Where To Have A Low-Key Date Night
Romance means different things to different people, and if the idea of making eyes at someone over a plate of overpriced pasta and a pair of taper candles makes you want to gag, we have some better ideas. These are our favorite low-key date night spots for when you don’t need to impress or go over the top, but you still want to have a special meal with a person you like-like.
This Greenpoint spot feels like a cool library, except you’re allowed to eat, drink, and talk as loud as you want. If you and your date are into goblins, gargoyles, and/or dark academia vibes, you’ll really like The Buttery Bar. If you like not-boring seasonal food and unusual wine and beer lists, you’ll positively love it. Come here for funky pet-nats, elevated salads substantial enough to be meals unto themselves, and some of the best desserts this side of the East River. The booth seating is perfect for a romantic tête-à-tête.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Located in a cavernous space reminiscent of a ‘90s art loft, Studio 151 is like a house party thrown by someone with impeccable taste in records. This Alphabet City restaurant is technically a speakeasy, but unlike other IYKYK spots, it offers an $80 omakase that rivals options triple the price. Since there are only four seats at the omakase counter, intimacy is guaranteed—then you can move the date to one of the giant couches for a second round of handrolls and cocktails.
photo credit: Adam Friedlander
This neighborhood spot in Ridgewood, opened by five friends who met while working together at Gramercy Tavern, is part Italian bakery and part restaurant. This is the kind of cool, casual place where you’ll run into neighborhood regulars, so it’s the ideal spot to go for a weeknight date if you live in the area. Expect to eat a bunch of really good wood-fired breads, meats, and vegetables, and get cozy by the glow of the wood fired oven.
This pizza place in Astoria is casual and affordable enough for a weeknight dinner, but they serve the sort of food that you’ll look forward to eating on a weekend. It’s a step up from grabbing a slice at your local corner joint, but not so fussy that you’ll need to put on a whole outfit to have dinner here. This is our choice for date nights when you need to find an excuse to drag yourselves out of the bed you’ve been lounging in for entirely too long.
When you’re in Windsor Terrace and you want burgers, wings, and mac and cheese that are just good enough to be slightly better than what you’d make at home, this is the place to go. The Double Windsor is everything we want in a neighborhood gastropub, from the casual feel to the rotating draft list and better-than-you-expect-it-to-be food. Come here when you want to drink a bunch of beers and have a deep conversation with your date.
The kitsch appeal of having date night at Katz’s is never-ending, especially if you manage to snag *that* table. You know the one. We recommend having at least one early-stage date night at Katz’s so you know upfront exactly how much pastrami your potential life partner is capable of consuming. This is also a good pick for nights when you thought you could get a walk-in at some cool restaurant on the Lower East Side but have been turned away by one host after another.
photo credit: Zenith Richards
NR is an Upper East Side ramen and cocktail bar with Gucci wallpaper and flaming cocktails. If this sounds gimmicky to you, we promise, it’s actually a very chill spot. You don’t need to get dressed up or make a reservation, and by the end of the meal, you’ll feel like your server is a longtime friend. Come here for big bowls of noodle soup and strong, inventive cocktails that will make you feel comfortable telling your date exactly what you want to do afterwards.