Sure, the Empire State Building Observatory at night is a romantic spot, but it skews a bit rom-com traditional. So when you’re visiting the City or if you’re living here and looking for new inspiration, why not try a New York–style date night courtesy of those who know best?
We asked a few locals to share their favorite go-to spots across the five boroughs, trying to go beyond the old standbys. Whether you’re here for your honeymoon or have been dutifully swiping away the second you turned off airplane mode, check out the spots our New Yorkers chose for your next city rendezvous.
A Parisian, Gluten-Free Bakery Before Museum Hopping
1260 Madison Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan
What makes it a good date spot: “As someone with celiac disease, dining can definitely be stressful due to my dietary restrictions. Noglu is a gluten-free bakery located on the Upper East Side that I love going to with my boyfriend. The pastries and lunch items (like croissants and croque monsieurs) rival their gluten-filled counterparts when it comes to taste, and they're also pretty enough to be Instagrammed. Plus, the bakery is within walking distance of Central Park, The Met and The Guggenheim, so there’s plenty to do in the area before or after you dine.” —Christina, 34, met boyfriend in college
Plan your next move: As this spot is walking distance from Central Park, we recommend taking your pastries to go and having a picnic on the first nice day of the year.
A Tapas Spot with Authentic Spanish Charm
3708 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, Bronx
What makes it a good date spot: “Tin Marin's delicious tapas, sangria and overall ambiance make it one of my favorite date night spots. It has a vast selection of cocktails and wines (the red sangria is otherworldly), and its food menu is a homage to Spain, with gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), pinchos and, of course, paella. Whether you are splitting tapas at the bar or a pitcher of sangria cozied up at a booth, I think you and your date are guaranteed a great time.” —Meghan, 32, met fiancé during the pandemic
Have some accompaniment: This place has live music in the evening on Thursdays through Mondays; check their Instagram for the lineup.
A Wine Bar with Great Happy Hour Deals
The Ten Bells
247 Broome St., Lower East Side, Manhattan, and 65 Irving Ave,, Bushwick, Brooklyn
What makes it a good date spot: “This place had been on my radar prior to moving to Brooklyn last year, but Ten Bells is my favorite date spot because it's super cozy, has a great wine list and has one of the best happy hours—affordable carafes, dollar oysters, discounted tapas—in my humble opinion.” —Georgie, 26, in a relationship
Take it outside: The Brooklyn location has a relaxed outdoor patio that everyone should take advantage of when the first nice spring day hits.
An Experience That Puts Your Culinary (and Collaborative) Skills to the Test
Taste Buds Kitchen
109 W. 27th St., Chelsea, Manhattan
What makes it a good date spot: “It’s a fun, unique date idea: making food from scratch that you then can enjoy together after. What better way to spend time with someone than cooking?” —Jon, 35, soon to be married in a scarily/excitingly small number of days
Three or more is a crowd: All their classes are BYOB, so thinking ahead and pairing a wine with whatever dish your class will be making is a solid idea. And unless you’re paying extra for a private table for you and your date, you’ll be cooking and eating “family-style” with a few other patrons.
A Mini Golf Place with Street Food and Cocktails
35 W. 29th St., Nomad, Manhattan
What makes it a good date spot: “I’m not the biggest mini golf enthusiast but had a blast when I went to Swingers the other night. Even if you’re not into golfing, the food trucks and yummy cocktails alone are worth going to. Plus, it’s definitely a nice break from always having a dinner date.” —Jane, 27, actually found someone on a dating app
It’s OK to go off course: While you can try to buy a ticket for mini golf the same day you are going, buying one in advance guarantees you play. And hey, if golf’s not your thing, take heart that Swingers also features DJs and a lively bar.
An Iconic Waterfront Spot
Gantry Plaza State Park
4-09 47th Rd., Long Island City, Queens
What makes it a good date spot: “Gantry Plaza State Park is a big stretch of waterfront in Long Island City. Even if you’re not familiar with it by name, you may have seen its iconic Pepsi-Cola sign from the FDR. (If you’re coming from the City, the ferry ride is an adventure in itself.) The area has beautiful views of Manhattan, and is surrounded by great food and brewery options.” —Samantha, 31, cohabiting with the cutest puppy...and her boyfriend
Meet new friends: On clear weekend nights, you’ll find people setting up telescopes for some stargazing, and they are usually nice enough to let you look as well.
A Good Ole Neighborhood Bar
Silver Light Tavern
689 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Why it’s a good date spot: “I go on a lot of first dates, and this is one of my go-to spots. Sometimes first dates can feel awkward, so I like that it’s dimly lit and private enough that you’re not worried about people listening in on your conversation. It’s an inexpensive place that has plenty of drink options and a good food menu, so your date will find something they like.” —Jim, 30, enjoying fun and footloose dating
Mix it up: The cocktail game at Silver Light Tavern is strong. We recommend the Cactus Jack (with tequila, Aperol, maple-cinnamon and sweet vermouth) or the Upstate Cider (infused with bourbon or rum).
A Staten Island Restaurant Loved By Pete Davidson
1801 Hylan Blvd., Dongan Hills, Staten Island
What makes it a good date spot:“There aren’t many rooftop spots in Staten Island, and this one is definitely one of the nicer places to go when it’s warmer outside. They have a great selection of coal-fired pizzas, and it an inexpensive place to go for a delicious dinner.” —Gabby, 21, with high school prom date for three years and counting
Pie in the sky: Yes, this is the restaurant where Pete Davidson took Kim Kardashian on “the date.” And with good reason—Campania’s pizza selection and pasta dishes make the trek to Staten Island 100 percent worth it. Picks include the salsiccia pizza (made with sausage and broccoli rabe) and the gnocchi Italiana (buffalo-ricotta-stuffed gnocchi with pesto, tomato sauce and fresh burrata.)
A Trendy Cocktail Bar with Fun Bartenders
988 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Why it’s a good spot: “My favorite part of Sama Street is the bar seating. The bartenders are very friendly and they’ll make sure you and your date are having a good time. They’re always happy to recommend a cocktail or make one based on what you like. Did I mention the food is great too? There’s also table seating if you’d rather a more intimate setting.” —Ian, 30, who claims, “My girlfriend is the author and made me do this”
Make an advance...reservation: Sama Street attracts a crowd, so we recommend booking ahead, especially if you want table seating. Do try the Asian-inspired cocktails like the Same Same But Different (tequila, dill aquavit, mint, turmeric, coconut and fish sauce) and small plates such as the satay skewers and flat noodles.
An Upscale Italian Restaurant Close to the Water
46-10 Center Blvd., Long Island City, Queens
Why it’s a good spot: “[Maiella] has a beautifully decorated bar and has delicious Italian food. It’s fine dining at its...finest! After the date you can take a walk on the LIC pier right behind the restaurant. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, [head across the water into Manhattan and then] take the Roosevelt Island Tram to Roosevelt island for the best views in between Queens and Manhattan.” —Cat, 26, single and using JSwipe
Get fresh: Menu highlights include their tableside-prepared pastas, such as the cacio e pepe and tagliatelle al tartufo.