Like a dress that can take you from day to evening, Brooklyn Label seamlessly handles the transition from coffee bar to bar and restaurant. As darkness falls, the flicker of candles replaces the glow of Apple products. Regulars sit at the great big bar of this Greenpoint cafe and gradually switch from latte to pint.
We left Koliba mildly befuddled, not by the service or the food, but because all the blood had left our brains to assist in digestion. Do not eat here if you have to multiply fractions, operate heavy machinery, or perform any other task that requires brain power and hand-eye coordination that night.
Although Manetta's has a special "old time favorites" section on the menu, the truth is that everything feels like an old-time favorite at this trattoria in Long Island City.
To eat at Kuma Inn, first you have to find it—on the second floor of an unmarked building on Ludlow Street. You could call it a speakeasy, or a reward for persistence, or the best possible outcome of climbing up a staircase with no idea what's at the top.
Naka Naka presents a demure alternative to the big box restaurants of the Meatpacking District. At around twenty seats, it offers intimacy, delicacy, and intricacy.
Reserve bills itself as the city's only Thai wine bar. More than 15 wines are served by the glass, all meant to "compliment or challenge" the Thai flavors. While some of the dishes might be familiar from your regular go-to place, overall Reserve doesn't want to be your standard Thai takeout joint.
There are cheaper, more casual Sichuan options elsewhere, but the combination of genteel surroundings and full-throttle food at Land of Plenty makes it a winning choice for a date.
Urubamba, in Jackson Heights, is a restaurant to root for, with a clientele utterly devoted to its takes on traditional Peruvian food.
You probably can't get simpler than Sud Vino e Cucina, a restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant specializing in traditional Italian food, with an emphasis on specialties of southern Italy.
For those of us who can't afford a ticket to the Continent, there's Pates et Traditions, a restaurant in Williamsburg specializing in dishes from the south of France with a north African inflection.
Of course, if the company's good enough, you can have a great date anywhere. But some restaurants offer a magical combination of food, atmosphere, and comfortable seating that simply lends itself to more fun and more romance. Here are our favorites from 2012.
Gottscheer Hall, home to one of the largest Gottschee organizations in the world, dates to 1924 and appears unchanged since the Eisenhower administration. But the past doesn't merely persist here: it thrives.
In the days following Hurricane Sandy, Foragers City Table in Chelsea closed. It recently reopened with a new menu that's pricier and not as suited for sharing. But the focus on organic ingredients prepared with an Asian inflection in an open, echoing space remains the same.
Zampa isn't the sort of restaurant you'd expect to find on the edge of the Meatpacking District. Specializing in cheese, charcuterie, and wine, it's made for the kind of date in which you want to show you care without coming off as overly committed.
El Mio Cid sits on the corner of Starr and Wilson in Bushwick, a cheerful yellow facade, bordered with plants, across from dollar stores and a bunker-like middle school. Just as this part of the neighborhood still belongs to Old Bushwick, El Mio Cid belongs to Old Spain.
With its rough-hewn walls, butcher block tables, and low golden light, Anella can make you wonder if Sysco sells a Romantic Brooklyn Restaurant starter kit. Yet, the food reveals a gentle care and attention to detail that can't be mass-produced.
Some call what comes out of the kitchen at Singapura "Asian fusion." While the dishes do draw on ingredients and preparations from a wide swatch of the continent, including India, Thailand, Malaysia, and the provinces of China home to the Hakka people, they represent, according to the menu, what's made by housewives and hawkers in Singapore. Singapura offers an excellent introduction into this multifaceted cooking culture.
They say the devil's in the details, but at Silk Rd Tavern, a restaurant in the Flatiron district specializing in Asian and American comfort foods, the devil's in the abbreviation. It's "Rd," not "Road," and the lack of the two letters lets the Asian-American comfort food get away with a lot. Things get swapped, substituted, mashed up, the familiar gets reimagined and rendered un-.
"I was on a date here last week," said the lady at the table next to ours at Alice's Arbor. We'll summarize for you: the date went well! Perhaps the couple simply had chemistry, but we think this seasonal American restaurant/grocery/cafe on the border of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy played a big part. After all, it's a date-tastic place.
Wine and flowers are a simple yet winning formula, worth naming a restaurant for, worth building a date around, worth including in a guide to New York City.