Fabulous First Dates

Even if you don’t fall in love with your date, Jason and Joy guarantee you’ll adore these restaurants

Restaurant recommendations from MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers.


Jason’s Picks

I am a clear expert on this topic, as my last first date was at a Milwaukee church polka festival circa 1995. But dating app research says where you go on the first date directly impacts your chances of a second date. So don’t mess it up.

Saffron: This may be the most underrated restaurant in the Twin Cities. I like to sit at the bar for perfect cocktails and a bunch of small plates. Get the giant beans, African-spiced fried cauliflower, and the lamb brains. Or swipe left on the brains. (Warehouse District, Mpls.)

Ran-Ham Bowling/The Nook: Bowling gives you the chance to be playful, competitive, and make a fool out of yourself. Go old-school at Ran-Ham, order the Juicy Nookie and amazing fries from upstairs (they’ll bring them down), followed by an egg cream or a salty turtle sundae for dessert at Cold Front next door. (Randolph & Hamline, St. Paul)

the nook, restaurant best bets, restaurant recommendations, first dates, food, st. paul
Double-decker cheeseburger from The Nook

Photo by Todd Buchanan


Joy’s Picks

A first date can be wonderful…or you end up with a terrifically awful evening that will live in cocktail-party-story infamy. These spots serve a good time, even if your date looks nothing like his profile picture.

Up/Down Uptown: This adult arcade is packed with retro games, great beer, and decadent pizza. Strike up a conversation on the best way to approach a Skee-Ball game while waiting your turn for Street Fighter 2. (Lyn-Lake, Mpls.)

The Turf Club: I’m trying to spread some of my good luck with the spot where my husband and I shared our first date. Turf Club’s low cover charge and loud music are perfect if things get awkward. (University & Snelling, St. Paul)

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