There's no denying it — first dates can be incredibly stressful. After all, you haven't really spent any time with the person, or if you were friends before, you haven't spent time with them in a romantic capacity. You're worried about what you're going to say, whether things are going to be awkward, and what you're going to do. So, while there are some people who think outside the box and suggest different activities as first date options, the vast majority still stick to the classic dinner date. However, there's one downside to it — there are plenty of foods that can really ruin your night. Sure, they may be delicious, but do you really want to get sauce all over yourself after you spent so long getting ready and picking out an outfit? Or, worse, do you want to have foul breath when it's time for a goodnight kiss?
Don't fret, though — not all foods are bad picks for first dates. There are a few dishes that are pretty safe to eat without having to worry about stains or spills or scents. After all, when you're trying to keep a conversation going and learn as much as you can about the other person, you don't want to be worrying too much about what's on your plate.
So, we've made it easy for you. Here are 10 foods you should really, really try to avoid on a first date, for your own good, and 10 foods that you can consume with no issue — whether or not you get a second date is up to you.
20 EAT: Tapas
Tapas is basically the perfect meal for a first date because it's all about sharing. And, it's super easy to extend or shorten the date based on how it's going — either you never order more than the few dishes you started with and get out of there early, or you can keep ordering a few nibbles and drinks throughout the night if it's going really well. The whole experience is a lot more casual, you can perhaps share a bottle of wine, and you can have fun exploring different tastes and little dishes as you get to know one another.
19 AVOID: Garlic Bread (No One Wants Garlic Breath On A Date)
I mean, the reason you should avoid this dish altogether is pretty clear — garlic breath. Sure, you don't want to get crumbs all over your outfit, you don't want to smear butter or oil on yourself, but the biggest thing is without question the garlic breath. Unless, perhaps, the date is going poorly and you want to ensure your date isn't even tempted to give you a good night kiss — in that situation, you can definitely order the garlic bread. If things are going well though? Pass on it. Even if your date isn't a vampire, you don't want your first kiss to be garlic-scented.
18 EAT: Bite-Sized Pasta Like Penne
Food from Italy is often a go-to for date nights because it's a cuisine that so many people like, but there's just one issue — a lot of their dishes either have a ton of garlic and onions, or some kind of messy sauce that you're worried about getting all over you. The solution?
Bite-sized pasta, like penne or farfalle, preferably with some kind of cream or white sauce.
Dishes with longer noodles leave a lot more room for spills and splatters, but bite-sized pasta is clean, easy to eat, and just as delicious. And, if you opt for something other than marinara sauce, you don't need to worry nearly as much about getting a big red spill on yourself.
17 AVOID: Sloppy Joes
If you order a sloppy joe on a first date, we can only assume you know the date is going to end in disaster already and you want to speed the process along. Because seriously — sloppy joes are pretty much every bad first date food wrapped in one bun.
It's messy and you could easily get a tomato sauce stain, and it's got beans, which could very easily cause some internal distress.
It's just a hard food to eat in general, so on a date, it's something you should probably just avoid altogether. Plus, where is your date taking you that serves sloppy joes?
16 EAT: Sushi
Sushi is great for a first date because it's clean, easy to eat (as long as you know how to use chopsticks, and even if you don't, you can just go more authentic and use your hands), and a crowd pleaser. Even if your date doesn't really care for raw fish, there are generally veggie options as well as options with things like cooked salmon in them. Plus, a few bites of ginger helps with digestion and can even help to freshen your breath a little, so you won't be stuck with a gurgling stomach and terrible breath. Just be careful about any potential soy sauce splatter.
15 AVOID: Spaghetti And Meatballs
We know, we know — Lady and the Tramp kind of ruined this one for everyone because it made it seem like spaghetti and meatballs was the perfect date night food. You're not going to end up sharing the same noodle and staring lovingly into one another's eyes (that would be weird). Instead, you'll just end up getting sauce all over yourself and trying to gracefully navigate a huge wad of pasta. Just steer clear of this one altogether — there are too many potential disasters lurking in this classic. If you absolutely must, get meatballs with marinara sauce as an appetizer (although that's still pretty risky).
14 EAT: Creme Brûlée
You're on a first date, you're looking at the dessert menu, and everything just seems like way too much. You don't want a big chocolatey concoction that will potentially make a mess, and you also don't want a huge dessert that'll make you feel too stuffed to even leave the restaurant.
The perfect solution? Creme brûlée.
Since it comes in a little individual ramekin, it's pretty much always portion-controlled to a reasonable amount. It's not messy, but still incredibly decadent. And, it's colourless and virtually mess-free. Talk about a perfect first date dessert! Plus, it's always fun to see what flavours restaurants can come up with, and if they stay classic or go outside the box.
13 AVOID: Chicken Wings
Wings are a great food for when you're hanging out with friends, getting a few brews and bites. You can get a few flavour varieties, get a few wet naps, and it's a delicious meal.
For a first date? Not the best idea.
First of all, unless you get dry rub wings, you're probably going to get sauce all over yourself. And second, even though most people eat wings and know what's involved, it's no secret that it's hard to look attractive while essentially gnawing on a bone to try to get the meat off it. It's just a bad idea altogether.
12 EAT: Pizza
Pizza may seem like a bit of a messy choice at first, but stop to think about it — unless you're getting deep dish, you can pretty easily grab a slice and take a bite with no issues. It's super customizable, because you can get any toppings you want, and you can even get a bit of the first date sharing action going by getting two pizzas and trying a slice of one another's pies. Just steer clear of any pizzas that have pesto as a base — it's delicious, but the risk of getting little bits of basil stuck in your teeth is just too high for a first date.
11 AVOID: Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can be absolutely delicious, and there's a lot of health benefits in that healthy kick of heat. However, let's be frank — no one looks good when they're sweating up a storm. Especially if you're the kind of person who really can't handle much heat, just steer clear of spicy foods altogether on a first date. Worst case scenario, you'll be using your napkin to towel off while sweating profusely. Best case scenario, you'll be chugging water like you just finished a marathon, which is also not the cutest thing to do. Unless you're a seasoned spicy food consumer, avoid it.
10 EAT: Quesadillas
Food from Mexico can be a little intimidating for date night because so much of it is a little messy. You don't want to look like a mess trying to navigate all the toppings on a mountainous plate of nachos, and you don't want to get salsa all over your outfit because you bit into a burrito and it went everywhere.
The answer? Quesadillas.
Quesadillas allow you to enjoy all that flavour from Mexico, they come with a variety of fillings so you can find one that you really enjoy, and they're super portable and easy to eat. Be careful if you're dunking them in salsa, but other than that, you likely wouldn't run into any issues.
9 AVOID: Lobster
We know, we know — lobster is one of the quintessential date night meals when you want to splurge. After all, what could be more decadent and special than some expensive shellfish literally dipped in butter? Lobster may be great for a celebratory dinner after you've been together for a while, but for a first date, you should avoid it. First of all, it's a bit presumptuous to order what's usually one of the most expensive items on the menu. And second, it's hard to do all the hard work of basically ripping apart the creature on your plate to get to the meat inside and still look cute.
8 EAT: Gyoza
Anything that's bite-sized is a great pick for a first date because, well, it's easy to navigate something bite-sized. There's no potential for awkwardness like there is with foods where you have to take a huge chomp out of a massive dish. Gyoza, or pot stickers, are a great pick because they're compact, bite-sized, and delicious. You can get them in any kind of filling you choose, so they're perfect if you're looking to avoid a particular kind of meat, or even just meat altogether if you're sticking with vegetable gyoza, and you can even share a few orders with your date.
7 AVOID: Ribs Coated In Sauce
There's no doubt about it — ribs are probably one of the messiest possible dishes you could order at a restaurant. I mean, there's a reason that they come served with a wet napkin half the time to help you get all that sauce from your fingers.
Plus, again — it's tough to hold a conversation and look attractive while you're gnawing on a bone to try to get all the meat off.
We know they're delicious, and it's tough to resist them on a menu, but this is definitely a second date food at the absolute minimum — don't dive right in to a full rack of ribs on your very first date.
6 EAT: Steak
Steakhouses are often thought of as pretty classic date night locations, and there's a reason for that — steak is a great date food (well, unless you're dating a vegetarian, that is). It can be cut into pieces so you don't need to worry about taking a gross, messy bite, there's no sauce dripping all over the place, and you can get it with the side of your choice. The only issue is if you order a really nice cut of steak well-done — everyone is entitled to their order, but if your date is a steak connoisseur, he or she might judge you a little bit.
5 AVOID: Ramen
Ramen is absolutely delicious. It's the perfect warm, comforting dish for a cold day, packed with flavour. However, it's also really tough to eat. You can perhaps eat noodles if you're careful, you can definitely eat soup, but when you combine them? It's a recipe for disaster. No matter how skilled you are with chopsticks, the likelihood is you'll end up splashing either yourself or your date at some point as you try to slurp those noodles from the broth. We know it's hard to resist, but this definitely isn't the dish you should go for on the very first date.
4 EAT: Risotto
We almost dare you to spill risotto on yourself — it's almost impossible! The classic dish from Italy kind of sticks to itself, which means you won't get stray grains of rice flying around, and it's available in a ton of varieties, so you should be able to find one that pleases your tastebuds. Maybe steer clear of versions that list garlic as a main ingredient, but more often than not, it's just some combination of veggies with perhaps a protein thrown in to spice things up a little — pretty foolproof. Plus, it's just plain delicious, and if you're not going to enjoy your meal on a date, why even bother?
3 AVOID: Giant Burgers That Require Unhinging Your Jaw
If you're not looking for the super fancy first date experience, going to some kind of pub can seem like a great solution. There's comfort food, there's drinks, and the whole atmosphere is fairly casual. What's not to love?
While there's nothing wrong with meeting over some pub grub, try to avoid giant burgers on a first date.
First of all, they're messy, and you're likely to get condiments or cheese or just straight up burger grease on you somewhere. And second, no one looks attractive when they're trying to unhinge their jaw to take a bite of a 10 inch tall burger.
2 EAT: A Standard Chicken Entree
No matter what type of restaurant you go to, they'll likely have some sort of chicken dish on the menu in some kind of sauce, likely with a side of starches or vegetables. If you're looking for a protein-heavy meal because you don't love to carb-load on a date, it can be a great pick. Plus, a lot of the chicken dishes tend to be fairly light, without a lot of heavy sauces to weigh you down. We're not talking about cheesy, fried, breaded, sauce-drenched chicken parmigiana — we're talking things like chicken piccata. Light, refreshing, perfect for a first date situation.
1 AVOID: Big Leafy Salads
For women especially, salads have become a bit of a go-to date night food, and it's kind of a mistake. Sure, you probably won't get as bloated as if you opt for something with more carbs, and they're packed with healthy greens if that's what you're into. However, there are a lot of opportunities for chaos. If you're getting a leafy salad, you're probably going to get stuck trying to bite through a giant piece of greenery. If you opt for spinach, you could very well get it between your teeth. And, if your salad is mixed with a ton of extras, as most restaurant salads are, there's an even higher chance you'll fling a pumpkin seed into your lap or something.