NYC Dating: You’re there first. You check your phone, pocket it, check it again. Then you see them.

It’s your first date. You’re nervous as hell. They smile, say hello – or at least, that’s what you think they say. It’s so noisy in here you can’t be sure!

Sometimes, nothing beats a loud, buzzing, vibrant bar – but when you’re meeting that special someone for the first time and really want to get to know them (and for them to get to know you), you may find yourself in need of somewhere a little more conducive to meaningful conversation.

Never fear. New York is host to some fine, sophisticated spots, vibrant in their own way – whilst also chilled and relaxing

1. The Modern – 9 W 53rd St

The Modern is arguably one of the finest restaurants in all of NYC. The Dining Room is renowned city-wide for being the birthplace of multitudes of near-perfection dishes, inventive enough with ingredients to be innovative, delicious enough to keep you coming back for more. The French-style décor complements perfectly the chic ambience of the restaurant; high ceilings and exquisite views give the place an atmosphere unlike any other. Low-level music offsets the gentle hum of fellow diners, and conversation will flow (as will the wine). As the night progresses, move into The Bar – a greater buzz of chat and music may well encourage just that little less conversation, a little more sustained eye contact…

2. Elsa – 136 Atlantic Ave

Situated in Cobble Hill, Elsa is a low-key bar with Art Deco light fixtures and impressive cheese plates – although it’s the truly magnificent cocktails that will make you stay. Old favorites are joined by subversive new concoctions, such as the Queen of Swords, colorfully combining whiskey, amaro and matcha horchata. Elsa is beautifully lit, elegant, civilized – perfect for a flirtatious tête-à-tête out of earshot of others. No reservations necessary – ideal for a last-minute get-together.

3. Bemelmans Bar – 35 E 76th St, Carlyle Hotel

Bemelmans represents a joyous throwback to a time when waiters wore dinner jackets; tables were bedecked in individual lamps; and renditions of Porter and Davis wafted from a nearby Steinway grand. The flattering amber lighting will make both you and your date look even more alluring, and the decibels of fine jazz ensure your sweet nothings are heard, not overheard. Bemelmans is vintage incarnate – and it knows it. You and your date can immerse yourself in a warm, nostalgic ambience of a time long past, all the while considering the potential future yet to come.

4. Raines Law Room – 48 W 17th St

In one word? Classy. In two words? Classy and sexy (okay that’s three). Raines Law Room is a cute speakeasy-esque basement bar in a townhouse just off Union Square, quiet enough that you can imagine being shushed after overzealously guffawing at your date’s anecdote in a tipsy ploy for their affections. Raines is characterised by armchairs, couches and moody lighting – perfect for cosying up in a barely illuminated corner and turning on the charm. The cocktails are superb, the brainchildren of a team of highly knowledgeable bartenders, and there is a quaint patio out back that many guests don’t seem to know about – although be prepared to wait for entrance to it if you don’t have a reservation.

5. Hotel Delmano – 82 Berry St

From the unmarked street entrance to the antique interior, which serves to be simultaneously classic and shabby chic, Hotel Delmano is quintessentially Brooklyn. A stunning cocktail menu is complemented by a warm, hospitable welcome. Enjoy the speed at which the bartenders create bespoke cocktails at a white marble bar; indulge in the retro décor, which never comes across as trying too hard to be anything it’s not. With a good selection of food and some super friendly waiting staff, Hotel Delmano is topped off by its USP: you can’t stand while you drink. This keeps rowdiness to a minimum and means you can both hear and engage with your companion – all the while enjoying some oysters or prosciutto.


If you’re a New Yorker looking for any advice love related, why not get in touch and see if we at Maclynn (formerly Vida) can help you navigate your dating journey.