First dates come with a little bit of self-imposed pressure. Should it be formal? Casual? How casual is too casual? Should it be intimate or lively? Whether you swiped right, met someone interesting at your favorite bar, or just finally built up the nerve to ask that particular someone to “hang out” tomorrow night, your next move is to pick a spot to get to know each other. If you hardly know them or want to prove how much you think you know them, the feeling of getting it right the first time might weigh on you. Let me ease those worries and offer five restaurants in Charlotte that appeals to everyone, formal or not.

Dot Dot Dot

Since this speakeasy-style members-only restaurant and cocktail bar opened last year, it proved to not only excel at creating delicious plates and cranking out cocktails backed by an award-winning mixologist, but also do so in such a chic setting. Tucked into Park Road’s backlot, this widely known secret entrance is just marked with three dots. Once your membership is verified, you both will walk through a dimly lit brick hallway to the hostess and be led inside to the 1920s style restaurant. Share small plates of Wagyu Beef Tartar, Ahi Poke, or have fun and try something you both have never had. Practically everything on its menu is dressed to impress (like your date). If you think dressing up, getting cozy in conversation, and sipping cocktails is your idea of the perfect first date, Dot Dot Dot is a solid choice.

Futo Buta

A day date with a little bit of flavor can keep things lively and fun. Trendy, nestled next to the bustling lightrail trail of Southend, and serving up an authentic Asian Fusion is Futo Buta. I recommend trying its buns and its signature Buta Bowl. Have a giggle at each other’s chopstick techniques and enjoy light, sake-based cocktails in a laid-back setting.

The Cellar at Duckworth’s

In the middle of lively Uptown, this fun chain restaurant is great for happy hour, casual dinner, and catching up on March Madness. However, for a first date, you might want something a little more refined. Head down to Duckworth’s cellar directly underneath the grill house and surprise your date with a quieter, more intimate night at its gastropub. It’s the perfect space to share its more upscale menu that includes Preserved Lemon Risotto and Pappardelle Duck Ragu.


While this southern style restaurant isn’t exactly new or up and coming anymore, it is still going strong as one of NoDa’s hot spots. Fried food, cozy desserts, and creatively crafted cocktails will impress your date, while the southern chic atmosphere keeps you both relaxed. While it does get packed on the weekends, getting a table is worth it. The atmosphere stays quite intimate regardless of the crowd so your conversations can be as candid as you would want. Your first date will probably include commentary on the fun twists to Haberdish’s southern style menu like Smokey Boiled Peanuts and Cauliflower Steak. It’s difficult to go wrong with comfort food. Added bonus, if the date goes well, there are lots of other spots to stroll through in NoDa.

Seoul Food Meat Co.

If you think your first date should be no muss, no fuss in terms of atmosphere and guest, I suggest meeting up at Seoul Food Meat Co. After devouring its signature Soy Garlic Wings and Sriracha Cracklings, step out onto their outside bar to grab a drink and play some billiards. Some competition never hurts, plus it’s a great opportunity to bet that the loser chooses the next date location. If you want to take up another notch on the fun scale, Seoul Food also has four themed karaoke rooms. Again, great opportunity for a little friendly competition. I hear that sometimes you can tell people’s personalities by the songs they choose to belt out to, so choose wisely.

Written By: Dinah Villar

Layout & Edits by: Angie Baquedano


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