Bars, restaurants and dating in person are back with a bang, and gone are the days of aimless ambles around the streets of Dublin in a bid to get to know a prospective partner. You both swiped right and managed to secretly verify one another through social media - now comes the time to assess your compatibility, and what better way to size someone up than through what they put in their stomach. Judgey? Us?
Note Wine Bar, Dublin 2
Put your date’s natural wine knowledge to the test with a visit to new kid on the block Note. The shelves are stacked with bottles by some of the best producers, from Austrian Gut Oggau to renowned French winemaker Patrick Bouju. The full Bureau menu is yet to launch, but chef Essa Fakhry (formerly of 777 and Amy Austin) has designed a short spread of snacks made to be shared - quickly if you're not clicking. Read more about Note here.
The Big Romance, Dublin 1
Meeting someone in real life for the first time can be daunting. However, The Big Romance have designed a dark and dim but inviting space to put those fears at bay. It boasts a spectacular selection of records from David Kitt (the inspiration behind the name) and Aphex Twin, combined with an extensive menu of Irish and international beers from Whiplash to Lervig. If you feel peckish, you can order a bowl of the Nocellara olives or share a gloriously cheesy Quattro pizza made and delivered by One Society.
1661 Bar, Dublin 1
Cocktails were so hot during the pandemic that the bartenders behind the Irish Craft Cocktails brand have now opened a cocktail factory in Dublin 7, Cuckoo Lane, to compliment their original Bar 1661. The bartenders undoubtedly put on a show as they shake, stir, and serve, which acts as the perfect antidote to any awkward silences that might emerge. We recommend a cheese plate washed down by their house cocktail aptly named Green Street.
The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin 1
Of course, first dates aren’t all about booze; The Virgin Mary Bar has curated a menu using the finest alcohol-free spirits mixed with ingredients like fungi, adaptogens (herbal pharmaceuticals) and botanicals. The concept has become so successful that proprietor Anna Walsh and the TMV team are now preparing for their international debut in Abu Dhabi. Pair your mocktail with a Malaysian dish from neighbouring restaurant Kopitiam.
A Stór Café, based in Soup, Smithfield, Dublin 7
We don’t expect you to break out terms of endearment on the very first date, but the Irish word for my treasure or my love might become a term to remember if sparks fly over coffee and cake at A Stór. Founders, Andrew and Jack, retain this Irishness by supporting and serving local roasters, including Bailies, Farmhand and Upside, and if the date goes well, you can stick around for dinner and a drink in Soup. But maybe don’t order the ramen, it might get messy.
Margadh At The RHA, Dublin 2
The exit through the gift shop strategy usually means that museums and galleries end up with a bog standard café that masquerades itself as cultured through its association with visual art, but the RHA and, more recently, the Hugh Lane, are changing that. Break the ice by being immersed in contemporary art and pop into Margadh for a cheese selection and two glasses of the Prazo de Roriz red afterwards.
Fish Shop, Dublin 7
Is there anything better than a salty aphrodesiac on your first date? Aside from the Kelly gigas oysters, Fish Shop serve up a feast of seafood with one of the best wine menus on the northside. Straight up fish and chips is always a winner but we dare you to take it a step further and order the whole baked fish which comes with chips and tartare to share. If the date’s successful, plan a visit to their sister restaurant in Tramore for your first anniversary.
Vice, Wigwam, Dublin 1
Baby, it’s cold outside, and if those first-date fireworks aren’t quite doing the trick, head to Vice in Wigwam for a toasty Irish coffee. Tom and the Vice team have created modernised versions of this old classic with the Plain Jane, the Luxurious Linda, and the award-winning Fancy Frankie made with a drop of Teeling Small Batch and lashings of espresso.
Loose Canon, Dublin 2
Yes, we just mentioned it’s cold outside, but the people-watching from Loose Canon just cannot be beaten. Get there before their acclaimed toasties sell out and indulge in some gloriously cheesy goodness with wines by the glass (or the bottle). Disclaimer: it is very likely that you will get spotted by a pal but it’s worth it.
Vietnom, Dublin 7
Sometimes a first date is best spent with a pint of plain and some casual conversation. Thankfully, The Glimmer Man in Stoneybatter pour a perfect pint to enjoy in one of their cosy snugs. To keep ravenous bellies at bay, Milly and Alex from Vietnom churn out the tastiest Vietnamese small plates onsite, but be sure to order one of everything so that you don’t get food envy. Small plates are also a great way to find out if your date shares food - a deal breaker obviously.
Where do you bring fellow foodies on a first date? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.