Top 10 Dining Destinations for a First Date in Columbus

The Pearl
The Pearl's Cookie Dough Pie
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First dates can be stressful. Worrying about what to wear, what to say, and probably more important, what not to say, are all part of the anxiety we put upon ourselves. However, the most important component to a successful date is where you go! There are many variables to consider (too noisy, difficult to get a table, parking issues, etc.), which ultimately can make an already uncomfortable first meeting, potentially, even more awkward.

Whether you prefer somewhere casual or with reservations; somewhere creative or tried and true; and inexpensive versus costly – we’ve got you covered. Here are our 10 most popular first date destinations in Columbus!

  1. Nada – Located in the Arena District, Nada has a laid-back vibe with a great patio if you want to sit outside and enjoy a margarita with their delicious Mexican cuisine. The servers are friendly, the theme is rustic-chic, and the menu is lite and healthy. $$
  2. The Pearl – The Pearl is a local Columbus favorite located in the Short North. Their ambiance is fun and modern, priding itself on quality food and excellent service. Insider tip: they also offer a great Happy Hour if you desire an early evening ‘drinks and appetizers’ date. $$$
  3. Mr. Sushi – Nestled in the heart of historic Dublin, Mr. Sushi showcases a taste of Japan in a relaxed and reflective setting. All sushi is handmade to order, with qwirky first-date-conversation-starter names like 'Sweet Heart,' 'Sexy Girl Roll,' 'Trust Me,' and 'OH MY GOD.' If the date is going well, grab some ice cream across the street at Jeni’s and take a walk along the Dublin pedestrian bridge. $$
  4. Cooper’s Hawk – Dining at Cooper’s Hawk at their Easton location is a popular choice, in addition to visiting their Tasting Room. A tasting includes seven to eight different wines and no reservation is necessary. $$$
  5. Barcelona – Located in German Village, Barcelona is consistently voted one of Columbus’s most popular restaurants and patios each year. Plus, there are wine specials and live music on Sunday nights. It is the perfect blend of fancy and fun. $$$
  6. The North Market – This is a foodie’s dream, and a perfect first date spot. The North Market has a little bit of everything from different cultures. Try it. You will not regret it. $
  7. Akai Hana – This Upper Arlington sushi classic features traditional Japanese cuisine that offers the perfect portion of appetizers with an unexpected Korean twist. Three words: spicy scallop roll. Your life will be forever changed. $$$
  8. Balboa – Offering Mexican cuisine and spectacular spirits, this Grandview gem also showcases a fun and festive ambience. Their patio is a very cozy spot for you and your date. Follow your night up with a stroll along Grandview Avenue to shop local businesses. $$
  9. Marcella’s – This unconventional twist of old meets new is a perfect first date spot. From its open air dining room, to crafted cocktails and Italian food, you can never go wrong with Marcella’s, offering two convenient locations (Short North or Lewis Center). $$$
  10. Fado Pub & Kitchen – With locations at Dublin's Bridge Park and Easton Town Center, Fado has had roots in Columbus for a while. The Easton location is more like a cozy pub with traditional Irish menu, whereas the Dublin location offers a more modern, European kitchen-inspired approach with bright, open space and views of the Scioto River. Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 4-7pm and brunch is offered on weekends from 9am-3pm. $$

$ = $25 and under

$$ = $25 – $40

$$$ = $40 – $55

$$$$ = $55 and over


Second Date Social is a membership community for singles worth meeting in Columbus, offering social events, sports leagues, and volunteer outings. Apply for membership today at SecondDateSocial.com.

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