The Dating Game

You matched. Now, where to meet? We asked the experts for some out-of-the-box suggestions.

Kate Hull

October 2023

So, you’ve met someone online who seems promising. Now, where to meet for that important first date? Since we’re talking about a complete stranger here, it’s important to take precautions, which is why meeting at a café for coffee is a no-brainer. Still, that’s not your only option. Matchmaking expert Blaine Anderson ( has a few ideas, all of which involve meeting in a public place and staying on dry land if at all possible. “Recently a friend told me about a man she met who asked her out on his boat for their first date,” she says. “While it’s a nice flex to share that he has a boat, your mama’s advice never to get in a car with a stranger applies here as well.” Anderson suggests hitting a public spot with a lot of options like a farmer’s market or a spot with shopping and other options. All the District spots check these boxes for an awesome day date: good food, drinks, local color, and people-watching, all of which stimulate conversation. “The ability to hold an interesting conversation is the leading predictor of whether a first date will translate to a second date or not,” says Anderson, who suggests asking non-boring questions— What are the top three destinations on your bucket list? What’s something you’ve learned about yourself in the past year?—that keeps the conversation lively and interesting. Matchmaker April Davis, president of LUMA Luxury Matchmaking, cautions against oversharing on a first date, talking about your ex or discussing politics. Instead, ask your date to describe what a typical Saturday looks like for them or tell you what place they’ve visited that they love and why. “The key is to listen to what the other person is saying and ask follow-up questions before jumping to the next question or focusing on your response,” says Anderson. “If the conversation starts to feel like a job interview, your date won’t feel secure and heard by you.” Want to knock it out of the park on your first date? “Museums are great for a first date,” says April Davis. “With so many interesting artifacts around, you’ll find plenty to talk about.” Blaine Anderson finds that vintage shopping, thrifting and antiquing can be adventurous and a fun day date, but there are plenty of other options.

Dress For Success

We’ve all heard the expression, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” So, think carefully about the kind of impression you want to make on your first date because it’s one of the first things you can control, according to April Davis, who advises her male clients to invest in a few staples like well-fitted dark jeans and a plain T-shirt or button down. Fortunately, there are plenty of options at Onward Reserve in College Station. Of course, a girl can never go wrong with a classic LBD (little black dress). Chances are you’ll find one at Hemline in CITYCENTRE or Apricot Lane Boutique, a specialty shop in Century Square, College Station. If you’re meeting for a walk in the park, Davis cautions against showing up in your 10-year-old soccer shorts and T-shirt. “Put a little effort into your appearance,” she says. So, for stylish athletic wear, stop by lululemon in CITYCENTRE or Century Square, College Station.


Meeting for a cup of joe is April Davis’s idea of a perfect first date. “You can choose any time of day to meet,” she says, “and what’s the worst that can happen? You finish your latte and are on your way.” Check out Harvest Coffee Bar in Century Square, College Station, where they’re passionate about coffee and community or Fellini Gelato Café at CITYCENTRE.


It’s less of a commitment than a meal somewhere and you’re free to leave after 30 minutes if the date is not working out. Indulge your sweet tooth at Jeni’s Ice Cream in CITYCENTRE or East River in Houston. Or meet for sweet crepes at Sweet Paris Creperie and Café in Century Square, College Station.


Nothing like a little friendly competition to make things interesting. Bowl & Barrel in CITYCENTRE is Houston’s hip new upscale bowling alley where elevated bar fare plus wine, craft beer, and spirits are part of the draw.


Anderson suggests embracing your inner child and showing off some skills while flirting over old-school arcade games. The newest addition to the entertainment lineup at Houston’s GreenStreet District is 810 Billiards & Bowling where you can bowl a few frames or shoot a game of pool but also enjoy arcade games, bocce, table tennis, darts, shuffleboard, and more. Game on!


If conversation isn’t your strong suit, why not catch a movie together? Studio Movie Grill in CITYCENTRE offers a dine-in theater concept that’s perfect for a first date: first-run film releases plus an extensive menu and a full-service bar.


You can learn a lot over a glass of wine and VinSanto at Memorial Green has selections from all over the world. They also have small plates to match perfectly with whatever vintage you and your date pick.


“It’s less pressure than dinner,” says Davis, “and who doesn’t love brunch?” Mess Waffles, Etc. at Century Square is always a good idea. The extensive menu includes all kinds of waffles, chicken and waffles, and other comfort food. Did someone say mimosas? They have three different flavors.


Moving around to different spots make sure the conversation doesn’t drag. Start with drinks at 1791 Whiskey Bar, apps at PORTERS, entrees at Hopdoddy, and a nice dessert at Hey Sugar, all at Century Square.


Davis suggests going to a game and cheering on your favorite team. Or head to Mo’s Irish Pub, in Century Square in College Station to grab a drink and a bite to eat while catching the game on the big screen.


“Fitness is a great way to bond on a first date,” says Anderson, who is a firm believer that couples who work out together stay together. Take a class at Orangetheory Fitness Century Square or book one of the 90+ classes at Life Time Athletic at GreenStreet, Houston. Cycling enthusiasts can head over to Epic-Cycles in CITYCENTER to check out the huge inventory of specialized bicycles as well as helmets, shoes, and apparel before taking a long, leisurely bike ride together. Who knows where that might lead.


For a dream night out, visit Fireside, Houston’s goto live-music restaurant in CITYCENTRE. Sip on specialty cocktails beside a crackling fireplace and snack on small plates while enjoying live bands and bottle service Thursday through Saturday. Raise a glass at 1791 Whiskey Bar in Century Square and listen to live music every weekend from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at The George. Or visit Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, a musical feast for the senses in the GreenStreet District where you’ll be singing along to classic tunes with everybody else. So, what if the date isn’t going as expected? Maybe the two of you have absolutely no chemistry. Or your date looks nothing like they did in their dating app profile picture. Both of our matchmaking experts suggest that the polite thing to do is see the date through even if it’s clear that your energies are mismatched. Then thank them for taking the time to meet and wrap things up.

Red Flags

Matchmaker Blaine Anderson suggests watching out for these tell-tale signs that your date may not be the right person for you:

PAY ATTENTION how your date treats the waitstaff because it’s a good indicator of how they will show up as a partner in a relationship once the honeymoon phase is over.

IF THEY immediately start talking about how “crazy” or “unhinged” their ex is, they’re probably not over their last relationship and certainly not ready for a new one.

IF THEY invite you to be their plus-one at their best friend’s wedding on your first date, they might be a love bomber.

IF THEY don’t ask questions about you, you might have a narcissist on your hands.

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