Dates by time of day

Whether you're an early bird or a night owl, there's a date to fit into your busy schedule.

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  • Mercer Kitchen

  • Mercer Kitchen

  • Mercer Kitchen

Mercer Kitchen

Morning dates

Asian breakfast and Brazilian jujitsu
Even samurai warriors know that breakfast is the fiercest meal of the day. Drag your lazy self out of bed to take advantage of the Asian rendition (brown rice, broiled salmon, pickles and miso soup; $18.50) offered from 7 to 10:30am at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill (308 W 58th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves; 212-397-0404, blueribbonrestaurants.com). The mix of lean protein and carbs is just the fuel you’ll need to tackle a Brazilian jujitsu class at Premier Martial Arts New York (780 Eighth Ave between 47th and 48th Sts; 212-957-4045, 4blackbelt.com; Sat 11am--noon; $35, first class free with website coupon). The class focuses on grappling and ground fighting and will get you more physically tangled up with your date than an intense game of Twister. And you’ll quickly discover which one of you is the dominant one.

Tennis and baked goodies
Quit making googly eyes at one another long enough to play a heated game of singles on one of the indoor clay courts at Prospect Park Tennis Center (corner of Coney Island and Parkside Aves, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn; 718-436-2500, prospectpark.org/tennis; reservations recommended a week in advance); the early-bird special (Mon--Wed 6--7am) will run you just $26 for an hour of court time (racket rental $5, three tennis balls $5). Remember, love means nothing to a tennis player. You’ll have plenty of time to be affectionate postmatch as you catch the sunrise (in early December, you can spot it around 7:05am) and stroll hand in hand through the park en route to family-run Cousin John’s Caf & Bakery (70 Seventh Ave between Berkeley and Lincoln Pls, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-622-7333, cousinjohnsbakery.com). Canoodle at a table on the balcony to watch bakers prepare the day’s cakes and pastries in the open kitchen, while you nibble on a warm muffin and sip a latte.

Afternoon dates

Sexy flavors and bold art
Wannabe Padmas and Toms should enjoy Jean-George Vongerichten’s complex flavor profiles at Mercer Kitchen (99 Prince St at Mercer St; 212-966-5454, jean-georges.com). Savvy diners can enjoy a three-course feast for a pittance with the weekday $26 prix-fixe lunchtime deal. Though the menu changes weekly, options have included a tarte flamb with caramelized bacon and onion, grilled salmon with spicy-sweet mustard, and carrot cake with passion-mango mousse. Next, stimulate your mind by viewing artist Kristin Baker’s “Splitting Twilight,” up through December 19 at Deitch Projects (18 Wooster St between Canal and Grand Sts; 212-343-7300, deitch.com). Comment thoughtfully on her textured, graphic landscape paintings before hightailing it home to see what other territory needs exploring.

Ping-Pong and exotic scoops
Some flirty competition is totally hot, but full-on sweating? Not so much. Balance the two with a low-impact game of Ping-Pong at New York Table Tennis Federation (384 Broadway between Walker and White Sts; 212-966-2922, nyttf.com). The venue has ten tables that are rented on a first-come, first-served basis (one hour $10, includes paddles and balls). Cool down with an icy treat from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St between Bowery and Mott St; 212-608-4170, chinatownicecreamfactory.com), known for exotic homemade flavors like black sesame, lychee and Zen butter (scoop $3.75).

Late-night dates

Whiskey flights and dner kebab
You could order a can of Pabst and a shot of Wild Turkey ($7) at The Whiskey Ward (121 Essex St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-477-2998, thewhiskeyward.com). But impress your date and get just as drunk with whiskey flights instead: three one-ounce pours of single-malts, ryes and small-batch bourbons ($14--$22). Once you’re properly liquored up, select your favorite song on the juke and shoot pool. Around now you’ll be flirting—and in need of something to soak up the booze. Coat your stomach with falafel (plate $5.50) and tender dner kebab ($6) at 24-hour Middle Eastern kebab joint Bereket (187 E Houston St at Orchard St, 212-475-7700), because puking doesn’t make a good first impression.

Jazz and oysters
For a seriously sexy weekend evening, check out one of the late jazz sets at The Bar Next Door (129 MacDougal St between W 3rd and W 4th Sts; 212-529-5945, lalanternacaffe.com; Fri, Sat 11pm, 12:30am; $6--$12 plus one- drink minimum), a snug candlelit lair underneath Italian eatery La Lanterna di Vittorio. If the fireplace and bluesy tunes aren’t enough to get your hormones pumping, head to Bongo West Village (395 West St at 10th St; 212-675-6555, bongonyc.com) for your requisite aphrodisiac fix of raw oysters (half dozen $18, baker’s dozen $36). Last call for food is 3:30am, but you can chase creative cocktails like the Bongo Snowball (Zyr vodka poured over homemade lemon Italian ice, $14) until 4am. Where the night takes you from there is entirely up to you.

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