14 Worst Foods To Order On A First Date

First dates can be a magical experience. There's the butterflies of anticipation as you wait to meet the person for the first time. The hope and build-up of wondering ... is he or she the one? It's a chance to let your true self shine and have a lot of fun — and make a great first impression at the same time. But, if your first date includes a meal, there can also be a lot of stress. Where should you go? What will you wear? And perhaps most problematic of all, what should you order!? You don't want to ruin your chances or set things off on the wrong foot by ordering the wrong entree. 

First date menu mishaps can come in a variety of forms: messy foods that might make you look like a slob, off-putting entrees that inadvertently start your date's stomach-churning, or even gigantic or calorie-laden options that might make you look like who someone isn't interested in their personal health or wellness. It's a lot to think about! Luckily, we've put together this handy cheat sheet to guide your first date menu selections. Follow along and your meal will be a breeze! The rest, of course, is up to you. Here's to a great first date!

Avoid anything containing garlic

You don't have to be going out with Dracula to know that foods packed with garlic are not a good idea on any date — let alone the first date. The problem, of course, is what they do to your breath. Garlic contains a number of different compounds that give it an incredible flavor. But, when these substances get into your system, they also make their way into your lungs, giving you terrible garlic breath and sometimes even seeping out of your pores, making your skin smell too.

Any way you look at it, that odor won't go over well with your date, especially if you are seated close together at the table or (if the date is a smash hit) you end the night with a kiss. It's easy to steer clear of obvious garlic-packed offenders like garlic shrimp or garlic bread, but remember that garlic can also lurk in unexpected places like fries or potatoes, Caesar salads, and some pizzas — even certain sausages and meatballs contain the offending breath destroyer.

If you inadvertently eat more garlic than you intended, reach for any fresh herb garnishes which might be on your plate. For example, chewing on mint leaves and parsley can help to neutralize garlic breath, according to Medical News Today. Or try sipping extra water, squeezing some fresh lemon or lime into your soda or cocktail, or even covertly chewing on that citrus wedge to help combat the garlic stench.

Steer clear of spaghetti

The problem with spaghetti is its obvious mess factor. Sure, Lady and Tramp had a great date night with spaghetti that ended with one of the most romantic kisses in movie history. But they were dogs, and they didn't mind licking each other's faces clean when the meal was over. We're guessing your date may not be quite as adventurous. (But if they are, hey, good for you!)

Because of those long noodle strands, there's just no way to eat spaghetti that elegantly. You can try cutting it into smaller, more manageable bites. Or, you can try the spoon trick to hopefully minimize your spaghetti's messiness. As you eat, use your fork to twirl a small portion of spaghetti in the rounded portion of the spoon, creating a compact ball. This neat bundle is easier to eat and less likely to leave you with pasta sauce on your face or clothing. Alternately, and perhaps even easier, just order pasta in a shorter and more compact shape, like penne or rigatoni. It can give you the same rustic, incredible Italian flavors you might be craving, but is significantly easier to eat without making a mess. Buon appetito!

Don't give in to baby back ribs

Like spaghetti, ribs have a definite mess factor when eating them. After all, they're gooey, coated with delicious sauce, and that wonderful rendered fat, so they're bound to drip and squirt as you eat them. But, even worse than what they might do to your clothing (or the restaurant tablecloth), the real problem with ribs is what they can do to your hands and face. Since you have to hold them to eat them, you're bound to get sauce and fat all over your fingertips and likely all around your lips as well. 

For a similar rich umami meat taste without the mess, opt instead for a ribeye steak, pork tenderloin or pork chop, or even pulled pork. Or, if you've simply got to have that plate of ribs, at least try not to eat them like a cave person. Instead of holding the ribs with your hands, suck it up and use a knife and fork to cut the meat off the bones. It may not be quite as satisfying, but at least you won't have to hound the waitstaff for a never-ending supply of wet wipes or a damp towel!

Chicken's great - unless it's fried or wings

As delicious as they both might be, fried chicken and wings of all types can pose a trifecta of problems on any first date. For starters, any chicken you have to eat off the bone is going to be messy and will leave you with greasy fingers. Wings in particular also pack all that sauce, which might be delightful on the tastebuds but can easily end up all over your clothes with one poorly aimed bite. And, even if you don't spill anything on yourself, eating fried chicken or wings can leave you feeling self-conscious and distracted during your date, which might be off-putting to the other person.

In addition to the potential mess, eating chicken with bones requires the use of your hands and may potentially involve gnawing on bones. Gnawing in any form on a first date is never a good look and is almost impossible to do gracefully, especially during a formal or more intimate first date setting.

Finally, fried chicken and wings can both have strong and lingering aromas. And even if you don't notice, if your date is sensitive to smells, he or she may sense that "eau de chicken" hours later on either your breath or clothing — not a good way to end any evening where first impressions are essential!

It's a hard-no to shelled seafood

Fresh in-season lobster, crab legs, and whole soft-shell crab can be extraordinary delicacies. But, cracking into these seafood delights and getting to the meat inside isn't easy, especially for novices. You need special tools, a base level of skill, plenty of wet wipes, and sometimes even special bibs. And even then, you might end up with juices running all down your arms or squirting across the table. To be honest, eating this type of seafood can transport us back to our most primitive Paleolithic roots. As freeing as that might be, and as delicious as these seafood dishes are, it's not what most of us want to project to a prospective future life partner (or even a casual fling).

By all means, feel free to order lobster or crab on a first date. But get it in the form of a sushi platter, seafood patties, pasta dishes, seafood tacos, or even a crab or lobster roll. Same delicious flavor, and way less date-ending mess!

Spicy curries are a terrible idea

Really great meals always pack some heat and are tend to be filled with a variety of spices. That's why so many of us love Sichuan dishes, kimchi, vindaloo, Thai curries, jerk chicken, and earthy Mexican moles. But, there's also a fine line with many of these dishes. You never know exactly how hot and spicy they're going to be. You may be fine ordering them on a first date. But, there's also the chance they could be just a little hotter than you were expecting. Your face might turn beet red. You might break out in a flop sweat due to the unexpected heat. Or you might need to order glass upon glass of heat-busting water or milk to help ease the unexpected burn from your meal. 

This isn't just potentially embarrassing, it also takes the emphasis off your date and the new person you're meeting. Suddenly you're more focused on just surviving all those spices you've downed instead of exploring the romantic moment with the object of your affection. Our advice? Save the thrill of ultra-spicy foods for later, and focus on creating some interpersonal heat with your first date instead. So, avoid ghost peppers, curry, horseradish, or fiery mustards at all costs!

Fondue is too intimate

Cheese and chocolate fondues are classic romantic date food. You and your partner can lock eyes and lovingly dip chunks of bread or fresh fruit into that creamy, decadent sauce. But, sharing food in this way is a very intimate experience. And, it may not be the type of vibe you want to project on a first date, especially when you and your dining partner are just getting to know each other. 

Many people have intimacy issues when it comes to sharing food — they just don't like to do it. And, while dipping food into a shared communal pot of cheese or chocolate can be a loving and bonding experience on an anniversary or with someone you have dated long-term, it can be off-putting as a shared encounter with a new individual. And, it isn't just your date who might be at risk of hating the fondue experience. If you decide you can't stand this person after spending 15 minutes with them, then sharing a fondue could turn a would-be-pleasant experience into a nightmare.

Organ meats are an 'offal' idea

What do liver and onions, foie gras, sweetbreads, tripe, chitterlings, haggis, blood sausage, chicken gizzards, beef tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters, duck confit, and pâté have in common? Yes, they can all be wonderful dishes in the hands of a talented chef or home cook. But they're also all made with offal, which is just a fancy name for animal organs. They each have a definite "ick" factor, especially for someone with a sensitive stomach or for someone who might lean more towards a plant-based diet. They also pack distinctive flavors and unexpected textures unlike traditional meats and can seem unfamiliar or off-putting to certain individuals. 

A good general rule of thumb no matter what type of restaurant you are dining in or what type of foods they serve: Never order an entree or appetizer made with animal organs, especially if you are on a first date! The one exception? If your date does go for one of these sorts of dishes when they are ordering, then you should feel safe to order that item as well. Just make sure you are familiar with the dish and know what you will be getting. If he or she orders calf brain fritters, for example, and you've never tried them before, you don't want to be the one who is now getting grossed out at the dinner table!

Always avoid foods that make you gassy

What's worse than feeling bloated and gassy? Feeling bloated and gassy on a first date — especially if it's going well! The last thing you want when you're wrapping up a date with a special someone is feeling the bloat building up inside. But, even that is better than the alternative — an unexpected bout of burping or worse, an accidental toot or "raspberry" as your grandma might have once said.

To avoid the unexpected urge to "float an air biscuit" mid-date, always steer clear of foods the body might have trouble breaking down during digestion (the cause of gas production and build-up), according to Everyday Health. Foods most common to trigger the urge to let one rip include the obvious beans and lentils, along with more unexpected offenders like cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, fatty and fried foods, and even dairy which can also cause gas and bloating, especially in individuals with lactose intolerance.

Gigantic entrees give off weird vibes

Giant stacked sandwiches and burgers that are towering with layer after layer of incredible meat and cheese can be a one-of-a-kind dining experience. But repeat after us: they are not first date foods! Here's an easy way to think about it. Can you easily lift whatever burger or sandwich you're ordering to your mouth and take a bite of the whole thing without dislodging your jaw? If so, it's a great first date option!

If, however, that burger or sandwich is simply too thick to easily take a bite of, there's the potential of you looking like a fool during the course of your date and turning off your potential partner. The alternative is no better. Do you really want to be the person who takes apart your giant architectural wonder of a meal and eats it sad layer by layer? Being that person gives off vibes and first impressions it can be hard to recover from. So, save yourself the trouble and stick with a normal-sized entree!

Deep fried treats are a no-no

The first date problem with deep-fried food isn't with the food itself. French fries, onion rings, calamari, mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, and the like can all be incredible whether you're getting them in a fine restaurant or a neighborhood diner. They're relatively easy to eat. They aren't that messy. And, they almost always taste good. Instead, the problem with these foods is what they project or what they may cause your date to think about you, even inadvertently. Fried foods just aren't healthy. They are packed with calories, have few redeeming nutrients, and are laden with fat. They're also typically served in giant quantities so even if you were just hoping for a few fries, you might end up with a giant platter of them. 

For people who are focused on health and fitness, seeing another person dine on a bunch of fried foods can be an incredibly off-putting experience. And, even if you go to the gym all the time and are just ordering fried pickles or Oreos as a treat, the person you are on the date with doesn't know that backstory. They just see someone who is indulging in bad foods and they may lose interest before getting a chance to know the real you. That doesn't mean you can't have fried food. Just save it for dining with friends, or when you are ordering delivery at home!

If you can see it in a zoo, don't order it

Similar to dishes made with offal, entrees containing rare or unusual meats you don't often see in restaurants or that you don't eat on a regular basis can also be a terrible idea to order on a first date. Think escargot, frog's legs, grilled rabbit, turtle soup, reindeer steak, alligator gumbo, or even cricket tacos. There's the obvious gross-out factor with all of these foods, but they may also bring up ethical or animal rights concerns with your date. The animal being eaten can sometimes be a pet, might be endangered, or is somehow off-putting on its own, like snakes, grubs, or scorpions (all of which can wind up on some exotic restaurant menus). 

We're all for trying and enjoying exotic foods, but save that experience for later in your relationship when you know the person and understand their limits. And on your first date, stick with the basics — beef, pork, chicken, seafood, or even no meat at all!

If it comes with a head, it's also a bad idea

One more update to the rule we just laid out for you: In addition to sticking to more traditional meats on your first date, never order anything that comes with a head! Again, an adventurous palate is a great thing. But, when it comes to the intimate experience of getting to know someone on a first date, you don't want a plate of food that can be eyeing up your dining partner all evening. 

So, you should avoid giant head-on prawns or platters of grilled, steamed, or broiled fish that are served with the head intact. And, if you should ever see it on a menu, roast-sucking pig is definitely a hard pass! If you're ever in doubt about how something will be served, with fish in particular, be sure to ask the wait staff. Better to find out before you order than to have a creepy third wheel staring at you and your paramour from the center of your dinner plate all night long!

Never order any food that's too safe or boring

At this point, you've seen that uber messy, potent, spicy or unusual foods are never a good option on a first date. But, it's important to also remember the flip side of this rule. As much as you don't want to take chances or scare off your date, you also don't want to look too boring or predictable. So, when it comes time to place your dinner order for the evening, remember to always go for something that packs at least a bit of pizzazz, and don't go for the simplest or blandest item on the menu. We're talking to you, grilled chicken breast, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked potatoes, simple sandwiches, garden salads, and the like.

As delicious as these foods might be at times — we're always down for a good grilled cheese – on a first date in particular try to order something with a bit of flair or uniqueness or personality. Yes, it's a fine line to walk. But, there are hundreds of pizzas, pasta dishes, grilled meats, hearty risottos and stir-fries, and countless ethnic cuisines just waiting to be explored. Have fun, order wisely, and tell your date we said hello. You got this!