New York is home to thousands of restaurants and bars. It also has a notoriously fast-paced, full-on dating culture.
Choosing the perfect place to go can be pretty overwhelming.
So, I consulted the good people of the BuzzFeed NYC office, about their go-to first date spots in this crazy city we call home. Here's what they said:
1. Lovers of Today, East Village
I'm all about Lovers of Today. The speakeasy is located down an alley and, therefore, tends to be a little quieter than its neighboring East Village bars. The drink menu is on point, the bartenders are friendly, and the light is dim enough to feel intimate. Plus, you can't beat the BOGO til 8pm happy hour. Try the Hong Kong Garden cocktail!
2. Extra Fancy, Williamsburg
Extra Fancy has both great cocktails and delicious food so you can start with a drink and if it goes well, move on to dinner. It not, you have an escape.
4. The Bearded Lady, Prospect Heights
It's a cute little corner bar right on Washington, so it's easy to get to. They have a good candle situation in there, which makes it pretty cozy, and fairly big windows for people watching. Good cocktails, good location, and fun snacks (cheeses and grilled cheeses and things). Also, it's pretty small, so it doesn't get that loud, and you can actually hear your date talk.
5. Apotheke, Chinatown
It's a great speakeasy with apothecary-inspired decorations at the end of a hidden street in Chinatown. They have amazing cocktails (Kale In Comparison is a must), the bartenders are super nice, they usually have live music (best Cuban band on Thursdays) and enough space for dancing.
6. June, Cobble Hill
Just a really cute and cozy wine bar, if you're in the mood for a bit more of a classy first date.
7. Shalel Lounge, Upper West Side
Shalel Lounge is a super fun, dark, candle-lit basement restaurant.
8. Weather Up, Prospect Heights
It's like an oldschool speakeasy. Delicious/cool cocktails (good for conversation starters), and fun 50s atmosphere.
9. The Penrose, Upper East Side
Love the Penrose on the UES! The food is awesome, they have a great drink selection, and it's a bit quieter than most places so you can actually have a conversation.
10. Parm, multiple locations
Parm for the ice cream cake and a beer or glass of wine, because if someone does not enjoy the happy 80s/90s music and ice cream, that's a red flag.
11. Berg'n, Crown Heights
Berg'n in Crown Heights is great — it's a food hall so you guys can pay for your own food/drinks; lots of food options so you don't have to just decide on one; the music is almost always great; and there's lots of seating so it's a no-wait space.
12. Dear Irving, Union Square
Dear Irving has great cocktails and a very chill vibe. You have to make reservations and it feels super fancy inside. It’s the type of place a guy who's definitely trying to impress you would take you.
13. Henry's Public, Brooklyn Heights
This is such an old-school classic bar; it feels like you should be able to smoke cigars in there. Definitely more of a fall/winter bar than a summer bar, because it's dark wood and a classically warm, inviting atmosphere. The cocktails are pretty expensive (like $13), but it's nice to just get one and then do whatever you want after depending on vibe. They also have really good food, especially their turkey burger and shoestring fries!
14. Boulton & Watt, Lower East Side
They have a big bar, so you can start your night there, or, if you want to sit at a table, they let you just sit and get drinks without having to order food. The cocktails are delicious and fancy enough to feel date-ish, and then, if it's going well, they have great munchies. Or if you want to go somewhere else for dinner, you're in a great spot to go find food. Also, the vibe is very cozy and date-like — it's pretty dim lighting, dark wood paneling, and they have these big windows that are great for LES people watching.
15. Barcade, multiple locations
My favorite place in all of Brooklyn is Barcade in Williamsburg, which is also the perfect first date spot because dating awkwardness is completely avoidable there. As opposed to other bars and restaurants where you have to sit and stare at your new acquaintance, Barcade is filled with old-fashioned video games like Pac-Man and Tetris that make long pauses and uncomfortable conversations a thing of the dating past. They also have a ton of beers on tap beers on tap. Plus, everything is relatively cheap, with each game costing no more than a quarter or two.
16. Fat Cat, West Village
Fat Cat is fun! Lots of games to play, live jazz, and a nice low key environment.
17. E's Bar, Upper West Side
E's Bar on the UWS is great. It's always crowded-ish, but never so crowded that you can't get a seat. Also there's Connect-4, so if it turns out you have nothing to talk about, at least you have something to do.
18. Brooklyn Crab, Red Hook
Brooklyn Crab for great seafood, cheap beer, an awesome view, and nice dive bars around for after too!
19. The Highline, Chelsea
It's not a bar, but I enjoyed grabbing an ice cream sandwich at a stall while walking along the High Line. That was dreamy.
20. Dynaco, Bed-Stuy
Dynaco in Bed-Stuy is cozy and cool and they serve big slices of cake.
21. 61 Local, Cobble Hill
It's a beer hall vibe, but it doesn't feel too big or overwhelming. They have a fairly good-sized bar, plus a bunch of long communal tables. Great for meeting an online date if you really aren't sure what you want out of it, because it's definitely not that private. They have good drinking munchies, and full dinners if you want (lots of American/farm-to-table type food). Also good location so you can head somewhere else in Cobble Hill after for drinks.
22. The Dram Shop, Park Slope
It's basically an upscale sports bar. It's nice dim lighting, with a cozy dark wood bar and tables, and they have games (darts, pool, etc.) if you want or need an icebreaker. They have an outdoor twinkly lights area, too, which is great in summer — and good munchies (mac and cheese balls) if you want some food.
23. Pinkberry, multiple locations
I like Pinkberry because it’s no pressure. You know you’re going to spend like $5. And best of all, you can pick up the entire tab and not feel like sh*t if your date sucks. It’s totally a great option when you’re looking to just feel the person out and not empty your entire wallet and walk away feeling broke and let-down.