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First-date spots: New Yorkers' favorite spots for an early date

We asked New Yorkers to tell us where they go for a great first date—find out which New York bars, restaurants and culture spots are best for an early date.

 (Photograph: Dominic Perri)
Photograph: Dominic Perri

"The best first date I've been on was at Pacific Standard(82 Fourth Ave between Bergen St and St. Marks Pl, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-858-1951). They have a lot of good beers that aren't very pricey; the vibe is super low-key; and there's enough room so you won't feel crowded or like you're putting your first-date awkwardness on display."—Michele, 30; editor; Boerum Hill, Brooklyn


"Eataly (200 Fifth Ave between 23rd and 24th Sts; 212-229-2560, eataly.com); the busy and exciting atmosphere will help your awkward first date blend into the crowd. Impress him or her with fancy cheeses and prosecco. Once full and giddy take them on a stroll through Madison Square Park and hope to have a lucky moment."—Paul, 27; hedge fund analyst; Lower East Side

 (Photograph: Courtesy flickr.com/Rafael Chamorro)
Photograph: Courtesy flickr.com/Rafael Chamorro

"Corner Bistro (331 W 4th St at Jane St, 212-242-9502) is a great first date spot! Cheap beer and good burgers and always fun people-watching."—Appy, 25; senior program associate; Williamsburg, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

"Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave between Grand and South 1st Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 347-335-0446, maisonpremiere.com) has candlelight ambience and an impressive drink menu. It's always the right amount crowded, and the bartenders will give you a free oyster in case you want to impress your date by showing them you're brave enough to try one."—Jess, 25; research assistant; Williamsburg, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Virginia Rollison)
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

"Calliope(84 E 4th St at Second Ave; 212-260-8484, calliopenyc.com). You can't go wrong with a cute French bistro with awesome food and a decent wine list."—Norman, 25; global merchandise analyst; Bushwick, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Virginia Rollison)
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

"The Shanty (79 Richardson St between Leonard and Lorimer Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-878-3579, nydistilling.com) is on a back street, so it feels like a find (I've never taken anyone there who'd heard of it before), but it's only a few blocks from the Lorimer stop on the L, so not hard to get to. Swank but hardly formal, quiet and cozy but you're seldom all alone. Friendly table service if you want a seat away from the bar. Cocktail menu (made from the gin distilled on the premises) is both tasty and a conversation starter."—Matt, 35; product manager; Ridgewood, Queens

 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak

"Fat Cat (75 Christopher St between Seventh Ave South and Bleecker St; 212-675-7369, fatcatmusic.org) in the West Village. Games are a good ice breaker! I went and played Scrabble on a date and it was really fun, especially because he was Israeli and English was his second language, so I won a lot by a lot which made me feel good about myself."—Sarah, 31; executive assistant; Astoria, Queens


"Full Circle Bar (318 Grand St between Havemeyer St and Marcy Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 347-725-4588, fullcirclebar.com) in Williamsburg for Skee-Ball! If you don't hate the person after that, you could go to Fette Sau(354 Metropolitan Ave between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-963-3404, fettesaubbq.com) or Caracas Arepa Bar (291 Grand St between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; caracasarepabar.comfor dinner."—Kat, 31; project manager; Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Roxana Marroquin)
Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

"My teacher friends and I—we're all pretty much married now—all had successful and awesome dates at Clover Club(210 Smith St between between Baltic and Butler Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-855-7939, cloverclubny.com). It is da bomb and a guaranteed second-date maker."—Chad, 33; teacher; Kensington, Brooklyn


"Greatest NYC first date I ever had: we took the tram over to Roosevelt Island(rioc.ny.gov), which I'd never been to, and walked around. Did you know it actually has a lighthouse? You can walk around the breakwater and look at the sea. It's like a better version of Central Park."—Angharad, 30; art and design PR; Nolita

 (Photograph: Lars Klove/New York City Bicycle Share)
Photograph: Lars Klove/New York City Bicycle Share

"Take a Citi Bike and ride it up from Battery Park (Battery Pl at State St, nycgovparks.org/parks/batterypark) to the High Line (Washington St at Gansevoort St to Tenth Ave at 30th St; 212-206-9922, thehighline.org), and then walk along the park. Or really, just ride anywhere along the West Side Highway."—Jon, 32; engineer; Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Lucy's)
Photograph: Lucy's

“Lucy’s (135 Ave A between St. Marks Pl and E 9th St, 212-673-3824) has a good jukebox, chill vibe and—most importantly—amazing people-watching. Shit-talking is the only thing I do on first dates.”—Selena, 33; comedian and author; Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Doron Gild)
Photograph: Doron Gild

Beloved(674 Manhattan Ave between Bedford and Norman Aves, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 347-457-5448) is the best first-date spot. Some of the finest cocktails I’ve ever had, all made with intriguing ingredients. The decor is romantic and the music rules.”—Bethany, 23; media professional; Greenpoint, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Lauren Ashley Oosterlinck)
Photograph: Lauren Ashley Oosterlinck

Sycamore(1118 Cortelyou Road between Stratford and Westminster Rds, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn; 347-240-5850, sycamorebrooklyn.com) is a nice, quiet place that doubles as a flower shop during the day and a bar at night. They have bouquet-and-beer special and even a reverse happy hour (midnight to 2am!). They have a fantastic backyard, as well as intimate candlelit booths so you can get to know someone a little bit better without the pressure.”—Anny, 25; blog manager; Kensington, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Iwan Baan)
Photograph: Iwan Baan

“I like walking along The High Line(Washington St at Gansevoort St to Tenth Ave at 30th St, thehighline.org) for a first date. While the tourists are looking at the Empire State Building, you can tell your date about why you love the impressive and historic buildings of the General Theological Seminary.”—Dave, 35; actor; Lower East Side

 (Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

“My favorite place for a first date is Tiny’s(135 West Broadway between Duane and Thomas Sts, 212-374-1135). One of the owners is superstar Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. It’s cute and quaint, they have a great wine list, it’s not overcrowded, and it has a great atmosphere.”—Kelly, 36; actor; Tribeca

 (Photographer: Andrew Ingalls)
Photographer: Andrew Ingalls

“My favorite NYC date spot is Uva(1486 Second Ave at 77th St, 212-472-4552). [The food is] delicious, it has a great ambience and is romantic.”—Alix, 32; publicist; Upper East Side


“My favorite first-date place is Cello Wine Bar(229 E 53rd St between Second and Third Aves; 917-475-1131, cellowinebar.com). The atmosphere is warm and intimate, and the wine is fantastic. Also, the small plates are perfect for sharing! This place is tiny, but truly a gem.”—Lesley, 23; travel publicist; Midtown East


Scopello(63 Lafayette Ave between Fulton St and S Elliott Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-852-1100) is my favorite date spot in Brooklyn. The ambience is chill and relaxing. You can have good conversation and great Italian wines that won’t put a hole in your pocket.”—Amore, 41; PR consultant; Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Courtesy Soho Playhouse)
Photograph: Courtesy Soho Playhouse

“My favorite first-date spot is a Saturday night [magic] show at the SoHo Playhouse(15 Vandam St between Sixth Ave and Varick St; 212-627-9800, sohoplayhouse.com) called Strange and Unusual Hobbies. I always have a good time with my date, but it’s early enough that we have a full evening to plan for.”—Remy, 23; magician; Rego Park, Queens

 (Photograph: Roxana Marroquin)
Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

“I had one of the best first dates at Desnuda(122 E 7th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-254-3515, desnudany.com). The place is very intimate, the lighting very dim, the service excellent, and the food amazingly good.”—John, 40; media relations; Forest Hills, Queens


Angel’s Share(8 Stuyvesant St between Second and Third Aves, 212-777-5415) is a wonderful little speakeasy where the cocktails are finessed with the utmost care and creativity. Hidden within a restaurant, the Japanese-themed bar is dark and intimate, and the drinks are named after famous jazz songs.”—MiMi, 23; publicist; midtown

 (Photograph: Jolie Ruben)
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Rubirosa(235 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts, 212-965-0500) is my favorite first-date spot in NYC. It’s a casual restaurant with a solid menu of shareable, nicely executed Italian hits, strong cocktails and a great location. My boyfriend and I had our first date over a plate of gnocchi there and now we’re moving in together, so I think it built things for success.”—Evan, 25; publicist; Greenpoint, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Jessica Lin)
Photograph: Jessica Lin

“My whole family lives in NYC, and most of them live on the Upper East Side. My absolute favorite place for a first date is Pinocchio Ristorante (1748 First Ave between 90th and 91st Sts, 212-828-5810). The place is teeny tiny and is probably first-generation Italian. The best part (other than the food) is that once you’ve been there a few times, the owner knows you by name. I’ve definitely shown up for a first date only to find my 80-year-old grandmother there on a date with her boyfriend.”—Miranda, 25; communications; Upper East Side


“Deja Vu (33-22 28th Ave at 34th St, Astoria, Queens; 718-267-8212) has great music, food and drinks, but most importantly, the vibe is perfect for a first date.”—Dana, 30; small-business owner; Astoria, Queens

 (Photograph: Bex Wade)
Photograph: Bex Wade

Bar Veloce(176 Seventh Ave between 20th and 21st Sts; 212-629-5300, barveloce.com) has good drinks, appetizers, old romantic European movie clips on TV screens, a cozy but light vibe, comfortable lighting and is not too loud, so good for conversation. My husband and I had our first date there!”—Stephanie, 43; business partner and parent; Financial District

 (Photograph: Vik Manchanda)
Photograph: Vik Manchanda

“The pizza-making class at Brick NYC (22 Warren St between Broadway and Church St, 212-577-2725) is the perfect first date. You’re able to make pizza, drink wine and spend time with your date while doing something extremely fun.”—Anoop, 27; marketing coordinator; Lower East Side

 (Photograph: Jessica Lin)
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Bar 13(35 E 13th St at University Pl, 212-979-6677) is the best first-date spot. You can dance, chill on the rooftop and sit at the bar for three separate mini first dates!”—Rodric, 33; travel concierge; Washington Heights

 (Photograph: Jonathan Aprea)
Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

HiFi(169 Ave A between 10th and 11th Sts, 212-420-8392)—the name sounds like sci-fi, and you’ll never hear ‘Hotel California.’”—Ryan, 32; writer; Crown Heights, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Marlene Rounds)
Photograph: Marlene Rounds

“My date’s reaction to the menu at Laut(15 E 17th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway; 212-206-8989, lautnyc.com) tells me a lot about him. I want someone well traveled. The location can’t be beat as far as access and location for a postdate extension.”—Ed, 35; school leader; Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Luciana Golcman)
Photograph: Luciana Golcman

“My favorite first-date place in New York City is Coney Island. There’s something to do in every season, from concerts and rides, to burlesque shows and sideshows, to a stroll on the pier—there’s absolutely nothing stereotypical about a walk on this beach. In vino there may be veritas, but the calming sound of the waves can also get just about anyone to open up…and if they don’t, throw ’em back in!”—Michele, 53; author-actor-storyteller; South Park Slope, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Dear Bushwick(41 Wilson Ave at Melrose St, Bushwick, Brooklyn; 929-234-2344, dearbushwick.com) is the perfect first-date spot for the hard-to-impress. This candlelit little hole-in-the-wall has an intimate and cozy atmosphere, and the delicious cocktails and shared plates will make you look like a baller without breaking your bank.”—Katherine, 23; Web developer; Greenpoint, Brooklyn


Oaxaca Taqueria(16 Extra Pl off 1st St between Bowery and Second Ave; 212-677-3340, oaxacatacos.com) sits in a quiet alley on the Lower East Side. Pick up a six-pack at Whole Foods and sit out front. The staff is sweet and doesn’t mind if you get cozy and stay for a few hours. Impress your date with this mysterious hidden gem—and, of course, the delicious tacos.”—Chelsea, 26; marketing coordinator; Upper West Side

 (Photograph: Sean Ellingson)
Photograph: Sean Ellingson

“[Karaoke bar] Baby Grand(161 Lafayette St between Grand and Howard Sts; 212-219-8110, babygrandnyc.com) is intimate and supportive. The crowd there always bonds to cheer on singers, as do the bartenders, who are amazing and friendly. I like a guy to know right from the beginning what a delusional diva I am.”—Jackie Jax, 39; comic; Upper East Side


William Hallet(36-10 30th Ave between 36th and 37th Sts, Astoria; 718-269-3443, williamhallet.com) has excellent food, good cocktails and a really nice atmosphere. Some nights they play soul and first-wave ska, which is probably some of the best date music ever.”—Ann, 24; student; Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

 (Photograph: Mel Barlow)
Photograph: Mel Barlow

Diner(85 Broadway at Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-3077, dinernyc.com) is a dimly lit converted dining car. It’s romantic, tasty and super cute, with waiters who write your menu directly on the paper tablecloth. It worked on me—I went with my boyfriend on our first date.”—Kirstyn, 27; student; South Park Slope, Brooklyn

Planning a first date is never easy, between worrying about what you'll actually say to your potential match and making sure you select a fantastic spot for your rendezvous. Take the guesswork out of the latter with this list of great first-date spots, as chosen by the people who would know best: New Yorkers. Now all you have to fret over is making sure you don't bring up that horror story from your last first date.

RECOMMENDED: See the best date ideas in New York City