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

Giggity.
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.

Plonk has a wine with your name on it.
Plonk has a wine with your name on it.
Photo by Troy Fields

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.

Dinner and a [silent] movie at El Real.
Dinner and a [silent] movie at El Real.
Photo by Troy Fields

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).

Fitzgerald's is equally fun on Open Mic Wednesdays.
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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