France's Fête des Lumières Is a Light Festival Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen
Dam & CS
W LoungeAddress and Info
A comfy-chic interior, swanky staff at your beck and call, DAT ROOFTOP/TOWER VIEW -- this new drinks spot (head to the adjoining MR PORTER restaurant for steak meals) is a no-brainer. Just make sure you have a wallet to impress, too -- class comes at a price. Luckily, this is Holland, where the whole “going Dutch” thing got started.
TonTon ClubAddress and Info
Check your date’s competitive side and (lack of) gamesmanship at this arcade for grown-ups. You’ve got a selection of pinball, Mario Kart, shooting and fighting games, and even a ball pit. Plus there’s plenty of local beer by the bottle to smooth over any early-date awkwardness.
HoppeAddress and Info
There are two sides to this classic bar, but you should head straight to the smaller, older (as in 1670) side, of course. It gets cramped in the dark-wood space with old-school sandy floors, so you’ll have to get close. All the better to hear what your date has to say... or whatever. You can order beer (don’t bother with the wine), but this spot’s a good excuse to hit the hard stuff -- in, ya know, a classy way. You’ll find a giant selection of jenever and its more herbal/fruity Old Dutch Liqueur cousins. It’s like a museum for the mouth (or at least the liver).
Nieuwmarkt & Waterlooplein
In de WaagAddress and Info
Sometimes the obvious option is obvious for a reason. Atmospheric (and authentic) medieval interiors. Big, sunny terrace. Top-notch food and a decent wine list. Come on, it looks like a frickin’ castle. Don’t fight the romance.
StarbucksAddress and Info
Sometimes you’re just looking for a coffee date -- but this Starbucks flagship location is like a coffee date all hopped up on... Red Bull! The enormous, multi-level interior (an old bank vault) looks amazing from floor to ceiling, as it's all made from repurposed materials and designed to conserve energy. You have the widest selection of Starbucks stuff you’ll find anywhere: beyond frappucinos, try a tasting of the not-found-elsewhere Reserve coffees at the separate bar -- er, sorry, “Slow Coffee Theater.” (Products are tested here before they’re rolled out to other stores.) Plus there are some serious sweet and savory snacks at the bakery here.
MashuaAddress and Info
We clearly love this place. And with decor almost as gorgeous as what comes out of the kitchen, it’s a great way to impress without breaking the bank.
Tales & SpiritsAddress and Info
It’s actually like two steps out of the Canal Belt, but the cobblestoned back-alley location out-charms even the 9 Streets. It’s pretty inside, and the staff is uniformed to do the menu of specialty cocktails and tasty small bites justice. Worst case scenario, if you and your latest Tinder catch don’t have anything to talk about, the entertaining staff will supply plenty of fodder with their antics, as will the creative cocktail presentations: pop rocks, cotton candy, and dolls, oh my.
Boom ChicagoAddress and Info
Yep, there are many charming corners to explore in this historic, water-laden ‘hood -- and this ain’t one of them. You’re bringing your date here because there are two paths to a person’s heart: comedy and food. And both are dished out here. Just be warned, the closer you sit to the stage the more likely your date is to become part of the show.
Het ConcertgebouwAddress and Info
Want to look classy and cultured? This is your ticket. Plus, it’s got some of the best acoustics in the world, making it seriously worth checking out even without a date to impress. There are regular concerts, some of which veer away from the classical standards, but if you want to be authentically Dutch about it, go for the free weekly lunchtime rehearsals.
T’s Bites & WineAddress and Info
In this light and airy double-decker bar you’ve got a whole menu of bites -- from crispy, herb-coated patatas bravas with a spicy mojo sauce to caviar-and-violet-topped wild salmon blinis -- to choose from. Plus an even longer list (well, book, really) of wines by the glass (almost 40 options) and/or bottles that won’t blow your dating budget for the month. But make it easy on yourselves and just let Tanja (that would be the T) and her chef choose the best selections of both for you.
Stadionbuurt & WTC
THE RED SUNAddress and Info
The sushi is inventive, with options like nigiri halibut with truffle soy sauce and lightly fried vermicelli, and the swank blood-red interior is guaranteed to get you hot and bothered in all the right ways, just as much as the wasabi.
Mossel & GinAddress and Info
The spiffed-up industrial interior is lovely, but bonus points if you can land a spot in the walled garden. Either way, you’re indulging in at least two known aphrodisiacs: mussels (or other seafood if you prefer) and alcohol, the ultimate aphrodisiac -- most likely in the form of a G&T.
Ginger Grill & Asian TapasAddress and Info
So long Oolong (a former cocktail favorite of ours), and hello to the new Ginger Grill. Luckily the menu and ambiance haven’t changed much. The date-ready dark interior matches the modern-style Asian-influenced dishes like dumplings and other dim sum classics, spiced meat on a stick, and a lot of prawn. A menu of decently priced wines and cocktails will make sure you’re feeling friendly by the end of the night.
KriterionAddress and Info
Michael Bay’s latest attempt to entertain doesn’t exactly scream romance (and screaming isn’t very romantic anyway), which is why you’re better off using an indie or foreign film as the soundtrack to whatever sweet nothings you plan on whispering in the dark. Sure the theater is a little... musty, but that’s culture for you. And there’s a cafe that sells way better stuff than popcorn (like a full bar of drinks you can take right to your seat with you) where you can perform your post-film analysis of the movie... and your chances with your new boo.
Kattencafé KopjesAddress and Info
Get the oxytocin release going with some cuddly felines and win over the animal lover in your life without shelling out too much dough. However things go with your human companion, as least you know you’ll get some cuddle action on your date.
Bos & Lommer
Wilde WestenAddress and Info
The couple that does laundry together... well, at least knows that they both have clean underwear. Here you can dine (mostly wood-oven pizzas) and drink (local beers) while you do just that. Mid-week dates might even benefit from one of the weekly menu specials.
FarinaAddress and Info
The food is fantastic and the service is gracious (and often authentically Italian), but you’re really coming for the location: a dock under an apartment building in the middle of a mini-lake, reached via a couple long boardwalks, with 360-degree water views. In the summer you can enjoy these even more closely from the wrap-around terrace. Plus, everyone knows Italian food is date food, right?
Walter’s -- The Walter Woodbury BarAddress and Info
You know Walter’s is a great date spot because it’s always full of people on dates. The well-prepared menu and pretty staff members are draws, but not as much as the sizable, jaw-dropping interior of lush plants and birdcage lighting.
De KasAddress and Info
It’s not one of the cheapest spots on the list, but this restaurant has been an Amsterdam favorite for over a decade, despite an until-now not-so-trendy location, for a reason. That reason is the experience of eating wholesome, local food in an upscale environment... inside a massive working greenhouse. Sign up for lunch to save a few bucks. There’s a different menu every day.
Saunakaravaan by De RuimteAddress and Info
It’s an all-year outdoor sauna party! With little to no drinking... However, it’s cheap, it’s unusual, and there’s always live music or storytelling. And it’s now located just around the (canal) corner from NDSM. As we’ve noted before, the policy here is full nudity -- so, maybe not a first-date spot unless you’re both looking for a preview of the coming attractions. On the other hand, if you can get someone to sweat with you in a hut with a bunch of naked strangers on the first outing, you know you’ve got a keeper.
BlijburgAddress and Info
Amsterdam’s best beach is pretty cozy in the winter months, too, thanks to its new fire pit-heated home with regular live music nights and plenty of decent sips and nibbles.
Rivierenbuurt & RAI
Knijn Bowling & RestaurantAddress and Info
It's classic dating action with a surprisingly classy restaurant (Meat Paul) and bar (Bar 71) tacked on. Make your date a party with the weekend Disco Bowling events.
World of FoodAddress and Info
Explore entire continents of street food at the best thing to happen to Zuidoost eaters since... ever. This food court may not be as fancy as De Foodhallen, but it’s bigger, less crowded, and more down to earth. Experiment with new flavors and see if your date is a picky eater.
Hotel BuitenAddress and Info
Open year-round, the winter comfort food (like cheese fondue) by the fire is replaced by outdoor eating along the picturesque Sloterpas when the summer months roll around. You'll see lots of nooks, a hammock or two, or even a trampoline where you can really get to know someone, all while sipping local beer from the appropriately named Brouwerij De 7 Deugden (“7 Sins Brewery”). Whatever the time of year, there’s a good chance of live music. The catch? This waterside spot’s open to the public weekends only.