First Date Restaurants in London
So, you’ve worked up the courage to ask out your crush, and now you’re looking for a show-stopper of a restaurant to impress. Discover some of the best restaurants for a first date in London with our recommended picks; it’s a handy pocket-sized list featuring bustling tapas bars, interactive dining experiences and intimate seafood eateries guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. Take your pick from this curated list, then get planning for next time if romance is on the cards!
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our definitive guide to eating out in London hub page.
Last updated on 20th November 2017
Stillwater is a fun-loving cocktail bar and kitchen in Wandsworth that serves only massive nights out to South London's crowds. Chef Brett Milligan has worked tirelessly to produce an enticing menu of Cajun food, while cocktail masters Dan Priseman (from NOLA Bar in Shoreditch) and Simon Webster have produced a line-up of classic concoctions that can compete with any in London.
Serving up sweet tea brined fried chicken, soft shell crab and their signature beer can chicken; Joe’s offer deep-south cooking done right. Perfect if you’re seeking a date night restaurant in Covent Garden, fill up on indulgent fried chicken plates then impress further in the Cocktail Baby basement bar, where the disco beats ring true and the classic cocktails start from just £5.
One of the cardinal sins of a first date is not having any fun, so you’ve got to make sure you’re going to a place with just the right attitude. Cue Ben’s Canteen, a laid back bar perfect to ease those first date nerves thanks to their buzzing atmosphere, easy and delicious burgers (paired with wines, of course) and an indulgent brunch, should you venture in the morning. Why not try Ben's Canteen Earlsfield too?
For a more relaxed first date in London visit Cabana in Brixton. Serving a succulent selection of Rio street food, such as the Spicy Malagueta Chicken or the Brasilian feijoada hot pot. They'll be most impressed by the cool interior, which features 'up-cycled' designs that create a fun urban feel.
Looking for your own version of Forrest Gump and Jenny’s relationship? Bubba Gump Shrimp would be the best place to start, offering a quirky experience dedicated to this cult classic film. Feast on delicacies from Forrest’s native Alabama, test your trivia between courses and take in the eclectic film fan interiors at this unique idea for a first date in London.
Cantina Laredo has one simple aim; to showcases the finest, most exotic flavours that Mexico has to offer. Infusing a selection of traditional recipes with contemporary twists, the team of chefs at this Covent Garden restaurant offer an intriguing menu, featuring the likes of pulled pork tortas, seabass ceviche and crispy chicken tacos. Working with a range of meats, spices and vegetables, the kitchen reproduces the same dishes that can be found in some of Mexico's regional provinces. Twisting the old world with the new, the culinary experience on offer here is sure to leave you wanting more.
Take your first date to Rotorino for relaxed vibes and delicious food. Their simple yet delectable dishes are all about great Italian flavours, with the mission statement being ‘no needless gimmicks or pretension’. And you’ll be able to wash it all down with 50 different wines, as well as a great selection of cocktails.
Slick, contemporary and offering bundles of personality, the Haymarket Kitchen offers a fun setting for a first date in the West End. It’s part of the Tiger Tiger party set-up - so expect a bustling vibe - and you can get everything from BBQ beef short ribs to burgers and 17oz Tomahawk steak at this indulgent venue. All great food needs great drinks in support, and the Haymarket Kitchen offers a lovely array of cocktails to help ease those first date nerves.
Perfect for a fun first date meal in London, Blues nails that balance between indulgent foods, strong cocktails and live blues tunes. Forget playing it cool and politely nibbling your way through dinner; get stuck into stacks of the juiciest, most tender Texan BBQ going, then make for the bar where there’s over 100 bourbons to top up your cocktail. Finish a cracking first date with a sing and a dance to some of the best live blues, funk and soul music.
Only a short stroll away from Piccadilly Circus, Dirty Bones Carnaby has been turning heads with its Southern-inspired offering and fun-loving vibe. The team behind this venue combine mouth-watering comfort food with playful cocktails and serve diners a meal that'll leave them waddling on their way home. Perfect for anyone looking for a lively first date in London, this venue has bags of character and ticks all the boxes.
First dates can already be nerve wracking without the stress of picking a restaurant. Take it easy and lock those eager lips around The Diner in the Strand. Not only are they all kinds of casual, conversations can be made over burgers, hot dogs and all things Americana.
Already one of the most popular restaurants in Battersea, step back in time for a first date stirring up the best memories from your school days. A rustic and intimate space with a confiscated collection of over 60 craft beers and a science lab of weird and wonderful cocktails, The Schoolhouse offers a playful and nostalgic date night dinner in London.
With its aqua-blue walls, pop-art pictures and tin roof, Ceviche Soho is bringing the sunshine vibes of South America to central London. Join the venue for a delicious menu, from fresh seafood to moreish tapas, all washed down with one of the special piscos from Europe's only dedicated bar.
Meeting someone special for the first time and hoping to find a restaurant to match. Hidden in the heart of Stoke Newington, head on down to Victory Mansion for small plates and cocktails that are sure to keep the conversation flowing by candlelight.
They say the way to love is through the stomach, and that may very well be the way with Andina as Martin Morales returns with another hit restaurant. Following on from Ceviche, Andina is another hot Peruvian spot complete with a pisco bar, grill menu and private games room.
Worried it might be a touch awkward to start with? Inamo’s interactive dining experience will take uncomfortable silences out of the equation, as you set your own digital placemats and watch the kitchen team do their thing via chef cam. Perfect for an innovative, playful first date meal in London, enjoy pan-Asian cooking at its finest then head for Oriental-themed cocktails in the intimate basement sushi bar.
If you're looking for somewhere cute and cosy in Central London, look no further than Rosa's near Carnaby Street. This tiny little venue only has a handful of tables and serves up delicious Thai food as well as a cocktail list that will melt your heart.
With its huge, Parisian-style bar and intimate booth seating, Balans Soho Society in Stratford has date night written all over it. Head to the venue for a night of British dining, cocktails and fine wine.
You're looking for date ideas in Mayfair and dinner seems like a good shout. You'd best think about booking a table at the ever charming Balls Brothers. Not only will their cool interiors impress, their gastro menu is sure to be a winner.
You want somewhere as sophisticated as you that doesn’t take itself too seriously, that also offers amazing British food and great cocktails that’ll certainly break the ice? You’ve found it at Balans.
Meat People makes for the ideal 'first date location' - it's sure to impress with its endless character and charm, and it's casual enough to keep the conversation flowing freely. The menu here is sure to please too - tuck into the likes of 'Slow roasted pork belly' or share the 'Spiral cut rib eye (800g)'. Accompany you meal with bottle of vino (of which there is an exceptional selection) and enjoy getting to know each other.
If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned trip to the pub for the big first date, The Fellow is a stylish and friendly place to get started. Located just around the corner from King’s Cross, discover a romantic retreat with a focus on the finer things, some wholesome gastro foods and great cocktails.
It is a fact generally considered true, that tapas is the best food to eat on a first date. Varied (*cough*non-committal*cough*) and perfect for sharing, Jose Pizarro's selection of traditional Spanish fare will offer plenty of talking prompts, while it's selection of Spanish cocktails and gin tonicas should hopefully calm those first date nerves a bit.
Bringing delightful street food and award-winning cocktails to a unique Shoreditch setting, the Magic Roundabout is a must-try for those looking for quirky first date ideas in London. Get stuck into towering patties from the infamous Burger Bear, sip drinks designed by White Lyan and finish with a boogie if things are going well; DJs play disco and house grooves until late.
Contemporary violently clashes with tradition at the Cinnamon Bazaar in Covent Garden. Working with an arsenal of different spices, exotic ingredients and fresh meats, the team of talented chefs serve a menu that bursts with flavour and heat. Each dish served here originated in the various trader towns found along the trade routes between the old and new world. Bursting with charm, this is a great spot for a cheeky first date.
Whisk that potential suitor of yours away to the bodegas of Catalonia with a date at Copa de Cava. A venue characterised by its raw brick and flickering candles, enjoy a night full of the finest cava, Spanish wines, creative tapas and hand-carved jamon dishes at this warm Blackfriars restaurant.
Charming, relaxed with a hint of Venetian romance, Polpo is the ideal first date bar. Bring the person you fancy here for great Italian small plates, fantastic young Italian wines and an ambiance guaranteed to get you a second date.