Your dates may be awkward—sometimes painfully awkward—but your food doesn’t have to be. Just like there are many kinds of people who could be a potential match, not all dates call for candlelight or chocolate cake. The right ambience, cocktail or shareable plate can make a date worth remembering, even when your companion is entirely forgettable. Here are some helpful suggestions.

First Tinder date— quick escape routes but good food

Paper Plane: On weeknights, there will be just the right amount of background noise and people-watching to fuel conversations, a variety of enjoyable craft cocktails for any taste, and some delicious bar bites to extend the evening.

SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant: Reasonably priced happy hour with food and drink options, and you can end the date there or roll into a proper dinner.

Cafe Stritch: For the musically inclined date, Cafe Stritch often hosts live bands to crank the tunes while also serving affordable food and drinks. With a pay-at-the-counter setup, there is no need to worry about going Dutch or waiting for the check when a date is clearly going nowhere.

Quick and casual coffee dates

Chromatic Coffee: Serves up quality small batch brews to satisfy the coffee snob but also adventurous iced drinks for nouveau coffee fans.

Bellano Coffee: The original Bellano Coffee, not its B2 sibling location, offers a limited but quality selection of coffee, masterfully brewed by experienced baristas. Seating may be limited as people like to park their cabooses here for hours.

Roy’s Station: Situated at a busy junction of Japantown, the view from the patio of Roy’s Station provides people-watching opportunities—and resulting conversations—aplenty.

Vegetarian Date? It’s not the end of the world

Plant Based Pizza: The pizzas and burgers here can even fool a carnivore.

Merit Vegetarian: With plenty of Asian fusion options, Merit offers an easy introduction into ethnic vegetarian food.

Asian Box: The fast casual setup is best for lunch dates, but the location also allows for an after-lunch walk around Castro Street.

Impress any date without the hassle of months-long reservations

The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse: The Sea has everything that was so beloved about Alexander’s Steakhouse and then some.

Parcel 104 Restaurant: Often overlooked due to its location at the Santa Clara Marriott, Parcel 104 offers hearty dishes in a classy ambience.

La Foret: After a winding drive through the woodsy narrow roads of South San Jose, the reward is an intimate dining experience and a selection of unique dishes of wild game.

Dinner went great, but you’ve got a hankering for something sweet

• Alexander’s Patisserie: Best known for its macarons and cakes, this patisserie has a luxurious lounging area where dates can pass the time getting to know one another.

Tin Pot Creamery: The line here may be long but the artisanal ice cream and cookies are definitely worth the wait.

Jimbo’s: Jimbo’s serves food but is best known for Bubbies ice cream mochi, which is brought in from Hawaii and comes in a variety of exotic flavors.

Your date’s a keeper and dinner—and dessert— has rolled into brunch

Pastis Bistro: Space is cramped and you might find yourself sharing a conversation with the couple nearby, but the food and service will not disappoint.

Sara’s Kitchen: This restaurant tried to hide in a residential neighborhood of Santa Clara but still found itself with a large crowd for brunch. The dŽcor, the staff and the food delivers that mom-and-pop vibe.

Bill’s Cafe: Be Prepared to converse with your date for an hour or more, as the wait time for most Bill’s locations can be long. The mimosa bowls and pancakes will make your morning better.