Taco Twosday retro

Notes on a single’s mixer that Rachel and I ran, on Valentine’s day 2023.

The invite

On Tuesday, February 14th, we will be hosting an extra-special Valentine's edition of Taco Tuesday!

Where: ~~~~
When: 7-10pm, Feb 14
Cost: $20 to cover food, drinks & activities

We're running a mixer with the intention of helping singles find a date. Over the evening, we'll pair up participants to do an activity together, e.g.
- Board games
- Deep questions
- Cooking
And rotate between partners throughout the night.

At the end, you can privately indicate which of your partners you'd like to see again; if they also want to see you, we'll let you both know, reciprocity-style!

We ended up with 13 men and 13 women; a combination of friends, regular Taco Tuesday attendees, and more distant connections.

The schedule

  • 30 minute warm up
    • Kinda chaotic as we were letting people in, still picking up food last minutes
    • Didn’t seem especially great (roughly comparable to a normal Taco Tuesday or meetup)
    • Perhaps setting expectations ahead of time would have been good?
      • But we wanted people to show up on time with buffer
    • Perhaps add a bit more structure to warmup next time
      • Askhole? Nametag swap?
  • 6 rotations of 20 minutes each, with 5 minute transition period
    • 1:1 time seemed important; other mixer events seem to focus more on group activities
    • 20 minutes seemed like enough time to talk deeply, but also enough of a cutoff to leave people wanting more
      • Improvement compared to an actual speed date of a couple minutes; or an actual 1:1 date of 1-2h.
    • But mostly, participants liked having structure
  • Dinner (30m) - Slightly above par for Taco Tuesday, more intimate, people were spread out more, having good conversations
  • Cleanup and convos afterwards - Pretty good
  • 6 activities to choose from
    • 1:1 Questions - the most popular format. In the end, it seemed like most people wanted to just chat
    • “Painting” - We had canvases and paint markets, couples enjoyed sketching each other, playing tic-tac-toe
    • Board Games - Jenga was great, Taco Cat was played, 7WD was attempted. Did also devolve into conversations
    • Group questions - Askhole in a group setting, sitting around a living room table. This was the “catch-all” for people who didn’t have partners, or if the pairings didn’t line up. Good for logistics and people seemed to have a good time
    • Cooking - Didn’t get too much uptake, but the couples who participated seemed to like it (especially for making cocktails). Heard one man avoid cooking because they weren’t “good at it” — so perhaps we needed to lower the barrier to entry?
    • Scavenger Hunt - a few couples tried, but mostly it was too cold and dark outside. The couples who tried it seemed to enjoy it though?

What went well

  • Nametags!! Meeting lots of new people, esp important to remember names
  • Taco Tuesday was a very established event already
    • Regular venue, regular cooking, regular crowd = fewer unknown variables
  • Rachel and I had run many events before (meetups, retreats, a conference)
  • Many people saw familiar faces at the event (part of the same larger social scene, EA-ish SF adults)


  • Deliberate matchmaking?
    • Though we didn’t seem to have a significantly higher hit rate with the deliberate matches vs the random matches
  • Unsure if couple pairing resulted in higher conversion rates?
    • Though participant feedback on the couple pairs was very positive
    • For comparison: normal Taco Tuesdays or the first 30m of hanging out
      • People are in groups; just making conversation, as opposed to trying to get to know each other
  • 1:1s we were hearing seemed like they were having at least an okay time, but very few of them converted into double opt-in matches

What went badly

  • Planning the pairs took a lot of time; maybe could be solved with a simple software tool?
  • Making the pairs was a bit hard because we didn’t ask for date preferences (outside of simple orientation). This would be the biggest thing I would change for next time — ask for either a few sentences about themselves & what they’re looking for, or an entire dating doc.
  • People changed plans a lot - some people showed up late, or left early, meaning that we had to change the pairing matrices
  • Ran out of food - it’s actually quite hard to keep 20+ people fed from cooking at home
  • Compared to normal Taco Tuesday, had less help with cooking and cleanup
    • Had the idea that people would be helping with setup and decorating, didn’t really happen
      • In a normal Taco Tuesday, it’s good to ask people to help, they have more buy-in and feel like they’re contributing. But it’s hard to ask in a way such that people help and also get to know someone else
      • Plus, more newcomers than usual = people around couldn’t help as much

What surprised us

  • Total demand for this activity! We expected between 10-20 people, and ended up with 27 (with a few more on the waitlist)
  • Gender ratio was quite balanced; we ran the event with 13 men and 14 women (where we expected a lot more men to be interested)
  • Most couples wanted to chat more than do an activity together; Austin was modeling the participants as being more introverted and appreciative of a focusing activity

Matches made!

  • At the end of the event, we asked everyone to fill out a list of who they would like to see again in a romantic context
    • (Didn’t have to be one of the assigned matches)
  • Some women asked for time to think it over, so we waited until Thursday evening to send out matches
    • I maybe wish that we had sent out most of the matches Tuesday night based on available info, to keep up the energy and move things along quickly
  • We decided to split up matches across two batches, as some people had 2-5 matches and we figured getting all at once would be overwhelming