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Ah, first dates. So much love. So much anticipation. So much anxiety of royally screwing up.
Okay, fine: First dates can get a little dicey.
But here’s the reality: All those pregame nerves can typically be solved by first figuring out where to take her. And while you’d probably figure on meeting over dinner, here’s something you should know: Most women like to go for something more casual, like coffee or a drink, in order to screen you first, according to dating app Clover, which suggests spots for your very own meet-cute based on price range and popularity.
To get a more in-depth look at what its users are doing, Clover analyzed data from 1.5 million users to see where people set out on their first dates. And in the grand scheme of things, it seems, the men and women of America opt for more relaxed restaurants and locations, instead of bars, nightclubs, or fancy restaurants. That, or we all really love coffee.
Check out the top 30 first date hot spots:
Pro tips: See if there are any festivals, concerts, or other events you can attend in this Chi-town must-see. It’s also beautiful to walk through at night, before or after dinner.
Pro tip: Buy her some coffee beans or tea leaves (bagged or loose) she loves. Every time she has a cup, she’ll think of you. Because your first date is gonna go great, you stud.
Pro tip: Let her have the last cheesy biscuit.
Pro tip: Get some wine, beer, or liquor you both like, then head to a BYOB restaurant that lets you drink your own booze. (Sushi. Go with sushi.)
Pro tip: Pick something you can eat with a fork and a knife. Having sour cream and salsa smeared on your face from a burrito isn’t exactly the definition of charming. Trust us.
Pro tip: Ask her if she likes white or red wine, and if she has any particular preferences, like merlot over cabernet. Then, order for the two of you. Brush up on your wine knowledge if you have to.
Pro tip: Find out a little about her hobbies before the date, and then scout ahead to find something you can both do. This NYC hotspot, for example, is famous for its views of lower Manhattan and its huge basketball courts. So she used to play basketball in college? Bring a ball and tell her to wear athletic gear. (Or maybe frisbee, if you suck at basketball.)
Pro tip: Remember what she orders—the flavor of fro-yo and the toppings—so you can surprise her at another point in time. (Because, again, this date is gonna go fine.)
Pro tips: Plan on ordering some chips and guac to share. Get your own tacos, though. Splitting and sharing is just too messy. As are tacos in general. On second thought, first-date tacos is a bold move.
Pro tip: Even if you choose a fast-casual dining restaurant, don’t wear a t-shirt and jeans. Make an effort to look put together with these 10 smart things to wear on a casual first date.
Pro tip: Make sure she likes fish before you book a reservation. (They do have chicken dishes, for the record.)
Pro tip: If you can, plan the date when there’s an event going on—like live music.
Pro tip: Get a couple pizza pies to share, but go easy on the garlic.
Pro tip: Don’t spend the entire date watching every game on the giant TVs—unless, of course, you’re both die-hard fans of the same teams. Both long-suffering Browns fans? You may have found your soulmate.
Pro tip: Tempting as a half-yard of your favorite brew is, stick with a pint. It’s less aggressive, and won’t block your date’s face.
Pro tip: Go grocery shopping together with the intention of going back to your place so you can cook her dinner.
Pro tips: Get a flight and try some new brews together.
Pro tip: If she’s never played, pony up and teach her. If she’s killer with a club, engage in some friendly competition. Lose with grace.
Pro tip: Most have a cafe area where you can chat, have some coffee, and a snack without disturbing people.
Pro tip: Be spontaneous but prepared. Be open to riding some attractions, playing games, and eating some crappy carnival food. Bring an umbrella in case the weather turns torrential—unless you’re banking on one of those Hallmark movie kiss-her-in-the-rain moments.
Pro tip: Daring choice, sir. Make sure you bring gum… and maybe some TUMS.
Pro tip: Sip slowly. If you drink your coffee in 5 minutes flat, she’ll feel rushed, and you’ll have to pee.
Pro tips: If she’s running a little late, don’t dull your nerves (or exceptionally well-defined abs) by eating all the breadsticks…
Pro tips: Think twice about ordering Texas-sized combos (hello, belly bloat). Do not pick your teeth at the table. And, please, don’t order ribs unless you’re planning to share.
Pro tip: Get a couple appetizers to share. Some research suggests sharing food can promote social bonding. The study was done in chimps, but, hey—no harm in trying, right?
Pro tip: Get her a sweet treat, like a cookie or bear claw. You’ll always get brownie points for a sweet gesture. (Come to think of it, brownies aren’t a bad idea either.)
Pro tip: Define your exact meeting spot, so you don’t spend two hours playing Where’s Waldo with your date.
Pro tip: Refrain from chick puns. Also: Do not do this on a Sunday.
Pro tip: Share a milkshake, then snap an Insta at this social media hotspot. #bestdateever
Pro tip: Get there early and stake out a table, so you don’t have to awkwardly stand in a corner or battle for elbow room with pre-teens and laptop-toting finance bros.