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A plate of duck nigiri sits on a table set for service at Llama San in Greenwich Village.
Duck nigiri at Llama San in Greenwich Village.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

18 Restaurants for a Romantic Night Out in NYC

High ceilings, low lighting, and some of the best food New York City has to offer

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Duck nigiri at Llama San in Greenwich Village.
| Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

When looking for a romantic restaurant or bar, words like “cozy,” “intimate,” and “low lit” probably come to mind. But we’d argue that Peruvian ceviche, Basque bar snacks, and bottles of colorful pet-nat are just as important to a memorable date night as the decor. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots that are more than just a pretty indoor dining room — although we took that into account, too — whether the occasion calls for first-date drinks, a special occasion splurge, or something in between.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Contento Restaurant

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At first glance, Contento may not stand out as a destination for a date night with its creatively composed Peruvian dishes and rather simple decor, but unlike many NYC restaurants, its accessibility factor — on several fronts — is a rarity. There’s the impressive wine selection with plenty of bottles under $60 that make it easy to share and taste multiple glasses deep into the evening. But what sets sommelier Yannick Benjamin and his partners’ East Harlem restaurant apart is its thoughtful design that makes the space accessible to all diners, including those with disabilities. The tables are spaced out and the bar includes seating for patrons using a wheelchair — all details that can contribute to a memorable date night or anniversary dinner.

A bar with high and low seats to accommodate guests with disabilities and a wall lined with liquor bottles and glasses.
The bar at Contento in East Harlem.
Mikhail Lipyanskiy/Contento

As the sister bar to Harlem’s beloved ROKC, you can expect the same discernible attention to cocktails and Japanese fare when you grab a pair of barstools at this Upper East Side hangout. For food, there’s everything from oysters and devilled eggs to bowls of ramen and chicken curry, while the cocktail menu has more than something for everyone including spins on classics like the Last Word, Boulevardier, and Penicillin. But whether the night calls just for drinks or there’s a few snacks involved, it’s an easy choice for an early date with a bit of anticipation.

M. Wells

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The husband-and-wife team of Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis have experimented with a few different iterations of M. Wells, including a steakhouse and diner. But since opening more than a decade ago in Long Island City, what’s stayed the same at this bistro is its hearty, Quebecois menu. The French influences — think cassoulet or steak frites — don’t feel stuffy. Instead, dishes like poutine with beef tongue or a katsu sandwich keeps diners on their toes in a dining room that’s more about keeping things fun and unpredictable. There’s comedy nights, petanque and vintage markets on select weekends, and esoteric gin sourced from Nova Scotia for martinis.

Customers are seated at tables in a high-ceilinged dining room at M. Wells, a restaurant in Long Island City.
Inside of M. Wells.
Jesse Winter/M. Wells

Don Angie

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Don Angie’s photogenic rolled lasagna for two is reason enough to plan a romantic night out at this snug Italian-American corner spot in the West Village. Co-owners and married couple Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli oversee the proceedings at the ambitious red-sauce restaurant, which has stacked up award after award since opening in 2017.

Tables and bar seats in the dining room at Don Angie, an Italian restaurant in the West Village.
The dining room at Don Angie.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Llama San

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Soft lighting and blonde-wood furniture are standard date night decor, but the meals at Llama San are far from predictable. This Greenwich Village restaurant specializes in Nikkei fare, the Peruvian-Japanese cooking style that’s found a growing number of homes in recent years. From grilled skewers to tart ceviches, this spot is one of New York City’s best. Worth noting is that prices here can easily creep past $100 per person before drinks, making this a great option for a special occasion.

Patrons pack the front bar room at Llama San while vines creep down from the ceiling
Customers mill about the Llama San dining room.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

Thursday Kitchen

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The East Village has no shortage of low-lit, intimate restaurants that are well-built for a romantic night out. Thursday Kitchen is one of those reliable spots, where kimchi paellas and duck confit empanadas share space on an inventive, quirky tapas menu run by chef Kyungmin Hyun. The restaurant is walk-in only; if there’s a line, the team’s critically acclaimed sequel Mokyo is right around the corner. 

The low-lit dining room at Thursday Kitchen, a Korean restaurant in the East Village.
The dining room at Thursday Kitchen.
Thursday Kitchen

If an ideal date night includes high ceilings, plants, and the smell of fresh baked naan, Nura is sure to impress. This Greenpoint restaurant comes from the husband-and-wife team behind Otis, a somewhat slept-on Bushwick restaurant that would surely have made this list if Nura hadn’t opened last fall. The decor is a major draw here, but well-made cocktails, dips, and breads served from an open kitchen keep diners coming back. Be sure to grab a reservation ahead of time.

A high-ceilinged indoor dining room, at Nura in Greenpoint, is outfitted with furniture and plants.
The spacious indoor dining room at Nura.
Catherine Dzilenski/Nura

Le Crocodile

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Le Crocodile hits that romantic restaurant middle ground: bringing a low-lit vibe cool enough for an early — but important — date, and food that more than holds up on a birthday or anniversary. The bar here, staffed by a handful of white jacket-wearing waiters, feels busy but never crowded, thanks to the high ceilings and lengthy dining room. If date plans include dinner, know that Le Crocodile comes from the same team behind Chez Ma Tante, a favorite brunch spot in NYC, with French fare like escargot, buttery leeks, and a shareable plate of chicken that’s not to be missed.

The interior of a restaurant with a giant palm tree, a row of wooden tables and chairs, and large arched windows
The dining room at Le Crocodile.
Read McKendree/Le Crocodile

Pasquale Jones

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“Pizza, but make it fancy” is the guiding principle at Pasquale Jones, an upscale pizzeria with a knockout wine list. This Nolita restaurant is livelier and larger than Charlie Bird — its sister spot nearby — and for a romantic night out, that can be a good thing. Grab a seat at the bar, in full view of the the pizzeria’s wood-fired ovens, or cozy up at a banquette with a bottle of wine and a Neapolitan-style pie. Grab a reservation ahead of time to skip the wait.

A curved booth with a table set for service at Pasquale Jones, an Italian restaurant in Nolita.
A curved booth at Pasquale Jones.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Bamonte's

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Since opening in North Brooklyn in 1900, Bamonte’s packs in decades of old-school charm for swooning a partner. The shareable, behemoth-sized plates of red sauce classics like chicken parmesan are served in a baroque dining room that feels like it’s straight from a vintage postcard. Eater critic Robert Sietsema recommends the tartufo, sliced coated chocolate and vanilla ice cream that is stuffed with a maraschino cherry, or an off-menu cannoli, for dessert.

Old and young sit at tables in a red and orange dining room, with paintings on the walls and chandeliers hanging from above.
Chandeliers hang throughout the dining room at Bamonte’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ernesto's

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Ernesto’s is a solid bet if a new couple is looking for something in between first-date drinks and a full-blown meal. There’s a menu of Spanish snacks at the top of menu — including a somewhat Instagram famous mountain of chips covered in ham — and a vibe that’s surprisingly lively for this quiet stretch of Twin Bridges. Natural wines are the name of the game here, but for something different, try the five-finger martini, a blend of vermouth and sherry that comes recommended by New York Times critic Pete Wells.

Brown chairs are lined up behind the bar, while a chandelier hangs from the ceiling.
The bar at Ernesto’s.
Rachel Vanni/Ernesto’s

The Four Horsemen

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There’s no bad seats at this Williamsburg natural wine bar: Not at the counter, where it’s easier to order another glass of colorful pet-nat. Not in its intimate back dining room, with narrow views of the kitchen. Not even out front, at a well-lit outdoor setup that’s stood the test of two pandemic winters. Though the Four Horsemen is probably best known for its Michelin star (bestowed in 2020) or LCD Soundsystem affiliation, restaurant enthusiasts know that some of the neighborhood’s best food is found here, on a short menu that rotates often.

Ammazzacaffè

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Sometimes picking an ultra-trendy spot for a date feels like someone is trying too hard. Ammazzacaffè is a cozy, underrated restaurant in East Williamsburg that strikes just the right tone of low-key-yet-romantic night out. The food here also stands on its own (the calamari skewers and one of its several pasta plates are recommended), plus there’s an extensive amaro list to choose from as well as the usual cocktails and wine. If available, request to sit in toward the back area, which is a little bit more darkly-lit and intimate.

Bottles of liquor and wine are arranged on an illuminated shelf at an East Williamsburg bar called Ammazzacaffè.
The bar at Ammazzacaffè.
Ammazzacaffè

The Ten Bells Brooklyn

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Splitting a bottle of natural wine at the Ten Bells in the Lower East Side is one of the most tried-and-true date scenarios in all of New York City. So when the popular wine bar expanded to Bushwick it made sure to bring all of its hallmark romanticism with it, managing to do so in a space that is noticeably brighter. Still, the lighting here is as good as it gets while still being able to see someone’s face and a menu of snacks is always welcomed for dates that go better and longer than expected. Plus, unlike the Manhattan original, this Ten Bells has a full liquor license in case cocktails are needed to kick off or wind down the night.

An L-shaped bar counter with multiple dark wooden stools pulled up and custom light fixtures hanging overhead
The bar at the Ten Bells.
The Ten Bells

Winona's

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Winona’s is located on a street that doesn’t get a ton of foot traffic, making the converted, industrial-looking restaurant feel clandestine and cool. For those in the know, Winona’s is a great see-and-be-seen kind of date spot. The music here is fun and the lighting isn’t too dim, which makes it ideal for a special occasion that is celebratory but not ultra-serious. The restaurant excels at often having dishes that accommodate most diets, and its daily-changing pop-ups allow for each visit to feel like an entirely new date night out.

Light wooded furniture and red bar stools are spread throughout a stone-colored dining room at Winona’s in Bed-Stuy.
Inside of Winona’s.
Winona’s

Understated beauty is what’s on the menu at this Italian restaurant in an area of Cobble Hill, these days referred to as the Columbia Waterfront District. Whether a couple decides to share the chicken milanese or the orecchiette with lamb sugo, Popina gets the power of simplicity done right, making it a solid neighborhood option for a special occasion. In the warmer months, a date activity can include playing backyard bocce while waiting for the chocolate chess pie dessert. 

Chairs and bar stools are pulled up to blonde-colored furniture and a bar top inside of Popina, a restaurant in Cobble Hill.
The dining room at Popina.
Popina

At June, sharing plates like whipped ricotta or carrots with brown butter make for light-and-easy pairings for the real star of the show here: the extensive wine list. But diners don’t have to be a wine expert to impress a significant other at this stunning Cobble Hill bar and restaurant. In fact, the romantic interior design does all the talking. The vintage-y light bulbs, handsome bar, and stained glass feel like something out of a 20th century Parisian cafe. 

An ornate wine bar decorated with vintage light bulbs, a handsome marble countertop, and stained glass.
Vintage light bulbs hang throughout June Wine Bar.
June

Quarters are tight at Hart’s but that’s precisely what helps make this restaurant one of the sexiest date spots around. Light and breezy, coastal-focused dishes like the popular clam toast are what’s highlighted on the menu here. Daily-changing specials offer something new to find with each visit — making it a date spot to keep on regular rotation that never gets old while smushed up against some of Brooklyn’s hippest couples. Just be sure to stop by a little early, as it can be hard to snag a seat during prime time operating hours (if it is, try your luck at the team’s other restaurant just a few blocks away: the Fly). 

Contento Restaurant

At first glance, Contento may not stand out as a destination for a date night with its creatively composed Peruvian dishes and rather simple decor, but unlike many NYC restaurants, its accessibility factor — on several fronts — is a rarity. There’s the impressive wine selection with plenty of bottles under $60 that make it easy to share and taste multiple glasses deep into the evening. But what sets sommelier Yannick Benjamin and his partners’ East Harlem restaurant apart is its thoughtful design that makes the space accessible to all diners, including those with disabilities. The tables are spaced out and the bar includes seating for patrons using a wheelchair — all details that can contribute to a memorable date night or anniversary dinner.

A bar with high and low seats to accommodate guests with disabilities and a wall lined with liquor bottles and glasses.
The bar at Contento in East Harlem.
Mikhail Lipyanskiy/Contento

NR

As the sister bar to Harlem’s beloved ROKC, you can expect the same discernible attention to cocktails and Japanese fare when you grab a pair of barstools at this Upper East Side hangout. For food, there’s everything from oysters and devilled eggs to bowls of ramen and chicken curry, while the cocktail menu has more than something for everyone including spins on classics like the Last Word, Boulevardier, and Penicillin. But whether the night calls just for drinks or there’s a few snacks involved, it’s an easy choice for an early date with a bit of anticipation.

M. Wells

The husband-and-wife team of Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis have experimented with a few different iterations of M. Wells, including a steakhouse and diner. But since opening more than a decade ago in Long Island City, what’s stayed the same at this bistro is its hearty, Quebecois menu. The French influences — think cassoulet or steak frites — don’t feel stuffy. Instead, dishes like poutine with beef tongue or a katsu sandwich keeps diners on their toes in a dining room that’s more about keeping things fun and unpredictable. There’s comedy nights, petanque and vintage markets on select weekends, and esoteric gin sourced from Nova Scotia for martinis.

Customers are seated at tables in a high-ceilinged dining room at M. Wells, a restaurant in Long Island City.
Inside of M. Wells.
Jesse Winter/M. Wells

Don Angie

Don Angie’s photogenic rolled lasagna for two is reason enough to plan a romantic night out at this snug Italian-American corner spot in the West Village. Co-owners and married couple Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli oversee the proceedings at the ambitious red-sauce restaurant, which has stacked up award after award since opening in 2017.

Tables and bar seats in the dining room at Don Angie, an Italian restaurant in the West Village.
The dining room at Don Angie.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Llama San

Soft lighting and blonde-wood furniture are standard date night decor, but the meals at Llama San are far from predictable. This Greenwich Village restaurant specializes in Nikkei fare, the Peruvian-Japanese cooking style that’s found a growing number of homes in recent years. From grilled skewers to tart ceviches, this spot is one of New York City’s best. Worth noting is that prices here can easily creep past $100 per person before drinks, making this a great option for a special occasion.

Patrons pack the front bar room at Llama San while vines creep down from the ceiling
Customers mill about the Llama San dining room.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

Thursday Kitchen

The East Village has no shortage of low-lit, intimate restaurants that are well-built for a romantic night out. Thursday Kitchen is one of those reliable spots, where kimchi paellas and duck confit empanadas share space on an inventive, quirky tapas menu run by chef Kyungmin Hyun. The restaurant is walk-in only; if there’s a line, the team’s critically acclaimed sequel Mokyo is right around the corner. 

The low-lit dining room at Thursday Kitchen, a Korean restaurant in the East Village.
The dining room at Thursday Kitchen.
Thursday Kitchen

Nura

If an ideal date night includes high ceilings, plants, and the smell of fresh baked naan, Nura is sure to impress. This Greenpoint restaurant comes from the husband-and-wife team behind Otis, a somewhat slept-on Bushwick restaurant that would surely have made this list if Nura hadn’t opened last fall. The decor is a major draw here, but well-made cocktails, dips, and breads served from an open kitchen keep diners coming back. Be sure to grab a reservation ahead of time.

A high-ceilinged indoor dining room, at Nura in Greenpoint, is outfitted with furniture and plants.
The spacious indoor dining room at Nura.
Catherine Dzilenski/Nura

Le Crocodile

Le Crocodile hits that romantic restaurant middle ground: bringing a low-lit vibe cool enough for an early — but important — date, and food that more than holds up on a birthday or anniversary. The bar here, staffed by a handful of white jacket-wearing waiters, feels busy but never crowded, thanks to the high ceilings and lengthy dining room. If date plans include dinner, know that Le Crocodile comes from the same team behind Chez Ma Tante, a favorite brunch spot in NYC, with French fare like escargot, buttery leeks, and a shareable plate of chicken that’s not to be missed.

The interior of a restaurant with a giant palm tree, a row of wooden tables and chairs, and large arched windows
The dining room at Le Crocodile.
Read McKendree/Le Crocodile

Pasquale Jones

“Pizza, but make it fancy” is the guiding principle at Pasquale Jones, an upscale pizzeria with a knockout wine list. This Nolita restaurant is livelier and larger than Charlie Bird — its sister spot nearby — and for a romantic night out, that can be a good thing. Grab a seat at the bar, in full view of the the pizzeria’s wood-fired ovens, or cozy up at a banquette with a bottle of wine and a Neapolitan-style pie. Grab a reservation ahead of time to skip the wait.

A curved booth with a table set for service at Pasquale Jones, an Italian restaurant in Nolita.
A curved booth at Pasquale Jones.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Bamonte's

Since opening in North Brooklyn in 1900, Bamonte’s packs in decades of old-school charm for swooning a partner. The shareable, behemoth-sized plates of red sauce classics like chicken parmesan are served in a baroque dining room that feels like it’s straight from a vintage postcard. Eater critic Robert Sietsema recommends the tartufo, sliced coated chocolate and vanilla ice cream that is stuffed with a maraschino cherry, or an off-menu cannoli, for dessert.

Old and young sit at tables in a red and orange dining room, with paintings on the walls and chandeliers hanging from above.
Chandeliers hang throughout the dining room at Bamonte’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ernesto's

Ernesto’s is a solid bet if a new couple is looking for something in between first-date drinks and a full-blown meal. There’s a menu of Spanish snacks at the top of menu — including a somewhat Instagram famous mountain of chips covered in ham — and a vibe that’s surprisingly lively for this quiet stretch of Twin Bridges. Natural wines are the name of the game here, but for something different, try the five-finger martini, a blend of vermouth and sherry that comes recommended by New York Times critic Pete Wells.

Brown chairs are lined up behind the bar, while a chandelier hangs from the ceiling.
The bar at Ernesto’s.
Rachel Vanni/Ernesto’s

The Four Horsemen

There’s no bad seats at this Williamsburg natural wine bar: Not at the counter, where it’s easier to order another glass of colorful pet-nat. Not in its intimate back dining room, with narrow views of the kitchen. Not even out front, at a well-lit outdoor setup that’s stood the test of two pandemic winters. Though the Four Horsemen is probably best known for its Michelin star (bestowed in 2020) or LCD Soundsystem affiliation, restaurant enthusiasts know that some of the neighborhood’s best food is found here, on a short menu that rotates often.

Ammazzacaffè

Sometimes picking an ultra-trendy spot for a date feels like someone is trying too hard. Ammazzacaffè is a cozy, underrated restaurant in East Williamsburg that strikes just the right tone of low-key-yet-romantic night out. The food here also stands on its own (the calamari skewers and one of its several pasta plates are recommended), plus there’s an extensive amaro list to choose from as well as the usual cocktails and wine. If available, request to sit in toward the back area, which is a little bit more darkly-lit and intimate.

Bottles of liquor and wine are arranged on an illuminated shelf at an East Williamsburg bar called Ammazzacaffè.
The bar at Ammazzacaffè.
Ammazzacaffè

The Ten Bells Brooklyn

Splitting a bottle of natural wine at the Ten Bells in the Lower East Side is one of the most tried-and-true date scenarios in all of New York City. So when the popular wine bar expanded to Bushwick it made sure to bring all of its hallmark romanticism with it, managing to do so in a space that is noticeably brighter. Still, the lighting here is as good as it gets while still being able to see someone’s face and a menu of snacks is always welcomed for dates that go better and longer than expected. Plus, unlike the Manhattan original, this Ten Bells has a full liquor license in case cocktails are needed to kick off or wind down the night.

An L-shaped bar counter with multiple dark wooden stools pulled up and custom light fixtures hanging overhead
The bar at the Ten Bells.
The Ten Bells

Winona's

Winona’s is located on a street that doesn’t get a ton of foot traffic, making the converted, industrial-looking restaurant feel clandestine and cool. For those in the know, Winona’s is a great see-and-be-seen kind of date spot. The music here is fun and the lighting isn’t too dim, which makes it ideal for a special occasion that is celebratory but not ultra-serious. The restaurant excels at often having dishes that accommodate most diets, and its daily-changing pop-ups allow for each visit to feel like an entirely new date night out.

Light wooded furniture and red bar stools are spread throughout a stone-colored dining room at Winona’s in Bed-Stuy.
Inside of Winona’s.
Winona’s

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Popina

Understated beauty is what’s on the menu at this Italian restaurant in an area of Cobble Hill, these days referred to as the Columbia Waterfront District. Whether a couple decides to share the chicken milanese or the orecchiette with lamb sugo, Popina gets the power of simplicity done right, making it a solid neighborhood option for a special occasion. In the warmer months, a date activity can include playing backyard bocce while waiting for the chocolate chess pie dessert. 

Chairs and bar stools are pulled up to blonde-colored furniture and a bar top inside of Popina, a restaurant in Cobble Hill.
The dining room at Popina.
Popina

June

At June, sharing plates like whipped ricotta or carrots with brown butter make for light-and-easy pairings for the real star of the show here: the extensive wine list. But diners don’t have to be a wine expert to impress a significant other at this stunning Cobble Hill bar and restaurant. In fact, the romantic interior design does all the talking. The vintage-y light bulbs, handsome bar, and stained glass feel like something out of a 20th century Parisian cafe. 

An ornate wine bar decorated with vintage light bulbs, a handsome marble countertop, and stained glass.
Vintage light bulbs hang throughout June Wine Bar.
June

Hart's

Quarters are tight at Hart’s but that’s precisely what helps make this restaurant one of the sexiest date spots around. Light and breezy, coastal-focused dishes like the popular clam toast are what’s highlighted on the menu here. Daily-changing specials offer something new to find with each visit — making it a date spot to keep on regular rotation that never gets old while smushed up against some of Brooklyn’s hippest couples. Just be sure to stop by a little early, as it can be hard to snag a seat during prime time operating hours (if it is, try your luck at the team’s other restaurant just a few blocks away: the Fly). 

Related Maps