Online first dates are stressful enough — will everyone know we’ve never met? What if his/her photos lied? — but in this city you’ve got the added challenge of picking a perfect spot for a rendezvous from thousands of potential locations. So we present you with our handy guide, for which we’ve zoned in on the best options for that important first meeting, all based on which site you used to facilitate this (hopefully) excellent pairing. With these evening plans in your back pocket, it’s only a matter of time before the lonely selfies, ironic but self-congratulatory profiles, and monthly member fees all go out the window.
Match: Art Bar
Off-beat, intimate, and cozy settings are the ideal for Match.com-ers who want to wink and flirt in person. And there is no better spot in the city to share your life story, order a Stella, and discover your mutual match percentage than Art Bar. Lit like a gallery no one wants you to see, the Greenwich Village bar is chock full of first-, second-, and possibly third-daters cuddled into plush couches. Order a brew, and if the night is going well enough (you’ve discovered your date was in the PeaceCorps, they make their own bread, and love Wilco), move on to guac and brie later in the evening. If things flounder, you’re close to subway lines or Eighth Avenue, full of cabbies to take you back to your friend’s apartment to cry over one more failed date. Take solace: another email of 15 more matches is just a day away.
OkCupid: The Shanty
The OkCupid dater who actually goes on dates is an elusive breed, but there are a few willing to run the hug-or-handshake gauntlet and settle in for a drink or five. No place to head but Williamsburg, where you should start at The Shanty for some stiff gin cocktails. Impress your date with your distillery knowledge and your knowledge of all those bands you both put in your profiles, and soon, you might be off to The Commodore for some fried chicken and Six Point Sweet Action. If your date is still passing all the tests, move on to Union Pool for some late-night dancing. Where you go from there is entirely up to you, we just hope it’s better than OK. And, by the way, if you’re worried about how much this will cost, just think of all the money you saved by avoiding Match.com’s monthly membership — and by asking all those other OkCupid-ers out on dates only to have them suddenly disappear.
Going on a date with a group of six in this city is just awkward. Forget getting along or getting caught in the crosshairs of your friend’s love interest; finding the space and an affordable meal is challenge enough. Being shoved in some cramped corner is not very romantic, so if you are a Grouper dater, head to a tapas joint where groups are encouraged to share everything: Alta. Order The Whole Shebang, a meal of every single small plate on the menu (it’s a lot of tapas); your evaluations of each plate will be an immediate conversation starter in case you need something to talk about besides the fact that you’re too afraid to go on a blind date by yourself. A close second to this plan that requires less chatting: Get your bowl on at Brooklyn Bowl.
EHarmony: Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto
If you’re on EHarmony, you aren’t joking around: You’ve dropped serious dough on fees and wasted invested hours and hours of your life into answering personality questions. You are looking for Love with a capital L, so the first date spot needs to be romantic, simple, and conducive to an intimate chat so you can determine whether your financial and children-related expectations align as well as the website told you. Head to Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto. Guys, this will impress the gals. Gals, guys will be happy you’ve chosen a place with plenty of cured meat. And whether you go to the west side or east side location, you’ll be close enough to Central Park for a post-meal evening stroll. If you’ve really found your prince or princess, perhaps a horse and buggy ride with hot cocoa from La Maison du Chocolat is in order, the perfect conclusion to a fairy tale first date.
Grindr date? What? OK, if you really want an actual date, there are a few things you’re likely looking for when choosing a location: good cell reception, strong cocktails, and dark corners. So head to Therapy, where you’ll get stiff drinks, free shots, great music, and a friendly crowd of potential mates, and you’ll likely have a great time whether the “date” achieves your ultimate intention or not. A plus? Happy hour and themed shows throughout the week.
Tinder: Spitzer’s Corner
Like Grindr, it doesn’t matter how you meet, just where you end up. So choose a spot that will ease the transition from “approximately 1,200 feet from you” to the place that really matters–yours or theirs. Meet your Tinder spark somewhere special: A place to either get drunk and indulge … or load others within range in case this face-based pairing isn’t all you dreamed it would be. A safe bet is Spitzer’s Corner on the Lower East Side. Sip a wide variety of beers on tap and feast on truffle mac and cheese before you hit the inevitable make-out phase of this union and move things to more private digs. If things go awry, you’re also in the center of other exciting bars, galleries, and clubs where fellow Tinder users may be within “like” and “pass” range so your confidence-busting pursuits can continue.
If you’re using Yenta, you’re a boundary-pushing Jew, and you’ll want your date to be too. Celebrate your quasi-rebellion and hit up Traif, where you can talk about the first time you had pork, all the foods you missed out on as a child, your obligatory trip to Israel, and the soldier you hooked up with while away (on second thought, maybe leave that last detail out). Feast on bacon donuts, BBQ rib sliders, and tuna tartar on fried eggplant, great first date foods even if mom wouldn’t totally approve.
How About We: The Highline and The Standard Hotel Beer Garden
Screw the classic drinks and a movie, How About We do something romantic-sounding, only to find our activity is overrun with tourists? Yes, we’re talking about the Highline-Standard Beer Garden combo, a favorite of this crew. You’ve already hooked in your potential mate with that dreamy line, so now really impress them: Time your trip to the Highline so you can participate in the Stargazing program with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York and its high-powered telescopes. You’ll still drop an unnecessary amount of cash on pretzels and beer at The Standard, but you’ll have the chance to start an intense game of ping-pong. Whoever wins has to pay for the next date: Serendipity frozen hot chocolates and a stroll in Central Park.
Sparkology: The Dead Rabbit
When your career requires you to be at work at 6 a.m. and in bed by 9 p.m., who has time to meet people? This site is for straight-to-the-point, forget-the-foreplay-and-get-me-drunk professionals. Take your business-savvy self out with your handsomely suited date for some cocktails at The Dead Rabbit. Talk about how successful you are, where you vacation, and the best stress-relieving massage therapist in town over absinthe and hot toddies. Once you realize you both named your horses Scout and love to sail, plan the next date at Daniel. The wine list is to die for.
JDate: Shalom Bombay
Stop the kvetching and take your bashert to a location that’ll impress Conservatives and Reform Jews alike. Skip the mishegas and go to Shalom Bombay, the Glatt Kosher Indian Kitchen. Nosh and shmooze over chicken tikka masala and complimentary (score!) papri chaat. If your date is a real mensch, head to Kutsher’s Tribeca the next time round for more traditional fair, where you’ll kvell over the pastrami sandwich with duck schmaltz fries and matzoh ball soup.