant for your next date may seem like the biggest choice of your life. But when you put the tips listed above to work for you, you can continuously impress your date with the best, most unique restaurants in any city.