The East Village is a hot destination for date night, with plenty of cozy neighborhood restaurants to offer alongside buzzier names. Whether for a first date or a night on the town with a long-term partner, these restaurants have the right food, drinks, and vibes to keep the conversation flowing.Read More
16 East Village Restaurants Perfect for Date Night
Where to take a date in East Village
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Thanks to upgrades that included sound proofing and more comfortable seating, Momofuku Ssäm Bar is one of the cozier options of David Chang’s restaurants. Executive chef Max Ng’s menu has several addictive dishes to offer, with a focus on fish such as uni and trout roe over rice or grilled blowfish tails with salted duck yolk sauce. There are excellent cocktails to go with the food, too, and bar dining isn’t super cramped. Reservations are available for those who plan ahead, making Ssäm ideal for second dates and beyond.
Astoria-based Greek restaurant Taverna Kyclades added an East Village location, and its Greek plates are easy to share. There’s also an impressive list of Greek wines, which is a rarer find in NYC. The restaurant is more on the casual side, so perhaps not the best for special-occasion dates. It’s still a solid and affordable option for a romantic night out.
White brick and cushy banquettes accent this lively restaurant serving bright Vietnamese fare. It’s a laid-back option for a casual, but fun evening out with someone you’re comfortable slurping noodles with. Just about everything on the menu is a solid option, especially the array of pho. Definitely make a reservation.
Chef Sara Jenkins’ quaint neighborhood restaurant offers straightforward pasta dishes and a solid Italian wine list. There are also lots of bubbly options and aperitifs. As for the pasta, the standout dish is her anelloni, topped with spicy lamb sausage, mustard greens, and bread crumbs. Warm lighting, cozy two-tops, and a long bar make Porsena a good place for getting close.
This casual, rustic wine bar — with low lighting, intimate seating, and exposed brick walls — is an unfussy place to meet a date. It’s small and narrow but laid-back, making it an ideal place to get to know someone new over some wines and cheeses. Next door is a sibling beer bar, in case that’s more the mood.
Goodnight Sonny comes from the same team behind rowdy East Village late-night spot the Wayland, but it’s considerably more chill. It’s all about the cocktails and seafood here, served in a colorful space with a wood bar. Meet for cocktails, and if things go well, raw bar awaits.
Thursday Kitchen is a solid second date spot, with its cozy cellar vibe and pretty Korean dishes that are easy to share. But best of all are the Capri Sun-like soju cocktails served in pouches that light up thanks to LED lightbulbs — a great conversation starter.
Modern Korean restaurant Oiji has a simple but romantic brick-walled, dark-wooded look. Seating along the open kitchen is excellent for action while on a date to watch chefs make dishes like beef shank with buttered rice or slow-cooked oxtail with glass noodles. The house-made honey butter chips a la mode are a perfect dessert, but minus the ice cream, they can also be a great start to the meal.
Please Don't Tell
A date will likely delight in walking through a phone booth in a hot dog shop into this legendary cocktail bar. The secret speakeasy conceit of Please Don’t Tell is part of its alluring charm — even if it’s not really secret at all — and the drinks are killer. This last part cannot be stressed enough, though: Make a reservation or prepare to have a backup plan in place.
The Mermaid Inn
The East Village location of this seafood restaurant and bar, with its white-washed walls and mini lamps, is cute and not impossible to get into, so if first-date drinks are going well, head on over here. Pop a bottle of rosé lambrusco or choose one of the well-executed cocktails. For an earlier evening date, there’s a daily happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (and all day Monday) with $1.25 East Coast oysters, select $6 beers, $8.50 wines, and $8.50 cocktails.
The chef’s choice tasting menu is the way to go at this Basque-inspired Spanish restaurant. It offers seven to eight dishes including bite-sized pintxos and tapas shared plates for $60 a person, gratuity included (and at a reduced rate of $48 on Sunday and Monday). Add on a bottle of Txakolina, the lightly sparkling Basque white wine. Or just head to the bar for sherry, cider, and gin-tonic on tap.
Empellon Al Pastor
Empellon Al Pastor has become a magnet for first dates, according to chef-owner Alex Stupak. That’s probably because of its casual and lively bar-restaurant combo ease, wherein people can meet for margaritas or mezcal and easily transition to standout tacos and other bar snacks if things are going well. And if things are going really well, share a massive “scorpion bowl” full of tequila, mezcal, and pineapple.
Death & Company
Death & Company is for lovers who love cocktails. It’s still one of the top places to get a craft cocktail in NYC, and its beautiful, dimly lit bar gives it a very romantic look. Plus, the bar only lets in the number of people as there are seats, so it’s a very comfortable and intimate place to get tipsy with someone. If there’s a wait, head a few doors down to to bitters bar Amor y Amargo for a starter drink.
Asian-American fusion restaurant Tuome matches good food with good vibes, serving a tight menu of appetizers and mains from Eleven Madison Park alum Thomas Chen. Dates would do well to order the “pig out,” or (for two)”: Berkshire pork served over spicy peanut noodles for $58.
This relaxed but precise omakase restaurant is on the higher-end of options, so it’s ideal for a special occasion or anniversary. The omakase runs $95 per person, and there are only two seatings per night (at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.), so book the date ahead of time. As a bonus, all the sushi fish here is sustainable.
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Joyface has plenty of couches for a more intimate seating choice, and the thrift store finds that decorate the space give it a retro, casual vibe. The actual bar has plenty of room, too. For a fun but daring date activity, there’s a jar with cocktail names on pieces of paper that one can pick at random.
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