10 Perfect Dates in NYC

A not-so-modest proposal for how to save love’s most romantic gesture.

Photo by Adrian Gaut/Courtesy of The Grill

Tinder might be useful for finding a date (of a sort). But wouldn’t it be great if the app we love to hate followed up with ideas for where to actually go—especially once you were in, like, a relationship? That’s never going to happen, so let us be your IRL date guide. Here are some of our favorite spots for New Yorkers to enjoy each other across a table. The rest is up to you.

When the kids are at camp…

When there’s no sitter on the clock, you can indulge in a lazy evening that combines relaxation with hedonism. Begin with soaks, steams, and massages at Aire Ancient Baths, a seductive yet low-key Tribeca hammam. The candlelit subterranean space feels like it’s from another millennium—where better to get lost in a secret nook tucked into those thermal pools before your 60-minute Holistic Ritual? Afterward, book at New York’s hottest, most indulgent restaurant of the moment, Frenchette. The French food is fearless and the room is fun—even a snug table in the bar area feels like a vacation if you forgot to reserve ahead. (We will note: It gets loud.) The next thing you know, it might be closing time.

nyc date night ideas
Photo courtesy of Frenchette

When you only have two hours…

Get the Le Bernardin experience without the three-plus-hour mealtime (and price tag). The lounge is a little-known gem where you can have a perfect glass of wine or champagne and a couple of sexy bites—try the caviar croque monsieur—and call it a night. All this without a reservation! (Though, of course, it never hurts to be on the safe side and call ahead.)

nyc date night ideas
Photo by Daniel Krieger/Courtesy of Le Bernardin

When you want to remind them why they fell in love with you…

There’s nothing like getting dressed up for a snazzy night out to make you feel that old date-night frisson. Right now, nowhere is sexier and more exciting than The Grill—even if you’re just sitting at the bar nursing a martini. Sure, it’s total showbiz, and the bill will make you swoon (not in a good way). But sometimes you’ve got to pull out the big guns. That is to say: the silver prime rib trolley.

nyc date night ideas
Photo by Adrian Gaut/Courtesy of The Grill

When you want to be the youngest people there (and you’re 40)…

A meal at La Grenouille is simply restorative. At first, you might attribute it to the elegant room, the breathtaking flowers, the old-school service, and those flawless soufflés. But by the time your sole meunière arrives, you’ll have put your finger on it: It seems as though no one here is under 65. And that magically makes you look better than even the most flattering lighting. Enjoy!

Photo by Kathryn S. via Yelp

When you actually want to talk—without being interrupted every five minutes…

The bad thing about “good” restaurants is that the servers turn your meal into a 20-act play—one in which you can never remember your lines from the previous act. The Japanese restaurant Kajitsu is so quiet you could hear a chopstick tumble. The decor, too, is ultra-minimalist, allowing you to focus on your significant other’s significant thoughts. And the set menu of vegetarian temple cuisine is delicate and beautiful, so you won’t be too full to, well, continue the conversation at home. 

Photo courtesy of Kajitsu Shojin Cuisine/Facebook

First date…

It’s worth braving the crowds to grab a drink at the new Flatiron District rooftop bar the Broken Shaker, atop the Freehand Hotel. The truly fabulous space serves equally transporting cocktails, which are as creative as they get (try the Poppyseed Bagel Fizz). Order some small plates or head downstairs to the Studio or Simon and the Whale for dinner. And if the crowd is just too much (and the George Washington Bar downstairs is crowded, too), just cozy up on a couch on the mezzanine and get to know each other alfresco.

Photo by Adrian Gaut

Third date…

If you’re looking for a romantic bar that doesn’t feel like New York—or even this century—try Williamsburg’s gorgeous Hotel Delmano. Standing is not allowed, which alleviates shouting and lets you get right to the point. Ask for a table in one of the seductive nooks in back, order a dozen oysters and a Smoke and Flowers cocktail, and let the evening take you where it may.

Courtesy of Hotel Delmano

Group date…

All good things come to those who reserve ahead. Like seats at the subterranean Tokyo Record Bar in Greenwich Village. There are two to three seatings nightly, during which you’ll be fed snack-y bites of Japanese pub food, served a suite of creative cocktails, and given free rein over the vinyl collection to create a custom playlist. Afterward, you’d be smart to share a bottle upstairs at Air’s Champagne Parlor: The owner prices her list just above retail, allowing your gang to indulge in some rare treats. 

Cosmo at Tokyo Record Bar. Photo by Noah Fecks

Day date…

While the schooner that is the floating oyster bar Grand Banks might be impossibly packed after 5 p.m., if you go for lunch or a midafternoon cocktail, chances are high that you’ll be able to sprawl out à deux on the deck and work on your tans while you toast the Statue of Liberty. The lobster rolls (and fries) are excellent, and the oysters couldn’t be fresher. Also nice? A bit of caviar while snuggled in the bow.

Photo courtesy of GRAND BANKS/Facebook

Girl date…

With its fresh, creative vegetarian food, hippie-modern decor, and so-good-for-you juices and tonics, the vibes at ABCV are just right for lady dates. (In fact, a glance around the dining room reveals few males—single men, take note!) Its shareable menu lends itself to long meals, as you catch up over a dosa, Sun Gold tomatoes with peach, a whole roasted cauliflower, and a vegan matcha crème brûlée.

Photo courtesy of ABCV/Facebook

Read on for more drink and date suggestions in one of the most romantic NYC neighborhoods.