9 Restaurants In Dublin That Are Absolutely Perfect For A First Date
Not too loud, not too quiet, and impressive while not breaking the bank...
From Tinder to First Dates, we're truly a nation – and a city – obsessed by courtship. But let's be honest: it's an absolute minefield out there.
That's why picking the right location is absolutely essential, and it's why we've assembled this guide to the must-visit locations for your first forays into romance.
We took into account not just the quality of the places themselves – though all of these spots are worth hitting up even if you're on your lonesome – but also date-specific qualities, like how noisy they are, how packed they feel, and what sort of talking points they may throw up in case conversation runs dry.
Read on for some thoroughly thought-out datespo.
1. La Caverna
La Caverna is a chilled sanctuary, in an otherwise rowdy Temple Bar. The ambience is absolutely perfect for a date, first or otherwise. Inside is a dimly lit converted wine cellar, with atmosphere by the bucket load.
Awkward silence proof? There's actually a built-in fish tank in the centre of the table with live fish in it, a perfect ice breaker.
Proximity to other tables? Close enough to feel comfortable, not too close that you're on each others' laps - providing you book in advance. So get on it, lovebirds.
2. Vintage Cocktail Club (VCC)
The Vintage Cocktail Club is one of Dublin's best-kept secret's, and an absolutely spectacular location to try your hand at the game of love.
Awkward silence proof? To begin, you need to ring the bell to even get in, which is always an interesting start. As well as that, the whole place is set up to make you feel like you've stepped back in time to the Roaring Twenties – meaning it's a treat for all of the senses. You're grand, basically.
Proximity to other tables? Snug, but you won't care. It's that slick, and the ambient noise is enough to ensure you won't be subjected to earwiggers.
3. Le Bon Crubeen
Le Bon Crubeen on Talbot Street has one of the best-value menus in Dublin, considering the incredible standard of their food. Nicely decorated, we would definitely recommend this place to anyone who appreciates good food.
Awkward silence proof? The great service helps you to ease into the place, but I'm afraid you're going to have to whip out your fantastic array of one-liners to keep this date afloat.
Proximity to other tables? Roomy, treat yo' self to some leg room, my friend.
4. Market Bar
The Market Bar on Fade Street is big, atmospheric and quite reasonable when it comes to prizes – perfect for a first date.
Awkward silence proof? Market Bar is generally always happily busy, so you'll feel at home in the midst of the buzzing conversations in no time at all. Failing that, there's a whole wall of clogs beside the bathrooms of which you can talk about, if everything goes totally pear-shaped.
Proximity to other tables? It can be touch and go if you just arrive there, but once you book in advance you're absolutely golden.
5. Dublin Wine Rooms
Dublin Wine Rooms in the IFSC is an elegant French restaurant, with an unreal specialty wine bar with beaut decor, and an artisan deli. Ticking a lot of boxes here.
Awkward silence proof? They actually have pretty cool music in here, as well as some of the best wine in town, which always helps in this regard.
Proximity to other tables? You're on your own in here, don't worry.
Chameleon is yet another hidden gem, once again tucked away in the bustling Temple Bar. It's super tasteful and romantically lit, making it easy to feel like you're the only ones in the restaurant.
Awkward silence proof? The walls are covered with Indonesian style décor, giving you loads of talking points if there's a lull. Also, Chameleon specialises in rijzt tafel (Indonesian tapas), so you can share this, and break the ice entirely. And deliciously.
Proximity to other tables? Nothing to worry about. It's small, but you're not packed like sardines.
7. The Seafood Bar by Wrights of Howth
The building at The Seafood Bar by Wrights of Howth on Dawson Street has been described by Lucinda O'Sullivan as "one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city", and she's not wrong.
Awkward silence proof? The room itself is so glorious that you have load of places to look. The background music will also help you both ease into fine form – not too loud and not too quiet. Adds to the atmosphere perfectly.
Proximity to other tables? A huge building, with loads of space. Loads of room for all your flirting.
Dada on South William Street has nailed the Moroccan atmosphere completely. Candlelit tables, the warm colour scheme and the scents of spices and perfumes – diners are properly in a world of their own. And crucially, it's BYOB.
Awkward silence proof? The building is filled with the tastes of Africa, and because of this, you're pretty much enveloped in the whole experience. So don't worry, you won't have to worry about awkward silences.
Proximity to other tables? Loads and loads of room, AND on comfy couches. Best.
9. The Vintage Kitchen
A refreshingly cosy setting, given the location, and definitely different from the average restaurant in Dublin. The Vintage Kitchen could sell atmosphere by the bottle – mind you, it's not particularly easy to get a seat there.
Which, in fairness, just means it will be all the more impressive if you manage to nab a booking...
Awkward silence proof? You can actually BYO vintage records to play in here, so if either you or them are into similar music, then this is the perfect way to get talking.
Proximity to other tables? It's small, but worth it. Trust us. But definitely book in advance. And happy dining!