Top 10 Awkward Tinder Date Spots
You swiped right. Now what?
With a cute patio and good coffee, Cherrywood is a paragon of Austin internet dating efficiency. You will not only get to meet up with your Tinder date, but are also guaranteed to run into at least five people that you previously went on Tinder dates with, plus three more you're almost positive you've been messaging with, and maybe a couple you haven't messaged yet, and were thinking of messaging, until you saw how much less cute they are IRL. It's a one-stop-shop package deal of internet-enabled awkwardness! And hey, the Terra taco is pretty damn solid too.
The most pernicious part of online dating is that it creates the illusion of a universe of infinite possibilities. You can go out with a new person every night if you want to, and it's easy to go into these things feeling fatalistic, like there's always something better around the corner, an infinitely recurring chain of identical coffee dates. But, aside from their sandwiches, which are pretty much universally delicious, Yellow Jacket Social Club makes an amazing Frito pie with ropa vieja, pico de gallo, and sour cream. If you're a few beers in and are still willing to split that thing down the middle, cancel the rest of your dates for the week. You've found the one.
The best thing about eating date pasta is that it gives you the opportunity to ask your companion to re-create the infamous pasta scene from Lady and the Tramp. A few things could happen here: They could agree, showing you their fun-loving spirit and freewheeling disregard for the opinion of strangers, or they could disagree, giving you the opportunity to complain about said pasta scene (how can a person/dog claim to love you, and then steal pasta RIGHT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH???), and/or The Lady and the Tramp in general (that movie is hella racist, y'all). But also, Patrizi's makes really good homemade pasta. Try it with a coddled egg.
Inevitably, you are going to match with a smug dude and/or lady who is just really into the mechanics of their body. They may want to take you out and make you eat something excessively paleo, and I don't care how cute they look in their overly Photoshopped pics; you do not want to do that. Trust me when I tell you that you are going to be spending a few hours hearing all about what they can and cannot eat anyway, and you might as well be putting something you like in your mouth while you do that. Sushi is the answer, and Komé's sushi happy hour is a good place to get it. Your potential beloved can stick to sauceless sashimi, while you stuff yourself with crunchy chicken wings, gyoza, and culinary schadenfreude.
5) Odd Duck
Never trust a person who suggests you go out to dinner on a first date. If the date goes badly, you're trapped listening to this horrible stranger complain about their job for two hours, minimum, only to end up spending a huge amount of money on a meal you didn't want to have in the first place. Best case scenario, the date goes well, and you still have to deal with the awkward gender politics of tip splitting. Small plates are the name of the game when it comes to dating, and Odd Duck is the place to get 'em – pretzels and pig face carnitas, a little smoky winter squash. If things go well, you can progress to dinner.
6) Wu Chow
Let's all just agree that you can tell a lot about a person based on how they eat soup dumplings. Do they greedily pop the whole thing in their mouth, letting the broth squirt out the sides of their lips? Do they delicately nip off a corner and suck? Are they one of those savages who insists on biting off the topknot of dough that holds the whole thing together, and letting their spoon handle the consequences? Do they obsequiously ask the waiter for a spoon? It's important to know these things going in.
There's something so festively old-school about Isla. The hospitality, the mood lighting, the velvet banquettes. It all seems part of a more innocent time, like the kind of theme party your grandparents would throw when they were feeling funky. Plus, you know what's great? Rum and pisco. Both are great. Isla makes good use of them in a wide array of sprightly tropical cocktails. Try the pisco punch, which is deliciously well balanced, and let's just say doesn't write any checks it can't cash. Ankles will roll. Ballast yourself with a couple of papa rellena, one of their fine cebiches, or a plate of lomo saltado.
With its gender-neutral bathrooms, obnoxiously hip decor, and delicious duck fat fries, Eberly is the perfect spot for the kind of first date where you're trying to impress, to look a little more grownup than you are, maybe, like the kind of person who's way into oysters and dry martinis. The best thing about Eberly though, tbh, is definitely the beautiful conservatory-inspired glass-ceilinged study, both because, you know, it's really beautiful or whatever, but also because it means if you're really desperate to get away you have three options: front door, jumping over the counter and booking it through the open kitchen, or cutting out the middleman and Tomb Raidering your way straight through a couple of inches of plate glass into the night.
We've talked before about the usefulness of cheese shopping as a first date activity, how you can either commit to a delightful picnic in the park or leave, wheel of Camembert in hand, as soon as things get awkward. But you know what else is a great way to get to know someone? Seeing what they're like in class! Antonelli's has classes on everything from cheese pairings to fermentation styles. Is your date the type of person who acts like they came in knowing everything? Do they contradict the teacher? Try to suck up? Flirt with their classmates? Whatever happens, you'll leave knowing a little something more about cheese.
10) Dry Creek Cafe and Boat Dock
When you're sick of eating pork belly, shouting over bad electronica, and listening to strangers who looked cuter online than they do now that they're sitting close beside you, smelling of cologne and talking incessantly about marketing, what you need is a good, old-fashioned dive bar. Dry Creek Cafe is just that, with cheap beers, a killer jukebox, worn-down pool table, and views beautiful enough to make all the outdoor smoking tolerable. If you're lucky, you might even be able to snag some not-half-bad barbecue to go with that Lone Star tallboy.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org