From upscale American to international cuisines, make a reservation at one of these neighborhood gems for a deliciously romantic date night out. By Sarah Shaker.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen is a James Beard Foundation Award Winner, securing its spot among the city’s elite restaurants. Impress your date with dinner at ABC Kitchen, boasting local and organic ingredients on a seasonally changing menu. Start with shareable plates, such as Kabocha Squash Toast before dining on main dishes, like Roast Suckling Pig. End your meal with their famous Salted Caramel Sundae with candied peanuts and popcorn, fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Their new sister restaurant, ABC Cocina, opened this spring with rave reviews, so if you can get a reservation, add them to your date night list, too.
Homestyle Thai meals are served by candlelight within cozy exposed brick walls at Rhom. This affordable date night restaurant offers authentic Thai cuisine to a young, trendy crowd. Familiar dishes like Chicken Pad Thai and Khang Massaman Curry are offered or you can go out of your take-out comfort zone with house specialties, such as Ped Lao Dang, crispy boneless duck with red wine and vegetables. For twenty-somethings, this is the perfect place to take your crush for both the great price and hip ambiance.
Chic décor and an authentic Middle Eastern cuisine will transport you and your loved one out of New York City, if only for the evening. Start with traditional Mezza (small plates), such as Labne (strained yogurt) and Tabbouleh (a chopped salad of parsley, mint, tomato burghul) to share before dinner plates like Lamb Kebab and Kafta (spiced ground beef and lamb). For ilili on the cheap, check them out at Madison Square Eats until the end of May.
The affordable – yet decadent – tasting menu at Junoon is one of our favorite under $100, making this upscale Indian restaurant perfect for date night dining in the neighborhood. Enjoy traditional Indian dishes, like Saag Panner with a gourmet twist. If your date has a special diet or allergy, there’s also a 5 course vegetarian tasting menu available.
You don’t have to head to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for popular pies from Zero Otto Nove. Their Flatiron outpost freshly bakes the same Neapolitan wood-fired pizza with gourmet ingredients and toppings for an Italian food lovers date night. Fill your table with antipasti, thin crust pies and heavy pasta dishes, like Radiatori in Cartoccio, radiatori pasta cooked in tinfoil with porcini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, bread crumbs and shaved parmigiano reggiano.
This Gramercy Park bistro pairs Russian home cooking with a selection of infused vodkas in a relaxed, yet chic, dining room setting. Treat your date to a night of traditional meals under chandeliers, like Beef Stroganoff, filet mignon strips in creamy mushroom sauce served with buckwheat kasha and mashed home-style potatoes or Golubtzi, cabbage leaves stuffed with ground filet mignon and rice, braised in chicken bullion with carrots, tomatoes and herbs. Vintage furniture and photography create a cozy atmosphere to get close to your date over comfort food.
For farm-to-table fare in the neighborhood, you can’t go wrong with a date night dinner at Greensquare Tavern. Locally sustainable ingredients from farmers and day boat fisherman create their seasonal American menu from Chef John March. Start with something light, like this summer’s Watercress, Arugula and Strawberries or a seafood plate, such as the tender Grilled Octopus. Choose from a long list of salads, sandwiches and main plates for deliciously healthy courses.
Sarah Shaker is the founder of the blog Bright Lights, My City.