Don’t Ruin It at Dinner: What to Order and Not Order on a First Date

Ahh the season of love is upon us. That’s right… It’s February. Single or not (yes, those of us in relationships get lazy, too) February reminds us to dip a toe back into the romance pond. We know that there are a lot of fun and alternative date options in this great city of ours, so call us old fashion but we prefer going out to dinner on a date. To better prepare you we have put together a list of what you should & should not be ordering on your next date. So the next time you find yourself on another first date you will be ready to put your best food foot forward!

To start things off positively we put together the list of our top date friendly dishes. And the good news; the list of appropriate, kind of sexy and should lead to some easy conversation menu options are all absolutely divine.

Appetizer Do’s

For appetizers, crostini and/or cheese plates are easy winners. Crostini and cheese plates are great because they consist of a few clean bites and are totally shareable without getting knives involved. Plus shareable means you can chat and compare all those delicious details together (see: easy conversation starter). And seriously choosing between cheese or crispy bread topped with sweet tomatoes doesn’t suck. And not to judge, but if your date doesn’t like these options pass on date number two.

Entree Do’s

Alright time for the big show, the main dish and the options are endless. No really, there are so many things you can eat you would stop reading this right here if we listed them all.  Which is why we’ll skip the things to eat and let you simply read the portion on what not to eat for the main below and you’ll be good to go!

Dessert Do’s

Now for my favorite course… Dessert! If things are going well (like you wanna seriously lay the moves down) order something with chocolate and 2 spoons. Yes, I said it –share a dessert. Let’s face it –you wanna swap some spit after this, so worrying about germs is off the table. Just one rule: this is not an invite for feeding each other. That’s a line that should not be crossed. Ever. But dessert sharing, especially something chocolaty is just sexy. Spoons up!


Alright… Now it’s time for the naughty (food) list.

Appetizer Don’ts

First up, starters. The lineup of don’ts includes mussels, chicken wings & salads. Random, we know. But all these foods are criminals in their own way:

  • Mussels, while tasty little suckers, are notoriously messy. Yes, that broth they are swimming is will end up on your lap or shirt. Gross. Plus they are (99% of the time) prepared with A LOT of garlic. Which means your breath is gonna stink. Good luck recovering from that.
  • Chicken wings, a food that goes with Sunday funday, beer and completely casual which is NOT what  you want on a date! And just like mussels these are gonna make a mess from your hands to your face. Whatever used to cover that chicken wing is now covering you and it’s not a good look.


  • Salads. The worst of the worst. Nothing says up tight, non-adventurous and self aware like a salad. Plus that shit gets in your teeth. So live a little and order a real appetizer – you can have a green juice in the morning.

Entree Don’ts

Mains: now this is where things can get weird. Case in point: a friend of mine didn’t know ordering a lamb shank meant your dish came with a free caveman style bone. Hilarious for me receiving that text, mortifying for her surviving the rest of that date. Which leads to my first no-no:

  • Do not order anything that is served bone-in syle; such as pork chops, T-bones, lamb shanks and ribs. Now I love my meat as much as the next girl, but on a first date you have to keep it classy, and this applies to you too, guys! Sawing around a massive bone is a great way to make having a conversation really challenging. So what do you (saw saw saw) do for (saw saw saw) fun (saw saw saw)… You get the idea. And for full disclosure: don’t even think about picking up that bone to start chomping away. We will not picture you as manly as you think you look.

While on the topic of meat. I shouldn’t have to say it, but, ordering anything cooked beyond medium goes far beyond a dating faux-pas, this is a sin against the animal that died to feed you. Seriously, are you going to ask for a bottle of ketchup, too? If you prefer your steak medium well or well done just stay home and burn your own damn steak.


  • Burgers. This is my go to dish when I want to scare a guy off. True story. There is nothing more unappetizing to watch than rare, juicy burger drippings running down your dinner companion’s chin. Ohhh wait, there is. Watching someone unhinge there jaw to get the perfect meat to toppings to bread ratio. Just leave the burgers to summer cookouts.
  • Spaghetti: as an Italian myself it kills me to say this, but unless your spoon, fork and twirl game could impress Mario Batali, choose another form of pasta. Spaghetti, fettuccini, and perchatelli all lend themselves to splattering, slurping and other not such good looks on you. Good news: asking for different type of pasta (say a bow-tie, penne, or orrichiette) with that carbonara is not a criminal offense. And one last pasta rule: ordering squid ink pasta is not ok. You will dye your entire mouth black no matter how much water you drink between bites, just say no.

Dessert Don’ts

Don’t act so surprised, there are desserts out there that are not date appropriate.

  • Sorbets: there is a reason your waitress said this last is, well, because it’s boring. This dessert screams being in denial about having dessert. Not only that, sorbet melts in about 4.5 seconds leaving you slurping away, something you don’t want to be doing on a date. So man up and order something good, like those house-made doughnuts that come with caramel sauce. That’s a winner.


  • Rice Pudding (and puddings in general). The consistency is the crime. You know what I mean, it’s kind of loose, viscous-y and should just be avoided. Plus, it’s kinda of childish, and on a first date you don’t want to bring things back to grade school. Now, don’t confuse custards with puddings, custards are firmer and don’t resemble anything unappetizing. Just think of custards as the grown-up version of pudding, which is why we love them.
  • Baked Alaska (i.e. ice cream covered in meringue). We know, this hasn’t been on a menu since the days of Julia. Just in case your restaurant is doing some dessert throwbacks you now know not to participate. Why? Eating it is just awkward. Plus the quick melting time causes the same problems as sorbets. One throwback that never goes out of style: chocolate cake. That is my kind of throwback Thursday.

Ok, that’s enough food hating for me. It’s just too painful. But, you get the idea.

We hope you go out and enjoy a good meal with someone new without things getting weird (at least during dinner). And if you happen to have a dating/dining disaster that the single world would benefit from, share your story below!

Bon appetit!

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