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NEW Thread: Where is the best First Date spot in NYC???

Looking for great atmosphere, great drinks, good food. Price: around $100 for all? Where are the latest and greatest NY first date spots. A lot of old posts on Chow, need a refreshed list.

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  1. Considering a bottle of wine could run $25+ or 2 rounds of cocktails could push you in the $40-$60 range, that's tough. Beer makes the whole equation more workable, but not always.

    I don't really have a perfect answer, but to get the ball rolling, I'll throw some names out:

    Maybe one of the Falai's.
    Lavagna used to come up often on those old date threads.
    Back Forty or Northern Spy Co. are nice but still casual.

    Back Forty
    190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

    545 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10009

    68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

    Northern Spy Food Co.
    511 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009

    1. $100 for two people is a fairly small amount amount for "great atmosphere, great drinks, great food" - let's break it down:

      $100 = $50/pp
      $50 = $38 before tax & tip.

      Assuming a glass of wine will cost minimum $8 at a cheaper place, and you have two drinks each, you're looking at a pre-tax/tip food budget of about $22.

      I know, it's disheartening to think that dinner for two for $100 is considered "cheap" nowadays, but that's the city we live in.

      You can certainly get good food for that, but I'm not sure about romantic atmosphere. Though honestly, I don't think "romantic" is good for a first date. You need to, like, know someone a bit before getting romantic. Romantic is for second or third dates. First dates are for fun.

      You could go "cozy" a la Frankies 17 Spuntino. There's a little buzz in the air, but the food is lusty and hearty, miles better than anything you'd get for the same price at any Little Italy red-sauce joint.

      Or go somewhere fun and boisterous - Momofuku Noodle Bar, get some pork buns and split a ramen or some other more substantial dish, drink beer. The time you'll wait in line will be extra time to get to know each other.

      I think the only member of the Falai family that would work would be Falai Panetteria. Caffe and the flagship would break that budget rather handily, at least at dinner. You could do Caffe Falai for lunch, only get one course and a couple drinks, but you couldn't do a normal app-entree-dessert meal.

      Across the street from Panetteria you've got Alias - they've been a solid, decently priced standby for years, though they just got a new chef and I don't know if the menu's changed and what the prices are currently like. It's quiet but unfussy, sound level makes for easy conversation.

      For something a bit more sceney, Schiller's Liquor Bar could work. You could easily get an entree each (and they're decently sized), maybe even split an appetizer and/or dessert as well. The wine is nice and cheap (carafes are $16-$22) so even if you got the most expensive one you'd have a bit more money freed up for food.

      Frankies 17 Spuntino
      17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

      76 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

      Momofuku Noodle Bar
      171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Caffe Falai
      265 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

      Schiller's Liquor Bar
      131 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

      Falai Panetteria
      79 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

      3 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        I can't be the only person reading this who thinks the idea of sharing a bowl of ramen on a first date might not be everyones idea of a "best" first date.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          Actually, I think it's a great first date. My first date with my girlfriend of three years was even less fancy noodles & broth - Pho Grand.

          Pho Grand
          277 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

        2. re: sgordon

          Alias is good suggestion, though not full of romance. It would have fit his initial budget, and it's pretty under the radar too. I think I'd go across the water to Diner in Brooklyn instead though.

          Frankies would be perfect if it didn't get so damned loud, and half the seating wasn't so awkward.

        3. Can you provide a little more info? Blind date or someone you know for a long time. Romantic or lively. How old are you guys.

          17 Replies
          1. re: princeofpork

            First date- internet meeting- early 50's- just raised the budget to $150. I'm thinking lively would be good. Thanks

            1. re: sockster

              f you want to use my experience as an example;

              Also internet meeting, I was early 60s, she early 50s. She worked at the UN so she wanted to meet in the Ambassador Lounge on E. 44th Street. Nice choice. We hit it off immediately and I invited her to dinner. She was a vegetarian so I called Hangawi and made a reservation. We walked there, had dinner, and……we will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary in June.

              Can’t say it will work for you, but……

              12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

                1. re: ericalloyd

                  Thanks, lovely wife. I'm very lucky to have met her.

                2. re: Stuartmc910

                  The had the internet 11 years ago? (har har har...)

                  HanGawi was a great choice, though. Good call.

                  12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

                  1. re: sgordon

                    You're kidding, of course! Al Gore invented it.

                    Yes, HanGawi wowed her.

                    12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

                3. re: sockster

                  Telepan, Modern Bar Room, maybe Scarpetta if you order carefully.

                  72 W. 69th Street, New York, NY 10023

                  355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: H Manning

                    How do you tell your date to 'order carefully' though? IDEAS: depending on time and day (so as to avoid a long wait) Blue Ribbon Brasserie; Co.; Elsewhere; Little Cheese Pub (though of course cheese heavy menu); Klee.

                    Blue Ribbon Brasserie
                    97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

                    200 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                    230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                    403 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036

                    Little Cheese Pub
                    362 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

                    1. re: thegforceny

                      I wouldn't tell my date to order carefully, but the OP could tailor his own orders and wine selections to stay within his budget.

                      Blue Ribbon Brasserie does not take reservations for two and Co. is way too casual, but otherwise they are good options for future dates.

                      Blue Ribbon Brasserie
                      97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

                      1. re: thegforceny

                        Wouldn't Blue Ribbon be tough even with the raised budget? Good pick though.

                      2. re: H Manning

                        Not a fan of the "order carefully" date - I'd pick a place where if both of them happened to order the most expensive items on the menu, they'd come in under budget.

                        For the new budget ($150) though, you could probably do someting a little nicer - Prune, maybe? I did a recent calcualtion on another thread that if you were to order the most expensive app, entree, & dessert it'd come to $53/pp. Might be cutting it close once you include wine / tax / tip. Amazing how much supposedly "inexpensive" places can cost these days once you add it all up.

                        54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                        1. re: sgordon

                          I think it's the factor of another individual having free reign to order in a social situation where it's tacky to put limitations.

                      3. re: sockster

                        Sockster, Considering it's an internet date, I'm going to toss out the suggestion that instead of upping your budget, you look towards going casual.

                        I would even suggest something as casual to the extreme, like Fonda Nolita, which is made to look like an open air Mexican taco stand. It will give the date a sense of adventure rather than an attempt at heavy duty romance, and the lights are dim enough that it could work, providing you then go somewhere fancier for drinks.... if it feels right. Just wanted to throw out an option that was more fun than formal.

                        I have noticed we're loading you up with Downtown options. Does that suit you?

                        267 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Great idea and an awesome alternative to the traditional "romantic" date-y dinner.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            This makes sense, the more casual the first date the better. Given that you have only met on the internet a more casual place lessens the chance that you might be stuck there if the two of you don't get along.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Actually prefer downtown..thinking Soccarat on 19th. Anyone have any comments on this idea?

                              1. re: sockster

                                Sockster, I don't know about Soccarat, but it's near Boqueria, which reminds me that both locations are great date spots with lots of flexibility on how you approach the night.

                                53 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

                        2. Hearth

                          403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: six dower

                            Most bottles of wine at Hearth would blow the budget alone.

                          2. Not sure about "latest and greatest," but here are some "tried & true" -
                            Bridge Cafe
                            Hudson Clearwater
                            Salumeria Rosi
                            Grape & Grain
                            The New French

                            Grape and Grain
                            620 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

                            Bridge Cafe
                            279 Water St, New York, NY 10038

                            36 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

                            38 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                            173 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002

                            The New French
                            522 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                            Salumeria Rosi
                            283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

                            Tartinery Nolita
                            209 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                            Hudson Clearwater
                            447 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                            1. I think Alta is a nice first date spot -- relatively casual, romantic and inexpensive. Lighting is dim -- good for camouflage! ; ) Menu is varied enough that it suits a wide variety of tastes. It is shared plates -- so some may not be into that. But I translate that into a more intimate experience.


                              64 W 10th St, New York, NY 10011

                              1. Another alternative that may be a little easier on the budget is a wine bar. Two that come to mind are Bar Veloce and Gottino.

                                Bar Veloce
                                175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                52 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                1. I don't see why you need to raise your budget. You can do just fine for $100 or under. My top pick would be da Andrea. The food is excellent, it's busy but not too loud, nice decor, service is friendly and efficient. It really feels like it should be more expensive than it is. Other choices if the food appeals are Zabb Elee for Thai and Legend for Sichuan. Or even BLT Burger. The food is great and seating is comfortable.

                                  Da Andrea
                                  35 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

                                  BLT Burger
                                  470 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                  88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                  Zabb Elee
                                  75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003