Of all the aspects of dating in New York City, the one thing that shouldn’t be difficult is finding a place to actually go on a date. Whether you’ve got a string of Tinder dates lined up, or are in a long-term relationship and need motivation to abandon your Seamless-and-Netflix-at-home routine, it’s important to have your bases covered when it comes to great places for dates across the city. From intimate cocktail haunts, to bars with actually fun games, to burlesque shows, these are the best dates spots in 26 New York City neighborhoods.
Ace BarAddress and Info
Remember that great Skee-Ball scene in Chasing Amy? You can reenact it here, hopefully with fewer surprising revelations! This place makes for a great first date if you want to avoid all of the so-where-did-you-grow-up questions in favor of getting competitive over bar games.
Museum of the Moving ImageAddress and Info
A film/TV museum is the kind of museum even non-museum-goers can get into: the Museum of the Moving Image curates a great mix of high and low culture, so you’re bound to find something you’re both interested in here.
Glorietta BaldyAddress and Info
This Bed-Stuy favorite has just enough close counter seating, candles, and dim lighting to be deemed “romantic” without being overbearingly so. Drinks are cheap, the beer selection is always great, and if you’re both craft beer nerds, the bar also hosts a beer trivia night. There are also pinball machines, should you and your date need some additional competition.
The Bowery BallroomAddress and Info
OK, going to a show may not be great for a first date, but if you’re on date three, or five, or 17, it’s a solid plan. Clearly which band you’re seeing matters the most, but the venue definitely factors in as well; you wouldn’t want to take a date to a show at the antiseptic Barclays Center, but you definitely want to take them to the Bowery Ballroom. It’s a fairly intimate space, and besides, if you get bored with the band, you can just head to the bar downstairs.
Boobie TrapAddress and Info
Taking your date to a boobs-themed bar might seem counterintuitive, but this punk dive is so playful (and lady-owned) that the second you set foot inside, you’ll both feel totally relaxed. Plus, it’s got the trifecta of board games, BBQ, and cheap beer. And you can color scantily clad ladies with crayons while you drink!
LeyendaAddress and Info
Star bartender Ivy Mix makes this Brooklyn hotspot the best space in the borough for cocktails. Try the jalapeño tequila-based Say Anything and ponder where John Cusack’s career has gone in the last few years.
The Golf Club at Chelsea PiersAddress and Info
It may seem a little cheesy, but a driving range on the water is actually the perfect afternoon date activity when you’ve exhausted matinee movies and picnics in Central Park (alternatively, if you want a good Sunday night date option that won’t leave you hungover on Monday morning, take advantage of the $30-per-person unlimited balls & club rental deal).
Nom WahAddress and Info
Brunch dates are a great idea, but bottomless mimosas and questionable eggs Benedict are probably better suited for a catch-up session with your friends than a getting-to-know-you meal. Switch things up by splitting a full dim sum spread (soup dumplings, pork buns, scallion pancakes) in a comfy leather booth at Nom Wah.
MayfieldAddress and Info
Once you and your date have moved past the “let’s meet for a drink” stage and are ready to consume food across from one another, the Southern-inspired Mayfield may be the perfect spot. It’s a charming, unfussy restaurant with exposed brick, plenty of seating, and casual but well-executed bites like cornmeal fried oysters and patty melts.
Amor CubanoAddress and Info
There are always bands playing, the bartenders make the best mojito in the city, and the ropa vieja and tres leches cake will make you question why you don’t spend more time in Spanish Harlem.
EastVille Comedy ClubAddress and Info
Making your date laugh with you is rarely a bad idea, and EastVille tends to get some pretty great acts in (hi, Janeane Garofalo!). Besides, if you go on a random night and the comics bomb, KGB Bar is right upstairs.
The Dead RabbitAddress and Info
The Dead Rabbit was just named the world's best bar (again), and for good reason: the cocktails are truly some of the best in New York, and possibly even the world (that includes the perfect Irish coffee). The drinks aren’t cheap, but if you’re looking for something a little more upscale for your date night, they’re a hell of a lot more affordable than the tasting menu at Per Se.
Brooklyn FleaAddress and Info
While it’s still somewhat warm out, spend an afternoon with your boo meandering this giant flea market, where you’ll find everything from old records to antique furniture to handmade crafts to locally made snacks.
Dear IrvingAddress and Info
From the team behind Raines Law Room, this speakeasy-inspired lounge is just as over-the-top as you’d want it to be -- sleek, cushy chairs hidden behind curtains; buzzers to call your waiter (like at its sister bar); and fancy drinks like the Night Café with genever, Aperol, lemon, egg white, and absinthe.
Milk and RosesAddress and Info
This space is so lushly romantic, the garden looks like Daisy Buchanan’s fever dream. In addition to idyllic surroundings, the Southern Italian food is also delicious: simple, fresh, high-quality ingredients that speak for themselves with little interference.
67 Orange StreetAddress and Info
67 Orange Street is a cozy, speakeasy-ish spot (you’ll pass through a velvet curtain to get in) known for its great craft cocktails and small plates. There’s always great music, but it’s never too loud, making it a perfect spot for a first or second date, when you want to actually hear the person talking to you.
Lower East Side
Nurse BettieAddress and Info
Sometimes you just want to take a girl to a burlesque show on a Wednesday night! The super-tiny, Bettie Page-inspired bar is full of flirty images of pin-up girls, a friendly crowd, and drinks that are both cheap and strong. But the real draw is the free burlesque shows every Wednesday and Thursday.
Long Island City
Penthouse 808Address and Info
Unless you’re dating someone who is just too jaded to enjoy a view of the city (left swipe left swipe left swipe), Penthouse 808 is pretty much guaranteed to be a solid hit. Grab some bar bites like tuna poke and rib-eye robata skewers and appreciate the sunset.
La BibliotecaAddress and Info
It’s hard to argue with an actual tequila library. In addition to all the tequila you could ever want, this candle-lit, leather-furniture-adorned spot offers plenty of great bar snacks, like charred tuna wonton tacos and spicy crab guacamole, and the happy hour special runs all night on Mondays and Saturdays, with $8 cocktails, $5 beers, and discounts on food.
Weather UpAddress and Info
It’s all about old-fashioned cocktails at this intimate Prospect Heights bar. While anything on the drink menu is a safe bet, opt for the Bartender’s Choice (you’ll be in good hands) and then grab a seat in the adorable back garden.
Housing Works Bookstore CafeAddress and Info
Housing Works often hosts great date-worthy events, but the space on its own is perfect for a coffee date. Plus, dollars spent here go to one of the best charities in the city -- Housing Works supports people living with HIV/AIDS.
Upper East Side
Steep Rock BoulderingAddress and Info
You can take a class together, or just try out the wall after a quick rock climbing tutorial. Plus, it's open until 11pm during the week, which makes this a surprisingly good after-work date if you didn’t have time to hit the gym that day (or if you want to pretend to be someone who “hits the gym” and notices if they miss a day).
Upper West Side
American Museum of Natural HistoryAddress and Info
The Natural History Museum is a great date idea if you’re nervous about running out of conversation topics -- wander the enormous halls scoping out dinosaur bones, gemstones, and a conservatory full of live butterflies together, and conversation will start to flow within about 45 seconds, promise. If not, blame the silence on the fact that you’re, you know, in a museum.
The CloistersAddress and Info
Unless you’ve been seeing a robot who hates pretty things, a picnic at the Cloisters is a pretty fantastic date: the gardens are beautiful, and the building itself is a medieval mash-up of five different abbeys that were shipped here from Europe. It’s basically as close as you can get to taking your date to France for the afternoon. Pour your wine into a POM bottle before you leave the apartment, and pack opaque cups.
The Rusty KnotAddress and Info
A surprisingly low-key find among the hoards of million-dollar high-rise apartments and expensive restaurants, The Rusty Knot is the perfect place to grab a casual Tiki drink and play a round of totally not-competitive pool.
Nitehawk CinemaAddress and Info
Nitehawk offers dinner during all its movies, which is terrific enough, but check out the Live Sound Cinema for something you won’t find anywhere else: musicians perform alongside silent films, which makes for a totally surreal experience.
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1. Ace Bar531 E 5th St, New York
2. Museum of the Moving Image3601 35th Ave, Astoria
3. Glorietta Baldy502 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
4. The Bowery Ballroom6 Delancey St, New York
5. Boobie Trap308 Bleecker St, Brooklyn
6. Leyenda221 Smith St, Brooklyn
7. Chelsea Piers62 Chelsea Piers, New York
8. Nom Wah Tea Parlor13 Doyers St, New York
9. Mayfield688 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
10. Amor Cubano2018 3rd Ave, New York
11. Eastville Comedy Club85 E 4th St, New York
12. The Dead Rabbit30 Water St, New York
13. Brooklyn Flea - Fort Greene176 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn
14. Dear Irving55 Irving Pl, New York
15. Milk & Roses1110 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn
16. 67 Orange Street2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York
17. Nurse Bettie106 Norfolk, New York
18. Penthouse8088-08 Queens Plaza S, Long Island City
19. La Biblioteca622 3rd Ave, New York
20. Weather Up589 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn
21. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe126 Crosby St, New York
22. Steep Rock Bouldering1506 Lexington Ave, New York
23. American Museum of Natural History200 Central Park W, New York
24. The Cloisters99 Margaret Corbin Dr; , New York
25. The Rusty Knot412 West St, New York
26. Nitehawk Cinema136 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
Ace Bar has been serving up cheap drinks to East Village locals since 1992 and is known for its laid-back atmosphere and excellent arcade game collection. The bar stretches two huge rooms and offers plenty of seating, as well as two pool tables, two dart boards, pinball, Big Buck Hunter, and Skee-Ball. It also has a special projection TV system for games and 12 beers on tap.
This Queens museum is the only one in the US devoted to film, television, and digital media.
As unpretentious as a highway-side bar, this Bed-Stuy neighborhood dive pours some twelve rotating beers on tap into mason jars and features a ping-pong table and a couple rock-and-roll-themed pinball machines in the back. Open until the wee hours daily, this spot (by the same guys who assembled low-key BK bars Mission Dolores and The Owl Farm) fills up during sports games and has a spacious back patio. Just because you’re kicking it in a grungy beer bar doesn’t mean the bartenders can’t make a mean cocktail (Rude Boy: gin, Evan Williams bourbon, lime, simple syrup, bitter).
This live music venue in the Bowery section of New York has a maximum capacity of 500, and has been featured in movies such as Coyote Ugly and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
Boobie Trap is not your average dive bar, as evidenced by its inventory of curiously outfitted (if not already naked) Barbie dolls, coloring books of nude women with unshaved armpits, and hot pink sign that so eloquently states, "f*ck off." This breast-themed bar slings dirt cheap beers and well drinks alongside barbecue-inspired bar bites, and is a Bushwick staple for its happy hour deals, weekly bingo nights, and laid-back feminist attitude. Just don't forget to tip your bartender.
Julie Reiner -- the mastermind behind Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge -- and her protégé Ivy Mix, bring you Leyenda, a “pan-Latin” cocktail spot that specializes in spirits from Central and South America: mezcal, rum, tequila, pisco, cachaca, sotol, and raicilla. The menu offers both traditional cocktails and creative concoctions that are legendary -- which is what Leyenda translates to in Spanish. Alongside the cocktails, they have standard Latin food on the menu, cooked up by the acclaimed Chef Sue Torres. With its gold tin ceiling adorned with crosses and cathedral-pew booth seating, the decor matches the overall authentic vibe.
A 28-acre sports and entertainment complex on the Hudson River, CP's got golf, bowling, ice skating, and a maritime center.
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Nom Wah has been around in some form since 1920. It's been a bakery, kitchen, and now it's a dim sum specialist and tea house. Today, it still maintains its vintage looks and if you want to taste their claim to fame, order the fried sesame balls with lotus paste and the almond cookie.
This casual restaurant in Crown Heights is an everyday staple for upscale but unpretentious American food. It's the type of place you go when you're craving a burger, a solid cocktail, or just the company of your neighbors. The seasonal menu is always changing but expect trendy and satisfying plates like fried oysters, kale salad, and a loaded gem of a burger. Mayfield's brunch is a hit for its egg dishes, sweet bites (brioche French toast, how you doin'?), and that aforementioned burger.
Amor Cubano is a slice of Havana in Spanish Harlem that’s serving up authentic Cuban cuisine and expertly crafted mojitos in a buzzy, brick-lined space. To the tune of Latin jazz, couples cozy up at wooden tables for traditional plates like stuffed green plantains, Cuban sandwiches, and ropa vieja, a national dish with shredded skirt steak braised in a garlic sauce with tomatoes, sliced onions, and peppers. Fans will tell you the mojitos here are the best in the city, and with a list of 10 different varieties from ginger to peach that are consistently strong and refreshing, it's hard to disagree.
As the only comedy club in the East Village, this spot has become a staple in the community. Comedians such as Louis C.K., Judah Friedlander, and Janeane Garofolo all frequently perform acts at the club.
The Dead Rabbit is a cocktail sanctum, taproom, small-plates resto, and "grocery." This Irish-American-inspired duplex in the Financial District -- boasting vintage saloon-like vibes and decor -- will make you feel as if you've traveled back in time. The taproom, which is located on the ground floor, is a traditional Anglo-Hibernian pub, where you can order craft beers, bottled punch, and a variety of whiskeys. If you walk upstairs you'll find the parlor, with an ambiance equally as charming as the pub, but with a heavier focus on communal punch and cocktails. The small "grocery" is actually a corner in the taproom, where they sell an assortment of dry goods, but most notably Irish and British imports that are otherwise hard to find.
This outdoor market features vendors selling everything from clothing, artwork, small snacks, and pretty much any little knick-knack you could think of.
Dear Irving is an old-school cocktail parlor with a Midnight in Paris kind of vibe. The bar is made up of four separate rooms, each of which represents a different historical character. The drinks are stellar -- as you'd expect from Meaghan Dorman, who's also behind the Raines Law Room -- and every cocktail is as much an experience as the interior. The espresso martini packs a huge punch with Irving Farm Coffee Roasters cold brew and vanilla liqueur. Note: Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are definitely encouraged.
A romantic date spot with a stress-free vibe, eating and Milk & Roses feels like being inside a beautiful garden, and the seasonal menu mimics that -- focusing on super-fresh ingredients that pair nicely with an impressive wine list and unique cocktails.
You have to look closely to spot Harlem speakeasy 67 Orange Street, which brought a new level of cocktailery to the Frederick Douglass corridor when it opened in 2008. (Lost? Check for the brass building number and pulled purple curtains.) Housed in the historic location of the 1840s Alack’s Dance Hall, one of the first African American-owned bars in the city, the drinking den winkingly nods to black history on the elevated cocktail menu in sips like The Color Purple (gin, lavender bitters, blackberries, creme de violate, St. Germain, lemon, simple syrup) and Emancipation Again (cucumber vodka, Citronage, lime). The bi-level lounge is decked out in salvaged-wood wall planks and shimmering vintage-style wallpaper behind the bar, where experienced tenders shake and stir upscale concoctions poured into coup glasses. The crowd is diverse, much like the changing neighborhood, and swarm for soulful plates that furnish happy hour specials. Fried chicken with a trio of vanilla-maple-drizzled red velvet waffles and lobster-and-shrimp mac & cheese will give you a reason not to forget how to find this discreet hideaway.
This beloved LES cocktail haunt serves classic libations with a twist. Inspired by glamorous 1950s pin-up girls and the rockabilly music scene, this diner-esque dive doles out speciality drinks named after famous vixens of the day and regularly hosts burlesque performances. While the retro ambiance may or may not be your thing, solid happy hour deals and a lively clientele make this spot worth stopping by.
Perched above the Ravel Hotel in Long Island City, Penthouse 808 has a vibe that's skewed slightly more Miami than post-industrial LIC. Clocking in at 9,500sqft, the swanky indoor/outdoor rooftop offers unbeatable views of Manhattan, complete with the Queensboro Bridge. The fusion menu takes cues from Japanese and Hawaiian cuisines, featuring sushi, robata skewers, and poke.
With an actual library of premium tequila displayed inside leather books and built-in, back-lit cages along black walls (hence "La Biblioteca"), this smart Murray Hill lounge is the spot to hit up when your happy hour needs a professional upgrade. Tucked underneath Zengo, the bar is long, dark, and handsome, and -- in addition to the 400 varieties of tequila and mezcal -- offers Latin-Asian fusion eats, such as charred tuna wonton tacos and spicy crab guacamole. Candles, Persian rugs, and leather banquettes adorn the dim, cozy space, which maintains an upbeat vibe thanks to its house DJs. Feeling extra swanky? You can rent a private tequila locker in the hidden back room, where you're free to store bottles for up to six months, and present a "library card" to a waiter whenever you'd like them to retrieve one for you.
You can expect strictly no-nonsense cocktails at this smart speakeasy in Prospect Heights, which is unmarked on the outside, simply recognized by its white-brick exterior. There's plenty of standing room inside the chic, white-tiled space to accommodate weekend crowds, who head here to enjoy old-fashioned cocktails like the Kentucky Maid (bourbon, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh mint, and cucumber) or the Bartender's Choice (an expertly crafted surprise). But if the bar is already full upon arrival, don't fret -- there's seating in Weather Up's adorable back garden, too.
Set at the center of Soho's Housing Works Bookstore, this cafe offers a voluminous, library-like space in which to enjoy a cup of Intelligentsia coffee, or simply sit for a quick reprieve from the bustle of downtown. Thanks to complimentary WiFi, Brooklyn Brewery lager, and sweet and savory temptations (vegetable paninis, grilled cheese sandwiches, and site-made blueberry muffins), the cafe attracts a wide mix of students, tourists, and regular bookworms. In the evenings, Housing Works organizes everything from trivia and speed dating to podcast events and book signings.
This rock climbing facility is great if you're looking for a fun, in-door activity that still keeps you pretty active. It's a tight spot, but there's enough room to climb. They change up the molds pretty frequently so each time you go you are guaranteed to a different climb.
This museum has everything from dinosaurs, outer space, and even an IMAX theatre. It's a great place for all ages with lots of exhibits showcasing natural wonders of our world. It's a huge space so make sure to be in some comfortable walking shoes.
Part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters opened in 1938 and reflects medieval architecture and art, with over 2,000 works of art and stunning outdoor gardens that are not to be missed.
Located on the banks of the Hudson, The Rusty Knot is decked out with oat wheels, electric lanterns, and Antonio Varga sailor pin-ups. Tropical cocktails like the Singapore Sling or the Mai Tai will cost you, but mainly the next morning -- these dirt-cheap happy hour specials are made strong! Kick back with your Tiki cocktail, and soon you’ll see why this is a go-to place amongst city locals.
This Williamsburg theatre diner is the unique finished product from a foodie- and film-buff-filled team (that also includes the Michelin-starred Chef behind Saul and The Vanderbilt). Consisting of three art house-leaning theaters and a boozy lobby, Nitehawk serves your favorite trending indie movies alongside surprisingly delicious, non-movie-theater-like American fare.