Cheap dinner dates and romantic restaurants in New York

You don’t need to spend a ton of cash to have a great—and cheap!—dinner date. Treat your sweetie to a great night out for less than $50 at these romantic, affordable spots.

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Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

Cheap dinner:The Wayland

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Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

Cheap dinner: Nom Wah Tea Parlor

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap dinner: Brooklyn Wok Shop

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap dinner: Brooklyn Wok Shop

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap dinner: Brooklyn Wok Shop

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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Cheap dinner: Ramen Misoya

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap dinner: Nights & Weekends

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap dinner:Nights & Weekends

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Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Cheap dinner: Calyer

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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Cheap dinner: Parm

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap dinner: Fort Reno

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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Cheap dinner: Salón Hecho

Figuring out where to eat on a date needn’t be stressful—or pricey. Check out nine of our favorite restaurants for a date: These noteworthy spots don’t skimp on atmosphere, and you can plan a dinner date for $50 or less.

The Wayland

Critics' pick

Plan a casual evening at this Loisaida spot, which occupies the former Banjo Jim’s space. The spirit of that honky-tonk joint remains alive with eclectic tunes on the speakers and an upright piano that hosts the occasional jam session. The menu abounds with ambitious bar snacks, including olives marinated in rosemary, red pepper and citrus ($5), and a salad of shaved brussels sprouts ($8), simply dressed with lemon and honey. Hearty sandwiches ($9–$12) are the real draw; we like the pernil romero ($10), a heap of slow-roasted pork shoulder marinated in sour-orange juice and garlic, served on a crunchy baguette. Embrace the space’s divey history and down a few $5 Miller High Life longnecks.

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East Village

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Critics' pick

This classic dim sum institution—the oldest in the city—is enjoying a renaissance following a 2010 overhaul. The food is fresher than the dollar-dumpling competition, but the prices remain pleasingly low. Order several plates to get the most bang for your buck: Start with a steamed sampler ($9.95) of traditional shrimp and pork shumai and dumplings, and add on dishes such as the ultra-fluffy oversize roasted-pork bun ($1.25), the flaky fried crêpe egg roll ($3.95) and the tender eggplant ($3.50) stuffed with a spiced shrimp-and-squid mixture.

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Chinatown

Brooklyn Wok Shop

Chef Edric Har (Le Bernardin, Veritas) and his wife, Melissa, are behind this locavore eatery, an urban romantic’s alternative to scarfing takeout on the couch. Sample glossy versions of Chinese-American staples, such as General Tso’s chicken ($11.50) or wonton soup ($12.75), a meaty broth studded with bite-size bundles of shrimp and pork, served with house-made egg noodles. Conclude with a luscious coconut-banana pudding ($4).

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Williamsburg

Ramen Misoya

This Japanese import specializes in miso: Blown-up photos depicting giant wooden vats of the stuff adorn the narrow, stripped-down space, and the menu showcases three renowned regional styles of the fermented soybean paste. A bowl of shiro miso char siu ($13.80) offers a good value: The filling dish combines slightly sweet shiro miso broth with crispy fried tofu, thin slices of pork loin, scallions and fresh egg noodles. Couples will want to spring for the gyoza ($4.50), pan-fried pork dumplings served with a soy–chili-oil dipping sauce. • (misoyanyc.com)

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East Village

Nights and Weekends

Critics' pick

Escapist boozing takes center stage at this breezy barroom, where the team behind Five Leaves offers an impressionistic ode to the West Indies and Latin America. Try the Sun Also Rises: The drink ($10) takes inspiration from Papa Hemingway’s favored tipple, the daiquiri, combining aged Flor de Caña rum with fresh lime juice, maraschino cherries and absinthe. Fortify yourselves with options from the menu of elevated bar snacks, all of which clock in at less than $15: We like the mariquitas pie ($12), a playful nacho riff that tops fried plantains with black beans, queso fresco and smoked-chili salsa, and the tempura-style rock shrimp ($10), served with a fiery orange-chili aioli.

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Greenpoint

Calyer

This affable neighborhood spot, the latest venture from the team behind Anella and Saint Vitus, looks to Latin America as muse. Chef Gabriel Moya dishes out composed, shareable plates that are as pretty as they are affordable: Try the duck confit terrine ($11) and scallop ceviche with sweet-potato puree ($14). Vegetarians can sample dishes like blackened carrots with forbidden rice, wood sorrel and hibiscus gastrique ($9), or broccoli rabe and baby potatoes served with aioli ($9). • (calyerbrooklyn.com)

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Greenpoint

Parm

Critics' pick

The retro offshoot of Torrisi Italian Specialties is a charming dinner-date spot, outfitted with wallpaper from the 1950s, neon signs, Formica and red swivel barstools. Hearty, satisfying updates to homey Italian-American classics—such as a slab of baked ziti ($12) that’s crisped on the flattop before serving—are especially gratifying, with few dishes priced higher than $15. Add on a couple of appetizers, such as garlic bread ($5) or crisp fried calamari ($12), and remember to save room for dessert: The showstopping ice-cream cake ($11) is a towering slice, with tricolor layers (green pistachio, pink strawberry and dark-brown chocolate), white rosettes of whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles and a maraschino cherry on top. • (parmnyc.com)

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Nolita

Salón Hecho

Evoking the hip taverns of urban Mexico, this spin-off of Hecho en Dumbo goes back to that restaurant’s Brooklyn roots, with upmarket Mexican street food, and raucous live music and DJs on the weekends. The inexpensive menu—nothing is more than $10—is limited to six items: Pair a few orders of tortitas ($8), two torta sliders served on brioche, with the hot-dog callejero ($4), a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped dog topped with fresh chopped tomato, jalapeño and onion. Skip the pricier drinks and sip on a refreshing michelada ($6), made with either light or dark Mexican beer (or a combination of the two).

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Downtown

Fort Reno

Satisfying ’cue comes to Park Slope, courtesy of Jacques Gautier, who owns the Pan-Latin joint Palo Santo just across the street. The cozy digs are kitted out with communal tables, making it easy to split hulking portions of meat. You can get pulled pork ($6–$19) or brisket ($8–$24) by the quarter, half or full pound, along with racks of St. Louis–style ribs ($9–$29), served on brown butcher paper. Round out your order with down-home sides (two for $4), including baked beans that incorporate burnt ends, and slow-cooked collard greens.

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Park Slope

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