The dating scene in Dublin has changed. Firstly, it’s now called “dating”, and secondly, the source of most of these dates seems to be app-based. While we here in ATF HQ are more likely to swipe right on a pizza, we do know some of the best spots for meeting the potential new person in your life. We have some base criteria. The food must be great so if the date is awful, at least you’re left feeling somewhat satisfied, the prices must be reasonable to avoid any awkwardness when it comes to splitting the bill (nobody wants to pay for half of a stranger’s fillet steak), decent alcohol options are a must, and it needs to be easily accessible so you can get out of there if things go awry.
The "I haven't been on a date for a while" date
You’ve taken some you-time and now you’re ready to get back out there. It’s going to be tough to pull yourself away from Netflix but heading somewhere new and chilled will ease you back in.
Where to go: Meet your date near Camden Street and stroll down to Mister S for some chats while you wait for a table.
What to eat: The smoked Angus short rib and the brown butter and miso roasties. If things go well, share the salted caramel Bubble Pudding. If things don’t go well, order it anyway, but refuse to share.
The "maybe I should have used a more recent profile picture" date
We all have our favourite photos with that great light that exist forever as social media profile pics as if we have escaped the ageing process. Yours is from 2003 when you spent a summer tanned and hungry on a J1 in the States, but that’s fine - your date will love you for you. Eventually.
Where to go: Dim lights and loud music are your friends here. Head to Hang Dai on Camden Street Lower.
What to eat: The côte de boeuf for two - it’s never too early to establish if a potential boyf or girlf can behave themselves when it comes to sharing food. If things go well and you’re ready to commit, maybe now’s the time to book a table for the following week and pre-order the whole duck in advance?
The "I don't really fancy them but I hope I make a friend" date
You’ve gone through all of their profile pics numerous times, and while they’re not 100% your type, you’ve been messaging back and forth for a while and this is definitely a person you want to get to know, even if it doesn’t lead to anything romantic.
Where to go: Chimac, Aungier Street. because friends who eat Korean chicken together are the best kind of friends.
What to eat: The Kimcheese burger. It’s messy, you’ll get your hands covered in sauce, but your new bestie won’t care.
The "I'm here for the belly rubs" date
You swiped right because they have a dog in their profile picture and that’s pretty much 90% of what you look for in a future spouse. If you’re clever, you’ll be able to engineer a date location that combines great food with the ability for them to bring the pooch along.
Where to go: The bar of The Old Spot on Bath Avenue.
What to eat: It’s you, your date, and the dog; opt for the huge roast every Sunday for that instant family feel.
The "I've just broken up with my ex and can't go to any of 'our' places" date
This is a tough one. You’ve been part of an established couple and have lots of spots where you both go regularly but you’re not a couple anymore and you’re not ready to be seen there with someone else, or worse - bump in to your ex and their new partner. The adult thing to do would be to sit down together with a map and a red marker and agree who gets where but, until then, stick with somewhere new that neither of you have been before, and hope for the best.
Where to go: Still pretty new, Le Perroquet on Upper Leeson Street is likely to be unclaimed territory. Get there before your ex does.
What to eat: The menu is French-themed but there’s lots of choice between small plates and larger dishes so you can feel out our dates food preferences and decide if you want to take this any further. Go for the duck croquettes and the savoury French toast, and save room for a French/Irish cheeseboard.
The "fake it till you make it" date
You’re not feeling confident. You’ve been down this road before, and are feeling a little delicate from the knocks that dating has thrown at you. You need to get dressed-up and get a cocktail in your hand pronto.
Where to go: Peruke and Periwig on Dawson Street. It’s beautiful inside and out, just like you.
What to eat: Stick with small plates like the patatas bravas or pork belly, and ask the staff to pair the cocktails so decision making is at a minimum.
The "this is my third tinder date this week" date
Despite starting out eager and sliding in to more DMs than Rebekah Vardy, the law of diminishing returns is quickly becoming evident and you’re getting through first dates at a rate of knots. You can’t keep meeting, or eating, at this rate, so need to keep it light.
Where to go: Pang on Kevin St. Lower. It’s casual, affordable, and ideal for a light meal where you want to avoid alcohol.
What to eat: Bánh mì- a Vietnamese sandwich loaded with spiced meat or tofu and pickled veg. Don’t forget to add a side of the yellow curry lentils - it’s one of the best things to eat in Dublin and a steal at €3.
The "I'm pretty sure I'm going to be catfished" date
It’s all going well, maybe a little too well. Your prospective date is perfect but there’s a little niggle at the back of your head wondering if it’s all too good to be true. You want to meet them, but you think there’s a chance that they’re going to bail while you’re on the bus.
What to eat: Cheese. All the cheese.
The "I'm double-booked" date
Dates are very like the 46a. You wait ages for one that inevitably disappears off the screen when it's one minute away, and then two come along together. Hey, you’re a busy person and it can be difficult to fit it all in so, if you’re in the enviable position of managing to book yourself two dates in one day, brunch is the best way to start the eating without peaking too early.
Where to go: Head for San Lorenzo’s on South Great George’s Street.
What to eat: The Coco Pops French Toast will keep you going until dinner. Plus, if date number two turns out to be disappointing and you need to cut it short, at least you’ve already had dessert today.
The "my date's a fussy eater" date
Nope. Not happening. Block and get yourself a take-away.
Where to go: Nowhere.
What to eat: Whatever you fancy. Add a tub of decent ice-cream while you’re at it.