Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. A new question and answer will run every Thursday. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.
I'm looking for a great spot for a second date — the type of place you’d go to with someone after you know that you’re into them and there’s a vibe. Something with a relaxed environment but also a little sexy (maybe it’s dimly lit? maybe there’s a lot of red wine, or something?) but doesn't feel like it's trying too hard (AKA the impression I would like to give off on this date, too). West Village is preferred, and ideally it’s a bar with some snacks so that no one gets too drunk.
Date Night Dilemma
Congratulations on a second date, no easy feat in this city’s dating landscape, as I’m sure you’ve learned. I totally get what you mean about a second-date bar: It’s somewhere that’s noticeably quieter than the first date bar, moderately romantic, and all about the lighting. The place that checks all these boxes and solves your issue is Dante on MacDougal Street.
Plan to meet your date here around 7 p.m., when you’re sure to get two seats at the bar. There are actually two bars to choose from, but I would go with the one that’s to the left after you enter — it’s cozier and more secluded than the first. This space is fairly unchanged since it opened as a cafe more than 100 years ago, but now there’s A-plus, date-y lighting, and old photographs on the walls in addition to the cozy corners.
Since Dante is number 34 on the World’s Best Bar list, I’d also recommend beginning with a cocktail before you and your date move on to a bottle of wine, starting at $41 a bottle. Dante’s specialty is negronis, and a chat with one of the friendly bartenders about which variation to get will ease any and all date jitters you may be having.
As for snacks, there are plenty of options here like tartare, charcuterie, flatbreads, and a ton of vegetables for sharing. And the kitchen is open late, so there’s no need to rush the date.
Go get ‘em!