It all starts out so well. You’ve picked an awesome place for dinner, the meal is great, the conversation is easy, you’ve found out you have tons of things in common (you both like exercise! and music!), and you both want to keep the night going. SUCCESS.
But then you stop, a cold chill runs down your spine, and you realize you have no idea where the f*ck to take this person next. You were so caught up in picking out a dinner place you didn’t even think about where to drink afterwards.
Don’t let this be you. The one-two punch, dinner-then-drinks date is your proven road to date night glory, whether it’s your third date or thirtieth. And we’ve plotted all the best ones out for you. We can’t promise these plans will convince someone to go home with you, but we can promise they’ll be a rock solid foundation on which to seal the deal.
the one-two punches
It’s been scientifically proven that any given date has zero percent chance of going wrong if a Rubirosa vodka pizza is involved. The sausage cavatelli certainly won’t hurt either. And OK, throw in an order of the arancini. And the mozzarella sticks. And a tiramisu. The leftovers will just be an excuse for needing to wake up in the same place tomorrow.
Polished but not trying too hard, The Daily is a great bar move not only because of the strong drink selection and cushy booths, but also because it feels like Don Draper would have loved it here. And Don Draper certainly knows his way around a date.
Speaking of a time when cigarettes were good for you, what ever happened to taking someone out for a nice steak dinner? Instagram and green juice happened. But Quality Eats is here to bring the steakhouse experience into 2016 - meaning it looks nothing like a steakhouse. It’s fun, it’s vibey, and there’s ice cream with birthday cake crutons. In other words, it’s perfect for your Instagram. And for your date.
You ate some steak, you finally remember what it’s like to have red meat coursing through your veins, and all you want to do is keep the good vibes rolling. Do it at Fedora - this is what date success looks like: stiff drinks, a dark room, and action everywhere.
While on a date, a lot of things are running through your mind. You’re thinking about whether you can picture yourself with this person - Will you be excited to travel with them? Will you have the same apartment decorating style? Will they like your pet gerbil? A trip to Llama Inn can help you with at least the first two questions. It’s basically the next-best thing to a trip to Peru, and the place looks like something you’d see in whatever the hip version of Architectural Digest is. Oh, and the food is highly tasty - adventurous enough to be fun, but not so adventurous that it’s intimidating.
Next stop on the gold medal third date tour: Night Of Joy. It’s basically a cocktail dive bar that feels like a cool Grandma’s living room. And if that doesn’t sound like a place to seal the deal, we don’t know what to tell you.
If you’re looking for a place to have a salad and split a poached chicken breast, keep it moving. There are two ways to do a date right at Virginia’s, and they both involve going big. Option one: settle into a table and and get familiar with the duck rillettes, the richest butternut squash risotto you’ll ever eat, and the panna cotta. Option two: grab two seats at the bar and get familiar with the insanely good burger (you can only order it there). Either way, don’t pass up your chance at the excellent wine list.
Walk a few steps down Avenue C and you’ll arrive at Mace, which has the benefit of being a new-ish East Village cocktail bar your date probably hasn’t already been to 27 times.
So, you’re really into this person you just started seeing, but you checked your text history and realized you sent them somewhere in the ballpark of 75 emojis yesterday. Time to hit the breaks. You want to come off as easygoing and natural, not high on fourth-date success fumes. The move here is a casual sushi dinner at Kanoyma - it’s reasonably priced, the fish is great, and the environment keeps things simple. Do make a reservation, though - just because you're proving you're “chill” doesn't mean you have to be dumb.
After sushi time, it’s sake time. Head down the stairs past the “On Air” sign and you’ll end up in one of the coolest bar rooms in the city. It feels like a speakeasy, only, you know, more chill.
Taking a date to Al Di La is basically like taking them to meet your grandma - it’s the ultimate test of whether they’re right for you or not. With its insanely good rustic Italian food and insanely charming dining room, it’s the kind of place you’d kind of have to be soulless not to love. If your date doesn’t eat every last scrap of Tagliatelle Al Ragu, you’ll know it’s time to move on.
If they pass the Al Di La test, it’s time to celebrate with drinks. Walk a couple blocks to Blueprint, home of the best Negroni in Park Slope. Ok, so that’s not exactly that tough of a title to win, but this is the kind of place where the bartenders know what they’re doing.
Ready to get out of your pasta/pizza/sushi rut? We get it, we all fall into date night restaurant habits. If you’re ready for something new, try Timna, an Israeli fusion spot where you can get things like bread in a flowerpot, burrata, ravioli, and ceviche, all under one roof. It might sound a little manic, but it works really well.
The Wayland has long been a date night go-to, and Goodnight Sonny (opened by the same people) is following precisely in its footsteps: good cocktails, good crowd, good vibes.
We call this move: the bar-THEN-dinner date. It’s called being unexpected, people, and your date will love it. Hotel Delmano is one of our favorite bars in the entire city - it’s charming without being cute, it’s sexy without trying too hard, and it just feels like one of those places where good things happen. Start the night off here (on the early side, as you may have to wait later on), with their excellent cocktails and raw bar/charcuterie offerings.
Once you’ve worked up a proper appetite with drinks and the kind of snacks that only make you hungrier, make your way right across the street to Colette and order one thing and one thing only: the burger. The conventional thing would be to split it, but get crazy and each order your own. Trust us, you’re going to want it.
France really has it all figured out. Their wine is better than ours, their cheese is better than ours, their language is sexier than ours - we could go on. Wildair brings a little sliver of that cool, casual French dining sensibility to New York, and we only wish there were more places like it. While the food is great, and the wines are unique, this is really a place where you can just sit back and focus on the person across from you. Better make it someone you really like.
Before you roll your eyes at yet another unmarked, you-don't-know-unless-you-know, doorman-guarded speakeasy, know that while Attaboy is all of those things, it’s also really great. It can be tough to get in, but once you do, the drinks and space make it all worth it.
We don’t find ourselves in this situation very often, but sometimes you don’t want to feel so ridiculously full after a meal that you can’t function as a normal human being in society - let alone on a date. Tapas are the answer here - a little bit of this, a little bit of that, nothing too big or unwieldy - and El Quinto Pino is one of our favorite places to consume them.
As you might expect, Danny Meyer runs a tight ship at his cocktail spot - everything from the design, to the menu, to the cute aprons all the bartenders wear is carefully designed for an ideal drinking experience.
We love Post Office for dinner, but maybe you’re not yet at the point in your relationship where you want your date to watch you house a chicken liver bacon sandwich. So here’s the move: head to Traif first - it may not be trendy anymore, but that’s why we love it. It flies pretty under the radar, but still has some of the best food in the area, and the small plates are all awesome for sharing. What better way to show off your generosity than by letting her have the last bite? Just don’t get the ribs - you’ll probably throw a tantrum if she tries to take the last one.
If there’s one thing you guys are going to have to agree on, it’s an appreciation for whiskey. Or fine, at least alcohol. And if you sense yourself getting a little out of hand, you know what to do - get that chicken liver bacon sandwich.
Are you a cool young person who enjoys eating at cool young people restaurants? You and your date will probably like Kiki’s. While it’s very much a neighborhood restaurant, Kiki’s has the vibe of being distinctly cooler than you, but in a way that almost makes you want to win its approval. As for the food, it’s straightforward Greek favorites. Come armed with breath mints.
Beverly’s is where you go when you’re really sick of $16 mixology nonsense. It's not a dive, but it's also not fancy. Show your date you don’t need a bacon-infused Manhattan to have a good time.
Prune is a brunch legend - it’s the holy grail of places people are willing to wait hours for to get some scrambled eggs and pancakes. While its mythical brunch status is a real pain when you’re actually trying to get brunch, it also thankfully distracts people from the fact that dinner here is just as excellent. At night, it feels like a charming little French bistro, with food that’s different than what you’ll see at most other places, but that you’ll be very excited to eat. Dinner at Prune is a pro move - use it accordingly.
Continue the theme of knowing what the f*ck you’re doing by walking a block and a half to Bar Goto in the Lower East Side. It’s an awesome, tiny Japanese cocktail den - if one of you is female, the purse cubbies alone will impress.
Battersby is probably a place you’ve been meaning to check off your list forever - do yourself a favor and make it a point for your next big date. The food is just as good now as it was years ago when everyone lost their minds over it because it was a restaurant in Brooklyn competing with the best of the best in Manhattan. Things have changed, but Battersby hasn’t.
After the slightly cramped quarters at Battersby, you need a bar where you can sit back and relax, and Brooklyn Social is as perfect a neighborhood bar as they come - casual, cool, and a little sexy.
When planning a dinner date, you have some tough choices to make. Do you go classic, or do you go new? It’s like choosing between George Clooney and Ryan Gosling - impossible. But the beauty of the one-two punch is that you don’t have to choose. Combine something classic with something trendier for one perfect evening. Start off at Marlow & Sons, which, like George, has only gotten better with time. Whether you’re just getting some wine and oysters, or going full-on meal with the brick chicken, you can count on Marlow & Sons to deliver an excellent experience.
For the Gosling element of the evening, we nominate Loosie Rouge. The music is bumpin’, everyone has an accent, and the cutoff age appears to be around twenty-seven. Your night has come full circle.