The dinner date has a long history of being the most popular activity in the early stages of courtship. However, when the recession hit, singles started getting more casual and creative. What's new on the dating scene? For starters, the coffee or green juice date suddenly became appealing and happy hour made men's wallets extra happy. But if you're still excited to get out and enjoy the culinary delights that your city has to offer, there are plenty of choices that will fill your belly, but won't break your bank.
Most cities have food festivals, offering everything from a taste of local fare to specifically-themed ethnic food. They're always fun, with lots to see and do as you wind your way around, mingling and trying your city's delicacies. The people-watching at food festivals is great, as well — and as a bonus, it makes for fun conversation.
More from YourTango: On Aging Gracefully And Being (Naturally) Gorgeous In Your 60s
Oktoberfest is a great autumn date, and you no longer have to travel to Germany to experience it! Many towns and cities now offer a local version of the extravaganza. It's an all-day celebration of the best German beers, foods and entertainment; bring your appetite and an adventurous spirit.
And then, of course, there is the big dog: the traditional dinner at a posh restaurant as you sit across from one another, assessing if there is enough chemistry to get to date number two. Good wine, fancy food and sexy lighting — there's a lot to love about the classic dinner date.
As a matchmaker I encourage my clients to try all sorts of different dates, but food always seems to be everyone's go-to. I also get the inside scoop, which means detailed feedback after each of my clients' dating adventures. The ladies in my service are being wined and dined at the best restaurants in Los Angeles, which is a treat anyone would love. But here's a secret: sometimes, they get a bit carried away.
One of my clients, John, was telling me about a first date he went on with a woman; he took her to an expensive steakhouse in Beverly Hills. Things were going fine and she was a great conversationalist. At the end of the meal, she told the waiter that she would like to order one more petite filet, to take home to her cat. His jaw dropped to his chest, and he said, "Oh, no, no, no! I don't think that is a good idea!"
Her response? "But it's for my cat!"
He stated firmly, "I am not on a date with your cat!" Yikes.
Another client, Daniel, flew Christine to San Francisco for a romantic dinner in his private plane. Daniel was eager to impress her with his pilot skills and imaginative date. They were having an amazing time, but at the end of the evening, before the check arrived, Christine whipped out the wine list and ordered several bottles "to go" for herself on Daniel's dime. Needless to say, that was her last flight!
Matching Southern California women has proven to be quite an experience. They are getting more and more into the raw food and juicing culture. As such, yoga, mediation, spiritual retreats, colonics and angel card readings are all topics of high priority for many SoCal ladies. Some, needless to say, make for better dates than others.
Gary called me the other day telling me that as a litigator with his own law firm, he was quite impressed at his date's ability to thoroughly cross-examine the poor waiter on whether their vegetables were GMO (genetically modified) or not. The waiter was flummoxed and tongue-tied as she grilled him over and over to the point of embarrassment. He finally replied, "Miss, all I know is that our vegetables are fresh and no one has gotten sick."
Even a date as quirky and fun as attending a restaurant supply convention can go south. Sarah accompanied James to a convention that was held in a hotel in Miami. While he was in a meeting that was scheduled to last for a few hours, she went to the bar to wait for him. When he finished, he went looking for her and found out from the staff that she had gotten so drunk at the bar she was unable to walk. They had to wheel her out on a luggage rack. Quite a surprise!
So what can we learn from these (admittedly hilarious) tales of food and love gone wrong? For starters, approach a dining date with class, grace and confidence. Food is one of the best vehicles for connection to another person, and it should be easy, fun and no-pressure. You don't have to be a high-flyer to have a delicious date, though. Consider thinking outside the box with a creative date like a festival or walking tour of your city's best fare. Don't take yourself too seriously (juicers, we're looking at you!) And, above all, definitely do not order a steak for your cat!
More from YourTango: On Body Confidence & Feeling Awesome: It's Not About Appearance
More dating coach advice from YourTango: