11 Cozy New York City Bars And Restaurants For Winter Date Night
Winter brings early sunsets, frigid temperatures, and a whole lot of nasty gray slush to the streets of New York—but fortunately, there’s no shortage of cozy watering holes to take your mind off of the sleet and snow. Whether you’re in the mood to dine on fresh sushi paired with sake, sip craft beer to the tune of live jazz, or take the edge off with a little tej, these bars, restaurants, and lounges are sure to leave you and your partner with a whole lot of fond memories.
Disappointed by the lack of sapphic-centered bars in New York City, Brooklyn couple Austa Somvichian-Clausen and Victoria Geddes took matters into their own hands, launching grotto as a two-month pop-up in the Parlor Room of the Ludlow House. Since then, the venue has become one of the city’s most romantic getaways for queer couples. There’s a wealth of elegant flourishes to admire during a visit—intricately-carved statuettes, a roaring fireplace, and edible chocolate pearls at each table, to name a few—and there’s a small-but-mighty cocktail menu offering sweet selections like the fig-forward Sapphic & Soda and the Pandan-Colada, a zero-ABV drink with refreshing coconut and lime notes.
Equipped with cozy booths, a polished marble bar top, and intricate wildlife-loaded wallpaper, La Marchande brings a touch of French elegance to the edge of Wall Street. Complex cocktails, fragrant orange wines, and refreshing mocktails all make an appearance on the drinks menu, but for a truly romantic start to the meal, kick off the date with a vermouth flight featuring carefully-curated bottles from across the Mediterranean. Once you’ve whet your appetite, the brioche pull aparts with scallion crème fraîche pair perfectly with your last few drops of vermouth, while the pot au feu embodies the world-famous sophistication of French cuisine, serving as the perfect ticket to a memorable night on the town.
Just west of Ocean Breeze Park, Lee’s Tavern has been a Staten Island staple for nearly a century—and the secret to their success? Piping-hot pizza served straight from the oven since 1940. This tried-and-true classic is definitely the main attraction around here, with options ranging from white clam to homemade mozzarella and basil, but for a truly delicious date night, spring for an order of ultra-crispy buffalo calamari to pair with your pie. Add in a glass of red and some foamy draft beer from The Flagship Brewing Company and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect night in Richmond County.
Coney Island Brewery
While Coney Island is particularly lively during the warmer months, this iconic bayside neighborhood still has some cozy watering holes to visit when the weather turns cold. Case in point: Coney Island Brewery, a colorful outpost that’s been dishing out top-quality beer since 2007. Brews range from the crisp Nathan’s Famous Lager to the Sideshow Seance—a 8.5% stout packed with chili pepper, cocoa nibs, and raisins—but beer isn’t the only thing drawing in winter visitors. Be sure to swing by on Thursdays to test your music trivia knowledge, while live jazz, brewery tours, and themed dinners occur all throughout the season.
Sake No Hana
The refined culinary prowess of Japan is on full display at Sake No Hana, a vibrant izakaya-style restaurant beneath the Moxy LES. Short rib yakimeshi, black truffle steak tartare, and crispy Tokyo gyoza are just a few of the dazzling dishes awaiting visitors, while seafood fans have a treasure trove of options to parse through, with savory selections like barbecue and black truffle unagi gracing the menu. Spirits aficionados take note—the drinks program around here is just as carefully crafted as the food menu, offering visitors an opportunity to sample intricate cocktails like the agave and chili-loaded Gyaru Girl, while the Women’s Flight highlights some of the finest sakes produced by women brewers.
Rosevale Cocktail Room
Once you’ve ascended the Civilian Hotel’s grandiose staircase, Rosevale Cocktail Room is fully prepared to make your wildest spirit-forward dreams come true. Concoctions like the tequila-heavy Spicy Encounter and Irish coffee are certain to warm up the palate, and as an added bonus, it’s tough to find a more picturesque hangout spot than the Rosevale’s Blue Room. Designed by esteemed architect David Rockwell, this sophisticated lounge perfectly matches the elegance of the cocktail program, draped in rich navy blue flourishes and adorned with vintage decorations sourced straight from Broadway.
In need of a complex cocktail crafted by one of Harlem’s most talented bartenders? Head to Sugar Monk, a polished lounge just a block away from the Apollo Theater. There are 29 tantalizing cocktails up for grabs, with options ranging from intricate spins on the classics to eclectic new creations, with many of them containing rare herbs and roots foraged from the wilderness by the renowned Tama Matsuoka Wong. On a cold night, the applewood-smoked Marie Laveau is a must-try, while the house-made Akhenaten amaro stands as a testament to Sugar Monk’s masterful command of botanicals, with more than 40 different ingredients mingling in each bottle.
Paraiso Colombiano is one of Corona’s top spots for—you guessed it—Colombian cuisine, offering a wealth of tried-and-true favorites from all across the nation. Start your date off right with a round of spicy margaritas or passion fruit martinis, then toss in an order of tostones con hogao to snack on as you enjoy the ambiance. It’s tough to go wrong with any of the main dishes around here, but if you’re in a seafood mood, the cazuela de mariscos is the perfect antidote to a cold winter night, while the bandeja paisa is a must-try for newcomers to Colombian cuisine.
A paradise for plant-based dining, Bushwick’s Bunna Cafe specializes in classic Ethiopian cuisine that’s prepared without a single molecule of animal protein. Colorful menu items like the keysir selata and yatakilt alicha are sure to wow any potential partners, and the communal dining experience is perfect for crafting a memorable first date. While the food at Bunna Cafe is pretty stellar, the venue also excels at the art of cocktails, offering unique concoctions like the tej mimosa, a take on the classic drink that ditches the typical Champagne in favor of tej, a type of honey wine that’s been enjoyed in Ethiopia for thousands of years.
With a massive array of tequilas, mezcals, and sotols all up for grabs, Aldama is a dream come true for the agave lover in your life. To kick off date night, toast with a tropical fruit-forward Lava Paradise—or grab a neat pour of tequila to really get the party started—and make sure you’ve worked up an appetite, because Aldama is a star player in Brooklyn’s Mexican dining scene. There’s a wealth of seafood dishes to sample including pulpo zarandeado and yellowtail ceviche, but if you’re in the mood for some truly flavorful beef and pork, don’t miss out on the taco de trompo.
Angel’s Share at Hotel Eventi
Opened during the tail end of the 20th century, Angel’s Share revolutionized the national cocktail scene, earning a stalwart reputation and hordes of adoring fans by the 2010s. The bar was forced to shutter its doors in early 2022, but fortunately, Angel’s Share has risen like a phoenix, taking on new life in the form of a tiny pop-up speakeasy in the Hotel Eventi. Cold weather cocktails like the Sleep Warm and Danny Boy are two particular standouts on the current menu, while visitors who prefer their spirits neat can make a selection from the bar’s lengthy list of Japanese whiskies.
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