AdviceBoozeEat & DrinkSan FranciscoSex and Dating

The Best First Date Spots in San Francisco

Updated: Jun 26, 2016 11:25
The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news



No, it’s not just cuffing season, or a quickly diminishing timeline to Valentine’s Day, This is actually the busiest week of the year for online dating. So plan ahead where you’ll take your new sweetheart or whoever you find that still has hair in the “right” places and knows how to type. These are the best first date spots in San Francisco after all.

And when you see me at any of these locations, we don’t know each other. Got it? Be cool, dude. Be cool.

For a bar: Lone Palm

Just a typical night at the Lone Palm. Photo of Guillermo Gomez-Pena by RJ Muna.

Lone Palm should be the standard to which all casual bars are held. Not completely dive, not high-end, this is a perfect spot for all happy hour first dates. There aren’t usually loud crowds of douchebags and the drinks are consistent with an ideal level of darkness conducive for hiding your craziest secrets.

For a restaurant: Nopalito

Well this looks nice. image from The Infatuation

I don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t like Nopalito. It’s fresh, delicious, and generally well-priced. You can sit outside, eat some tacos, order a couple shots if things are going well, and there are cookies with the bill so you’ll have something to enjoy during that moment when you work out who’s paying what and whether you should argue about it in true San Francisco date tradition.

For both: Trick Dog

How man dates can we spot in this picture? image from Noelle Chun

Food upstairs, drinks downstairs and a dog-themed calendar. I really don’t know what else you need. They’ve got  massive kale salad plus chicken nuggets. Just avoid the (definite and huge) mistake of leaving to get coffee next door in the middle of the date. You might be thinking, “what, that would be a weird thing to do”. I agree. Unfortunately, my date didn’t.

For coffee: Borderlands

How many times do you think that bike has been stolen since this picture was taken? image from the SF Examiner

Borderlands has coffee as well as the added bonuses of quiet, space, lots of seating, connection to a bookstore and good hot drinks. It is, however, cash only. Anecdote: I once sat next to a couple and realized they were asking each other what their favorite marine animals were. They then went to dinner. So obviously, it worked out ok for at least one first date.

For daytime: Sandwiches at Washington Square Park

Hooray for grassy places! image from

North Beach is an underrated part of the city and Washington Square Park is prime people watching real estate. There’s also no limit to the food in the area between the bakeries, restaurants, pizza places and Chinese food. Grab some sandwiches at Molinari, sit in the park for a while, and head up for an amazing view at the top of the San Francisco Art Institute when you’re ready to make some stealthy and suggestive moves.

For culture: Any art gallery

So many sheep, so little time. image from

Honestly, I just want you guys to go to art galleries more. In many respects, they are the perfect places for first dates: free booze, weird things to talk about, and pretty strangers who do not want to engage with you. All you gotta do is sign up for some email lists to find out when they have openings. Suggested spots: Eleanor Harwood Gallery, Et al., SFAQ [Project] Space, and soon…the Minnesota Street Project, which you may or may not have heard about.

For adventure: Musée Mécanique

What were you gonna do with all those coins anyways? image by Tom Thorpe

Maybe you’re into old shit. Maybe you’re into toys. Maybe you like being vaguely terrified. I’ve got two words for you: Laughing Sal. Seriously though, this place is awesome and you need to go. It’s cheap, interesting and down the street from seafood and making fun of tourists. If you go here with anyone who isn’t into it, abort mission.

Previous post

My Dating Life as a Transwoman

Next post

We have FREE tickets to the Internet Cat Video Festival @ Yerba Buena Arts!

Candace Cui - Actual Unicorn

Candace Cui - Actual Unicorn

At age 2, I was getting run over by a bike in an alley in China. At age 8, I was avoiding man-o-wars on Tybee Island. At age 14, I was overdrinking sweet tea while running through the woods barefoot. At age 20, I was learning Art History and how to drop it low. At age 25, I was making fun of drum circles at Dolores. At every age, I am charming the fuck out of you. Just wait, it'll happen.