TIME reported survey results of the most popular places to take a first date. National chain restaurants make up most of the list, and Athens is home to many of the top 30. However, first dates and beyond often call for a little more, and local Athens restaurants do it best. Athens' top rated food scene makes headlines and warms hearts of guests and local Athenians. No matter the couple or situation, Athens has the perfect date night destination for everyone. 


Mom's Choice

The Pine- drinks

For a choice that earns mom's approval, the restaurant needs to be as classy and sophisticated as she is. Sunday brunch is the perfect time for a date, and The Pine does it best. Just like momma, Chefs at The Pine want you to feel nourished and connected, so enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Athens with a chic southern flare and modern atmosphere that will please you, your date and, of course, your matchmaking momma. 

Budding Romance

Five and Ten - porch

Made it past the first date? Liking where the relationship is headed and ready for the second or third? Sounds like Five and Ten is the next destination for your budding romance. Located in a historic building and owned by award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, blooming couples can't go wrong with Five and Ten's American food with hints of French and Italian influences. The memories created at Five and Ten will help turn the budding romance into something more. 

Just Friends


Who says people of the opposite sex can't be friends? Athens has many places perfect for catching up - we've found that coffee shops are the perfect environment. Some of our favorite coffee shops for chatting up a storm are Hendershot's and Walker's. If you're looking to add some friendly games to the mix, The Rook and Pawn also has the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the company of others. These options offer the choice of coffee, or even something stronger, along with a small yet tasty menu. Enjoy quality time in a laid-back fashion with an old friend or someone new.

Tech Savvy


The couple that met online and wants to take the next step of meeting in person should look no further than Seabear Oyster Bar. A child of The National's Patrick Stubbers, Peter Dale and Chris Luken, Seabear delivers an intimate yet relaxing experience with high quality Oysters (widely speculated to be an aphrodisiac). Seabear stands apart from traditional seafood restaurants since it is a high class bar that serves Oysters and other select items. For the tech-savvy couple looking for a mix of classic romance and a relaxing atmosphere, Seabear is the ideal spot to meet that special someone for the first time. 

Friend's Choice

A local, coastal grill restaurant's patio.We've all been there - the blind date. Your friend claims to know your perfect match, and although skeptical, you agree to meet. The casual, open atmosphere of Marker 7 Coastal Grill creates the perfect mood for a fun time with your blind date. Seafood is a classy first date choice, but Marker 7's menu of fine sea fare paired with a casual outdoor patio during a warm evening in Athens, GA will leave you and your blind date wanting more. 

Practically Married


We all know a couple that has been dating so long they are pretty much already hitched. If that sounds familiar, a nice, romantic date can be just what the doctor ordered for you. Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market has the perfect ambiance to share a wonderful meal with your sweetheart. The award-winning cafe serves dishes with locally grown ingredients to celebrate local farmers and the community, and the season-inspired menu ensures each visit turns into a unique and quality experience. Heirloom is perfect for the practically married couple due to its high class selections, romantic atmosphere and local flare that dares to do the impossible of bringing you and your babe even closer.

Actually Married

The Place - bar

The blissfully married couple deserves a meal as deeply rooted in tradition and family values as they are. The Place makes the perfect lunch or dinner destination for the actually married couple that craves excitement while maintaining a rich sense of southern tradition. The Place serves refined southern soul food crafted from the hearts and imaginations of brothers and UGA alumni Ryan and Alan Pope. Its location across from The Arch paints the perfect picture for a charming evening out with the love of your life. 

Romantic Dinner


The couple that cannot seem to get enough of each other and prefer an intimate, private experience should head on over to Porterhouse Grill. Lovey doves can enjoy selections from Porterhouse's steaks and specialties while dining in a romantic atmosphere with dim lighting and soft music. Finish the night with a moonlit stroll through historic downtown Athens, and you have the recipe for a dreamy evening with your sweetheart. 

Casual Couple

royal peasant


Some couples prefer casual environments to the fine dining experience, and Royal Peasant pub is the perfect atmosphere to kick back, relax and enjoy some of the best draft beers from Wells/Young in England. The pub also serves British-inspired food for both peasants and royals. Casual couples will be pleased with Royal Peasant's atmosphere to celebrate, cheer on their favorite teams, and cozy up to each other with a refreshing drink in hand.


These options are not all Athens has to offer. Check out all the award-winning Classic City dining here.

This blog was originally authored in April 2015 and updated by Kayla Nichols in Jan. 2018.