My Pen Is Mighty

The Best First Date Isn’t Cheap Or Pricey

How to know if your ‘cheap’ dinner or over-the-top extravaganza bodes well for a budding relationship

Audarshia Townsend
Published in
4 min readOct 7, 2021
The first date tells you a lot about a person. Take notes! Image: Getty.

Throughout the years, I have heard some wild first-date stories. I’ve also heard some of the most romantic tales ever. And, of course, I’ve had my share of dates where the guy was so embarrassingly cheap that he shouldn’t have been allowed to ever enter a restaurant again.

Now, before you call me all sorts of snobs and whatnot, hear me out. I’m not a relationship expert, but what I have come to realize all these years is that men do what they do based on how much they can get away with. And that first date — you know the one based on first impressions — sets the tone for the rest of the relationship.

Let me give you an example. I had a really good friend who was a multimillionaire, and when he was single, every potential date knew it. But, shockingly, he didn’t take any of these women to the most expensive spots in town on the first date. He would always take them to a moderately priced restaurant with a nice wine list.

How I knew he wanted a woman to stick around was if he took her to his favorite dive restaurant: a nondescript, Italian eatery with shabby furniture, vintage music, and some of the best handmade pastas in town. There wasn’t an entree more than $20 on the list, but he loved that place. For him, it was the most romantic restaurant in town, and if he took a first date there and she appreciated it as much as he did, within six months, she’d be whisked off to his villa in Lake Como.

On the contrary, I once received an inquiry from a guy who was looking for an inexpensive restaurant to take a first date. To be frank, he asked me to help him find “a place where he didn’t have to spend a lot of money.” He unabashedly told me that he was going to get laid anyway, so he didn’t have to impress her.

Without judgment, I gave him a few suggestions, but I made sure to give him some ideas that would be enjoyable for her. From a fun, neighborhood tapas bar with live music and pitchers of sangria to a comedy club with shareable bites, the choices I gave him made him look like he put in some effort. The best…



Audarshia Townsend
Writer for

Audarshia Townsend is a Chicago-based journalist who writes about how food & beverages impact the culture and industry. Email: