So you live in New York or are visiting soon and you want to know the best date night restaurants? No matter how long you’ve been together, what you’re celebrating or what you’re doing, Manhattan has a big array of dining options to make whatever evening you’re looking to have a success. From farm-to-table dinners to the best steaks on the planet, try one (or all!) of these go-to spots before the year is up:
Best For Post-Workout Date: Foragers Table
Location: Chelsea, 22nd and 8th
New York’s workout scene is growing rapidly, so it only makes sense that farm-to-table fresh ingredients would make their way to the food scene, too. The European-looking Foragers Market has a seasonal menu at their restaurant, Foragers Table. After you work out with your date – might we suggest boxing or indoor cycling as a go-to couples’ workout – book a table here for organic, locally-sourced dishes.
The spot: As you approach the corner of 22nd and 8th, you’ll see the modern and sleek storefront and might miss the side entrance to the restaurant. But once you do find it, you’ll feel right at home with dim lighting, pops of color, and comfortable seating. One side of the restaurant is made of glass, allowing natural light to flow into the space, so opt for a space to the right if you can. And bonus points if you can sit there during sunset.
The food: For an easy, nostalgic dish, try the Deviled Foragers Farm Eggs. They’ll bring you right back to family gatherings and potlucks, and may even encourage sharing a story or two from your childhood (which science says helps you connect to your partner!). The King Crab Salad is definitely big enough to share for two, and you’ll want to scoop up the extra flavor of the sauce. The duck breast has a compound of flavors, with the polenta being a surprising, yet welcomed side component. Hands down the best thing you have to try with your date? The Maple Coconut Tres Leches is seriously phenomenal with a punch of spice. And hey, you just worked off all those calories, why not indulge?
Best For a Summer Sunset Date: Jue Lan Club
Location: Flatiron, 20th and 6th
If you’re looking for a place to meet your new love after work for a quick (or long) bite, the centrally-located Jue Lan Club is a smart – and conversation-striking – option. It’s not too far from any of the major metros, and has the kind of outdoor seating diners swoon over. The menu is inspired with asian influences and has an option for any type of diet. Not to mention a bursting wine selection.
The spot: What’s cool about Jue Lan Club, which recently opened in December of 2015, is the history of the space. Once the legendary Limelight nightclub now is a bustling restaurant with seven dining spaces, all curated with memorabilia from the 1980’s night life scene. Though sitting outside in their garden is recommended – especially at sunset for a romantic moment – make sure to wander around the space just to see the art!
The food: Boasting tons of flavor and diversity, there’s everything from dim sum to steak on this multidimensional menu. But if you’re wanting to share with your date and have a more intimate experience, start with the Bone Marrow and Prawn Dumplings, which as their name suggests, doesn’t disappoint. For the main event, a good call is anything seafood, as they specialize in compound flavors and preparations. The steamed whole fish and drunken black bass are tasty choices, both with enough food to not warrant a side. But hey, if you want one – the bok choy with ginger and garlic is so good you’ll wish it was a full meal. The restaurant will also send out a sommelier for you to pair a wine for your meal – and it’s highly recommended, especially with so many spices and flavors.
Best For An Anniversary Date or Milestone: Beautique Dining
Location: Midtown East, next door to the Plaza Hotel, 58th and 5th
If you’re celebrating a big moment in your relationship – an engagement, an anniversary, a promotion – there’s no better way to indulge than going to a restaurant that literally takes you away. If you can’t hop a flight to Paris (oh, if only!) – your next best option is the relatively new Beautique. Even looking at their website you’ll get the sense of romance, charm, and sophistication that the restaurant offers. White tablecloths, dim lighting, and soft booths all make it a place to really simmer in love.
The spot: With Beautique’s location, you can really turn your celebration into an all night affair. Central Park and the Plaza are both a block away, which are both great locations for a post-dinner experience. Walk up Central Park East or South, or grab a drink at The Plaza – that is if you have room after your multi-course meal. Make sure you don’t miss the entrance though – it’s right next to the legendary Paris Theater, and you go downstairs to find the restaurant.
The food: With an extensive wine menu, ask the sommelier to start you off a few glasses of champagne before pairing the right wine with your meal. The menu is pretty classic with familiar faves like tuna tartare, meatballs, and grilled octopus. You can’t go wrong with any of the selections, though their signature salad comes with a housemade vinaigrette that’s amazing. For dinner – since you’re indulging! – go for the Filet Mignon. Yes, both of you – go for the Filet Mignon! For sides, the roasted colored potato grenaille with rosemary may sound like something you’ve had a million times – but it’s actually full of flavor. End the night with another glass of champagne – and toast to all that’s to come in your relationship (if you can move after all the food, that is!)
Best For a New York-Esque Date: David Burke Kitchen
Location: Soho, Grand Street, and Avenue of the Americas
Even if you’ve lived in New York for years or your whole life, there’s still something so magical about the city. And for those moments when you want to take your typical takeout-for-two to fine dining and have a night celebrating Manhattan, David Burke’s Kitchen is your ticket. It has that New York feel that so many visit to find, and lucky for you, it’s in your backyard (or ya know, a few subway stops away).
The spot: Technically in Soho, David Burke’s Kitchen is on the border of Chinatown, so when you walk outside from the city grunge to a modern, bright space, you really feel like you have found a hidden gem. As you go downstairs, you’ll see an interesting shaped dining room, and in the warmer months, an outdoor garden. With dim lighting and ample bar space, it’s really ideal for grabbing a drink together or having a full meal. After dinner, there are tons of lounges, dance clubs, and speakeasies to continue your Big Apple date night.
The food: David Burke has a way with shared plates, which will make the ‘What do you want?’ conversation easier to have on your date. Start with the Pineapple Carpaccio, Tuna Tartare, and the Foie & Duck Pate – both excellent. For dinner, note that the portions are pretty big for standard fine dining, and the Jurgielewicz Farms Duck Breast was really the star of the menu. It’s never a bad idea to ask the sommelier for his recommendations – especially if you want to try wines from varying regions. Finish with the Cheesecake Ball Tree (yes, really!) – because how can you not? Skip the bubblegum whipped cream that comes with it, since your date is already sweet enough.
Best For the Foodie Couple: Petrossian
Location: Midtown, 57th and 7th
One of the most appealing things for transplanters who pack it all up and move to Manhattan is New York’s ability to always surprise you. And regardless if you’d lived here for two months or 15 years, Petrossian is one of those restaurants that you’ll be glad you checked off your list. You really do have to like fish and caviar to get the most out of the experience, so grab your foodie boyfriend or girlfriend and reserve a table for an anniversary night, a birthday or special event.
The spot: Just a block from Central Park and a few from Columbus Circle, this restaurant is in the heart of what’s considered one of New York’s most romantic areas. It definitely feels that way as you enter the restaurant (the outside itself will stun you): white tablecloths, mood lighting, and old architecture with art deco accents will turn on the starry-eyes for both of you.
The food: Though you can order a la carte, the Chef’s Tasting Menu with the wine pairing is really the way to go. Eat light for lunch though, because 10+ plates of all sorts of dishes will be a lot to stomach in one evening. From amuse bouche and fole gras chocolate to tartare and lobster and so much more, you will truly get a taste of everything. They are very generous here – with the caviar, the truffle, and the wine, making you feel incredibly special on your special night. Fun fact: they bake great desserts next door, so stop by for a take-home treat on your way back home for Netflix and chill.
Best For Meeting the Parents: Ocean Prime
Location: Midtown, 51st and Avenue of the Americas
When you’ve finally hit that point in your relationship when it’s time to introduce one another to the parents, you need to visit a restaurant that’s low-key but high-class, and the iconic Ocean Prime is just that. With tall ceilings, exceptional service, and a long history of only serving the best, your parents won’t only be impressed by your new bae but by the food, too. It’s a special night, and though Ocean Prime is definitely on the more expensive end of restaurants, it’s worth the splurge for the quality and the experience.
The spot: Just a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Times Square, Ocean Prime is in the heart of high-traffic tourist areas, which is what makes its relaxed and somber ambiance that much more surprising. It’s a large restaurant – plenty of private spaces and a spacious bar – but it’s also very quiet, making you feel relaxed the second you walk in the door. Ask the hostess for a curved booth downstairs that will allow you to share those how-we-met-and-fell-in-love stories without anyone having to strain their neck.
The food: Your mama (or their mama) has never seen a cocktail quite like Ocean Prime’s signature Berries and Bubbly drink. We don’t want to spoil the surprise that comes with this amazing drink, but trust us, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience when they bring it to the table. For food, the calamari and surf-and-turf appetizers are seasoned to perfection, while any fish you pick on the menu will be a star. Note the portion size is pretty big, so try not to fill up on small plates before the main event. While not on the menu, ask your waiter for the Warm Butter Bread with ice cream at the end of your meal. It’s what New York dreams are made of.
Best For a Double Date Night: Del Frisco’s Grille
Location: Midtown, 50th and Avenue of the Americas
It’s often hard to find a place in New York that’s not-too-fancy or takes themselves too seriously, but still has great food. It often feels like you have to sacrifice flavor or price, but with Del Frisco’s Grille, you get the best of both worlds: casual-esque dining with upscale food. With many TV screens, comfy couches, and plenty of room for big parties, this seems like an ideal go-to spot for double dates. (Or when you’re finally ready to introduce your new partner to your friends!)
The spot: In the heart of midtown, just a few steps away from the iconic Rockefeller Center, New Yorkers might turn their nose up initially to this location, but once they taste the food, they’ll change their tune. It’s smack dab in the middle of midtown, making it easy to meet up after work, regardless if you work in Chelsea or near Times Square. The ambiance isn’t stuffy and the crowd is mixed, so you don’t have to worry too much about what to wear before heading out the door.
The food: Another reason this restaurant is ideal for a double date is the portions: everything is definitely shareable. You have to try the Fried Calamari that’s cooked Shanghai Style, giving it an extra kick of jalapeno. The lump crabcake is also more than enough to go around, and with it’s cajun lobster sauce, you’ll keep going back for another bite. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Filet Mignon with some truly decadent sides: truffled mac & cheese and the shaved brussel sprouts are highly recommended.
Lindsay Tigar is a 26-year-old single writer, editor, and blogger living in New York City. She started her popular dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, after one too many terrible dates with tall, emotionally unavailable men (her personal weakness) and is now developing a book about it, represented by the James Fitzgerald Agency. She writes for eHarmony, YourTango, REDBOOK, and more. When she isn’t writing, you can find her in a boxing or yoga class, booking her next trip, sipping red wine with friends or walking her cute pup, Lucy.