There’s nothing quite like that first awkward OKCupid meet-up. Since it’s usually for a beverage (coffee, beer, wine, or a cocktail), here are ideas for five places around town where you can meet BeerLuvrSF or Shiksappeal72, have a decent conversation, and probably score a table. Save the dinner date for later—remember, this is just the “let me check you out and see if I’d ever want to kiss you” stage. Good luck out there.
For those who live on the North side of town, BIN 38 is a social spot with plenty of interesting beers and wines to get your conversation started. You can nab a seat at the bar, in the back seating area, or on the heated patio. There are all kinds of things to snack on as well, from the salumi plate to oysters to French fries—and how handy, the menu has already figured out the best pairings for you. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut
Café du Soleil
This Lower Haight café is pretty easygoing, and the outdoor tables are handy if it’s a day date or early evening—if you’re lucky, you can catch the wafting of some secondhand ganja smoke and chillax. They serve coffee, wine, and beer, so it’s a versatile place for any time of day. You can also share some baked goods or other noshy items. 200 Fillmore St. at Waller
A bit off the beaten Mission path, this corner café has a nice style and very friendly staff. The laid-back vibe will help put you at ease, while the Italian coffee will perk you up. The housemade pastries are a bonus, and there’s a full menu in case you want to linger longer. Great for a day date. 3599 24th St. at Guerrero
Looking for a bar? This loungey spot has a mellow vintage vibe, is a touch divey, and very comfortable. I dig the little tables covered in tablecloths, and the cocktails are straightforward and priced right. Nice bar staff, and the candlelit atmosphere is flattering for both parties—it’s just intimate enough without being cheesy. 3394 22nd St. at Guerrero
Most men like beer. Cool women like beer. So go have a beer. What’s useful about Southern Pacific is there are plenty of tables inside, upstairs, and on the patio, and there’s a fun vibe, so you aren’t awkwardly trying to have a conversation in a library-quiet room. Instead, you’re in a cool warehouse. You can share some sage fries, talk beer (there are 21 on tap), and there’s even a full bar if you need something stronger. 620 Treat Ave. at 19th St.
Marcia Gagliardi is the contributing food editor for 7x7 and author of the weekly Tablehopper e-column and book The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. Email her at email@example.com, and read more at tablehopper.com.