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Oct 17, 2000 11:02 AM

Affordable romantic restaurant downtown?

  • t

Anyone know of a really good but affordable restaurant downtown (first date)? Please share your suggestions. Thanks!!

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  1. This may sound silly, but, in what vicinity downtown? There's a bunch of them, but there are a dozen neighborhoods you could go to, you know? Any idea, i.e. Chelsea, Wall Street, East Village, would be a big help to those of us looking to help you out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lydia

      East Village, SoHo, West Village, Tribeca, Flatiron. Any of those. Hope this helps. :)

      1. re: TG

        A couple of thoughts -

        Mamlouk - a Middle Eastern restaurant on E. 4th that I posted about in September - could be good for a first date. There's something cozy and seductive about the decor. I know Robert Sietsema complained about the chairs, but actually one of the couches with cushions could be perfect for two. Plus there's that whole sharing food thing... $30/pp inc. one drink - more drinks=more.

        Savoy (E. SoHo) - much written about here, a little pricier, but a great date restaurant. The bar (upstairs) has a fireplace and little banquettes for a pre-dinner glass of wine. The upstairs dining room is prettily decorated, two menus - 3 courses $35, 4 courses $45.00. The food is good - and totally key for a first date and so rare in NYC, you will actually be able to hear every word the other person says. Then you can go back to those cozy banquettes for a glass port. Perfect.

        Further west in SoHo, Le Pescadou offers good (not great, but very competent, esp. for these prices) French food in a cozy environment. Very affordable. Again, talking not a problem at all. And the place has an authentically French charm which can add to romance. Only caution- mostly fish - so if date is non-seafood eater you are in trouble.

        1. re: Elaine

          The good thing about Mamlouk is that you don't have to spend a long time deciding what to eat. You can spend that time chatting, etc. No worries about which menu choices will impress, disgust, etc. Also, no worries about the price, since it's fixed. And you can smoke the houka, which will be a good way to jump start the conversaition if you're at a loss for what to say once the meal is over. The only bad thing is the the 2-person tables aren't as good as the group tables.

    2. What do you mean by affordable for a first date?
      I need a little more clarity price wise.

      For a fun good place there is The Elephant (French/Thai) on 1st and 1st. ($35 a person)

      Shabu Tatsu where you can cook Shabu-Shabu style around
      10th b/w 1st and 2nd. ($20 a person)

      Surya in the West Village. Excellent South Indian food at reasonable prices very contemporary romantic spot.
      ($25-30 per person)

      Once you give me more of an Idea of price and food I can give a better more tailored list.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Fesones

          I love The Elephant - but a warning for first date - tables are totally packed together and smoking is allowed at 50% of them. If smoke is an issue for her, she will be annoyed. If she smokes on the other hand, she'll be thrilled.

        2. It might be more pricey than you have in mind, but Frontiere (on Prince near Sullivan)is a really pretty and romantic little bistro with delicious food and friendly service. They serve killer gnocchi as a side (I think with chicken). But I'm guessing it's probably about $50 a person for dinner. I think Acquario (on Bleecker near Bowery), which is much less expensive, is also romantic (it's tiny, dark and charming in a funky sort of way) but it can tend to be a little noisy. The food is Mediterranean, and the octopus and grilled sardines are particularly tasty. I think for a first date it might be nice.

          1. j
            Jessica Shatan

            My requirements for a 1st date place are: a nice bar to meet each other at, one where a woman would feel comfortable alone (while she waits for you if she gets there 1st), AND while conversational, not TOO romantic or quiet (gotta fill in those gaps in conversation with a little background noise!).
            So, I would suggest: Five Points, over on Bond just E. of Lafayette. Lovely bar and bartenders, charming dining room with water flowing through a tree trunk, good food, a little upscale/funky, a little inconsistent. It's been written about quite a bit on these boards so do a search. I believe the mains are in the high teens.
            My other suggestion is Velli, on W. Houston betw. Sullivan and MacDougal, pretty bistro decor, romantic lighting but a little busy/bustling so not TOO quiet/romantic. Italian: grilled calamari, pasta with truffle oil, nice bruschettas, etc. Mains are in low teens some at $10.
            One of my fave 1st dates was drinks at the bar at Rialto on Elizabeth St. betw. Houston and Prince and then cozying up at Rice on Mott St. just below Prince... a very casual but arty little place and food you can share in big bowls with chopsticks.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Jessica Shatan

              Those are good suggestions, Jessica--I too think Rialto has a great bar and I've liked Five Points every time I've been (although I don't think I've ever been on a weekend). And FP is so pretty! But I have to say about Velli that as much as I admire what Jean Claude does/has done in his various establishments (i.e. delivers decent food at very low prices), Velli can be WILDLY inconsistent. I've had very good food there, and I've had stuff that was just plain awful. Have to say that if you hate something management is nice about replacing it, but I think Velli can be a pretty bumpy experience.

              1. re: Martha Gehan
                Jessica Shatan

                I will concur that I was once very disappointed in my meal at Velli--chewy calamari, tastless truffle oil pasta . . . both dishes I had had a few times and found near transcendant before. But that was a 1 in 10 experience (1 being the bad out of 10 good times) BUT--maybe it's too risky for a 1st date . . .
                Martha, what do you think of Rialto for food? I ate there but all I remember is that it had a little too much 'tude . . .

                1. re: Jessica Shatan

                  It's nice, nothing spectacular, not too expensive. Don't remember the 'tude being a problem, but then I'm pretty resistant to that. I tend to give as good as I get.

                  1. re: Martha Gehan

                    Malatesta, at the end of Christopher Street, is intimate, dark, has good food and a groovy vibe, and probably costs about $20 per person with wine. The gentle PDA thing definitely works there.

                    As it does at nearby Le Zoo, a basic but endearing bistro a couple of blocks away down Greenwich, which is only slightly more expensive.

                    Both places seem custom-made for first dates.

                    1. re: Pepper

                      Pepper--a question. I used to love Le Zoo, and thought that when the chef was a guy named George (don't know his last name) the food was almost as good as what you'd get in a nice Parisian bistro. Went a couple of times after he left and felt it had slipped a little. Have you been there recently and has it improved again?
                      I agree that it's a very romantic little spot, especially if you can snuggle into one of the corner banquettes in the back.

                      1. re: Martha Gehan

                        I like Le Zoo. And while I don't think it's necessarily among the very best bistros in NYC, the quality/price ratio is extremely high. Divellic was definitely the best chef, but the food is fine.

              2. re: Jessica Shatan

                I always like Mugsy's Chow Chow on 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street. It's small and funky, with Italian food--no meat, but lots of seafood. The fish specials are reliably good. The place has a sweet, homespun feel. There's a tiny bar where you can wait for a table--there does tend to be a wait. I think entrees are $10-15.