These days, date night either means a Zoom chat with someone you exchanged several words with on an app, or a glass of wine across from a person who occasionally wakes up at 6am and watches you sleep. But you should still make an effort (or at least make an effort to make an effort). Try complimenting your date’s personality or Zoom background, and consider ordering some food from a place that’ll remind you how romantic you used to be, when your days consisted of more than just baking experiments and Wild ’n Out reruns on YouTube.
Minton’s is a historic jazz club in Harlem, and, obviously, live music is part of the appeal of this place. Fortunately for you, it’s the 21st century, and things like the “internet” and “Spotify” exist. So find a live jazz playlist, turn it on, and order some rum punch, a plate of rigatoni, and a ribeye steak from Minton’s. It obviously won’t be quite the same as sitting at Minton’s, but it’ll be infinitely more pleasant than your standard jazz-less stay-at-home dinner.
Typically, Sisters is perfect for a first date, because it’s the kind of place where you can either eat a full meal or drink a few cocktails while you listen to your date talk about the healing properties of dog ownership. Unfortunately, the dining room at this Bed-Stuy spot is closed at the moment, but you can still order a burger, a fried chicken sandwich, and a bottle of rosé for pickup or delivery. So set up a Zoom date or email date or whatever people are doing now, and add some cocktails to your order, if you suspect they’ll be necessary.
Red velvet pancakes are, perhaps, the most romantic pancakes, and Chocolate in Harlem serves them with a side of fried chicken. You can even get them for dinner - and you absolutely should, especially if you’re trying to show someone that you care about their happiness and wellbeing. Add some lamb chops, crab cakes, or a burger, and that’s a fairly well-rounded meal. You can place your order online, or give the restaurant a call at 212-222-4545.
This self-proclaimed “neighborhood ham bar” wasn’t open for long before the city shut down and eating in restaurants became a fond and somewhat painful memory. So there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never been to this Prospect Lefferts Gardens spot. If that’s the case, order some charcuterie, cheese, and craft beer for your next indoor date night. They have plenty of all these things for pickup and delivery, and they also have eggs and bacon, in case you’d like to set the mood with an omelet.
You’re going to try to make your own pizza at some point - and it might turn out pretty good. But you also might lose focus halfway through, resulting in you feeding your significant other a rhombus of soggy dough. And, honestly, the ensuing fight might ultimately be good for your relationship. Just know that you can skip it altogether and get delivery from Ops. Their fluffy sourdough crust is superior to whatever you’d make at home, and the square pie will make you forget that you’re now essentially Tom Hanks in Castaway (but with a talking Wilson).
Breezes Island Grill Restaurant and Lounge
If you’re looking to have a seafood-centric date night around Brookeville, try Breezes Island Grill. It’s a Caribbean spot where you can grab some shrimp, jerk salmon, or a massive seafood platter with crab legs, lobster, mussels, and scallops. Or, if you’d like to go the land-based route, you can get some oxtails or jerk pork. This place is open for pickup and delivery, and you can reach them at 917-685-8673.
When a cat brings you a bird, it’s a symbol of love and respect. And, seeing as how your significant other is starting to resent the fact that you spend most of your day watching old episodes of Billy On The Street, we’re going to need you to do the exact same thing. Get a whole Beijing duck from Hwa Yuan, then take your shirt off, and help your partner wrap each piece of crispy duck in a thin crepe like that one guy who eventually became a ghost in the movie Ghost.
Joloff is one of the best restaurants in Bed-Stuy, which is a pretty meaningful statement, seeing as how Bed-Stuy is full of great food. It’s a great place to sit across from a date and have a quiet conversation while you eat some mafe ganar over a pile of fluffy jollof - and the good news is, you can still get their food delivered to your home. You can also still make conversation with a date at home, and if you need some tips as to what you can talk about, start with how much you miss hanging out at Joloff. And don’t forget to order some fried yuca for the table or ottoman or whatever you’re eating on.
As you’ve learned from several thousand hours of observing your children, people don’t like to share everything all the time. So instead of offering your partner a fork and the other half of a pan of sauteed spinach, order a couple of dosiraks from Kochi. These set meals come with rice, kimchi, a soft boiled egg, various vegetables, and your choice of steak, salmon, or a bunch of proteins.
Maybe you normally would have had plans to go to the Beatrice Inn this week, sit in a big leather booth beneath an oil painting, and split a tomahawk steak with the only person who gets a little tongue when you kiss. That, unfortunately, is going to have to wait - but you can still get that steak delivered to your apartment. Or, if you want a piece of meat that’s a little more manageable, you can also get a New York strip, half a duck, or dry-aged burger with caramelized onions. As a beverage pairing, add a bottle of Champagne to your order.
Bricks & Hops Beer Garden
You can’t go to a bar or beer garden right now, so turn your home into one of those things. Open a few windows, play some music at a volume that only slightly disturbs your neighbors, and place an order at Bricks & Hops. For food, we’re thinking wings, calamari, empanadas, nachos, and mozzarella sticks - and get a few beers and Henny coladas to accompany this fine spread of edible things. Call 718-450-3991, or place a delivery order online.
Remember sitting on a stool at Wildair, drinking some kind of natural wine you’d only recently heard of, and sharing a few small plates with a date? If you miss that as much as we do, order in and try to recreate the experience at home. Wildair and its sister restaurant Contra are currently consolidated into one takeout entity, offering things like crab congee, lamb birria, and wagyu steak salad. Tall stools like the ones at Wildair would also be ideal for this, but if you don’t have those, you can at least order a few bottles of wine and try to get one of your roommates or children to act like a sommelier.
The backyard at Wayla makes most other date spots look like the dystopian version of NYC inhabited by Snake Plissken in Escape From New York. And you can relive at least half of the experience on your rooftop or fire escape. Just lay down a nice blanket, tell your significant other that you’ve been thinking a lot about them lately and not just because they’re around every time you open your eyes, and get delivery from Wayla. Try the crab fried rice and impeccably spiced curry.
The strategy for this Oaxacan spot in Gowanus is fairly similar to the one with Wayla - because both places have incredible food and attractive backyards that are ideal for nine out of ten romantic scenarios. In order to recreate Claro’s, we suggest a few folding chairs, a set of string lights, and some kind foliage to hang overhead. We also suggest you get some molo negro, a tostada, and the quesadillas de tinga. And throw in a mezcal flight or a few frozen margaritas.
The good news is, your apartment is probably just as cramped as Le French Diner, a tiny French date spot on the Lower East Side. So order some octopus, a steak with a side of cheesy potato gratin, and do a reenactment of the last time you were there. Try turning the lights down a bit, lighting a few candles, and feeding your date a bite of those cheesy potatoes without burning their mouth.
Birds Of A Feather is the ideal place to order from when you want to cover your table in more delicious things than you can possibly eat in one (romantic) evening. Pork dumplings in chili oil, pan-fried pork buns, and mapo tofu, for example. You should also get the Chungking chicken littered with so many chilis you could probably repurpose a few for your next night’s dinner. Just place your order, find your nicest plates, and ask your loved one to admire the bounty you’ve produced.
During this period when you’re forced to cut your significant other’s hair and deal with the inevitable fallout, it’s important to remember that St. Anselm is still open. The next time you give an especially poor and shameful haircut, order a butcher steak and pan-fried mashed potatoes to serve as a distraction. Say something like, “Please, don’t look in the mirror. Smell this steak instead.”
Make a white tablecloth out of something. A few t-shirts sewn together, for example, or a bedsheet that’s reasonably clean. Once you’ve done that, find a nice Spotify playlist. Something classy, with, like, violins or soft acoustic guitars or something. Next, order a caesar salad, some veal milanese, and spaghettini al limone from Sandros on the Upper East Side. As for conversation, try discussing the latest birds you’ve seen outside your apartment window or your favorite way to do laundry in the sink.
Somewhere out there, there’s a museum of great scents. And we have to assume that Adda’s butter chicken has a pedestal there and perhaps a full-scale wax model. Order some, and dab a bit behind your ears and along your jawline. You should also order the lamb curry and at least one biryani, in case you finish the butter chicken while your significant other prepares for your date by putting on clean clothing.
There are plenty of things you can make at home with ingredients sourced from the nearest grocery store. Sushi is, most likely, not one of them. That’s why you need Sushi Dojo right now. Just imagine placing an order for a few of their omakase options involving things like uni, toro, and Tasmanian trout. You’d be a hero. Parades would happen for you once a week in your living room. And date night would feel more like a night out and less like another evening eating cold fridge cheese off a communal plate.
Perhaps you have a Zoom date later, and you’d like to be viewed as a person of taste and distinction. The easiest way to accomplish this is by ordering from Red Hook Tavern. Their thick burger draped in cheese is one of the best things you’ll encounter between two halves of a bun, and the wedge salad with thick-cut bacon has been known to heighten romantic feelings. We lied about that last part, but, in all seriousness, if you get a bottle or two from Red Hook Tavern’s natural wine list, you’re all set.
Sometimes, you don’t realize how much you love something until it’s gone. Other times, you’re fully aware of how much you love something, because it’s amazing, and you aren’t a fool. Korean barbecue falls into that camp. And so does your significant other. (In that order.) Bring the two together by ordering some marinated galbi from Samwon Garden. Or get their care package with short rib, pork belly, several stews, and a bunch of sides. It allegedly feeds up to six people, but you and your date don’t play games like that.
Picture this: you’re sitting on a barstool in your kitchen, and you lit a few candles to communicate the fact that you’re making an effort. In the background, Frank Ocean or Sam Cooke are singing about various things you assume are romantic, and you gently pick up a piece of fried chicken to pretend that you’re feeding it to a Zoom date. Or maybe you’re feeding it to someone who’s actually in the room. In that case, this person will take a bite of this fried chicken, look deeply into your eyes, and ask if you got collard greens as well. The answer should be yes, and they should be from Melba’s in Harlem.
One or two-course date nights were fine back when you could leave the house, try out new handshakes with friends, and open Instagram without seeing several loaves of fresh bread. But now you need more. Tito Rad’s, a classic Filipino spot in Sunnyside, is the solution. Have a 10-course date night with garlic fried rice, lumpiang Shanghai, sizzling sisig, a tangy bowl of milkfish sinigang, and whatever else is calling out to you like an oddly sexual mermaid creature on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the sea.
Several months ago, you would’ve brought a date to Evelina, hugged awkwardly at the front door, then shared some squid ink tonnarelli while discussing your favorite brands of toothpaste. And you can still sort of do that, at least the tonnarelli part. Evelina has a bunch of different pastas for pickup and delivery, as well as some stuff like burrata, octopus, and bottles of wine - and they’re also selling bottled cocktails, in case you prefer to consume your mezcal in bulk.