Up to Date: an After-Dark Guide to the East Village, New York

Spend some time wooing your date at the rooftop bar at Public
Spend some time wooing your date at the rooftop bar at Public | Courtesy of Public, an Ian Schrager Hotel / Expedia
Photo of Leon Beckenham
16 September 2021

Whisper sweet nothings in speakeasy-style cocktail bars and cozy up in a rooftop greenhouse with our couples-ready guide to date-night spots in Manhattan.

The New York dating scene is considered one of the most diverse, dynamic and demanding in the world – so it pays to bring your A-game. Thankfully, the Big Apple isn’t short of outstanding spots, especially in its buzzy and bohemian East Village neighborhood. So, whether it’s a swipe-right meet-up or long-term lover, crucial second date or rekindled old flame, here’s our pick of candlelit dining, intimate cocktail bars and romantic hotels – bookable on Culture Trip – to help set the scene.

Fiaschetteria Pistoia

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
pasta with Black truffle mushroom
© directphoto.bz / Alamy Stock Photo

Set in the heart of Alphabet City, this timeless Italian restaurant is the perfect place for a cozy, uncomplicated dinner date. It offers unpretentious Tuscan cooking, allowing you to spend less effort deciphering the menu and more time turning on the charm. Its truffle pasta is particularly dreamy and sure to get your date beaming with delight. For a bit of fun, the wine list comes as a collection of tagged bottles in a crate. Want to recreate the Lady and the Tramp (1955) spaghetti scene? This is the place to do it.

Please Don’t Tell

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Who doesn’t love a venue with a secret door? Access to this speakeasy-style cocktail bar is via a phone booth in an adjoining hotdog restaurant. And it’s not just about the novelty access – this date-friendly spot serves up some of the finest cocktails in the East Village. House rules include no hitting on other guests, so your date is safe if you visit the restroom. Feeling peckish? Considering its setting, it’ll come as no surprise that gourmet hotdogs are on the menu.

Lovers of Today

Bar, Cocktails
lovers of today ,east villange NYC
© jeff gebenini / Alamy Stock Photo

With a name like Lovers of Today, it’s hardly the most subtle of choices, but there’s a good reason why this East Village bar is so popular with dating couples. Down a twinkly alleyway with a neon heart marking the entrance, this snug haunt really sets the mood just so. Booth seating is intimate, lighting is low, and cocktails are effective. Also, it’s supposedly Taylor Swift’s favorite bar in NYC.

The Ready Rooftop Bar at Moxy Hotel

Moxy NYC East Village
Courtesy of Moxy NYC East Village / Booking.com

While not quite high enough to afford panoramic views over the Manhattan skyline, there’s still plenty romantic about a date on this 12th-floor rooftop bar. Glammed-up backyard vibes come courtesy of eclectic garden-style seating, strung lights and a healthy collection of plant life. Drinks in cans and coolers add to the casual outdoors feel, and retractable glass walls and ceilings transform it into greenhouse mode in colder weather. It’s popular, so make a reservation if you don’t want to waste precious date time standing in line.


Bar, Cocktails

If kooky is the new sexy, the vintage-store chic at Joyface scores highly for seductive potential. There’s no drinks menu, but you can ask for any cocktail and bar staff will oblige. Alternatively, pull some ingredient names out of the lucky dip bowl for a bit of random fun. Mellow lighting and a glitter ball add to the bar’s intimate basement vibe, complete with squishy sofas and a glowing gas fireplace. If it doesn’t feel too forward, you could head to the waterbed in the corner with your drinks.

Death & Co

Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Courtesy of Death and Company
If you’re looking to impress your date with the sheer star quality of a venue, Death & Co has buried much of the competition. Sharply dressed bartenders are at the top of their mixology game here, able to whip up any one of a veritable encyclopedia of cocktails in an instant. Mood lighting is somewhere between romantic and eye-squintingly low, and the whole scene just exudes that all-important urbane New York vibe. Arrive to get on the list early – demand is often high, and seating is limited.

The Bowery Hotel

The Bowery Hotel
Courtesy of The Bowery Hotel / Booking.com

With its bowler-hatted doormen and tasseled door keys, handsome log-fire lounge and cultivated old-world ambience, the Bowery Hotel occupies a world of timeless New York luxury. While plush common areas bask in a low glow, guest rooms are flooded with sunlight through factory-size windows. Towering 17 floors skyward, the hotel dwarfs most of its East Village neighborhood and affords some spectacular Manhattan snapshots (which you can often enjoy without leaving your bed). Marble bathrooms with deep tubs – perfect for soaking à deux – also feature in the deluxe rooms and suites.

Public, an Ian Schrager Hotel

Public Hotel
Courtesy of Public, an Ian Schrager Hotel / Expedia

The absence of a reception at Public lends this immaculately swish, unerringly on-point hotel a glorious sense of anonymity – check-in is via cell phone or lobby tablet. An abundance of plant life in its public spaces also creates the feel of a fabulously secluded oasis, from the ground-floor garden to the spectacular rooftop bar. Gorgeously minimalist guest rooms feature Scandinavian wood and floor-to-ceiling windows that make the most of New York’s timelessly romantic skyline.

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