First dates can be intimidating on their own, but when the people going on them have to worry about sharing a meal together? That’s when things get interesting.
Before anything exciting happens, though, the pair have to decide what meal to share. Maybe breakfast or brunch—or a midmorning coffee date? Perhaps a lunch get-together, or a dinner date that could even lead to dessert? If it’s a really good date, it may even wind up spanning two meal times!
But whatever meal the potential new couple winds up enjoying together, there’s potential for plenty to turn sour within a few minutes of the entrée arriving. While plenty of ladies like to order salads so they can avoid looking gluttonous while on a first date, there’s nothing wrong with eating some more substantial food if she (or he) so chooses—as long as it doesn’t wind up all over the diner’s face.
Because the first no-no when trying to impress a date is walking around with food on one’s face. Of course, dainty eating habits are polite, and most people are on their best behavior when meeting and wooing someone new. But that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to stay clean and prim throughout lunch or dinner, especially if they make the mistake of ordering something super sloppy off the menu.
No matter how appetizing they make look when delivered to the next table over, here are 25 of the messiest foods that nobody should order—or eat—on a first date.
25 Barbecue… Well, Anything
No matter what restaurant you go to, there will likely be some sort of barbecue dish on the menu. And it’s tempting to order the tangy, zesty sauce on things like chicken sandwiches or western-style burgers. But on a first date, barbecue sauce is potentially one of the least favorable items to wind up wearing. Plus, you can bet that no matter how many napkins you have, it won’t be enough when the sauce starts dripping off your food and winding its way down your arm.
24 All Types Of Wings Are Off The Menu
Even if they’re not barbecue wings, we don’t recommend grabbing any type of “wing” while dining out with someone new. Even if you’re not out with a potential new beau, eating wings is not for the faint-hearted. First, you usually need both hands to keep each wing in optimal scarfing position—but then you wind up rubbing the grease and sauce all over the edges of your mouth while you nosh. Not exactly the most attractive moment of your date, right?
23 Super Saucy Ribs
Ribs are another meaty dish that’s off the menu on the first date (and even beyond). There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a rack of ribs, but it’ll probably get all over your face. And while most people are too nervous to pay much attention to how their date is eating on the first outing, they will most definitely notice when you request a bib and a mile-high pile of napkins from your server. Too much sauce isn’t a good look, even if the ribs are divine.
22 Sloppy Sandwiches Of All Sorts
The first messy sandwich most people think of is a sloppy joe, and that would be accurate. But at the same time, any kind of sandwich with small bits of meat in it is going to be a bit messy going down. Like pulled pork—the sell might be tantalizing, but keep in mind you’ll be struggling to keep the meat on the bun while scarfing it down, and it might end up on your face or in your lap. Or both.
21 So Sad To Say: Pizza
Pizza is a go-to food for so many first dates, but it’s really not ideal. First you’ve got the marinara sauce, which obviously stains and winds up on your chin depending on the strength of your pizza’s crust. But there’s also the greasy cheese and the potential for puddles of it to wind up on your clothes or all over your hands. Good luck trying to hold hands with your crush when you’ve used up all the table’s napkins on your slimy fingers. You might be okay with a veggie pizza or one with a thicker crust, though.
20 Slurpy Spaghetti & Meatballs
Spaghetti is another meal that’s subject to an abundance of marinara. Read: not ideal for a casual date. Red sauce is a staple in so many meals, but spaghetti is one that’s really tough to manage on a date. Either you’re barely picking at your food in an attempt to stay clean, or you’re slurping the spaghetti and spearing meatballs without a care as to the sauce splashing everywhere as you do so. It might taste delicious, but your date may note find you as adorable with sauce all over your chin and spaghetti hanging from your lips.
19 Nix The Other Noodles, Too
Alfredo is another dish that’s delectable but a no-no for first dates. Basically, any dish with long, thin noodles is a no-go, especially when the sauce is something that has staining potential or is particularly buttery or greasy. Even plain pasta that requires fork-twirling means you’ll be pursing your lips and slurping, which is something most people don’t want to have to resort to while on a formal date. When in doubt, pick a short pasta you can spear with a fork, rather than the kind you have to wind.
18 Cheesy Or Spicy Cheetos
Cheetos are an eternal favorite when it comes to chips, but that doesn’t mean they’re the ideal snack to pack along on a date. From the cheesy stains you’ll leave on your napkin and potentially your clothes to the telltale orange dust surrounding your lips, it’s just not worth making such an awkward impression on your date. Of course, most dates won’t involve pit stops at convenience stores for junk food, but if yours does, say no to the Cheetos.
17 Dusty (And Staining) Chips
Let’s be honest: no one who sits at home snacking on Cheetos or Doritos wipes their fingers or washes their hands between bites. We’re all guilty of licking our fingers—which is something you are absolutely not going to be doing on a first date. Or second or third. You save that weirdness for when you’re in a committed relationship with someone who scarfs down Doritos the same way. So even if you’re starving on a pre-dinner date, don’t turn to the cheese-dust-covered snack options to satiate yourself!
16 Buttery And Unbreakable Lobster
Depending on how you order your lobster, it could arrive mostly ready to eat, or it could arrive claws out and ready for a fight. So if you’re heading to a fancy restaurant with a potential new boo, make sure you check the menu carefully before picking this particular seafood dish. If you get a whole or partial lobster, you’ll be cracking it open and slurping the meat out of the crevices—something that’s not only messy, but also potentially unappealing to a date.
15 Crunchy Crab Legs
Crab is another seafood delicacy that’s tough to eat without getting messy—hence the reason why many seafood eateries provide plastic bibs for their guests. If you feel like that’s your style, go for it, but for most people, eating crab on a first date is just not a good idea. You have to painstakingly crack open the crab legs before you can sample the meat, and depending on how handy you are with the tools that requires, you may end up flopping half your plate on the floor.
14 Slippery Clams
Your date might be aiming to impress by carting you off to some high-end seafood restaurant, but watery creatures don’t really make for the neatest plates. Clams are yet another item that are tough to crack, and then you’re left to spear or slurp the innards out. Ideally, you’ll use your fingers to pluck the meat out, which means you need plenty of napkins. Try to do it with a fork, and it might end up all over you or on the floor…
13 All Types Of Tacos
You might be thinking at this point, well what can I eat on a date, if not all the delicious items above and below. Well, sorry to spoil the potential fun, but tacos are another standby for casual dates that we can’t condone. Whether it’s hard- or soft-shell varieties of the Taco Bell style or a street taco from the best taco truck vendor in town, you can pretty much bet that after the first bite of your taco, it’ll be all over the place. It’ll also be delicious, but the resulting mess is pretty unappealing.
12 Melty Nachos
Yep, we’re about to ruin another fan favorite here: nachos. They’re easy, they’re quick to eat, and you can avoid all the kiss-ruining toppings if you prefer (though we like our nachos with lots of onions and jalapenos!). But if you’re having nachos with lots of runny cheese and near-liquid sour cream, you can bet you’ll end up wearing some of it. Hence the reason why we just can’t recommend ordering a platter of nachos on your very first date with someone new.
11 Juicy Dripping Burgers
Some burgers are pretty benign in terms of sloppiness. That said, there are plenty that get all over the place—and some burger places like it that way (remember the old Carl’s Jr. commercials?). So unless you’re ordering a dry cheeseburger (hold those onions, though!), you can expect some lettuce to slip out of the bun, or some ketchup to get away from you, or maybe even some mayo to slop onto your pants. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t make eating a burger with a fork and knife look classy.
10 Sticky Sweet Popsicles
Imagine you’re on a sweet summertime date with a new cutie, and you decide to head out to the boardwalk or summer fair for this first outing. You might think a popsicle is the perfect opportunity to show how cute and fun you can be. But that’s not usually how it plays out. You’ll be worried about how you look eating it, plus when it inevitably starts to melt, you’ll end up doing that awkward slurping and biting thing before it disintegrates all over your hand, arm, and even your cute sundress. Not worth the risk.
9 Crumbly Croissants
Coffee dates are often an ideal first hang out when you meet someone new. You each order your own favorite coffee and a snack if you’re feeling peckish, and then you talk for hours about everything under the sun. But when you opt for a snack like a croissant, you’ll have crumbs all over the place, no matter how carefully you eat it. It’s not messy in that sense that your face will be smeared with jelly or you’ll be wearing greasy stains, but how many times do you want to be brushing yourself off during a date?
8 Whole-Mouth Sushi
The last time I went out for sushi, I went with my sister, and we had a good laugh over how you literally have to cram an entire roll into your mouth at once to avoid the pieces falling apart. And that’s basically why I can’t recommend eating sushi on a first date. If you’re using chopsticks, you risk losing the insides of your sushi all over yourself if you take dainty bites. And there’s not really a great way to use a fork to eat sushi—you’ll wind up leaving more than half of it on your plate.
7 Any Kind Of Hot Dog
Whether it’s a hotdog or corn dog, neither pup should have a place on your plate for a first date. Even if you’re at the fair or beach for a sweet summer romance, you can almost guarantee losing the mood when a splat of ketchup drops onto your outfit or your dog escapes its bun mid-bite. And don’t even get us started on chili dogs or any of the other dogs you can get with specialized toppings—onions and jalapenos are no-no’s on dates, too.
6 Juicy Watermelon
There’s only one time it’s okay to eat watermelon on a date, and that’s if you’re competing against your new boo in a seed spitting contest. Well, and also if you order it cubed to where you can pop one piece into your mouth at a time—but that only works if it’s seedless, anyway. Watermelon is delicious, but it’s also unfortunately messy and dribbles sticky juice all over your chin, chest, and everywhere else. And you may also end up with bits stuck on your face, depending on how the melon is sliced.
5 Corn On The Cob
This one should go without saying, but no one wants to be trapped on a date with corn stuck in their teeth or butter smeared on their cheeks. And that’s what always happens with corn on the cob, so why take any chances? If you must have corn, try and get it off the cob instead—and definitely don’t get your elotes coated in mayo with a dust of cheese and a drizzle of hot sauce. Authentic (and delectable) it may be, but it’s also seriously messy.
4 Finicky Fondue
There should be a rule that no one on a first date is allowed to order anything “dippable” unless they’ve also brought a change of clothes and some wet wipes. While the melted-cheese concoction is super tasty, and there are variations that aren’t cheesy but instead involve broth, dipping anything into anything means your meal will be sloppier than necessary and probably end up all over the table. It might end up on you and your date, too, so it’s not the most ideal first-date snack.
3 Chips And Runny Salsa
I love salsa just as much as the next gal, but it ranks highly on my personal don’t-eat-without-sufficient-napkins list. I’ve dripped salsa on the table, my sweater, my arm, and my lap way too many times to suggest that anyone else should eat it while on a date. While my husband laughs off my sloppiness, your date might be a little miffed by your inability to get the soggy chip to your mouth if you’re dipping into a particularly runny salsa. And, if it’s too spicy, you’ll also need extra napkins for your runny nose.
2 Tongue-Numbing Ice Cream
Beyond the obvious reason for not eating ice cream on a date—your tongue will be so frozen you can’t even talk—it’s also a no-go because it’s messy. Especially in the summertime, ice cream quickly turns from frozen treat to soupy mess. If you order it in a cup, you might get away with only using a napkin or two, but if it’s on a cone, you’ll need an entire fistful. And even then, there are no guarantees you’ll get to eat it all before it starts sliding down your arm.
1 A Simple Salad
Salad is often a go-to for nervous gals (and guys) on dates—it’s not too filling to the point that will upset your stomach, and you can also nibble at it throughout the meal without looking gluttonous. But salads can also mean oily dressings, which clumsy people will want to avoid no matter what, and the need for a toothpick afterward. Isn’t imagining ourselves spending an entire evening chatting to a cute guy with spinach in our teeth one of the worst things ladies can imagine happening on a date? Yeah, we thought so.