So, you swiped right, or they said yes—now what? As any New Yorker can tell you, your first date destination can have a major influence on whether or not you get a second date. Just call us Cupid: we’ve rounded up Manhattan’s most perfect first date bars sure to earn you some points (or at least give you a good buzz).
Bar, American, Pub Grub, $$$
Lois, New York | Courtesy of Lois, credit: Paul Wagtouitz
You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy this spot, which makes the East Village’s Lois an ideal (and more importantly, non-intimidating) first date destination. Here, the bar’s take on the wine bar experience is nearly as refreshing as its wines on tap—you read that right. Pouring a rotating selection of draft wines, Lois keeps prices low, vibes casual, and the good times (and vines!) flowing.
For a memorable venue for what will (hopefully) be a date worth remembering, this 1920s-themed Japanese cocktail bar fits the bill. Japanese takes on Western dishes (plus low-key romantic vibes) are what’s on the menu at Bar Moga. With its friendly bartenders and exciting menu items such as the popular omurice, hamburger steak with demi-glace sauce, and cocktails featuring aged plum liqueur and barley shochu, Moga invites you to try something new together, knowing you can’t go wrong.
While the rest of New York flocks to Chelsea Market, you can escort your date to the more intimate (sexy) below-ground bar, The Tippler—and earn major points in the process. Taking in the bar’s speakeasy vibes, complete with vintage library décor and repurposed antique fixtures, you and your company will feel as though you’re sharing a private secret. Best of all, if you’re feeling a strong connection (or The Tippler’s even stronger drinks), Chelsea Market and its wealth of dining options are just upstairs.
This Greenwich Village wine bar, which has topped off many a “date night destinations” roundup, is ideal for first and 50th dates alike. At Aria Wine Bar, unique Italian tapas dishes, or Cicchetti, such as sliced octopus crostini and gorgonzola-stuffed dates wrapped in speck, along with generous pours of Italian wines make for great conversation starters—and an even better meal. If the evening is going well, settle in for larger plates of tagliatelle bolognese and lobster ravioli in pink vodka sauce.
With multiple happy hours happening every day, Weather Up can get rowdy. Luckily, your fellow bar-goers make for excellent conversation fodder as you and your date partake in $1 oysters, strong craft cocktails, and down-to-earth dishes such as Reuben sliders and truffled cheese toast. Not your average first date destination, Weather Up will have you and your match feeling relaxed—and maybe a little tipsy.
The Penrose, New York | Courtesy of The Penrose, credit: Tony Hoffer
Banish bad first date jitters at The Penrose, a favorite Upper East Side establishment serving creative cocktails, hearty food, and no pretension. Be daring with your drinks order here, where dirty pickle martinis, cinnamon and jalapeño-infused bourbon shots, and bacon Bloody Marys are as strong as they are (delightfully) strange. Beer-battered local pickles, lobster grilled cheese sandwiches, and burgers made with Pat LaFrieda meat are only an order away for when you inevitably decide to turn drinks into dinner.
“Cool” and “rebellious” aren’t words you’ll ordinarily find as wine bar descriptors. Then again, Terroir is not your ordinary wine bar. Here, daily oyster, bar bites, and drinks happy hours are served up daily in a laid-back setting. Settle into Terroir as you sample the bar’s extensive selection of wines by the glass and share bone marrow with toast, pork belly sliders, and (hopefully) some wine-fueled sparks.
The Greenwich Village’s Dante served its first happy couple back in 1915, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Restored tin ceilings, leather banquettes, and a classic atmosphere make for a romantic yet approachable setting. However, the spot isn’t just a pretty face—this historic bar packs a serious bite with a drinks menu featuring the basics as well as more uncommon options, including fortified wines, Amari, and 12 varieties of Negronis.
Bar, Restaurant, Japanese, Spanish, Contemporary, $$$
BAR GOTO, New York | Courtesy of Bar Goto
A taste of Japan (and hopefully, romance) is what’s on the menu at Bar Goto. Make an impression with an immersive drinking and dining experience featuring Japanese comfort dishes such as plum vinegared octopus and spicy miso chicken wings. While the sake and shochu selections are certainly tempting, craft cocktails, which showcase Asian ingredients such as dashi, cherry blossom, and yuzu bitters, are the way to go at Goto.
Neither the décor nor menu at Good Night Sonny is particularly romantic, yet this East Village establishment continually crops up on online “date destinations” lists. That’s because the bar’s upbeat atmosphere is more rollicking than romantic, making it an excellent pick for casual connections and down-to-earth dates. An extensive food and drinks menu is offered until the bar’s 4 am closing time, and if sparks are flying, Sonny lies just steps away from plenty of more intimate options.