I have never been a huge fan of casual dating, but as my twenties come to an end, I’ve started to realize that I should embrace the single ride while it lasts. I am quite sure that one day – when I am married with kids – I’ll want to return to my carefree days, where flirting was my pastime and dating was my sport.
So here I am – preparing for yet another first date with a guy who was introduced to me by a mutual friend. He’s new to the Atlanta area and since I have been a member of the Yelp Elite for the past three years, it is only fitting that I choose the restaurant. Initially, I was happy that he asked me to choose; but given the fact that there are over 3,000 restaurants in the Atlanta area, choosing one can be a bit daunting.
I’ve been doing my research, googling “best restaurants in Atlanta,” and perusing my Yelp reviews. I’ve solicited advice from friends and family members and our conversations around this topic have led me to categorize Atlanta restaurants into 4 categories: (a) upscale hole in the walls (b) *yawn* average chains *yawn* (c) low-key yet nice vibe and (d) fancy shmancy.
Upscale Hole In The Wall
Upscale Hole In the Walls are my favorite type restaurants in Atlanta. Included in this category are West Egg Café, Rita’s Bluebird Café, and Antico Pizza. The food at these restaurants is delicious, but the ambience is extremely casual. Prices are impeccable. A couple can eat at these restaurants for less than 25 bux, and be well satisfied at the end of the day. They are great for large groups, but do not have the most intimate atmosphere for couples.
*Yawn* Average Chains *Yawn*
Restaurant chains are always reliable. You know what you’re going to get and you can pretty much predict the service that you’ll receive. Unlike the Upscale Hole In The Walls, Average Chains can cater to large groups or couples. Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory, Copeland’s, Pappadeaux’s and Maggianos are in this category. The cool thing about this category is that there are a variety of options. Cheesecake Factory is on the nicer end of the spectrum, while Red Lobster could be considered more casual.
I eat out a lot, so none of the restaurants on this list particularly impress me. In fact, to be frank with you, they are quite boring to me. *Yawn.*
Low-Key Yet Nice Vibe
Do-At-The View, Flip Burger Boutique, Twist, and Einstein’s are my favorite items on this list. These places are affordable, but don’t burn a whole in your pocket at the end of the evening. They are a good place to jumpstart your evening with a few drinks or a lovely place to enjoy happy hour with co-workers. Food offered at these restaurants on this list are slightly mediocre, but typically, when I choose these places, I am more interested in the vibe than eating good food. The vibe is more trendy, where SMART casual is more common than cocktail attire. Low-Key Yet Nice Vibes are my second favorites because the meal options lie within my budget and enable me to feel like like I am “ballin on a budget.”
These are the type of restaurants that your relative with a larger budget and expensive taste take you on holidays. These are the type of places where the menu do not even list a price, because the people who eat here are only interested in the ambience and the experience of finer dining. Included on this list are BLT, Chop’s, Canoe, Ecco, and Bacchanalia. I’ll admit, I’m less knowledgeable about this category, but having dined at a few restaurants on this list in the past, I am curious to explore this category a bit more.
So, my question to you S&T Readers, where should this guy take me on our first date? What would be an appropriate recommendation? First dates should be a time to explore a new restaurant, but at the same time, suggesting a place like Bacchanalia could be frowned upon, especially if he doesn’t have room in his budget. What’s the etiquette around suggesting restaurants for a first date when you have no idea how much money he has?
I appreciate your comments and stay tuned to hear which restaurant I chose.