Burger on a First Date?!
I know, I know. It seems to go against everything television sitcoms have taught you about dating. Men are told to treat their dates to the finest restaurant they can afford while women are expected to eat polite salads and drink water with lemon slices. But, in reality, this is a poor formula for a successful date. In fact, your potential darling may very well see through you when you're trying to show off your wealth or being oversensitive about eating, which can get things off to a rocky start.
However, finding a meal that's casual and fun—in a spot with a delightful ambiance—strikes a better balance. And the burger joints on this list will not only give you and your date something to talk about, but the atmosphere just might be romantic enough to ensure the conversation continues post-meal. So take notes! We've even thrown in a handy map!
5. W.P Goldburger (Shibuya)
Using the monikers W.P.G.B. and W.P Goldburger, this creatively spelled hipster dive is best known as "Whoopi Goldburger"! This may not be the fanciest spot on our list, but with clever plays on celebrity names, the menu alone will give you and your date something to joke about. If you have very little else in common, at least you can laugh together at names like the Kevin Bacon Burger, or the Charlotte Gains-burger (an innocent-sounding, triple-patty-burger lover's dream/arterial nightmare).
4. Golden Brown (Omotesando)
Have you ever walked along the Omotesando shopping street in the winter—when the festive illumination leaves a twinkling trail of stars to follow all the way up to the top of the pedestrian bridge—and held your date's hand above the passing cars and kissed in the crisp air under the low-hanging branches? If not, this next spot is for you!
Inside the ever-so-fancy Omotesando Hills department store, you'll find the second Golden Brown shop in Tokyo (the other is in Nakameguro). This joint is pretty straightforward: a rustic-looking shop with tasty classic-style burgers for a decent price. However, the charm points all revolve around the location: After a burger and a few laughs, take a stroll around the high street. Make sure you head up the elevated crossing for a brief respite above the traffic with your date and enjoy the company. Just make sure you don't order extra onions.
3. Burger Mania (Ebisu)
First things first—there are three Burger Mania locations across Tokyo: Hiroo, Shirokane and Ebisu. I have only been (and taken a date) to the Ebisu location, so keep that in mind when looking it up later.
Burger Mania has an excellent balance of very delicious and imaginative burgers with a nice ambiance. What makes this restaurant a good date spot is the lighting at night. Warm glows of incandescent light bounce off the white tiled walls with the luminosity of candlelight, illuminating the relics collected and displayed around the shop. They really know how to set a romantic scene. Also, for the shy burger eaters, low lighting means your date won't see all your dental details when you unhinge your jaw to eat that double cheeseburger. You can also opt for more gourmet-sounding fare with the rosemary lemon burger or the cherry burger (pictured above).
If you're on a lunch date on a sunny day, nothing beats sitting next to the café's open window and enjoying the fresh air. Be careful not to let your wandering eyes linger on any passersby, however.
2. Brooklyn Parlor (Shinjuku)
If I had a dollar for every time I've taken a first date here, I'd spend that fortune on one of its amazing seasonal apple mozzarella burgers. The ambiance here, evoking a spacious NYC red brick loft in a location just below Shinjuku's Wald 9 Cinema, will surely charm your potential partner. One of the walls is lined from top to bottom with books, while another is the backdrop for a stage that's occasionally used for jazz and R&B artists. The place has yet to disappoint!
If the burgers don't thrill your date, there are other options on the menu, but I personally find the first date should be about humor, fun and taking risks—not proper fork etiquette. Also, keep in mind that while this, and the other locations, may impress your date, you are solely responsible for being interesting enough to justify a second meeting.
1. Martiniburger (Kagurazaka)
Like our No. 2 selection, Martiniburger is also inspired by New York, but that's because the founder, Eliot Bergman, is a NYC native. While the beautiful avant-garde interior is sure to impress, truly giving off some Manhattan vibes, the premium burgers (and of course the martinis!) are what it's all about.
From the double-cheese goodness of the Fifth Avenue Burger to the spicy Bronx Burger topped with chili and cheese, there's surely a combination out there to woo your special companion. We're talking really delicious, upscale burgers here—so snazzy you'll almost want to use the correct fork and knife (but, please, resist the urge). And you'll get major points for knowing about such a stylish, swanky joint tucked away in the enigmatic Kagurazaka neighborhood.