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The First Date Dinner: What To Bring, What To Eat, And What To Say For A Lasting First Impression

Whether you like it or not, first-date dinner is a go-to for first-date options. Sorry, I don’t make the rules!

It’s easy since you have to eat anyway, it’s relatively safe since there are other people around and you’re never truly alone, and it’s fun because it’s an excuse to try a new restaurant and put on a cute outfit.

Not to mention, you always have an “out” because there’s a definitive end to a meal.

If the vibes are bad, head your separate ways post-entree. If the vibes are good, grab dessert or another drink and extend the night. 

Dinner has been a classic date since the dawn of time, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting, daunting, or nerve-racking.

Luckily, we have your back and curated an official first-date dinner blueprint ;)

What To Bring On A First Date Dinner

You should always do and bring what makes you comfortable, but here are a few “musts” we recommend accompanying your first date dinner.

  • Credit Card. No one likes to play the “who’s paying?” game, but it's always a good idea to bring a debit or credit card. Even if your date pays, it’s the thought that counts. 
  • Cash. If you’re anything like me, your parents preach that you should always carry cash in case your card fails (eek!). Whether you use it or not, play it safe and stash $25 to $50 cash in your wallet.
  • Lip product. Lip balm, lip gloss, lip oil, lipstick, whatever! You’ll likely be doing a lot of talking (which dries out your lips), and if one thing leads to the next… hydrated lips always make kissing better. 
  • Gum. Post-dinner breath is unpredictable, so keep a pack of mint gum handy in case you need to freshen up.
  • Portable charger. First dates are stressful enough, so there’s no need to worry about your phone dying. If you don’t have a portable charger, just make sure your phone is fully charged before the date. 
  • Makeup. If you’re a makeup person, toss a few go-to products in your bag in case you need to touch up your look. In the same vein, maybe bring a makeup remover wipe if you plan on spending the night.
  • Cellphone. This is likely a no-brainer, but don’t forget your phone! And while you’re at it, share your location with a friend so they can keep an eye out for you. 
  • Thoughtful gift (optional). If you’re up for it, consider bringing a thoughtful gift for your date. For example, if they told you they love cookies, pick up their favorite kind. Or, if you’re really into the person, craft a cute “another date” coupon to signal you’re looking forward to hanging out again. Get creative. 

  • What To Eat At A First Date Dinner

    Listen, there’s no need to overthink it. Order what you want and what sounds good at the moment. You’re going to pack gum anyway, so there’s no need to worry about smelly breath!

    That said, keep it comfortable. If you’ve never tried sushi before, maybe don’t order it on a first dinner date. If you’re not a spicy person, avoid ordering an insanely spicy dish on day one. 

    Another tip? Avoid foods that won’t sit with you well.

    Raw veggies, beans, lentils, and dairy products are known to cause stomach discomfort and gas, so choose wisely and think ahead. 

    Additionally, order something you’re comfortable eating and handling. If your chopstick skills need work, keep that in mind. If you struggle to crack lobster, opt for something else, so you aren’t preoccupied the entire night. 

    Finger foods like wings and ribs may also be best to limit for cleanliness purposes. 

    Just remember to play it simple. Order what you want and what makes you feel good. Keep it cool, calm, and collected. 

    What To Say At A First Date Dinner

    There’s no need to analyze every question and conversation (I know, it’s easier said than done), but here are some helpful tips to keep in mind. 

  • Listen. An active listener is attractive. Ask follow-up questions and stay engaged when the other person is talking. Even if you’re not interested in the convo, avoid going on your phone. Stay alert because you never know what you’ll learn. 
  • Be open. Stay open-minded and focus on engaging conversation. Explore a variety of topics to really learn about the other person and find your similarities. Keep it lighthearted and interesting because there’s nothing sexier than good communication. 
  • Laugh. Don’t take yourself or the situation too seriously. Have fun, laugh, and be silly if you’re comfortable. It’s okay to enjoy! Let loose!
  • Find similarities. If you’re looking for an immediate and easy way to connect, find similarities between you and your date. Shared experiences, interests, likes, and dislikes are the perfect springboard for connection. 
  • Stay vigilant. Of course, it’s always important to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for red flags. Do they talk about their ex non-stop? Are their stories and facts consistent? Keep your eyes and ears open and listen to your gut.

    The Dos And Don’ts Of A First Date Dinner

    First things first. Have fun! The reason for dating is to enjoy yourself and find someone who makes you feel special, loved, and appreciated, so keep it lighthearted. After all, a good date will be naturally fun.

    We’d be remiss to not mention manners, so it’s worth freshening up on your etiquette.

    Arrive on time, chew with your mouth closed, stay off your phone, and offer to split the bill. If your date insists on paying, say thank you and tell them you’ll get it next time (of course, only if you want to see them again!).

    Another must? Drink responsibility.

    Avoid drinking too much and know your limits. If you don’t drink alcohol, no prob. Opt for a soda or sparkling water with lime. (Side note, but important to keep in mind: your date should *never* make you feel guilty or uncomfortable about not drinking alcohol. If they do, it’s a red flag).

    Finally, trust your gut.

    If you ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable, let the bartender, server, or hostess know so they can step in and escort you to an Uber. Share your location with friends and keep someone in the loop on where you are and who you’re with. It’s always better to play it safe.

    Moral of the First Dinner Date Story?

    Enjoy! It’s no secret that first-date dinners can be anxiety-inducing, but the purpose of a date is to stay safe and have fun. If you immediately realize it’s not a match, that’s okay.

    Use it as an excuse to learn something cool and have a refreshing conversation with someone new. 

    If the date is less-than-stellar, it’s all good. Laugh it off because it always makes for a good story down the line. If the date is amazing, cheers!

    Bask in the newness and look forward for what’s to come. Stay playful, love hard, laugh often, and get Rompy. :)

    The rest will fall into place.