Whether you’re a local meeting someone for the first time or a visiting couple on a honeymoon, New York City is full of the best date night restaurants. This cosmopolitan city is a hot spot for food culture and romantic atmosphere. The only problem is there’s too many to choose from! In a town where there are so many restaurants that they’re spilling out onto the streets, how are you supposed to know where to go? Or, more importantly, which place will impress your date the most?
Here are our personal recommendations of the best date night restaurants in the city. And as for making a good impression, check out how many of these restaurants are AAA Diamond Rated. For more information on the AAA Diamond Rating system, click here.
Formerly a carriage house used by Aaron Burr himself, One if by Land, Two if by Sea is a fine dining restaurant with a Revolutionary War theme. The restaurant is named after the famous ride of Paul Revere, and the decor is reminiscent of New York’s Revolutionary history. Their beautiful dining rooms feature stained glass, chandeliers, fireplaces and arched windows looking out onto a lush garden. And like many other Colonial structures, it’s rumored to be haunted. For some reason, that just makes it sound more romantic. Some choice options from the three-course prix fixe menu include hand-pulled pasta, rabbit schnitzel, New Zealand venison and pumpkin-spiked racks of lamb. It’s pricey, but you’ll never find a more romantic trip back in time.
The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park is a New York landmark, offering romantic views of the park and the lake with your meal. It’s the perfect spot for a date – like a getaway right in the middle of Manhattan. It’s actually the only Manhattan restaurant situated right on the edge of a lake. The menu isn’t anything to sneeze at either! You can try the cedar plank salmon, the coffee-chili rubbed pork loin or the char-grilled octopus for starters. Afterward, you can take a romantic rowboat ride for two around the lake. It’s one of the best date night restaurants in NYC.
La Grenouille is a luxurious French restaurant that opened in the mid-60s. There just aren’t French restaurants like this in New York City anymore. Its old-fashioned dedication to style and class adds an air of romance to everything beyond its doors. The restaurant is filled with giant bouquets of fresh flowers, which are said to be collected and arranged by the owner himself. Waiters in ties and white suit jackets tend to your every need. For men, jackets are required to enter the dining room. But don’t worry if you’ve forgotten yours; they have jackets that you can borrow. Once you get there, make sure to order a souffle – they’re the house specialty.
Around dinnertime, you might find a lot of Williamsburg foodies circling around a nondescript building with a wooden exterior. This is Zenkichi, the ultimate in private dining experiences, and one of the best date night restaurants in the city. It’s so private that it doesn’t even have a sign. Zenkichi is an authentic Japanese brasserie, opened by a homesick Tokyo native. Once you get past the front door, the attentive staff of Zenchichi will lead you down a darkened hall filled with mirrors, bamboo, lanterns and smooth stones. Your seating area is a cozy wooden booth with long rattan blinds that can be pulled up or down depending on how much privacy you’d like. You and your date can make the most of your evening by ordering the omakase, the chef’s tasting menu. The omakase changes based on the season and the availability of the freshest ingredients.
Looking for something a little spicier? The Tamarind Tribeca is a fine-dining Indian restaurant with magnificently flavorful food. The actual restaurant, designed by a famous architect, has lofty ceilings and wide table spacing. You and your date can chat the night away, without feeling like the other diners are right on top of you. The Tamarind Tribeca’s Indian menu makes it a great option for vegetarians, who won’t have to settle for salad. Carnivores can chow down on lamb kababs, Punjabi mutton and prawns, while vegetarians delight in curries, chana pindi and vegetable jalfrezi.
La Lanterna di Vittorio is a moody little Italian restaurant in the village with romantic decor and an extremely attentive staff. It has a beautiful indoor-garden dining room, which is filled with vines, lanterns and fireplaces, topped off with a greenhouse ceiling. The dining room beneath the garden is a bit more cozy, dark and intimate. The restaurant specializes in brick oven pizza and serves the best lasagna in the city. I’m not a lasagna person, but on my first bite of La Lanterna di Vittorio’s lasagna bolognese, I nearly cried.
What are the best date night restaurants for you? Let us know in the comments below!