First dates can be tough. You're sitting across from a total stranger, trying to find enough in common to determine, potentially, whether they're the love of your life. You have to wear your freshest clothes and smell all nice. It's important to make a good impression on the other party - and that starts with where you choose to go. Here are 11 of the best first date spots in Ottawa. They're restaurants and bars that are guaranteed to set you up for success. But once you're there, the rest is up to you. Good luck.

1. The Loft Game Board Lounge 

Where it is: 14 Waller St. Close to the Byward Market.

Why you should go: There's no better way to break the ice on an awkward first date than a good reason to play a game. The Loft Board Game Lounge provides just that - you can choose any of hundreds of board or video games to create a fun atmosphere over drinks and food. They have almost any game you could possibly image. It's the best place to eat, drink and play in Ottawa. Just don't get too competitive - you're on a date to have fun, not to destroy your opponent. Save that for your friends. 

2. The Craft Beer Market

Where it is: 975 Bank St. at Lansdowne Park.

Why you should go: Take the biggest beer aficionado you know to the Craft Beer Market. They've got some of the best beer selections in the city. The number one thing to get are the beer flights. They'll give you six small local or international beers to sample, and it's great conversation on a first date as you sample them all.

Craft beer can be intimidating; there's definitely a lot to know. Some of the beers you'll try are great, and some are terrible, but it's certainly always fun. The food is good as well: order the nacho platter and you'll get more than you could possibly eat in your entire life.

3. The Moonroom

Where it is: 442 Preston St. In Little Italy. 

Why you should go: The Moonroom serves some incredible cocktails. It's a small room with low lighting, providing the perfect atmosphere to get to know someone. Just be careful - the cocktails are great, but they'll put a dent in the wallet.

There's a ton of different options on the menu. It can be hard to know sometimes what type of cocktail is the right one to order. Personally, I'm always partial to a good old fashioned, but I found my new favourite cocktail of all time at The Moonroom: the French 75. It's made with champagne, gin and lemon. They go down fast and easy, but really pack a punch if you have too many.

4. Pure Kitchen 

Where it is: Two locations: 340 Elgin Street in Centretown and 357 Richmond Road in Westboro.

Why you should go: If you're taking a vegetarian or vegan date out for a night on the town and don't know where you can feed them, look no further than Pure Kitchen. They serve some of the best vegetarian food in the city and it all tastes great. Even the staunchest carnivore will find something to like here, because vegan food can be just as good as anything made by a meat-eater. I promise.

5. Aroma Meze 

Where it is: 239 Nepean St, just off Bank Street in Centertown.

Why you should go: Aroma Meze is great if you need to impress a foodie. It feels like you're eating in some guy's living room that he turned into a restaurant (which I think really is the story behind the restaurant). Everything tastes so good, and it is all meant to be shared. My dinner companion and I ordered eight items off the menu, which were brought out one at a time. I think it is some of the best Greek food I've ever had in my life; there were so many different flavours. Trust me - your date will go home happy. 

6. Uji Café

Lisa Xu

Where it is: 215 Rideau St, close to the Byward Market. 

Why you should go: Uji Café is Ottawa's first Japanese café. They have some really great, authentic Japanese dishes that won't break the bank. The beverages and desserts are made in-house daily. Plus, you can try and make your date eat with chopsticks, which can be really funny if they don't know how. That is, if you know how to use them yourself. Learn now, it'll be a great investment for the future.

7. Cocao 70 

Where it is: Two locations: 225 Marché Way #109, in Lansdowne Park and 53 William St #51, in the Byward Market.

Why you should go: Cocao 70 has some of the best desserts in the city, and so much chocolate. There are so many different types of chocolate and ways of eating chocolate that it's almost hard to count. You can eat it in bar form, bake it into pastry, drink it as a cocoa or melt it and pour directly into your mouth. Cocao 70 has it all (except maybe the last one). Apparently, it even has some health benefits

But who doesn't like chocolate? If your date doesn't, you probably shouldn't be going out with them anyways. 

There's so many different types of chocolate that it's almost a science. This article has more.

8. Vittoria Trattoria

Where it is: Two locations: 35 William St, in the Byward Market and 3625 Rivergate Way, by the airport. 

Why you should go: If you're looking to put on the moves and create the perfect romantic atmosphere, Vittoria Trattoria is your place. The wine and cocktail list is extensive, and includes a wide variety of martinis . They've got some great Italian food; An excellent stop for a classic dinner and a movie date. 

9. Black Squirrel Books & Espresso Bar 

Where it is: 1073 Bank St, in Old Ottawa South.

Why you should go: Black Squirrel books is the best of many worlds: you can get to know one another over a cup of perfectly brewed coffee (or even a beer now that they've gotten a liquor licence) before browsing the bookshelf together, recommending your favourite titles to one another. Not only that, but Black Squirrel frequently has fun trivia nights (Simpsons trivia, anyone?) or book readings you can take your date to if they have a quirky side. 

10. Flying Piggy's Bistro Italiano 

Where it is: 1665 Bank St, in Alta Vista.

Why you should go: Some of the best homemade pasta I've ever had was from Flying Piggy's. The name might be corny but the food certainly isn't. If you're date is an Italian craving a home cooked pasta dish like Nonna used to make, this is the perfect place to win their heart. There really isn't anything better than a good pasta dish (and, pasta is better for you than you might think). Make sure you start off with a charcuterie plate too. A word of warning - if you plan on going in for a kiss later watch out, some of the food is ~loaded~  in garlic.

11. House of Targ

Where it is: 1077 Bank St, in Old Ottawa South. 

Why you should go: Pinball, perogies, and live music. What more do you need me to say? If you want to have fun, there are few better places in Ottawa than the House of Targ. While loud music can make first date conversation difficult, you and your date will be having too much fun dancing around to notice. I recommend going on a a Sunday. Cover is $5, but they set all their games to freeplay, so you can play as many classic arcade and pinball games as you'd like.  

There you have it. Those are the 11 best first date spots in Ottawa. Get on Tinder and start swiping. Or ask out that cute girl in your history class! You have so many places to take her now. And trust me, choose anything on this list and you'll know any problems that arise won't be because of the venue. 

And most importantly, good luck.