You might have 99 problems, but finding a suitable restaurant for a first date shouldn’t be one. The bustling F&B scene in Singapore means there’s no lack of choices, even when you don’t want some place that’s too fancy, at the risk of overwhelming your date, or things becoming awkward. We’ve got 10 inexpensive spots with fantastic ambience and food – for your first night out with him or her. They’re mostly located in vibrant neighbourhoods so you have the option of pre-dinner drinks to start off, followed by post-dinner tipples if it went that well.
The modern Japanese izakaya date: Neon Pigeon
Decked out in graffiti murals and industrial-style decor, the grungy Neon Pigeon is cool as heck, featuring exquisite Japanese small plates that are reminiscent of those you had in Japan, but also totally different. The creative spirit is evident in the food menu, with dishes like Duck Liver Okonomiyaki ($17), Celery Tsukemono ($9), and Tuna Tataki ($16); best complemented by award-winning cocktails (brownie points!) like the Teared Negroni ($20) – rosemary-infused sake with Umeshu, Campari, and Prosecco. Read our review here.
Neon Pigeon is located at 1A Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089109. Open Mon-Sat 6pm – 12am. Closed Sun.
The French reds date: L’Entrecôte Wine Bar
This destination on the quaint Duxton Hill boasts a glorious collection of tasty French wines that make the perfect accompaniment to its menu of classic French favourites. Here you’ll find delicious seasonal Cheese Platters ($19) and Cold Cut Boards ($29) laden with cured meat, Duck Rillettes ($18), Pâté de Campagne ($16), the meaty Fondue Vigneronne ($59.90), and the ever-popular Raclette Cheese ($29). It’s buzzy and casual, so you don’t have to worry about awkward silences. Read our review here.
L’Entrecôte Wine Bar is located at 37 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089615. Open Tue-Thu 5pm – 11.30pm, Fri 3pm – 1am, Sat 12pm – 1am. Closed Sun & Mon.
The intimate back-alley bistro date: Maggie Joan’s
The entrance to Maggie Joan’s is nondescript at best – a small wooden door located in a quiet alleyway along Telok Ayer – but once you step inside, you’ll be greeted with a plush and cosy restaurant dishing out delectable Mediterranean fare courtesy of Head Chef Oliver Hyde. It’s mostly sharing plates here, which is ideal for some healthy conversation. Think dishes like Smoked Potato & Egg Raviolo ($26), Roasted Lamb Rump with parsnip and preserved lemon ($38), and Pickled Mackerel with cucumber and lettuce ($18). Perfect for an intimate date!
Maggie Joan’s is located at 110 Amoy St, Singapore 069930. Open Mon-Fri 12pm – 11pm, Sat 6pm – 11pm. Closed Sun.
The East-meets-West cocktail date: Lucky Bar
Lucky Bar, the new rooftop establishment in Holland Village, isn’t your usual watering hole. For one, the cocktail list is strongly influenced by traditional Asian flavours and Chinese ingredients like goji berries, wintermelon, and ginseng. And before you say “what about food?”, know that Lucky Bar has a full-fledged kitchen behind it serving up modern Canto bar grub like the darn addictive Golden Sand Corn ($4.80), Hakka Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly ($9), and enticing Money Bags ($8) – prawn and pork wontons dunked into chilli crab sauce.
Lucky Bar is located at 243 Holland Ave, Singapore 278977. Sun-Tue 6pm – 12am, Fri-Sat 6pm – 1am. Closed Mon.
The unorthodox wine bar date: Anarchy Wine + Brew Bar
Leave your expectations behind and open up your mind for the small boutique wines found at Anarchy, as you and your date explore a new world of wines with fascinating stories to tell, including Bachelet-Monnot, Schloss Lieser, and Anne-Sophie Dubois. The house pour list, which sees eight different natural and biodynamic wines every month, starts at $14 per glass. Once you get hungry, place an order for the delicious innovative bites on offer, such as the Coffee Gula Melaka Pork Loin Rice Bowl ($18) and Mushroom Foie Gras Pâté with Toast ($13).
Anarchy Wine + Brew Bar is located at 1 Selegie Rd #01-02, Singapore 188306. Open Mon-Thu 5pm – 10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm – 12am, Sun 5pm – 9pm.
The intentionally messy date: Pince & Pints
The two of you are eventually going to get comfortable with each other, so why not start on the first date. There’s no icebreaker quite like getting down-and-dirty – and by that, we mean digging into lobster shells with your fingers to free the juicy, succulent meat. Pince & Pints brings in these quality bad boys fresh from the Atlantic Coast, turning them into a beautiful Lobster Roll ($58) served with chef’s salad and straight cut fries, or a Singaporean-style Chilli Lobster ($58). Still, we recommend going for the Whole Lobsters ($58), either grilled or steamed.
Pince & Pints is located at 32 Duxton Rd, Singapore 089496. Open Mon-Fri 12pm – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10pm. Sat 12pm – 10pm. Closed Sun.
The mod-Sin cuisine date: Morsels
Surrounded by the lush greenery of Dempsey Hill, Morsels (recently crowned ‘Restaurant of the Year’ at World Gourmet Summit 2017) is a small and rustic barnyard-style restaurant that specialises in Asian fusion cuisine. More than just the intimate service and hospitality, it’s the wonderfully creative menu by Chef-owner Petrina Loh that make for a great first date, with dishes like Firecracker Duroc Pulled Pork and Grilled Wild Sri Lankan Tiger Prawns ($24 each). However, it is perhaps the popular Omakase dinner that is the restaurant’s highlight, priced at $85 – $65 if you arrive by 6.30pm – for as many dishes as Chef Petrina would like to feed you (usually a lot).
Morsels is located at 25 Dempsey Rd, #01-04, Singapore 249670. Open Tue-Thu 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm, Fri 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm, Sat 10.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm, Sun 10am – 3pm. Closed Mon.
The ‘no burn, no taste’ date: Fat Lulu’s Asian BBQ & Desserts
From the feisty Asian-style grilled meats and seafood whipped up by Chef Sam to the spirited dessert programme by Chef Song, a meal at Fat Lulu’s is a gastronomical rollercoaster that takes you and your date through a kaleidoscope of flavours together. Start with the mesmerising Burnt Porn Corn ($11) before diving into the likes of the spice-loaded Ikan Bakar ($28) and Herb Crusted Lamb Rack ($27). And remember, the night’s not over without a taste of their artisanal desserts: the hazelnut chocolate-inspired “Atas” Kinder Bueno ($16) or “Usimarit” ($14) in its full mascarpone panna cotta glory. Read our review here.
Fat Lulu’s is located at 297 River Valley Road, Singapore 238338. Open Tue-Thu, Sun 6pm – 11pm, Fri-Sat 11am – 4pm, 6pm – late. Closed Mon.
The lush greenery date: Botanico at The Garage
What’s more romantic than dining in the heart of nature? A night out at Botanico at The Garage is stunning, as Spanish-born Chef Antonio Oviedo brings to your table a diverse range of tantalising dishes from his seasonality-driven menu. The Lamb Tartare ($20) is a unique must-try, alongside the large Chargrilled Carabinero Prawns ($34) and Japanese Scallops ($27) for the shellfish lovers. No date (let alone the first) is complete without desserts – go for the eponymous Botanist ($12) with gin-infused cubed granny smith apple, cucumber sorbet, and coconut sable crumble. Read our review here.
Botanico at The Garage is located at Level 2, 50 Cluny Park Road, Singapore 257488. Open Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm, Sat 6pm – 10pm, Sun 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm. Closed Mon and Tue.
The blind date: NOX – Dine in the Dark
Would you be able to tell your fish from your chicken in complete darkness? Surprise your date with what might be their most unique dining experience ever, as the two of you plunge into a new world of mystery and sensation. Don’t worry, you’ll be guided (and served) by well-trained and friendly visually-impaired individuals. The only menu available here is a three-course Mystery Dinner ($88) with ever-changing dishes, so we can’t really tell you what to expect; only that dining at NOX is going to be interesting. Read our review here.
NOX – Dine in the Dark is located at 269 Beach Rd , Singapore 199546. Open Mon-Fri 6pm – late, Sat 5pm – late, Sun 5 – 11pm.