Claim a spot along the oak bar at this classy joint, which is outfitted with vintage wallpaper and the pages of an old-timey etiquette text. Sample one of the pre-Prohibition quaffs and share a few appetizers. The spot takes its name from the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin’s ship. The “Charles” and “Emma” printed on the bathroom doors are nods to the naturalist and his novelist wife; here’s hoping you and your date will one day achieve such power-couple status.
Grab a sweet treat from this small East Village shop, the brick-and-mortar cousin of the beloved ice-cream truck. The store’s decor—a giant unicorn mural bedazzled with 6,000 Swarovski crystals—is sure to inspire conversation, as are the quirky desserts on offer. Try the decadent Salty Pimp, a chocolate-dipped vanilla cone with dulce de leche and sea salt.
If your beloved is a beer fan, win major points by bringing him or her to this subterranean gastropub. A selection of 12 stellar craft and microbrews is always on tap, with both locals and other standout purveyors represented. But don’t down those beers on an empty stomach: Share a few of the bar’s hearty small plates to help keep your wits about you.
Probably the city’s premier small spot for sit-down audiences, Joe’s Pub (named for Joseph Papp, the founder of its parent, the Public Theater) brings in impeccable talent of all genres and origins. While some well-established names play here—Ute Lemper, Bettye LaVette, Mike Daisey—Joe’s also lends its stage to up-and-comers. A small but solid menu and deep bar selections seal the deal—just keep an eye on the drink prices.
Sara Jenkins slings top-notch pork sandwiches at her standing-room-only shop Porchetta, but her latest venture is more date-night appropriate. Take a seat at a cork-tile table decorated with potted herbs and sample one of the unfussy pasta dishes, like toothsome anelloni rings tossed with wilted mustard greens and house-made spicy lamb sausage.
This offshoot of the original Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea can’t be beat for a cheap and hilarious date. Plus, you’ll look especially cool to your honey on the off chance that a big-name comedian shows up (Aziz Ansari, SNL’s Bobby Moynihan and UCB cofounder Amy Poehler have all dropped by for past shows).