Remember that scene in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie asks Jennifer Hudson why she moved to New York and she dead-ass said, “to fall in love”? Yeah…lol. Look, I moved here two years ago (for a job) and I’ve learned that in order to fall in love, you have to go on a first date. I miss college, a place where I could meet my boyfriend at a fraternity party while fully blacked out and not have to worry about it. Needless to say, we met, made out, ate leftover Chipotle in my dorm room and then dated for two years. Those were the f*cking days. Post-grad dating in New York is nothing like that, for a number of reasons (like the epidemic of guys who will ghost you after meeting your family but then watch all your Insta stories), but also because you will have to slog through lots of first dates.
So all of this made me think about why I hate first dates so much and I landed on the following: meeting up with a person, whether you have previously met or not, at a loud bar at 8pm on a Tuesday sucks. It just does. Unless you work until 8pm, in which case, I’m so sorry, no sound-minded person wants to put on makeup and a cute outfit and sip cocktails at the time you’re usually clicking “watch next episode” on Netflix. So then I thought: why don’t we just not do the whole “let’s get drinks” thing for a first date, and let me just say, I’ve never been happier. So if you’re interested in something other than screaming over each other over $14 cocktails, read on for NYC date options that are not at a bar.
1. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
Ok, I know this sounds aggressive, but maybe not! I’m a messy, disgusting eater, so I figure the guy who may end up dating me would probably like to find out if he can stand the sight of me deep-throating a cheeseburger sooner rather than later. I’m just looking out. Anyway, this Cobble Hill spot is too f*cking cute to pass up. Seriously, I am made of ice and even I loved it, but more importantly, Blake Lively loves it. Okay, so if you are unclear as to what this place actually is, allow me to enlighten you. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain is an old-school diner in an authentic pharmacy circa the 1920s. According to the website, the exterior was ugly af, so the current owners redid it so that it matched the adorable interiors, which haven’t been touched (except for necessary changes, like electric and plumbing) since the pharmacy opened. This place serves classics like banana splits, corndogs, etc.
Since no one reading this was on the dating scene back in the days when the youths actually went on dates to places like this, you won’t be able to appreciate it from a nostalgic perspective, but you will be able to obsess over it from an aesthetic perspective. If you’re going to go here, don’t pretend you’re too cool to be there and order something stupid. Live it the f*ck up and get a root beer float with two straws and chase it with a big-ass order of fries. If there is no second date after going here, he ain’t worth sh*t. Next!
2. Kick Axe
I don’t know about y’all, but I love a good pun. You know what else I love? Winding up and hurling a three-pound axe across a room. Just fun girly things! Full disclosure, if you don’t have a sense of humor, this place isn’t for you. Unlike bowling (ew) or shooting (gag), no one is actually good at throwing an axe. But that’s why it’s so fun. This place is also really cool because, unlike your childhood bowling alley, there is an aesthetic here. If you’ve ever been to one of those wineries in Redhook, it kind of looks like that, except there’s a giant area blocked off for guests to catapult axes through the air with the greatest of ease. Book a reservation and eat/drink first and throw axes after. And if the date goes poorly, you already have a weapon in hand! (Kidding. Am I? …Yeah okay.)
3. Comedy Cellar
This is my favorite place in the world, which is saying a lot considering I’ve been to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum twice. Seriously, if I could get married at Comedy Cellar, I would. *Googles if Comedy Cellar does weddings* Look, this is truly a perfect place to go on a first date because you’ll know immediately if he/she has a sense of humor or is the type of asshole who heckles comedians. These are the only qualities you need to know about a person! You’ll also find out if he/she can hang pretty quickly because if you’re going to Comedy Cellar in a group of two, you will most likely be seated in the front row, which is essentially on the stage and there’s nothing better than Amy Schumer asking how you and your date met. You will get called out and if your date can roll with it, he/she’s a keeper! Comedy Cellar, or any comedy club for that matter, is also amazing because you don’t really have to talk. In fact, don’t talk! The comedians will yell at you and that’s embarrassing. I know what you’re thinking: but if we don’t talk, how will we get to know one another? Look, you don’t learn anything of substance on a first date, okay? You learn what kind of food they don’t like, how many siblings they have and, if you’re lucky, how over their ex they are. So Comedy Cellar is a good and realistic alternative to the classic, “what’s your favorite color?” kind of questions on a “let’s get drinks” first date. There’s also a bar next door where you can get drinks after, so chill.
4. The Belfry
Most bars have a trivia night and, in my opinion, you will find out everything you need to know about a person based on how they perform at trivia.The Belfry is a cool of-the-moment bar, but on Tuesdays, they have a flamin’ hot game of trivia! Of course, they have delicious discounted specials that change every week, so if you like cheap bar food that’s usually expensive while you realize you know absolutely nothing about World War I, the Belfry is for you. If you’re wondering why this place is different/better than other bars who do trivia, I’ll tell you. Those other places are horrifying sports bars that have inexplicably sticky floors and toilet paper everywhere. Like your college bar, only worse because you’re not in college anymore. The Belfry is actually a really cool bar and somewhere you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be if you ran into someone you know there any other night of the week. It’s chic, it’s delicious, and it’s actually pretty expensive, but 100% worth it.
5. Escape The Room
I’d have to say that I lost my innocence after seeing Brie Larson slay in Room. This movie freaked me out so much that I am truly shocked people are willing to pay money to get locked in a room with other people, relying on clues to get themselves out. However, I did an escape room once and it was f*cking fun. There were moments when I thought, “Yep, this is how I’m going to die,” but there were also moments when I realized that maybe I wouldn’t be the first to go if the Hunger Games were real! Escape rooms are a great first date because if you’re smart (hello), you get to show off how clever you are, which is such a turn-on, right? If you are both dumb and can’t figure out how to escape, they will let you out, and you can laugh about it after. After that, you can celebrate not dying with a drink or seven! And if your date sucks, you can take the escape room literally and run away after.
Images: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash; escapetheroomusa, belfrynyc, comedycellarusa, kickaxethrowing, brooklynfarmacy / Instagram
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, finding a bar in a big city is hard. It’s especially hard if you’re looking for a date spot, and you want to
fool convince your date that you are a classy individual who does not choose establishments solely based on happy hour prices. Life is hard, but there is good news! If you’re based in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Miami, Nashville, Dallas, Washington DC, Phoenix-Scottsdale, Houston, Seattle, Orange County, or Toronto, there’s an app to help you out. Skorch is a new app that can help you pick bars, restaurants, lounges, and other hotspots in your city.
And the best part? Every locale is specifically curated to what you’re looking for. You can refine your results based on “hotness” and distance (which is, incidentally, how I choose my dating app matches), plus you can filter by category: bar, club, lounge, cafe, restaurant, event, attraction, and outdoor.
Basically, Skorch takes all the effort, difficulty, and indecision out of picking a place to eat and drink. So I decided to put Skorch to the test and see what classy date spots I could find in NYC using the app. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
When Gallow Green came up on Skorch I knew I had to include it, because it’s so classy I could only afford to go there when my cousin was the bartender. Excuse me, the mixologist. Thanks for the free drinks, Kev!
Gallow Green is a rooftop bar at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, and it makes you feel like you are in a secret tranquil garden atop this dirty trash city. You can order drinks or dinner, or drinks AND dinner. Plus, you can say things like, “I’ll have the Scottish Law. Do you only have Glenlivet 18-year, or can you substitute with Glenlivet 21-year?” and then throw a suggestive wink at my guy. Locked. It. Up.
Jack’s Wife Freda
Jack’s Wife Freda is located in my absolute favorite part of New York City, the West Village. You can’t get much classier than a neighborhood where I saw Liv Tyler every morning on the way to work, am I right?
Not only is Jack’s Wife Freda in a great spot, but it also has a menu that’s the bomb, relatively reasonable prices, and is in a small space, so you’ll be able to get pretty close to your date. So ideal! And when you’re finished, you can stroll down the quaint streets together, pointing out all the beautiful brownstones and pick out the one you’ll buy together once you’ve scraped together $12 million.
Oh HELLO, do my eyes deceive me or is this a still from a rom-com?
The Standard Biergarten
Just admit it, we all love to day drink. The sun is shining, the possibilities are endless, and you can get to bed at 9pm. I know you’re thinking that day drinking might not be all that elegant, but you’re wrong. Sure, maybe it’s not classy when you’re in the backyard of the Sigma Chi house doing keg stands, but at a luxury boutique hotel where you might find Solange assaulting Jay-Z in an elevator? Abso-f*cking-lutely.
At the Standard Biergarten you can get, you guessed it, beer, as well as the other traditional German fare. And if you like a little competitive element to your dates, you can pass the time at the ping-pong table, since every dude likes a girl that can hit a winner.
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge
Sure, Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge is in Times Square, but some of us work in Midtown! And everyone likes a quick commute to their cocktail. Magic Hour is owned by the Tao Group, who also own Tao and Lavo, two of my favorite high-class places. The $19 dumplings are to
go broke for die for.
Magic Hour has expensive cocktails and a great view, but it also has cheeky elements that make it a perfect date spot. It’s got a mini golf course that is called Foreplay and features sexy animals in suggestive poses. Yes, I did just say “sexy animals.” And sure, a mini-golf course called Foreplay might not be coy, but sometimes you just have to be forward about what you want. Am I right, ladies?
And those are just a few of the many ideas that Skorch gave me for my classy date night! It’s available in a bunch of cities, so if you’re trying to snag husband material in say, Austin, you should definitely check it out. And you can use Skorch for way more than bars, like planning your next group dinner, finding a cute cafe to work at, or deciding where to go for your best night out.
Imags: Shutterstock; magichourny, standardbiergarten, jackswifefreda, gallowgreen / Instagram
The holiday season really is the best time of the year to be in a relationship. It’s great to have that special person to share the season with, plus you probably get more presents for Christmas. Some of us are still out here searching for our cuffing season partners, but I promise I’m not bitter. If you’re in New York City and your Ho-Ho-Hoeing days are over, we have some prime ideas for your December date nights. Here are all of the best holiday date spots in NYC.
The Standard East Village Winter Garden & The Standard Biergarten
Two totally different vibes, both one hundred percent worth checking out with your SO.
For this holiday season, you can rent a yurt at The Standard East Village’s outside area. Wtf is a “yurt,” you might ask? Its essentially a cozy decorative tent, originally used by the nomads in Central Asia. They are cozy AF and filled with fuzzy blankets and chairs. Fill up on fondue and mulled wine with your partner, or why not get a group together?. I’d recommend making a reservation in advance, but there are a couple of yurts that are for walk-ins only. The yurts are open Mon-Fri from 4pm-9pm, and Sat-Sun 11am-9pm.
The Standard downtown is heavy on the holiday decor, but in an entirely different way. Check out the Biergarten, where they’ve transformed the standard (haha) look into a bright, neon winter wonderland. The space is chock-full of colorful Christmas trees and plenty of mistletoe to set the mood. They have spiked AND virgin hot cocoa, so what are you waiting for?
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Our #WinterWonderland at The Plaza has arrived, filled with tinsel trees, twinkling lights, and a candy colored pathway leading to our Naughty (and Nice) Hot Cocoa bar. We’d say “tag us in your pics” but from the looks of it, you already have that covered. And for those who are still searching for the perfect gift, @hesterstreetfair will be joining us on 12/8 + 12/9. ????✨☕???? // ????: @makeitnice
Winter Village At Bryant Park
Walking in a Winter Wonderland—I mean Village—is a great way to get into the holiday spirit with your partner. Eat food, shop, and get a drink at “The Lodge,” this year’s rink-side pop-up, open daily from 8am-10pm. Pig out on popular eateries such as Todaro Bros, Pierogi Boys, Squish S’mores Bar, and more in the “après ski” style food hall. Brought to you by Urban Space, the same people who bring you Broadway Bites and Mad Sq Eats, Winter Village is a good place to check out day or night. You’ll forget you’re in the city for a moment as you browse through all the shops in Bryant Park. If you’re a fairly new couple, this could be a good gift spot to give your SO something small, but meaningful, as a memento of your date. And as always, the lawn is transformed into an open ice rink for the season. It’s free to skate if you have your own, but let’s be real, who does? So bring $20 for rentals.
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Yule Want S’More for sure ???????? Created my NYC Holiday Guide without spending lots of ???? check it out if you need some inspo this holiday season for where you should visit / take ????! (link in bio) . . . #thestackery #newyork #newyorkcity #bryantpark #nyc #nyceeeeeats #newforkcity #nyctourist #nycdessert #bryantparkwintervillage #nycholidays #holidaybucketlist #nycblogger #nycfood
Mickey: The True Original Exhibition
Make a little Disney holiday magic by celebrating Mickey’s 90th anniversary with your partner at 60 10th Ave. in Chelsea. After all, who didn’t grow up watching everything Disney? Spend an hour or two exploring the exhibit filled with fantasy and fun. You will find multiple artists’ interpretations of the iconic mouse. The space is saturated with Mickey sculptures, bright murals, paintings, and plenty of vintage Mickey merch. Enjoy a complimentary cup of Ample Hills ice cream served in the Mickey Mouse Cade, which is decorated just like the Mickey Mouse club, a small taste of nostalgia. You get a choice between two flavors: Confetti Celebration or Triple Chocolate Surprise. Why not get one of each and split? Get your tickets online, in advance.
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Amanda Ross-Ho’s “Untitled T-Shirt (NONAGENARIAN)” turns the classic Mickey ringer tee into an iconic, thought-provoking experience. Here’s Sarah Jessica Parker taking it all in. Come see it, along with many more original Mickey-inspired works, now through February 10 in New York City. ????
Miracle On 9th St.
Check out Miracle on 9th for a seasonal setting serving fun holiday cocktails in the East Village at bar Mace. Dress: casual. Wear a cozy sweater and get spirited—in more ways than one. There’s even a corner for Hanukkah, decked out with dreidels and blue lights! The drink “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” is tequila-based and basically made for me. The cocktails are strong, but not too strong. You’ll definitely want to try a few. Cozy up next to your SO with a fun holiday cocktail and enjoy the decadent decor. What makes it even cooler is that Miracle is not just in the East Village—there are “Miracle” pop-ups worldwide!