Looking for a romantic restaurant for a first date in New York? Our correspondent Jillian Tangen has uncovered ten great choices that will set the stage perfectly. These are the best luxurious restaurants for a first date in New York City.
what makes for the perfect romantic restaurant in new york?
Picking the perfect restaurant for a first date is no easy task. And in a city like New York, there are endless possibilities to choose from when it comes to cuisine, neighborhood, price and of course, the ever elusive vibe.
Ahhh yes, the vibe. Having the right atmosphere at your dining destination can in some cases make or break your date – or at the very least make for an interesting story to tell later on.
You want something that’s not too trendy, but also not too quiet. Someplace with attentive service, but also someplace that will also leave you alone when the convo really starts to get good. And most importantly someplace that sets the tone for romance.
So what are some good options for first date spots that will help fan the flames? With spring just around the corner, with its promise of new love and romance, we rounded up some of New York City’s best first date spots according to heatmaps, critics and of course, a little personal experience, too.
best luxurious restaurants for a first date in new york city
From classic white cloth stunners to new cozy charmers, here’s where to head for a first date in the Big Apple.
1. Le Bernardin
For more than 20 years, Le Bernardin has consistently ranked among the world’s best restaurants thanks to chef Eric Ripert’s artful approach to seafood and commitment to superb service, ultimately earning it three Michelin stars. Here you will find a more formal dining experience where jackets are required for gentlemen and only tasting menus are offered. It’s the perfect option for those looking to truly put their best foot forward.
The popular pint sized Buvette will magically transport you and your date from the West Village to Paris thanks to its charming decor and classic French bistro style menu. From personal experience, I can confirm that there’s usually a wait for a table here, but fear not, once you’re seated the food will not disappoint. And if that wasn’t enough, thanks to the restaurant’s snug size, you will most definitely end up sitting close to your date.
3. La Grenouille
For true old world elegance head to the family owned La Grenouille in Midtown. With deep red banquettes, mirrored walls and lush floral arrangements, this French restaurant is full of romantic ambiance. Couple that with gracious service and extravagant classic dishes like truffle souffle, foie gras and flambéed crêpes and you have got yourself a fairytale style first date spot.
Looking to take you date on a little dining adventure? Head to the Michelin starred Korean Steakhouse, Cote. Once there, you and your date will discover that this isn’t an ordinary Korean BBQ joint, it’s a turbocharged love letter to red meat in a glamorous nightclub style setting. If you can, opt for one of the tasting menus to explore a range of cuts, as well all the different sides and sauces you need to properly experience this meal. With all the new delicious meats and dishes hitting the grill and table in front you, there will be no shortage of topics for conversation. Word to the wise, be sure your date is a meat eater to avoid a potential disaster.
5. Eleven Madison Park
Widely considered to be one of the New York City’s very best restaurants, Eleven Madison Park is an obvious destination for a first date for those wanting to make a statement. While the restaurant’s Art Deco ceilinged dining room is certainly something to behold, it’s the amazing food and service here that is really the catch. Be sure to make reservations well in advance. Alternatively, you could opt for bite from the bar and make it a seemingly spontaneous yet romantic meal of caviar and champagne to keep it light and breezy yet elegant.
Even though it’s been on the radar for a while now, be sure to make reservations at L’Artusi well in advance. While the outside of this Italian West Village spot may seem nondescript, the inside is just the opposite. Once inside you will find an atmosphere that is intimate yet lively and food that is traditional yet imaginative. Be sure to try one of the pastas and enjoy the restaurant’s impeccable selection of Italian wines – which is essential to any good first date in my opinion.
This pick is for the last minute Larry’s and Linda’s of the world. Perhaps you just decided to go on a date or perhaps you had a busy work week and it simply slipped your mind to make plans. Don’t panic, just go to Sauvage. Located on the cusp of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, it isn’t too hard to get a table here making it a great causal yet romantic date destination thanks to its unpretentious yet chic vibe. And while the food here is great, as I can attest to, it won’t outshine getting to know your date.
If you are looking to create a feast for both the eyes and stomach, try Manhatta, located on the 60th floor of the midcentury 28 Liberty St. tower in the Financial District. With floor to ceiling windows you and your date can gaze out over the skyline of the surrounding city while enjoying the restaurant’s three course prix fixe menu. Fortunately, Manhatta is more than just views with French inspired dishes like crescent duck and scotch and snails filling out the menu.
9. Le Coucou
Le Coucou is a dramatically gorgeous first date venue thanks to its vaulted ceilings, chandeliers and white columns. The straight out of a romantic movie setting makes for a great place to share in a luxurious menu of lobster and oysters under candlelight. Just be sure to save some room for dessert as we hear the Omelette Norvégienne is out of this world.
10. One if By Land, Two if by Sea
If there is one restaurant in the city that defines romance it would be One If By Land, Two If By Sea in the West Village. Set in a historic 1767 carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr, this institution oozes romance with candlelit tables, a crackling fireplace, live piano music and a decadent menu. So it was no surprise at all to find out that it is not just one of the city’s most popular places to bring a date but also one of the most popular for popping the big question.
And there you have it, our picks for a romantic first date in NYC. Just remember that while picking a place to dine isn’t easy, being yourself is – and that’s what really matters out there in the dating world and beyond.
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Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.