Best Cheap Dates in New York City
by Time Out New York staff , 02/02/2010
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See the Himalayas in front of a roaring fire
Sitting by a roaring hearth is an excellent way to melt the iciest of hearts: Toast your honey fireside with red wine ($16 for two) and French-onion-soup sandwiches—melted Gruyère on garlic-rubbed country bread with au jus ($28 for two) at Tillman's. Whisk your lover to the Himalayas, sans frostbite, by trekking nine short blocks to the Rubin Museum of Art, which waives the cost of admission for its Nepalese, Indian, Chinese and Bhutanese collections from 7 until 10pm on Friday nights. After taking in supersized paintings of Hindu goddesses, regale your mate with tales of the abominable snowman over $5 beers and live jazz at the museum’s K2 lounge.
All-American date: brgr and Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
Want to watch your crush open wide without looking like a pervert? Order jaw-stretching, junky burgers topped with American cheese, grilled onions and fried egg ($16 for two) at brgr. Sharing chocolate-chip cookies ($3 for three) and blueberry-pomegranate milk shakes ($11 for two) should pass off your oral fixation as an innocent all-American feast. Don’t worry, you won’t be clobbered by giant balloons gone astray at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre’s improv show, while you guzzle $2 PBRs. Reservations recommended.
New Leaf Café and Fort Tryon’s Heather Garden
Instead of foraging for acorns, wild mushrooms and nonpoisonous berries in Central Park, show off your nature-buff side by booking a table for two at New Leaf Restaurant and Bar. Housed in a restored ’30s stable, the cottage-like outpost pairs dishes such as eggs carbonara ($40 for two) with leafy views of the surrounding wilds of Fort Tryon Park. During warmer months, meander through Fort Tryon’s Heather Garden, a romantically English patch lush with blossoms, heaths and brooms. Meet at the stone pillars at the Margaret Corbin Circle entrance.
L’Express and Black Duck
Go out for a night of international intrigue with a Parisian meal and a free Bond film. Due to the weak dollar, whisking your amant to Paris might only be possible in a lucid dream, but at Gramercy spot L’Express you can at least pretend that you’re idling at a Left Bank bistro. Clink glasses of La Fin du Monde beer ($14 for two) and discuss Proust over quiche Lorraine ($16 for two). Continue your night of international intrigue with free Sunday night James Bond flicks at the swanky Black Duck. Pay tribute to the lady-killing secret agent with shaken-not-stirred martinis ($20 for two) before asking your mate to choreograph a steamy dance for the opening-credits tune.
Dog-lovers date: Mexican and drinks
Let your pooch sniff out your date’s compatibility while you pick up takeaway beef taco platters ($14 for two) and Negro Modelo cerveza ($4 for two) at Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery (215 Ave A between 13th and 14th Sts, 212-780-9204). Then nosh at the off–leash dog run in Tompkins Square Park—four blocks away—where other creatures in heat should provide inspiration. Consider marking your lover as your turf over Tijuana specials, Tecate beer and tequila shots ($20 for four), at canine-friendly, low–key spot Cherry Tavern. If you decide to part ways, leverage your adorable pet’s animal magnetism to gather new digits.
Satsko and Pianos
Elegant 40-seat sake bar Satsko—an offshoot of the same-named East Village joint—offers a three-course prix fixe ($40 for two) that’s much more palatable than MSG-laden instant ramen. Sink into one of the red brocade banquettes, sip a glass of rice wine and graze on refined Pan-Asian fare such as sirloin steak with wasabi-mashed potatoes. The included dessert of almond, green tea and shiso crème brûlée or homemade lychee ice cream is rich enough to distract from your ozone-thin wallet. Bypass the earplug-requiring indie-rock bands at Pianos—three streets away—and duck into its quiet upstairs haunt.
White Horse Tavern and the horse races
Guzzle a few pints ($7) at the venerable White Horse Tavern, while fueling up on shepherd’s pie ($7.50) and buttery grilled cheese ($6.25). Head to Aqueduct Race Track (110-00 Rockaway Blvd at 110th St, South Ozone Park, Queens; 718-641-4700). There’s no entrance fee, so you can blow all your bucks on bets.
Grand Central walking tour and Whispering Gallery
Head to Grand Central Terminal and take your beau on the self-guided walking tour, taking advantage of the suggestively titled Kissing Room on track 39/42. Test out the famous Whispering Gallery (dining concourse near the Oyster Bar & Restaurant): Stand in an opposite corner from your date and murmur sweet nothings—or dirty somethings.
Veggie Thai and a movie
Show that you’re no flesh-crazed savage by dining at veggie eatery Pukk. Pair faux-chicken green curry ($7) with ersatz duck drenched in spicy basil sauce ($8) and two bottles of Singha ($4 each). Meat may be murder, but so is breaking hearts with a pickaxe. Hit up the Regal Union Square (850 Broadway, between 13th and 14th Sts; 212-253-6266) for a late-night flick ($15 each).
Burgers and Barcade in Williamsburg
Split mac and cheese ($14) and a burger ($12.50) at DuMont, while you share stories from your geeky childhoods. At Barcade, show off your skills with old-school video games like Tapper (heh) and Moon Patrol (heh heh). Then go home and make better sexual innuendos than those. Games 25¢; beers $5–$6.
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