First things first—the following entry does not serve as professional dating advice nor should be taken as a recipe for a successful love life.

However, with a handful of first-hand experiences—both high and low—plus a casserole of stories heard from making conversation with friends, I managed to come up with a simple list of where first dates should be had and why.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this should come in handy. Let’s get it.


It’s not the most original of ideas but the success rate of coffee shops bringing couples closer together cannot be ignored. There are plenty of cafes in Cebu, too, which provide a conducive environment for conversation. My picks would be Tightrope Coffee and Common Uncommonly Coffee. If we were to add some cakes into consideration, then Merci Dessert Cafe and Tamp Cafe & Co. are solid options.

Dim Sum

Carts moving around, servers screaming orders back and forth from the kitchen, the subject of one’s chopsticks skills or lack thereof—ah, true love! One of the most important tips for first dates is to go to a place that’s not as intimidating compared to a more formal location. Dim Sum is a great option too, food-wise. There’s a lot of food to choose from, one can learn about each other’s dining preferences (fried, steamed, spicy, regular etc.), and the choices are relatively affordable, too. For first dates, try Harbour City Dim Sum House or Ding How Dim Sum House. Tim Ho Wan at SM Seaside City Cebu should be interesting. Fung’s Noodle House is great with its dim sum but takes a long time to serve.

Casual Dining

There are a handful of full-service restaurants in the city that don’t break the bank. However, and this can’t be stressed enough, you have to pick ones that offer a wide variety of dishes in their menu. You’ll never know where your date ranks on the newbie to foodie scale. Chicken is a great compromise. Pork and beef come next. Steer clear of cilantro, arugula or cucumber for now, but it would if the place offered salad, too. Remember, first dates are for talking not eating. Think along the lines of The Dessert Factory Restaurant & Bakery, Casa Verde, Birdseed Breakfast Club + Café and Italianni’s Restaurant.

Of course, you can go splurge if you want to. It all depends on the comfort level. Have you been friends for quite some time already? Maybe you can bring it up a notch and head on to a fancier place. First dates are about making memories. Go to a place that has already been around for quite some time already or have a shot at attaining future classic status, so you’ll always have something to look back to every time you pass by it.

Not unless things end up badly. Yikes. That’s not for me to comment on. Rather, check out the love and relationships column by DJ Moises that comes out every Sunday.