An early-in-the-game date is a date that’s more than just drinks (or drinks and a light bite), but less than a tasting menu extravaganza. (Save that for your anniversary – seems like things are going well so far.) You need a spot where you can have a great time and get to know each other, without looking like you’re trying too hard. A place with great food, that’s easy-ish to get into, and not too expensive. You need one of the places on this list.


Sushi-san in River North has wooden tables, loud rap music, and a mix of traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes. The upbeat atmosphere and reasonable prices will help ensure you have a good night, even if you’ve spent the last 20 minutes analyzing your date’s reaction when you accidentally mentioned your LARPing group. Share a “San-set” (an assortment of sushi), and make sure you get the Japanese pancakes for dessert – even if your date never calls you again, you’ll at least be glad you got to enjoy those.