15 Best Date Spots In New York City

New York City has no shortage of romance and decadence for a date night. Many of us grew up watching films dramatizing the city's skyline or the fall season (any season, really), where love and a flurry of golden-hued leaves are in the air. The only difficulty in embarking on a night out with a potential match or an old flame is selecting which destination to visit — and avoiding the overpriced, ho-hum menus that draw in unsuspecting tourists and locals if they're not paying close enough attention. 

We also won't pretend like Manhattan is the only borough worth visiting for outstanding drinks and menu options. It has its fair share, of course. However, our list of the best date spots in New York City isn't limited to Euro-centric feasts or even alcohol-filled meet-ups (although we certainly won't rule them out). Instead, we hope to appeal to your sense of adventure with spots that will impress anyone in your life worth spending your precious time and paycheck on. And who knows? Maybe you'll find love at first sight or see — really see — your partner for the first time in a while, thanks to a simple change of scenery.  

Fig & Olive: Dinner and a walk on the High Line

New York's Meatpacking district is the ideal date night thanks to its trendy restaurants, galleries, high-end shopping, nightclubs, and the sprawling Chelsea Market. You can plan an entire evening by heading to the French-Mediterranean restaurant Fig & Olive, followed by a stroll on the High Line, a historic freight line turned elevated outdoor park featuring sculptures and unforgettable views.

The 13th Street Fig & Olive is headed by the award-winning partner and culinary director, Chef Alain Allegretti. The seasonally-focused menu is inspired by flavors from the South of France and centered around olive oils. The restaurant is known for its American red snapper tajine entrée and selection of crostinis. We also recommend the raw bar's sea bass crudo with a fresh cucumber ginger broth and the unbelievable flavor of the lamb crusted with Moroccan ras el hanout spice mix. After a glass of rosé or an espresso martini, you and your date can walk off the decadent meal with the entrance to the High Line just a block away.

Dirt Candy: Dine on a plant-based (and affordable) tasting menu

At Dirt Candy, award-winning chef Amanda Cohen has been perfecting a luxurious and seasonal plant-based tasting menu in the Bowery since 2009. It's sure to impress vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. When we went, Dirt Candy's signature dish, the portobello mousse, came with the mousse shaped into tiny woodland elements sitting alone in the bowl before disappearing under broth poured at the table — now that's pageantry.

Dirt Candy is one of the best wine restaurants for its program featuring only women-run wineries. New York Magazine named it the vegetarian restaurant the "absolute best," with one caveat: "You don't need to designate this the best vegetarian restaurant in the Lower East Side, it's the neighborhood's best place, full stop, to eat a meal right now." According to the restaurant's website, the tasting menu is $95 per person, and it has a no-tipping policy: only fair living wages, paid time off, and healthcare for the staff.     

Tokyo Record Bar: Izakaya with a side of vinyl

If you can get a reservation at Tokyo Record Bar, you'll thank us later for all the bonus points you'll get for being in the know. A vinyl jukebox enhances the tasting menu experience in this underground space that hosts just two or three seatings per night. The seven-course omakase-style menu is paired with a curated vinyl set and a drink menu featuring filtered and unfiltered sake and cocktails.

Tokyo Record Bar feels like a speakeasy, much of that is due to its inconspicuous entrance on MacDougal Street through Air's Champagne Parlor (guests can reserve a table there to enjoy a glass of Champagne) before descending into the dining room with seating for 12 people. You then get to select from a menu of songs you'd prefer for the night while enjoying sashimi, crab legs, and caviar sandwiches.

Barcade: Play pinball with a pint

Not all dates need to take place over a candle-lit dinner. Head to Brooklyn for arcade games and an extensive roster of exclusive craft beers for an unexpected date night. The Williamsburg Barcade opened in 2004 as the original location of large-scale gaming, but there are now nine Barcades around the country. You'll find dozens of video games and pinball machines from the 1980s to choose from, such as "Asteroids," "Donkey Kong," and "Mortal Kombat."

First date? The activities may help avoid some of the awkward pauses on a night between strangers. The flowing taps of craft beer could also keep the conversation flowing. Or skip the booze, because whether it's date one or 100, Barcade is ideal for hours of friendly competition. You can even stay until 4 a.m. on weekends if the date is going that well.

Loulou: A Chelsea speakeasy to transport your date night

The popularity of speakeasies in NYC is hardly a secret. Loulou is easy to spot thanks to the decadent floral decorations on the corner cafe. To find the bistro's speakeasy entrance, you and your date will walk through a vintage Coca-Cola machine for a quirky start to your night to remember. You'll be greeted by a chandelier setting the mood before heading into the French bistro-style bar offering specialty cocktails and a full menu.

Loulou is named after the owner's dog and the basement has been called one of the "coolest" secret spots in the city. We recommend visiting on the weekend. You'll also have the perfect photo op with one of the bar's signature cocktails served in a glass shaped like a bird.

Night of Joy: Sip craft cocktails in a vintage setting

The Night of Joy Bar feels like stepping back in time due to the velvet banquette seating, decorative sconces, and ornate framed paintings on the walls. The good news is this bar is very much on point for the modern craft cocktail movement with a menu as detailed as the aesthetic, featuring botanical and herbal concoctions designed for slow appreciation. Don't be like us and get so carried away with the eclectic vibes that you forget to go upstairs to the rooftop — that is, if you can find any seating on the patio.

Although cozy for a date night, this is also an excellent group setting for a more casual meet-up. DJ nights are on heavy rotation at the bar for those times when you want to loosen up to a themed set list on the dance floor. Or, cozy up next to the faux fireplace and shake off any first-night jitters. And keep in mind that your old flame might appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of the intimate rooftop more than watching you attempt the robot (again).

Kobricks: A casual spot for coffee and espresso martinis

Not all dates need to involve alcohol, and Kobrick Coffee Co. is a trendy Chelsea coffee shop for caffeine aficionados. But, if you want to calm your jitters rather than amp them up, the adjacent bar also offers craft cocktails and full-service dining. This could be an ideal first date when you're unsure about committing to a full sit-down dinner. Although, if witty banter over espressos turns out to be not enough, Kobrick's gives the opportunity to trade java for cocktails if the date doesn't need to end.

Skip Starbucks Reserve and head to Kobrick's for small-batch roasted coffee and a decent selection of teas. The café's outdoor seating and vibrant palm wallpaper make a simple chocolate croissant feel more than appropriate for a casual meet-up. Granted, you could always make the walk over to Le Bain at The Standard if all that java and conversation leads to something more.

Dawa's: Bring a food lover to a farm-to-table Himalayan restaurant

Dawa's bakes love into every bite of its seasonal American meets Tibetan and Nepalese food in Woodside, Queens. What better place to spark a fire with someone you are enamored with or hope to like a lot? Chef and co-owner Dawa started the restaurant with her father to make "authentic Himalayan tribal cuisine" using locally farmed ingredients in a warm and environmentally conscious setting.

The New York Times recommends the Gyuma black sausage served with the Tibetan hot sauce, sepen, which the reviewer called "as pure an expression of raw chile power as I've known." You might also notice details like the ceramic plates and natural approach to farm-to-table dining. The Fung Bros. also named Dawa's the best Nepalese food in America. No pressure, but you just might impress your date with food this good. 

Semma: Impress your date with a dish made for two

You might have heard about the whole rabbit feast ordered family-style at the lauded Dhamaka restaurant on the Lower East Side. The same culinary visionaries revamped their West Village location into Semma, a deep dive into Southern Indian cuisine using regional ingredients that pay homage to a style of cooking rarely found in the U.S. The intimate dining room is perfect for sharing small plates and tasting one of the signature cocktails, such as the Silk Smitha made with cardamom-infused tequila, red peppercorn, and agave.

If you want a scene-stealing meal without the need for a crowd, Semma features a Kanyakumari nandu masala dish built for two: Dungeness crab served with parotta and coconut rice. You'll need to order this ahead, and limited quantities are available nightly. Sure, Dungeness crab might seem hardly as rare on a menu as, say, Goanese oxtail, but the flavors at Semma are always unforgettable. Afterward, take a stroll hand-in-hand around the village to soak in the brownstones and night air. 

Rokc NYC: The Harlem stop for ramen and cocktails

Harlem has long been known for great food and live entertainment, whether comedy or jazz. While there's always celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's American eatery, Red Rooster, you can also head over to Rokc in West Harlem for oysters, ramen, and cocktails. The restaurant claims to be a contemporary take on Japanese restaurants found in port towns when the country first opened to globalization. That makes sense seeing that ramen is Chinese in origin and cocktails are a western import. 

The approach at Rokc is all its own, with a seasonal ramen menu and a raw oyster bar sourced from farmers on the East Coast. The Tokyo-inspired cocktail menu is a show in itself: smoke-filled snifters, matcha-infused Japanese whisky, and a range of clarified cocktails served in vintage milk bottles. After the impressive display, head to a comedy show at the historic Apollo theater to see one of the biggest acts in the business or join the crowd of notorious hecklers on amateur night.          

Oddly Enough: A welcoming space with a chic atmosphere

Brooklyn's latest hot-spot neighborhood is Bedford-Stuyvesant (or, locally, just Bed-Stuy), thanks to its proliferation of dining locales, parks, and historic neighborhoods. The area truly has something for everyone, including our favorite friendship booths at the Southern-style brunch spot, Peaches HotHouse. There, you will also find Oddly Enough, a chic spot to enjoy a craft or zero-proof cocktail at the art deco-inspired bar, lush banquette seating with marble tables, or covered curbside outdoor patio. 

The Oddly Enough Bar is also welcoming as a self-proclaimed "queer space for all." We enjoyed the small bites (called "nibbles" on the menu) for a catch-up with a group of friends. This space is also ideal for cozying up with a seat for two and sharing the Earth Baby tinned fish plate. Additionally, we've found the occasional karaoke night paired with happy hour specials to be the perfect way to show your skills (or lack thereof) in a supportive environment. After all, what's sexier than a bit of vulnerability with a side of humility? 

The Polo Bar: Live your preppy dream after a trip to Central Park

Yes, The Polo Bar is owned by the same brand that makes the shirts with the little men riding a little horse. Of course, it gives off old-school hunting lodge vibes with rich mahogany detailing, deep green walls, and art that's hung gallery style. Sure, you might spend a significant amount of money on pigs in a blanket and hamburgers. And you might also feel like the love interest in a John Hughes movie — before learning that love conquers even an Amex without a spending limit. Still, the charm here is as deep as your pockets. 

New York Magazine describes the dining room as a "subterranean space [that] makes it feel like you're dining in some strange Disneyfied mash-up of what a London dining club is supposed to be." The bar is also a place to see-and-be-seen. Try the Dover sole or Ralph's corned-beef sandwich. Spend the afternoon with your date walking through Central Park, then grab dinner or, better yet, head straight to the bar for a martini or two first.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea: Pop a bottle or pop the question

Any date is guaranteed a surge of romance at the classic New York carriage house turned restaurant, One if by Land, Two if by Sea. U.S. Attorney General Aaron Burr previously kept his horses and carriage in the house that was built in 1767. Around 200 years later, the current owners restored the space with architectural elements like fireplaces, brick, and ornate chandeliers. 

This fine-dining American-style restaurant in the West Village wants you to know that it provides peak romance with every meal, and One if by Land succeeds on many fronts as a classic date night in New York. Architectural Digest even named it one of the most romantic restaurants in the world due to its "romance-inspiring plates such as oysters, beef Wellington, and chocolate soufflé."

Court Street Tavern: Meet someone new at the oldest bar in Brooklyn

A Carroll Gardens institution, Court Street Tavern features outdoor seating in a stylized patio and original detailing like a sizable oak bar with a marble railing that was first installed in 1890. The French-inspired menu is heavy on the classics, such as oysters, steamed mussels, and tuna tartare (all ideal for sharing). You can also enjoy laid-back sandwiches, including an Impossible kebab pita for the meat-free lovers in your life.

Perhaps due to the claim of being the oldest bar in Brooklyn (despite accounts from historians), Court Street has its date-night vibes dialed in. You're greeted by a colorful arrangement of flowers crowning the entrance, and the interior is all dark wood and old tin ceilings. The intimate lounge offers a fireplace, and a Champagne wall in the garden means you can also enjoy an intimate gathering with dozens of your closest friends.

Gallow Green: Enjoy live music and a Champagne brunch

Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel is a stunning rooftop brunch spot where you can partake in an all-you-can-eat buffet with bottomless mimosas (though it's probably best if you wait for unlimited booze until the second date, at least). In addition to a lush atmosphere with greenery and rustic touches on the covered patio, the food options are decadent. We found the fresh fruit, pastries, omelet station, and selections of carved meats and seafood help elevate the serve-yourself set-up.

A live bluegrass band sets the mood and creates a lively atmosphere on a weekend date during a Champagne brunch or sunset session on Sundays. If you're interested in a meal and entertainment, you can buy a combined ticket for brunch and attend the long-running performance theatre "Sleep No More." The silent choose-your-own-adventure adaption is very loosely based on "Macbeth" — if it were to take place in an almost-certainly haunted building in the '30s, that is.