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Romantic yet cheap restaurants?

I am having a friend come up to NYC which she has never been and am looking for a romantic restaurant to take her to. I know there are many out there but quite a few are just way to expensive for me. I also do not travel to the city much being so busy with college. The price range for the two of us is at most $100 for the whole meal (if possible). She also does not drink so bars and such would not be worth really going to but any type of restaurant would be good. Thanks for all the help.

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  1. I had a nice meal at Paprika in the East Village. I went with friends but I thought it would be a nice spot for a romatic meal as well. The gnocchi I had were excellent, as were my friend's lobster ravioli. We split the polenta starter, which was also good. I thought it was reasonably priced. If you go before 7pm, you can have a starter and main from the prix fixe menu for $12.95.

    1. Two suggestions, if your idea of romance is a small, dark, quietish place with a rustic feel.

      Piadina is cheap as dirt.

      Itzocan is a little less cheap than dirt, and the food's a bit better than at Piadina.

      1. Is lunch an option? If so, I'd suggest Jean Georges, which gives you two courses for $28 with additonal courses at $14 (dessert $8)...you would need to wear a jacket...
        Another lunch deal is Fleur de Sel - they offer 3 courses for $29 and 5 for $46...

        2 Replies
        1. re: David W

          unless things have changes, a jacket is not required at jean georges at lunch - i've been to lunch there a handful of times in a nice shirt (sometimes a tie) but never a jacket - its never been a problem

          1. re: aahnnt

            Absolutely. When I went there for lunch with my brother, we dressed casually but neatly - no tie, no jacket. I think he wore jeans, and I wore hiking boots. Our service was impeccable.

        2. Well if she doesn't drink, that will certainly make things easier for you in terms of the $$$. Anyways, assuming that their inside garden is heated (and now that I'm thinking about it, it might not be which would make this all moot), I'd go to La Lanterna Caffe. You can call to find out though, and it would definitely fit well within your price range.


          Inside it is quite dark, which is romantic in a way, but not nearly as nice as the garden. They also have a downstairs area where there is live jazz.

          edit: I just looked at the website and right there in big letters it says the Winter Garden is open. I think it is exactly what you are looking for.

          1. Second Itzocan.

            Or Tanti Baci for good, cheap Italian in an underground type setting with low lighting (which I found to be romantic) (http://www.tantibacicaffe.com/lunch.h...).

            1. I like this place called Quartino. Its on Bleeker Street near broadway. Pretty cheap and romantic.

              1. You've gotten some suggestions below to think about. Rather than just giving you more suggestions, I want to ask you what makes a restaurant romantic to you. Low lighting? Soft or no music? Candles? Because to me, both Cacio e Vino (low lighting and candles but the music can be a bit loud) and Soba Koh (fully lit but with lovely music playing and good food including desserts suitable for sharing) can be good restaurants for dates and would cost quite a bit less than $100 for two without alcohol.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Pan

                  Lucien might be considered romantic. It's French and good.Small .

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    Many years ago, I was taken there by a grateful private flute student. Under those circumstances, I was too polite to send back a Bouillabaisse with almost inedibly old seafood in it. Understandably, I never returned. The place was much-recommended then, too. How confident would you be in urging me to give the place another chance?

                    1. re: Pan

                      I had lunch at Lucien less than two months ago. No problems with the food at all - goat cheese salad, tuna nicoise salad, onion soup & fish soup. I've been served prehistoric bouillabaisse myself, though, so I understand your wariness.

                2. Le Pere Pinard in the LES

                  If you want to catch an early dinner they have a $18.95 prix fix special from 5:00 to 7:00. If not, the entress are still incredibly reasonable.


                  1. -- Malatesta

                    -- Cacio e Vino

                    1. Oh my gosh, please do not do a prix fixe if you're trying to make a good impression on this girl. First off, your price range of $100 minus alcohol is absolutely doable and you won't have to advertise "I am cheap" by doing it. I suggest you look these up on Yelp or find their websites to get a better feel. They are all GREAT in my book.

                      Basta Pasta (Union Square) - white tablecloth but totally reasonable prices, romantic feel but creative atmosphere. Looks like a Japanese place but serves good Italian cuisine. I suggest making reservations early as they fill up quick.

                      Sala 19 (Flatiron) - sultry atmosphere serving yummy tapas at good sized portions. Place gets busy on the weekends, also make reservations early.

                      Via Della Pace (East Village) - Really good priced Italian (like $10-15 on average per dish) that is really delicious. The space is really intimate and romantic, but sometimes can get busy meaning cramped seating. But I have always had a great time here. Cash only, no reservations.

                      Artisanal (Murray Hill) - Upscale but if your budget is $100, I did a $75 birthday dinner here with alcohol. I don't know how we did it but it was done. Check the menu online, it's a great space that feels five-stars but the prices are not excessive.

                      Les Halles (Park Ave) - This is Anthony Bourdain's old restaurant and the food is decent and reasonably priced (~$25). It isn't amazing but it is along Park Ave and you have lots of young people in the restaurant on dates and such that might provide a comfortable type of romantic feel.

                      I would love to suggest more but any of these should provide a good time. But seriously, please do not make her order from a prix fixe menu unless that is all that the restaurant offers.

                      Oh, Jules Bistro is a place in the East Village that I always walk by and would be pleased to go on a date. It is a cool French spot that is dimly lit and from what I hear they have live jazz nightly.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kimsy

                        Jules could strain the $100 budget a bit (I think my friend and I both had wine there, but still). Their food is perfectly fine but not great. I do enjoy the jazz.

                        Les Halles usually gets panned here. What do you like there?

                        Do you prefer Via Della Pace to other Italian restaurants in the neighborhood like Cacio e Vino, Supper, or Frank's that are also within that $100 budget? Also, I've never heard of Basta Pasta. I suppose the thing to get there is pasta? What other place(s) would you compare it to?

                        1. re: Pan

                          Ah, I've never been to Jules always seems lively.

                          Honestly, I don't particularly love the food at Les Halles. I like the atmosphere -- that it isn't too stuffy and it draws a young crowd (Park Ave). The prices are pretty moderate so I wouldn't mind going on a casual night out.

                          I haven't been to the other restaurants you mentioned, but I have been to Via Della Pace plenty of times. I like that it isn't super popular but I think the food is delicious and so cheap for a really romantic ambiance. Yes, Basta Pasta is an Italian restaurant but it's run by a Japanese staff. The prices are incredibly reasonable though not "cheap" and it is a great date spot. They have a website www.bastapastanyc.com