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The Definitive Guide To Being A Good Dinner Date

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With the year's most romantic holiday on the horizon, its important that you know a few key rules about dating in the modern day. We'll admit that it's a bit crazy that some of these things need to be said, but so is the plight of a serial dater and Gen Y writer. With that, we present to you our guide for being a good dinner date. Play by the rules, and you won't get played.

1. Don't wait 'til the last minute to make ressies. And, this should go without saying, definitely make them. In a city with a buzzing dining scene like L.A., it's crucial to plan ahead. Especially around holidays and weekends. Having a game plan shows you've got game. It also shows consideration for someone else's schedule; be considerate and let them know the plan in advance -- preferably via a good, old fashioned phone call -- a couple days in advance. Also, know that on holidays like V-Day, most diners want reservations between 7-8 p.m. Making an earlier or later res means you won't be dining during the most hectic parts of the night, which will most likely result in better service and a better experience all together.

2. Consider noise levels. Much as we love restaurants with energy, picking a place where you can't hear your company speak is a major no-no. Offenders include Petty Cash, Bottega Louie, and Night + Market. We may love their food, but it's just not an ideal date setting. Straining to hear while vacantly staring into each others' eyes can wear thin real quick. According to a recent Zagat survey, noise has become the second-biggest complaint among diners, behind lousy service. In Los Angeles, 18% of diners ranked noise as their top peeve. Save it for the after party.

3. Know how to articulately order a drink. And preferably something that doesn't include the words "vodka soda" or "Long Island Ice Tea" -- unless you're doing throwback cocktails at POT or Harvard & Stone. There's nothing more attractive than knowing what you want, and the way someone orders a cocktail is a great indicator of how well they know themselves. Get up close and personal with your palate, learn a few descriptors for what you dig. Not only will you sound snazzy, but you'll end up sipping on something that you genuinely like.

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4. Limit your social media updates to one per date. In fact, limit all technology use, including staring at TVs, unless it’s a big game and you’re out to watch said match. It might sound old fashioned, but it never feels good to be ignored for a flashing screen or a cell phone. Some may argue that you shouldn't use cell phones at all, but we feel that it's kind of cute to get excited over the place your date so painstakingly planned to take you to. Just limit it to one quick pic, and don't spend the entire time picking filters and doing a play-by-play of your 9 course tasting menu.

5. Pick a geographically desirable location. Like in real estate, picking a restaurant is all about location, location, location, especially if you're trying to get some action afterwards. If you live in the same 'hood, pick something local. If you're offering to take someone out, pick them up. (Yes, even if they live on the Westside.) And make sure to allow some padding time between work hours and dinner if it's a Friday night date to allow for freshening up. Starting a date out stressed is no good.

6. Don’t order for your date. Unless they've specified exactly what it is they want to order, this element of chivalry is the one thing we're over. In a city like L.A. there are so many damn dietary restrictions to consider that it might just be easier to let your date do their own bidding. This rule goes out the door for ordering a glass of champagne to start the meal. Totally a baller move.

7. Avoid ex talk. And industry talk. Better yet, skip the talking and go straight to the sex. Kidding, kidding. But honestly there's no bigger turn-off than past relationships, especially on a holiday celebrating the awesome-ness of your current relationship. Save it for another time.

8. Don't be late. We realize it's L.A. standard to be 10 minutes late to anything, but beyond that, try to be punctual.

9. Pony up. There's been much internet debate on this one, but our stance is that if you ask someone out to dinner, you are paying. There should be no question, and no opportunity for "wallet fake outs" wherein the askee feigns to want to split the bill. Stop it with that ridiculous move. It's confusing. Unless you genuinely want to pay for half the date, don't send mixed messages by attempting to pay.

10. Tip well and be kind. Being a cheapskate isn't attractive, and as we know servers work hard for their money. Like, really hard. Even if they are aspiring actors. At least try to be nice to the entire front of house, from the hostess to the somm to the servers. They're usually hustling, especially on dining-focussed holidays like Valentine's. Regarding tipping: Two dollars each for craft cocktails is standard. One dollar for fancy coffee made by an expert barista. And 20% for servers. It's not Tips For Jesus' responsibility to make up for your poor manners. Don't like it? Don't dine out. Or lobby for better wages for service workers. That is all there is to it.

Honorable Mention

Share: Being generous with a bite of your food can be romantic. You don't have to slurp down the same noodles a la "Lady and the Tramp," but swapping bites with your dining buddy not only shows you're generous, but also that you're adventurous. And who doesn't dig that?


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