By Jessica Tom

For most of my career, I’ve been immersed in two things: love and food. For years, I was the Community Director at an online dating site, meaning I helped thousands of people in all things romantic. I’m also the author of Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit, a book about a young woman who secretly writes the New York Times restaurant review because the real critic has lost his sense of taste. Cue lots of drama.

So, I guess you can say I’m an expert in dining and early-stage dating. Dating while dining? Well, I have a couple thoughts on that. Here’s some dating advice:

Do: Share some — if not all — dishes. It’s more intimate. And, hey, if you like the person, you’re sharing saliva anyway.
Don’t: Eat off each other’s plates. You’re not a dog.

Do: Read up on the restaurant. A little background knowledge is a good thing and can help you both get situated.
Don’t: Go overboard. You want some mystery.

Related Link: Date Idea: Feed Your Heart with a Sushi Sampling

Do: Have a drink to take the edge off and lighten the mood.
Don’t: Test your limits. Tipsy is cute. Drunk, not so much.

Do: Order adventurously. Approach dates with an open mind … and that includes with the menu.
Don’t: Get something that’s totally foreign. Maybe not the best time to get spicy alligator sweetbreads, ya know?

Do: Order courses that are subtly sexy: ricotta with honey and speck, dates stuffed with goat cheese, sticky toffee pudding.
Don’t: Order cheesy “romantic” courses like chocolate fondue. (Though chocolate in general is always okay.)

Related Link: First Date Outfit Ideas: Dinner and Movie

Do: Tell him if you have a restaurant or cuisine in mind.
Don’t: Try to run the show over multiple dates. Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised (and let him do the surprising).

Do: Notice how he treats the waitstaff.
Don’t: Pursue if he’s an asshole to them, even if he’s sweet to you. Red flag central.

Do: Get dessert!
Don’t: Get so stuffed that you’ll feel like a balloon about to pop afterwards. Especially if the restaurant isn’t the last stop…

JESSICA TOM is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn. She has worked on initiatives with restaurants, hospitality startups, food trucks, and citywide culinary programs. She graduated from Yale University with a concentration in fiction writing and wrote the restaurant review for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Connect with her at and @jessica_tom. “Food Whore” is her first novel. Order it on Amazon!