For the first date, meet him at a mutual location. Don’t have him pick you up, just meet him there. There’s a number of reasons why. First, you don’t have to tell him your address, which is a safety precaution. Next, if the date isn’t going well, you can both leave whenever. If he picks you up though, you need to wait out the entire date to finally get home. And when he does take you home, there will be that awkward moment where he walks you to the door and leans in for a kiss. Avoid that whole scenario and just meet him at the restaurant.
Want to keep it casual? Meet for coffee. If you feel that having dinner is too serious, too long, too much of anything, just meet at a cafe for a short time together. If you think it’s going well, you can always ask if he wants to get dinner.
Don’t offer to pick her up and instead meet her at a mutual location. Not only does it save you the trip if she lives an hour away, but it also gives you both the freedom to leave the date whenever, without any obligation to drive someone home. You can meet in the middle and if the date goes south, you can avoid that awkward 1-hour drive back to her place.
Coffee dates are also a great alternative to a meal. A coffee date is first of all shorter, but it’s also more affordable. There’s no burden to spend a lot of money on each other, and if it goes well, you can always ask her to get dinner afterwards.