Equal parts exciting, mysterious, and gut-wrenching-ly nerve wracking, first dates are a wholly unique experience pretty much every single time you have one. Sometimes, a first date can be great, other times awful (as is generally more the case), and it all depends on the person, but never on the venue.
Because while the quality of your first date may change depending on who you're with, the date-spot should always be suitable for an initial encounter between two potential love birds.
Now, as I used to be perpetually single but still on the dating scene, I've had the pleasure (and horror) to go on many first dates in Montreal. As such, I've gathered quite a few gems when it comes to places that facilitate a place to have a great first date, and I'm going to share them with you.
Note, that almost all of these spots are designed to facilitate conversation, and aren't about creating an amazing experience you'll never forget. That should fall on the person you're on a date with. And since most first dates are gained through online means (I'm a Grindr veteran, so no judgement) the fact that these spots are designed for good convos is a blessing.
So go ahead and up your first date games with these 10 Montreal first date spots that worked for me.
5550 Saint Laurent
Not to seem slutty or anything, but I seriously can't even remember how many first dates I've had at Waverly, and while my dates have always varied in quality, the venue has retained a constant level of awesome. I also benefited from living half a block away from the bar, but even if you live fairly far from Waverly, it's a first date spot worth the trek.
Hip, yet low-key, Waverly is the perfect balance between fancy and laid-back, ensuring your date is mildly impressed with your trendy choice of bar without being too intimidated by sky-high prices or a stuffy atmosphere.
Timing is pretty key when coordinating a Waverly-date, though.Aim to go a bit on the early side, maybe around 7pm or 8pm, which will ensure you get a table while providing ample time to talk with your date before the bar gets a bit busier.
If anything, the fact that Waverly picks up later in the night actually works to your benefit, as you can easily pull the "lets go somewhere more quiet" card after a couple of hours and drinks, assuming your date is going well, of course.
156 Roy E
If you're looking to enjoy a meal and a drink with your potential new beau, then Else's is the place to go. Even though you need to order food to get a drink, you won't really mind since Else's menu is legitimately delicious, and you'll want to capitalize on the many beer options the resto-bar boasts anyway.
Plus, the dim, warm lighting found within Else, accompanied by the lively atmosphere, create a romantic-but-not-too-romantic ambiance ideal for a first date.
If you already know your date is into food, and specifically Chinese cuisine, and you want to impress them with your knowledge of Montreal's many restaurants, then head to Aunt Dai in Côte-des-Neiges.
Not only is the food at Aunt Dai next level delicious, but you can even wow your date with your insider knowledge of each dish you order. How will you do that, you ask? Just head to Aunt Dai's YouTube channel where they have videos dedicated to their most popular dishes, providing you with tidbits of info that will no-doubt make you seem like a worldly foodie worthy of a second date.
La petite idée-fixe
4857 du Parc
Let me put a disclaimer on this date spot: only head here in the summer.
Why? Well, that's when La petite idée-fixe's terrasse is open, which is arguably the only reason to head to the dive bar on Parc. That, and the cheap beer, which combine to make La petite idée-fixe an no-stress "lets just drink and chat in the sun" kind of date.
You can, of course, head here in the winter, you just might be joined by more than a few of the bar's older clientele. Doing so may end with one of you getting hit on by a Quebecoise cougar, which is what happened to a friend of mine, and honestly, that could actually make for a pretty interesting first date anyway.
3523 Saint Laurent
Heading to a museum or art gallery might seem like kind of a boring date idea, but it works, as the artistic creations provide easy pathways to conversation, they're generally free, and you'll seem sophisticated. Pretty much a triple win.
But if you want a spot that's a bit more engaging than the Museum of Fine Arts (another favourite first date spot of mine) then I would recommend Station 16, The Main's premiere street art gallery.
All of Station 16's artwork are modern creations from both local and international artists, making for a more engaging and approachable gallery experience. Adding to the approachability of Station 16 is the staff, who actively welcome folks who just want to gaze upon the art, which is pretty rare for a gallery, and ensures you and your date won't feel like posers for not buying anything.
Dinette Triple Crown
In the context of first dates, Dinette Triple Crown is perfectly named, because it's a veritable triple threat date spot, providing amazing food, friendly staff, and the cutest/most romantic eating experience you can have with barbecue.
To understand that last bit you need to know how Dinette Triple Crown does take-out orders. When the weather is nice enough, the American BBQ restaurant will pack up your order, place it all in a cute little basket, and let you take your meal to eat in the park across the street, with picnic blanket included. Can you picture a more adorable first date?
But even if the weather is a bit too cool for an outdoor picnic, Dinette Triple Crown still makes an amazing first date spot for meat-lovers.
In my not-so-humble opinion, DTC has the best fried chicken in the city, not to mention their sublime side dishes and brisket. Paired with their selection of homemade hot sauces, and you have an eating experience that will make even a crummy first date seem amazing.
Maybe I get a little lucky being a guy-who-likes-guys, as the likelihood of my date being into old school video games is greater than most hetero-dates. Or maybe I'm just being a complete twat for thinking that straight girls aren't into retro games.
Actually, the latter is far more likely, but regardless, if your date is into gaming and drinking, the quaint dive-y video game bar called Foonzo will make a great first date.
Despite not being all that glamorous, or outfitted with the latest consoles, Foonzo still provides everything you need for a first date between two gamers: alcohol, to lubricate your conversation, and retro console games, so you two can bond over your mutual love of the SNES.
Café Club Social
180 Saint Viateur
Grabbing coffee is a classic first date idea for many reasons, one of the largest being that the "coffee date" lets you get to know the other person without the obligation of staying too long, or the expectation of heading home with the other person afterwards.
The only hitch is the fact that most cafés worth going to in Montreal are small and fairly quiet, making your first date public knowledge to pretty much anyone sitting around you. Enter Café Club Social, the coffee date venue that lacks the privacy problem.
Sharing a latte on Café Club Social's terrasse ensures you won't be enclosed in a quiet café atmosphere where everyone can hear you go through the usual list of first date questions, as the lively strip of Saint Viateur will provide enough ambient noise. Of course, Café Club Social's terrasse isn't all that ideal for winter-time coffee dates, so save this gem for the warmer months.
If your date is into cocktails and perogies (if they don't they may not have a soul, btw) then Bar Kabinet is where you need to have your first date. Or second date, or third. Whichever, a date at Kabinet is a recipe for success.
The Russian-themed bar is fairly small, ensuring an intimate atmosphere, and the drink's are pretty delicious while still being affordable, for cocktails at least. And being attached to Datcha, which takes over Kabinet when the clubbing-hour draws nigh, actually creates something of a plus, as you have a reasonable excuse for heading out of the bar before your date draws on too long.
Be warned, though, that the male bartenders are hella-attractive, which is really just another added benefit to a date at Kabinet in my books.
4015 Saint Laurent
Alright, before I even delve into this, let me first note that, yes, I am aware that Cinema L'Amour is a porn theatre, and no, I haven't actually gone on a first date here before. But a very good friend of mine has, and it worked out super well for her.
Sounds strange, I know, but it's true.
The story goes like this: my pal thought it would be next-level funny and interesting to attend a show at Cinema L'Amour, and so pitched the idea to her date. He agreed wholeheartedly, and the two enjoyed a viewing of some random porn, which really only lasted about ten minutes, as they were both too weirded out to stay any longer.
Sure, the pair's experience wasn't exactly romantic, but it definitely was unique and put them on the right track, as the two began dating pretty seriously for a long while afterwards. So, even though Cinema L'Amour is arguably the biggest bag of sketch on Saint Laurent, it may be the secret spot for long-lasting love, or a least a first date that you'll never forget.