The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 First Date Spots

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Giggity.
There was a period of time in my life when I couldn't get enough of that first date feeling. It's akin to the adrenaline rush of skydiving or rock climbing -- except often with the promise of food or drinks in lieu of potentially plummeting to your death. (Sure, there's the danger of emotional pain instead of physical pain, but that probably won't happen until at least several dates away.)

Since a first date is often the initial and most important impression you'll make, you want that impression to be memorable. But how do you achieve "memorable" without also committing the cardinal sin of trying too hard? You plan an awesome, low-key, casual yet elegant first date -- that's how.

Although I've been out of the dating game for a while now, I still remember that my favorite first dates were just like that: low-key and loose. I enjoyed it immensely when a guy planned an evening that started out with coffee and/or a drink, with the possibility of more to come if that first sip went well. (And by "more to come," I mean dinner or hopping over to another bar to continue the evening. Get with it.) When the first-date planning was left to me, I often did the same.

Were I still dating today, these are ten of the afternoons or evenings I'd plan for a first date. All of these destinations also double as terrific occasions to reconnect with your spouse or partner as well, so book a babysitter and make it a date.

Note: Most of these first dates involve a small degree of walking, so ditch the crazy heels.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Plonk has a wine with your name on it.
10. Plonk and Petrol Station

Plonk is casual enough for a glass of wine at the bar, yet the wine selection under owner Scott Miller will impress even the fussiest wine drinker. If all goes well, stay for dinner and grab a seat on Plonk's beautiful, garden-flanked patio. And if you manage not to drink Plonk's cellar dry, head to Petrol Station afterward for a dessert beer and more lush outdoor seating. Both of these somewhat-hidden gems are in the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest area, and you'll look like a champ for seeking them out.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Dinner and a [silent] movie at El Real.
9. Blacksmith, El Real Tex-Mex Cafe and The Hay Merchant

Blacksmith closes at 5 p.m. every day, so keep that in mind as you're planning. Meet up for a coffee at one of the best coffee shops in the city and watch the traffic trickle by on Westheimer. Afterward, walk across the street for a classic Tex-Mex dinner at El Real, then work it off by walking back across Westheimer to The Hay Merchant and finishing the night with pints and pinball (there are three newly-installed machines; the AC/DC pinball table is by far the best).

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Fitzgerald's is equally fun on Open Mic Wednesdays.
8. Sale-Sucre, Fitzgerald's and BB's Cafe

If you already know your first date and have an established comfort level, why not plan an evening around a band you both like? Have a not-too-fancy French dinner at cozy Gallic cafe Sale-Sucre first, then walk a few doors down White Oak to Fitzgerald's for a show. After it's over, compare notes over a sweet, boozy Hurricane at BB's Cafe, right across the street.



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58 comments
Erik
Erik

94 to go . . . .

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Decided to try out Down House for my birthday this year.  We walked in and waited for my folks to show up at the bar.  First thing I noticed was how atheistic they tended to pride themselves with the decor, name, etc.  Complete turn-off.  But my friends said to wait & give it a try, so we waited by the bar for a drink.  And waited.  And waited. With bartenders glacing over and still ignoring.  I pride myself on being patient & waiting until the bartender has some free time, but it got ridiculous.  After 20 minutes we finally left in disgust and headed to El Gran Malo, which was, and still is, a far better choice.


I HIGHLY discourage anyone from going to Down House.

rgwalt
rgwalt

I like the idea of going out for a date where you can walk the area and hit a few cool spots!  However, these multi-location dates make for a long evening... I think these are great second or third date ideas, but not first dates.  First dates should be kept short, 2-3 hours max.  Even if you are having a fantastic time, leave something for the sequal.  Cutting a first date short can give everyone a break, if they aren't feeling it.  There were dates where I sorta liked the person across the table, but was looking forward to getting home afterwards.  However, subsequent dates with those people went much better.

jberlat1
jberlat1

OK, you can't have list of classic date spots with stuff that has just opened. 

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

I'll assume that all of these places have bathrooms that are suitable for banging.

mika
mika

other title considered for this post: "Made up topic that allows me to pimp establishments owned by the likes of Heugel and Caswell." Coming soon: "Which food truck boasts the hippest, tastiest exhaust?"

Gino
Gino

Rainbow Lodge for Brunch, then canoeing and fishing in Buffalo Bayou

alexiselizabeth
alexiselizabeth

Pinot's Palette and take-out from Boheme Bar (Montrose area)... Wine, Pizza and Painting= Awesome!!  


Professor
Professor

32 places in top 10? Youth of today should of paid more attention in math class.

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

This is an excellent article, one I will be sharing with many of my friends. It doesn't have to be a first date to enjoy these "crawls." And I just recently did #6 myself!

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Nice list, Katharine. It's time to start taking back the sidewalks for pedestrians!

Anon8008
Anon8008

How long has Leon's been continuously operating?

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@rgwalt I kind of addressed that in the intro... These are ideas for a progressive date if all goes well. As in, "Okay, we're already at Leon's. This doesn't suck. Let's go get dinner! Kim Tai is right next door." And if the date is still going strong, keep it going with a beer afterwards at Mongoose.

I wholeheartedly agree that intentionally planning on doing ALL OF THE THINGS EVERYWHERE on a first date is total overkill.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@jberlat1 Good thing it's not presented as a list of "classic" date spots, then?

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@alexiselizabeth It sounds better than it is.  At the end of the session it looks like a bunch of kindergarten paintings.  I prefer just drawing naked stick figures to piss the teacher off.


Of course, I never get invited back.  But that first time?  Magic.


overmatt
overmatt

@Professor and the youth of yesterday should learn that the proper expression is "should have", not "should of"

Killyourself
Killyourself

@Professor I know right?  What the hell was she doing putting all that thought and effort into it?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@Professor Or you should expand your understanding of the word "spot." It doesn't say the top 10 restaurants, or the top 10 bars. Spot here means the area.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@jimbo1126 Totally agreed. I think these work for any outing, really. Glad you liked the suggestions!

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@Anon8008 About 2 and a half years. They were closed for a year for renovations. It first opened in 1953, I think.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@Kylejack there were a couple of them, and they were tending bar.  Had they just been standing there, we wouldn't have waited 5 minutes.  But they were either ignoring us, or were clueless about what to do when two guys are at a bar looking towards the alcohol or at them.  20 minutes, and I'm being literal, is far too long to wait for a drink.  The bartender glanced at us enough to know we were there, but refused to acknowledge us and tended to others.  I've been going to bars to know how the whole system works, thank you.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@Gino No, more like receipt holders and menus talking about Charles Darwin, while looking like Bibles.  I'm not the type that's really offended, but I found that pretty annoying.  As I said, I was willing to give them a chance.  Waiting 20 minutes at the bar, mind you, and still not being served was the final nail in that coffin.  I guess tucked in shirts and shaved faces are frowned upon there.

rgwalt
rgwalt

Good point, it also depends on personality.  No matter how much I enjoy hanging out with someone, I was always for cutting a date off before it got long in the tooth, or either person started getting physically tired.  Other people are wired a bit differently, and would love to shut down a bar on the first date if everything was going swimmingly.

This being said, I may borrow one of these ideas the next time my wife and I go out!  Our first date was at BRC, and while she enjoyed it, I didn't really care for the food or atmosphere.  Our second date was at Les Ghivral's on Washington.  We ate and drank at the bar, and it was fantastic. 

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@Kylejack @Professor I was a liberal arts major at a Baptist university. You think I took any math courses? lolololol

*hangs head in shame*

Dalton
Dalton

@FattyFatBastard @Jalapeno  

...and you weren't offended by that damn 'atheistic' stuff you called a 'complete turn-off' ....sincerity indeed!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@Jalapeno I appreciate the comment.  Anyone who knows me realizes I don't have an agenda.  I've even recused myself from reviewing a place because the food wasn't good, but the sincerity was genuine.  It takes a truly poor place for me to dislike it as much as I did this place.  As I stated, I suggested this place as a result of a review I read here, and I could not have been more dissatisfied.

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

@FattyFatBastard Same thing happened to our group there.  We ordered some of those fancy cocktails at a table with food.  The food was consumed and plates removed before the fancy drinks came.  Two bartenders just shooting the breeze with each other.  Not many people in the place.  Unacceptable.  Never went back.

Rudesheim
Rudesheim

@FattyFatBastard @J.A.Justice @Killyourself 

There are religious people out there who reconcile Darwin with religion. It's not necessarily a zero sum proposition. Anyway, religion needs to be mocked...it is mock-worthy... Monty Python knows that truth

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@FattyFatBastard @J.A.Justice @Killyourself He said ironically, lashing out at established scientific fact in the name of religion.

I know you're old enough to remember when Darwin wasn't latched to atheism by fanatics on either side.  I attended Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran private schools and was happily taught Darwin in all of them.

Gino
Gino

@FattyFatBastard  You say it was a "complete turnoff", but now you weren't "really offended"? 

Are you somewhat confused by your own thoughts?

Killyourself
Killyourself

@FattyFatBastard Down House takes it's name from one of Darwins homes.   And the idea that the use of Darwin as an aesthetic, implies atheism is beyond dumb.

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