Whether you're getting ready to (re)enter the dating game, or you're a seasoned playa—before you can resign yourself to quiet evenings in front of Netflix with that special someone, there's just a little something looming ahead. That's right: date uno. Sure, you'll worry about getting lettuce stuck in your teeth. You'll laugh nervously and try your darndest to not snort. And at the end—you might accidentally shake hands out of habit. But, you know what? That's okay.

Meeting new people can be hard. And new people you might want to be "better than friends" with? Even harder. But it's all worth it, which is why we've found a few sure-fire wins for the dinner date. Candlelight not required.

Parker’s on Ponce
When we’re in the mood to treat our date to a nice steak dinner but want to avoid the dark, stuffy and lifeless steakhouse feel —take ‘em here. Parker’s on Ponce will make you feel sophisticated, but relaxed. It’s warm, modern and the roomy side patio makes us feel like we can sit back and relax without struggling to get comfortable in an Applebee’s booth. Awkward fumbling: avoided.

Zuma Sushi
Old Fourth Ward
Zuma is a good choice for a sushi date because we can enjoy our company’s presence in a casually romantic setting without being interrupted by loud crowds of folks pounding their fists on tables doing Sake Bombs. Within a small quaint setting, we get the cozy, intimate experience of a date without making us feel like we have to show up dressed in a tightly-tailored suit or a flowy gown. And luckily for us, the laid back ambiance lets us veer away from getting too romantic and awkward. Plus, the sexy, dramatic lighting amongst the black and crimson décor will make you and your date look like you naturally give off a handsome glow—ya know, as if you were both sitting inside of an Instagram filter. Lookin’ good, guys!

Loca Luna
Lookin’ to spice things up a bit? How about a festive and zesty Midtown dinner? The consistent deliciousness of their tapas and libations will keep the conversation flowing, especially amongst the lively atmosphere of the joint. Plus, if you run out of things to talk about – you can always people watch. Better yet, If the night goes well? No need to find a new place, late-night dance parties are almost a certainty. Helpful note for first date jitters: They pour a pretty luscious mojito. #win-win.

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House
Dinner seemed scary. Too committal, right? That's ok. There are still ways to get to know your date in a comfortable setting, like by picking up a couple cups o' joe, here. And show your do-good side while you're at it. These folks are working directly with farmers in Rwanda, Haiti and Thailand—and the results taste just as good.