If you grew up watching Sex and the City, you probably moved to New York with dreams of glamour, dating, and designer shoes.
I’ll be the first to admit that dating in New York isn’t all that Carrie and the gang made it out to be, especially in the age of online dating.
You end up on a string of first dates searching for someone attractive that you have great chemistry with.
The silver lining to the endless lineup of initial meet-ups is getting to try a new bar or even a restaurant if you’re lucky.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I’ve had what feels like a million first dates.
Take my advice and plan your next rendezvous at one of my favorite best first date spots in NYC. Even if the meet-up sucks, you’re sure to still have an excellent time.
The Beatrice Inn
The Beatrice Inn has the sexiest bar in the West Village. If Sex and the City were still shooting today, there’s no doubt this place would be a spot Carrie dines at. In fact, SJP and a ton of other fashionistas have been known to dine here.
The bar is dark and lit by small votive candles scattered all over. Plus, no matter the time of day or year, there’s always a fire roaring in the corner. In my opinion, it’s one of the most romantic places in NYC.
The music is on point, and the drinks are epic. They even have a smoked Manhattan cocktail that comes out in clouds of smoke.
Okay, so full disclaimer—I used to be the maitre’d here. This means I’ve seen hundreds of first dates come through this place. Most of those dates end really well.
This is a spot to take a person you want to impress. If you hit it off with your date, grab some dinner. The menu is sexy as hell and food is European and indulgent—you’ll feel like you’re in heaven.
I cannot get enough of this speakeasy—it’s one of the best spots for a late-night drink. My boyfriend and I used to end up here at least once a week with cravings for their Espresso Martini. The cocktails are consistently solid, and the ambiance is foolproof for any date night.
If you haven’t been to Dear Irving before, let me fill you in—this place has the coolest interior. They decorate each room in the style of different time periods.
Ask for the 1920s room, it’s my favorite. They also have little buzzers at each table, so you only see your server when necessary.
The Other Room
This West Village gem is where my boyfriend and I had our second date. I love it because it’s never packed, and it’s got dim lighting and candles scattered about.
The Other Room is the perfect place to grab a drink as you get to know each other. If you’re both hitting it off and want privacy, they have a few cozy booths in the back available on a first-come basis.
Looking for a place that’s fun and filled with laughter?
The Stand is both a bar and a comedy club. It’s the ideal spot if you’re looking for a fun way to impress your date.
This watering hole has a cozy rustic feel that gives off great vibes. The cocktails are all creative, and the food is delicious. I always end up with a burger, fries, and one of their seasonal cocktails.
I’ve spent a lot of date nights here, and I’ve got to say it’s always been a great time. The staff is friendly, and the comedians are typically on point. Plus, they have great music that’s low enough to have a conversation over.
You can’t go wrong with this pick unless one of the comedians embarrasses you in front of your date.
The Wayland has a cool, cozy vibe, solid food menu, great happy hour cocktails, and oysters. It’s an excellent place to share a cheese plate or oysters and drinks as you get to know your sweetheart.
Plus, it’s got romantic dim lighting, and occasionally live music.
I’d pick this spot for midweek dates, as it gets crowded on the weekends.
The Headless Horseman
Are you trying to find somewhere chill, intimate, and unpretentious?
Check out The Headless Horseman, it’s a little tavern marked by two torches outside its doors. It’s a superb low key spot to meet a date—just get there early to score a table or place at the bar.
The Penrose is the perfect pick to hang out with a group of friends or with that attractive someone. In fact, it’s where my boyfriend and I met for our first date!
The atmosphere at this place never disappoints. It’s another spot that knows how to balance dim lighting with scattered candles.
Their menu has an elevated English pub feel to it—order the fries, they’re some of my favorite in the city.
This is another spot that gets crazy on the weekends, so try to schedule your date here on a weeknight.
Katana Kitten is a Japanese cocktail bar with 80’s music, creative cocktails, and an excellent ambiance.
I love grabbing their Japanese Curry Bowl and Toki Highball. Every time I come here I have a wonderful time, especially on dates.
This place gets packed—arrive early to score seats together.
If you want a cool and casual feel for your first outing, then Dante is your spot. I have friends who have their date night here every weekend—trust me, you’ll become just as obsessed.
This intimate Greenwich Village gem has a laid-back European vibe and killer negronis. If you’re planning a weekend meet-up, arrive early as this place gets packed on the weekends.
If you get stuck planning a midtown date, Haswell Green’s is the place to pick. It doesn’t look like much from the front—so it keeps most of those pesky tourists out.
It will shock you when you make your way into the back bar, it feels like you’ve been transported downtown.
The lounge is beautifully lit with candles scattered around the room. My favorite part is that they have a band or off-duty Broadway singers performing. You’ll get major props for finding such a cool place in a sea of subpar touristy locales.
This is another Upper East Side spot that I used to frequent a lot. Uva’s bar is small but cute, so arrive early if you’re hoping to score seats.
If you’re feeling confident and want to make it a dinner date, make a reservation ahead of time. I like requesting the back garden room, it’s got a nice romantic vibe year-round.
Their food is consistently delicious, and the wine list is extensive. Romance (and the smell of truffle) will be in the air at this little Italian gem.
Wilfie and Nell
I swear every New Yorker has had at least one date at Wilfie and Nell. They have warm, intimate decor, friendly bartenders, and great music.
If you haven’t had a date here, go ahead and give it a try. There’s a good reason it’s such a popular date spot.
Are you looking for a more active rendezvous idea?
Grab a coffee and stroll around Central Park together. It’s iconic and romantic in almost any season, plus it’s easy to bail if the meeting isn’t going well.
Go to a Museum
If you’re looking for the perfect non-drinking activity in the city, look no further than one of the city’s many museums. I typically find it an interesting way to judge a person by what artwork they’re drawn to. My go to’s are always the MET, MoMA, or The Whitney.
No matter where you pick, just remember it’s about the person you’re meeting, not the location you’re meeting them in. Don’t put pressure on the situation, just be present, ask them questions, and have fun. Some day out of the blue, that dreaded first date could end up being your Mr. Big and the last “first date” you ever go on.
Meet The Author
Ally Gibson is the creator of the travel blog AllyTravels.com. She’s a New Yorker who’s got too many clothes and is attempting to travel the world with only two suitcases.
Lately, she’s been sheltering in Toronto and is hoping to travel again as soon as it’s safe.
A Note From Hailey
I want to thank Ally so much for guest posting this week for Feeling Good As Hail. It’s been such a treat, I can’t wait to check out all of these places and report back to you all! Don’t forget to check out this article for the best apps to meet dudes in the city along with this article to read some of my hilariously embarrassing dating experiences while living in the city. See you bitches next week!