Swipe Right for Tacos: The Best Dallas Bars and Restaurants for a Tinder First Date

So you've nailed down a Tinder match for your first date. Where do you go? Picking the right place — like Wild Detectives, pictured here — is arguably even more important than picking the right date.
So you've nailed down a Tinder match for your first date. Where do you go? Picking the right place — like Wild Detectives, pictured here — is arguably even more important than picking the right date. Kathy Tran

Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have changed the dating game in a big way. Thanks to internet dating, it's easier than ever to meet new people around you. But it's also changed the very fabric of the first date; now, instead of having dinner with someone who asked you out in real life, the dating landscape has become a sea of endless blind dates.

For all of app-based dating's upsides — the ability to see who's around you at any given time, a way to meet more people without relying on the bar scene or dubious setups — there is one important thing that Tinder can't tell you: whether you have any chemistry with this person to begin with. Because of that risk, millennials seem to be skipping long, fancy dinners and opting, instead, for low-key first dates of coffee or cocktails.

All these new social norms raise the question: What's the best place to have a first date with someone you've never actually met?

First off, it shouldn't be expensive; with millennials going on more first dates than ever, two or three dates in one week add up fast. Etiquette dictates that whoever initiates the date should pay, but in 2017, it's all about equality. It's good form to trade off; one of you gets dinner, the other drinks. Picking an expensive restaurant for a first date can make you seem high maintenance, especially if your date feels obligated to pick up the check. Save Town Hearth or FT33 for a third or fourth date.

Second, an obvious one: Don't pick an out-of-the-way place. You're meeting a stranger, after all; this is not the time to try out that dark, nearly empty dive in an unfamiliar neighborhood. For added safety, pick a spot where you're a regular, the kind of place where you're liable to run into friends or where the bartender knows your name.

Third, and this one is a bummer, pick a place where you don't mind chilling by yourself if you get stood up — because you might. Ask anyone who's dated in the internet age; first Tinder dates are notoriously flaky, sometimes showing up late or not at all. It's also best to pick a place where you can have snacks or cocktails without committing to a lengthy meal; if there's no chemistry, why stick around? Just slap some cash on the table, tell them you're not feeling it and call it a night.

Another obvious one: Go somewhere you won't have to scream at each other just to have a conversation. Skip loud, nightclubby spots like Dos Jefes or Pilikia and opt for someplace quiet.

Finally, and perhaps most important, pick somewhere that makes you look like the cool, hip urban single you are. A large portion of Dallas Tinder users are people who recently moved here — some are looking for new friends; others are looking to explore the city through awkward first dates. Take them somewhere cool that they haven't been to before, and you'll instantly score bonus date points.

With these factors in mind, here are a few spots to add to your first date repertoire for those awkward nights when you're getting all dolled up to meet a complete stranger who may (but most likely will not) become your future Netflix and chill companion — till death do you part.

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Whether you're sitting in sunshine on Wild Detectives' gorgeous patio or curled up in a cozy spot indoors, Wild Detectives is a perfect spot for a first Tinder date.
Kathy Tran
The Wild Detectives
314 W. Eighth St. (Oak Cliff)
If you are gonna get ghosted by a Tinder date, there's no better place than Wild Detectives. This Oak Cliff bookstore slash bar slash coffee shop is a perfect first Tinder date spot for several reasons: It's super hip, the cocktails are solid and, if your date doesn't consume alcohol, there's plenty of coffee and Topo Chico to keep him or her from feeling like a sober fish out of water.

There's a sweet patio out back, especially great for daytime dates, and intimate little corners inside the store where you can get to know each other without screaming over loud music. Wild Detectives also has great culture programming like readings and plays, and it's one of the city's best solo hang spots, one that won't make you feel like a pariah if you suddenly find yourself waiting 45 minutes for a date who may not even show. Order a negroni, pack a book — or buy one from Wild Detectives' well-curated selection — and even if your date bails, your night will be far from ruined.

With a covered patio, an open-air patio with a basketball court, a rooftop patio and intimate indoor spaces, there are plenty of dark corners to cuddle up in at the Grapevine.
Sara Kerens
The Grapevine
3902 Maple Ave. (Oak Lawn)
For so many reasons, The Grapevine may be the best bar in the city for a first Tinder date. It's crazy cheap, especially during happy hour — when's the last time you ordered a $3 vodka-cranberry in this city? — and the frozen Bellini is made with Everclear, should you need a little liquid courage. There are a ton of sweet hidey holes here, too. Grab a spot on the rooftop patio, shoot hoops on the small outdoor basketball court or curl up in a comfy chair in a dark corner inside. The low lighting gives this spot a little low-key romance, the vibe is endlessly cool and, if you get hungry, there's a window on the patio where you can order fun grilled cheese sandwiches from Nosh Box Eatery food truck or sweet little jars of Val's Cheesecakes.

Another reason to make The Grapevine your first-date spot: You'll learn quickly if your date is a piece of closed-minded human garbage. Some call Grapevine a gay bar, but in reality, it's too diverse even for that designation; patrons range wildly in age, race and sexuality and on the gender spectrum, and if your date isn't cool with that, you'll know fast.

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Jettison screams old-school romance and craft cocktail cool.
Alison McLean
1878 Sylvan Ave. (West Dallas)
Wanna look like the coolest date ever? Meet up at this cozy West Dallas cocktail den, where you can sip sherry and mezcal cocktails by candlelight. The service is attentive, the drinks are some of the best in the city and this nearly hidden spot will make you seem impossibly cool and in-the-know. As an added bonus, it's in Sylvan Thirty, a West Dallas development with tons of food options. Meet up pre-cocktails for a bowl of ramen at Ten, crepes at Whisk or wine and pizza at Cibo Divino.

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Score instant cool points by treating your date to pulpo tacos at Revolver Taco Lounge.
Kathy Tran
Revolver Taco Lounge
2701 Main St. (Deep Ellum)
Equal parts adventurous and accessible, Revolver Taco Lounge has all the best first-date vibes: low lighting, killer music, strong margaritas and tacos that run the gamut from carne asada to frog legs. Your date will be impressed by your taco acumen, and while it's a bit pricier than what you'd find at a street taco stand, dinner and drinks at Revolver definitely won't break the bank. As an added bonus, if the date goes well, you're surrounded by killer bars where you can grab a nightcap after dinner. If your date is new to the city, blow his or her mind by slipping into nearby bars High & Tight or Black Swan, two dens that mix up some of the best cocktails in Deep Ellum.

Bowen House, a cocktail bar in an old house in Uptown, screams date night.
Lori Bandi
Bowen House
2614 Boll St. (Uptown)
This chic but cozy Uptown cocktail bar was made for date night. The craft cocktails are superb, and the vibe is dark and romantic. Beat the summer heat with a sno-cone cocktail or split a charcuterie board if you need to keep your wits about you (and you definitely do). If the date goes well, you're right in the thick of the Uptown bar scene, so take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood and find another cocktail spot to end the night.

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Taquero wins the award for most romantic street taco stand in Dallas.
Beth Rankin
3019 Chihuahua Ave. (West Dallas)
Dallas taco newcomer Taquero is the city's most romantic street taco stand. There's no indoor seating — so maybe don't book a date here at noon in August — but even during the summer months, dining here at sunset is a breezy, beautiful affair. Bossa nova plays through the speakers overhead, twinkling white lights give it an added dose of romance and the tacos are some of the best in the city. Even if the two of you pig out, you likely won't spend more than $20, and Taquero is BYOB, which means you can split a bottle of bubbly on the cheap. When you pull up, watch your date's eyes widen in happy surprise and enjoy the satisfaction of looking like the hip taco connoisseur we all pretend to be on Tinder.

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The bar at Texas Theatre is a romantic spot to grab a drink before or after catching a movie.
Kathy Tran
Texas Theatre
231 W. Jefferson Blvd. (Oak Cliff)
If you didn't know, now you do: Texas Theatre has one of the sweetest, most romantic little bars in the city. The bar at this gorgeous historic theater is a great spot to grab a drink before catching an indie flick. Sometimes we sip cocktails here even if we aren't catching a movie. Grab a cocktail at the candlelit bar, pop upstairs to see if there's an art installation in the Safe Room, a tiny gallery above the lobby, or score added cool points by bringing your date to one of Texas Theatre's infamous parties that often involve a movie screening followed by a concert held behind the movie screen. If you're looking for somewhere to hang after, Small Brewpub and Barbara's Pavilion are just a couple blocks away.

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Cidercade is the perfect place to get a little playful with your first date.
Mikel Galicia
2777 Irving Blvd. (Design District)
Take some of the pressure off your first date by embracing your inner child at Cidercade, the combination arcade and bar from local cidery Bishop Cider Co. Sip locally produced ciders while you go head-to-head on vintage video games. With 125 games and 24 ciders on tap, there's plenty to do. As an added bonus, once you pay the $10 admission, all the games are free — after a couple pints of cider, your Guitar Hero skills are sure to impress your date.

Cosmo's is the quirky spot that will earn you a spot in the first date hall of fame.
Nick Rallo
212 Skillman St. (East Dallas)
This retro East Dallas dive sports mid-century modern vibes, killer Vietnamese food and a curious VHS collection. This bar defies categorization, but it's never dull — and if you take your date on a Friday, you can go to town on the stellar Vietnamese fried chicken.

Emporium Pies' adorable shop is the cutest possible first date spot.
Kathy Tran
Emporium Pies
314 N. Bishop Ave. (Bishop Arts) and 2708 Main St. (Deep Ellum), Dallas; 107 S. Tennessee St., McKinney
For a little foodie romance that won't require a potentially long and awkward meal, meet up for dessert at Emporium Pies, the city's most popular pie maker. Whether you're getting together at the quaint Bishop Arts cottage or the trendy new Deep Ellum location, Emporium's shops have sweet, Instagrammable vibes and coffee to wash down their creative pies, and all locations are conveniently adjacent to several bars, should you want the date to continue over a cocktail.
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Beth Rankin is an Ohio native and Cicerone-certified beer server who specializes in social media, food and drink, travel and news reporting. Her belief system revolves around the significance of Topo Chico, the refusal to eat crawfish out of season and the importance of local and regional foodways.
Contact: Beth Rankin