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Table for two: first date dining



When taking someone out on a first dinner date, there’s always the question of where to go.  

Here in Tampa, there is hardly a lack of restaurants, ranging from Chipotle Mexican Grill to bartaco  there’s a spot for everyone. Clover, a mobile dating app, looked at data from its users and compiled a list of the 30 most popular first-date restaurants, many of which happen to be right by USF.


Simple and easygoing

Clover names Starbucks as the most popular first date location due to its more laid back and easygoing ambiance. There isn’t a commitment to a long dinner that has the potential to be awkward. It’s a neutral place to meet a new person, it’s not secluded and won’t have the added pressure of a fancy restaurant. You’re free to talk and get to know the person with no time constraints as there would be at a traditional restaurant. It can be as long or short of a date as either of you please. 

With a sense of familiarity and an array of coffee, beverages and snacks, Starbucks could be a great first date location. 

A more formal location is Chipotle. Clover ranks Chipotle as the No. 1 restaurant to take a date for ages 18 to 24, and the second most popular spot over all. 

Starting over 20 years ago and spanning over 500 restaurants nationwide, Chipotle is a well-known company that serves affordable food with fresh ingredients that contain no artificial fillers or flavors. Their familiar menu helps eliminate the pressure of looking at a long and complicated list of options. You’re free to focus on the person you are with, sit down and share a meal together.


Casual dining

When looking for something more sophisticated than Starbucks or Chipotle, Clover also listed several more traditional sit-down dining locations such as Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse. 

Olive Garden, a family-friendly restaurant with a modern take on classic Italian dishes, comes in at No. 7 on Clover’s list. With an array of options and specials, Olive Garden would definitely be a great choice for a more formal dining experience while not being fine dining. 

The restaurant is currently featuring its endless pasta bowl with over 20 options to celebrate its 20-year anniversary as well as having multiple wines and cocktails. You can show your date your classier side and bond over Italian food, and maybe even a glass of wine. 

If Italian isn’t your thing, another possibility is Outback Steakhouse. Ranked at No. 18, you will find an Australian-style steak house featuring different chicken, rib, seafood, pasta and steak dishes. Their latest deal is a steak and endless shrimp dish, perfect for any surf and turf lover.  They work to provide high quality, filling yet affordable items and offers the opportunity to sit down and get to know a person.


A sophisticated experience

If you’re trying to make a memorable first impression, it may require a more fine and different dining experience then Olive Garden or Outback — bartaco Hyde Park is the option for you. 

New to Hyde Park, bartaco offers an upscale beach vibe in a downtown setting. Its food combines inspiration from Punta del Este, Uruguay and Buzios, Brazil, with street food to create their signature dining experience. 

They offer a choice of small plates to combine into create a unique meal of your choice. Tacos are sold individually and range from traditional Mexican-style chicken, fried oyster and falafel. There are also small plates available, such as guacamole and plantains. If you’re looking for something more filling, they offer rice bowls with — but not limited to — curry shrimp, cauliflower or duck, all of which can be accompanied by a black bean salad or any of their other sides.

Dinner can also be paired with a house cocktail, a choice from the tequila menu or a refreshing glass of wine.

The night can be concluded with a spiced chocolate pudding or key lime pie in a jar.

Offering a sophisticated setting while still being college-budget friendly, bartaco makes a good first date location that is sure to have anyone coming back for seconds.