Posture, pastimes and sweaty palms. You've got enough to think about when it comes to that first date. Grab the breath freshener and make that first move. Crave's got your back with these themed food and drink combinations sure to make a memorable first impression or refresh your regular date night.

Posture, pastimes and sweaty palms. You've got enough to think about when it comes to that first date. Grab the breath freshener and make that first move. Crave's got your back with these themed food and drink combinations sure to make a memorable first impression or refresh your regular date night.


Show off your knowledge of local apple varieties while deciding who you want to share a CSA with for the rest of your life. (No pressure.)

Start: Luck Bros.

Columbus art on the walls. Local vinyl (Way Yes) on the record player. Oh yeah, and coffee roasted 3 feet from where it's brewed. Skip the "nice to meet you" jitters and go straight into a side-by-side tasting of two pour-over coffees, or break the ice with Kyoto-style iced coffee from the shop's Japanese dripper. Tongue tied? If you're lucky, owner Andy Luck will get things brewing by walking you through the roasting process.

Dinner: Third & Hollywood

Celebrate Ohio's bounty-and a potential budding relationship-inside this dimly lit bistro filled with beautiful staff and vegetables. Though the menu changes, a locally sourced entree salad (such as Val's Spinach and Herb Salad topped with honey from Waterville Bee Works) always gets top billing, and the veggie burger (made with Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. black beans) is a constant. Discuss local vs. organic, whether Columbus is better known for beer, liquor or mead and the best place to pick apples.

Drinks: Brothers Drake Meadery

Close the evening by candlelight with an Ohio-brewed beer or mead-based cocktail. The generously poured Wild Sweet Annie (with Wild Ohio Mead, OYO whiskey and ginger liqueur) may cause a few murmurings of sweet somethings-or a passionate discussion about the plight of the honeybee.

Next Date: The next Slow Food Columbus event.


From Dr. Who to Settlers of Catan to comic books, you're looking for a life partner to share your passions and to occasionally trade you sheep for wheat.

Start: Kafe Kerouac

A grab bag of all things geeky, Kafe Kerouac opens the door-and the date-to conversations about poetry, science fiction, local comics and records. Order up one of the author-themed coffee drinks (like house favorite Jack Kerouac Latte, with hazelnut and mint), and leaf through the collections with your possible next companion.

Dinner: Ethyl & Tank

Come for the video games; stay for the food. Super-casual (there's a serve-yourself hot dog bar) or somewhat sophisticated (like the Waldorf Salad), Ethyl & Tank's street-facing tables allow for a little accidental knee touching and purposeful people watching. Try the wings, served with hand-cut carrots and green onions. Afterward, head upstairs to flirt-fight via Street Fighter and moonwalk with Michael Jackson.

Drinks: Kingmakers

A person's Connect Four skills may be indicative of how he or she will be as a partner and parent. Always forgetting the fourth checker? What if they forget to pick up little Daenerys at daycare, too? Luckily, Columbus has its very own board game parlor to help weed out the bad ones. With the help of a game sommelier, a local stout and a Rogue Bakery cookie, dating might become fun instead of harrowing.

Next Date: 16 Bit Bar + Arcade


Bonfires, cookouts and starlit summer nights: You know how to appreciate a pleasant day. Eschew the arctic AC, add bug spray to your date-night attire and find out if your companion likes long walks.

Start: Grass Skirt

Start things off with his-and-hers Zombies (a 151-loaded cocktail that promises to strip the evening of inhibitions) or, perhaps, a shared Lime-Cardamom Scorpion Bowl with house-infused rum. Either way, the Polynesian flair (from George the giant monkey sculpture chaperoning the date to the keepsake mugs) will provide vivid memories-ones that rum will only enhance-to tell the kids.

Dinner: Barcelona

With ambient lighting, a fountain and lush plants, Barcelona's patio is oft proclaimed the most romantic in the city. They've created the set for the beginning of something special and, with plenty of tapas options to share, the length of the meal is up to you. Your job? Scoring a table for two. Show up between 5 and 8 p.m., and be willing to wait. In the meantime, grab a drink at the bar and discuss outdoorsy things. Like birds. Or bees.

Dessert: A Pistacia Vera Picnic

Dessert (macarons for two and a walk) requires a little foresight, but if a first date isn't about planning for the future, what is? The German Village bakeshop closes around dinner time, so before eating, swing by and pick up a treat to enjoy beneath Schiller Park's canopy of trees. If things go well, perhaps a return for breakfast might be in order.

Next Date: Food Truck Food Court at Columbus Commons


Art is a living thing, and you're looking to share life with someone else who can appreciate the human imagination.

Start: Alana's

At Alana's, art is on the walls and in the cocktail shaker. Saddle up to the bar and order whatever's recommended. (Art is surprising, you know.) Three local artists rotate their wares. Folksy animal paintings by Rick Borg live in the main room, hypnotic images by Charles Wince complement the bar and Paul Volker's humorous cartoons decorate the lounge.

Dinner: Heirloom Cafe

What better place to engage in a discourse on the state of modern art than within the walls of a building that is a piece of contemporary art itself? On Thursdays and Fridays, the cafe stays open late, serving dishes featuring Ohio free-range turkey meatloaf and quinoa with baked tofu. No Campbell's soup cans on this menu. Grab a bite and wander the newest exhibition. ("Transfigurations", which shows off the Wexner family collection, opens Sept. 21.) It'll be a good time to ponder form versus function.

Drinks: Gateway Film Center

After dinner, get quality time in the dark with a Blonded Jacky Sundae (a brownie sundae with a dash of spiced rum) from Gateway's resident restaurant The Torpedo Room and an independent flick or live performances through the theater's Stage and Screen series.

Next Date: Sushi and poetry at Haiku Food & Art


Struck by wanderlust? Your first voyage together can be to Northwest Columbus, where the low-cost around-the-world fare allows you to save for that next trip. Perhaps a honeymoon in Hong Kong?

Start: Hass

This lively and budget-friendly taqueria serves up a taste of Sonora, Mexico, just south of Arizona. Order a flight of tacos and let your taste buds travel between the juicy and succulent al pastor and the carne asada served in locally made flour tortillas. Let yourself be transported to whatever futbol match is playing on the television, and don't be afraid to cheer along.

Dinner: Tuula's European Cafe

Stop by this European-style cafe to split a piece of brita. This Finnish dessert features tender yellow cake and a mixture of cream and fruit (sometimes lemon, sometimes orange). It's topped with a flaky crust of meringue. Get cozy on the couch with the cafe's famously strong coffee or a game of chess.

Drinks: Aab

Make an expedition down the street to the new location of Aab, where you'll close the evening at the bar and a glass of the Indian restaurant's Punjabi Lassi, a mango lassi spiked with rum and Kahlua. Feeling peckish? Order some gajar halwa, a sweet carrot pudding, for your sweet one.

Next Date: Columbus Food Adventures Alt Eats Food Tour


In The Hot Seat

The brightly lit, quiet atmosphere accented by the white noise of coffee grinders makes Stauf's in Grandview an ideal place to meet that someone special for the first time. Team manager Jordan Wright shares the lowdown on what exactly goes down at the Grandview Avenue mainstay that hosts, on average, at least one first date a day.

How can you spot first dates?

They're pretty obvious because we greet everyone who walks in the store. Guys that get there first will stand on the retail side and wait. Girls that get there first will order their drink. For people who met online, it's funny to watch that 45 seconds of awkwardness as they figure out who their date is.

Is it obvious if the date is a success?

I look at the non-verbal communication. You can tell they're hitting it off in how they mimic each other with their body position. They'll sit the same way or hold their hands in the same position, like a mirror.

Any takeaways?

I learn a lot about dating from working here. It's obvious when one person is way too into the other. My favorite is when the guy will sit with his hand stretched out at the table, almost as a gesture to hold hands, and the girl will sit upright with her hands in her lap.

Do you ever get uncomfortable?

The breakups are the worst. They're easier to pick out because someone is crying. It's sad to see it. One person will try to comfort, but the other won't have it. Then they take off, separate.

Planning an original first date isn't easy. Pamela Lanier of It's Just Lunch, a dating company that assists in planning more than 1,500 dates a month, says The Refectory, Bar 145 and Martini Modern Italian are the most frequently booked first dates in Columbus.