Where To Go When You’re Not Sure If It’s A Date
10 spots where you can grab a drink and figure out if someone likes you.
One day, someone from your book club might ask if you want to get a drink, and you won’t be sure if it’s because you give off a lonely vibe or if they’re open to the idea of signing a lease with you. When you don’t know if it’s a get-together or a date, try one of these spots. They aren’t too pricey or intimate, but they're nicer and cooler than the pub by your office.
More people should know about Primo’s. This Tribeca bar looks like the fancy wood-trimmed lobby of an Art Deco hotel, and it never seems to get too crowded, even on weekends. With its quality soundtrack and velvet furniture, Primo's is equal parts cool and low-key, and it’s perfect for when you want to impress someone without seeming like you’re desperate for their approval (although maybe you are, and that's fine).
South Soho Bar
South Soho Bar is dark, but it isn’t overtly romantic. The little space is right next door to The Tyger (South Soho’s sister restaurant), and it has a long bar, a massive shelf of booze, and a couple of booths that are useful for semi-private conversations. Beverage options range from a few relatively cheap beers (Bud, Genesee, etc.) to a variety of classic cocktails, and there’s a menu of snacks like fries and fancy chicken nuggets.
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Just like you, Accidental Bar is fun and quirky. They specialize in sake here, and the menu is full of tasting notes like “karaoke!” and “vesper martini vibes!” The Alphabet City space has the feel of a trendy studio apartment that was converted into a bar, and there are a few snacks like scallop crudo and pickled vegetables that you can pair with sake.
photo credit: Briana Balducci
Sauced isn’t one of those wine bars where you’ll only see first dates and couples trying to keep the magic alive with pinot grigio. This cozy, brick-lined Williamsburg spot feels like a neighborhood bar that just happens to specialize in wine. There’s no physical wine list, but the bartender will help you pick from whatever they’re pouring that day. If the weather’s nice, take your drinks to the backyard.
Want to keep things friendly? Go to Harlem Hops, and spend an hour or two nerding over hard-to-find craft beers. Make small talk about your favorite upstate brewery while your drinking companion takes the high road and pretends to listen. You won’t find a better beer selection in the neighborhood, and the nice, sport bar-adjacent room is appropriate for both casual dates and platonic hangs.
Le Dive is the town square of Dimes Square. It’s where you go to drink wine and hang out around a bunch of people who secretly want to become TikTok famous, and it’s a good place to start any kind of night. You can have a martini at the bar in the tiny bistro-like space, or you can sit at a table on the patio, eat steak tartare, and drink some natural wine.
Everyone likes King Tai. The house cocktails are great and start at $12, and the Crown Heights space feels like a cross between a 1950s diner and a small shack you’d find on a beach. To save a little money, stop by for Happy Hour, which runs until 8pm every day. If things go well and you wind up coming across as a normal adult human being, linger until a DJ shows up.
photo credit: Nick Johnson
With its stucco walls and vintage light fixtures, Greenpoint’s Bar Americano is, admittedly, kind of romantic. Keep things casual, and grab a few seats at the quartz-topped bar. To avoid any awkward candlelit silences, order the fried chicken sandwich that comes drenched in maple syrup, and be sure to get the house appletini. It’ll make you seem fun and interesting, and it’s the best appletini in town.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
As Is NYC
Midtown needs more places like As Is. A big open room with potted plants and brick walls, this bar is great for anything from pre-theater drinks to a big group hang with your Tuesday night running club. The staff is friendly, the bar food is better than you expect, and there’s always a great beer section, with wine and cocktail options as well.
photo credit: Brent Herrig
Musette Wine Bar
If you aren’t sure what kind of night you’re supposed to plan, go to Musette. At this Harlem wine bar, you can either drink a quick glass of wine or snack on some cheese and charcuterie while you do the whole “Siblings?” thing. The big windows looking out onto the street keep the cafe-like space from feeling weirdly intimate, and there are plenty of little two-person tables.