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Kips Bay: idk tonight’s Top 10 Date Night Picks

By: Sarah Saxty

Kips Bay isn’t quite the first place that comes to mind when you think of “date night” but—with a good selection of dive bars, gastropubs, plus live music and some of New York City’s best cocktails and even a Michelin star restaurant, that’s all about to change. We’ve spent countless hours wondering where to eat or drink while in the area, and we feel like it’s only good couple karma to share the list with you. So here it is, our date night guide to Kips Bay.

idk tonight's Top Ten Date Night Picks—Kips Bay

125 East 39th Street, Manhattan

A Michelin star in Kips Bay—yes, it’s true. Kajitsu, is a fine-dining, vegetarian (no judging) Japanese restaurant offering eight-course “Hana” ($97) and ten-course “Omakase” ($127) menus, each exemplifying the all-vegetarian practice of Shojin cuisine that originated in Buddhist monasteries. The “zen” dining room is on on the second floor of a townhouse with a big bay window and is designed with lots of beautiful, calming wood paneling and tables, plus refreshing slate floors. The bar serves up a wide variety of sakes and the highest quality Japanese green tea from Ippodo, a 300-year-old tea maker in Kyoto.

Credit: Kajitsu
Modern Pinball NYC Arcade, Party Place & Museum
362 3rd Avenue, Manhattan

This place was basically made for the idk tonight crew, quite literally being the perfect answer to “what do you want to do?” on a rainy date in Kips Bay when you don’t want to just drink booze—play games and pretend I’m 11 years old again! Voted by countless reliable sources as one of the best activities in New York, the Modern Pinball Arcade, Party Place and Museum is a (booze-free) games palace—they have a seriously easy pricing model…$19.95, all-day, open to close, come and go as you please (they use wrist bands), unlimited plays. Or, pay by the hour if you’re not sure on the all-day investment. The space itself is probably just as you’d expect, big, open, kinda loud and jovial with a simple design and good times vibe.

Credit: Modern Pinball, Facebook
The Jazz Standard
116 East 27th Street, Manhattan

BBQ by Danny Meyer, and live jazz? If that’s not a date night we don’t know what is. The Jazz Standard bar and BBQ joint has been serving up world-class jazz and award-winning Southern cuisine and barbecue for over a decade. As one of the world’s top jazz venues, Jazz Standard hosts both legendary artists and upcoming stars. As most jazz bars are, the Standard is dimly lit, with 2 or more person tables scattered closely together in an intimate space, with a central stage. Their event program is extensive and somewhere that you’re always able to find a good show.

Credit: Jazz Standard, Facebook
Tipsy Scoop
217 East 26th Street, Manhattan

What neighborhood in New York doesn’t have at least one ice cream joint to boast about? Kips Bay is no different with its boozy ice cream shop Tipsy Scoop, combining both booze and ice cream seems like a no-brainer date night in our minds. Calling themselves a Barlour, they offer liquor-infused frozen treats like ice-cream cookie sandwiches, waffles and other hard to resist add-ons. The flavors are all inspired by classic and contemporary cocktails and are made with local and seasonal ingredients. You’ll find things like mango margarita sorbet, red velvet martini, and dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel, just to name a few. There’s not a lot of seating, but we doubt your ice cream will last that long anyway.

Credit: Tipsy Scoop
Cask Bar & Kitchen
167 East 33rd Street, Manhattan

A trip to Kips Bay isn’t really a trip to Kips Bay without hitting up a gastropub, we love Cask Bar and Kitchen because it’s really the epitome of the word pub. With reclaimed wood floors and an antique bar,  table and stool seating, and that weirdly comforting scent of beer, burgers and just good times really. The food isn’t necessarily the top choice, but when it comes to a good spot on a rainy afternoon to grab a drink, it hits the mark with its strong list of wines and beers, plus dim lighting and an always bustling crowd.

Credit: Cask Bar & Kitchen

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Rocks Off Concert Cruises
2430 FDR Drive, Manhattan

A booze cruise on the East River done absolutely correctly. The Rocks Off Concert Cruises take place aboard The Lucille, a 4-level boat, with eats by Sancho’s Cantina, and a cash bar. There are concerts and cruises scheduled multiple times a week over Summer, with a list of performances spanning ska to rock to old-school cover bands and electronic tunes. This is definitely a party boat, so come prepared to get down and dirty with your new friends while you sail past the heavy hitters around the island of Manhattan, with the sun setting in the background.

Credit: Rocks Off Cruises, Facebook
442 3rd Avenue, Manhattan

Ruby’s is one of the original Australian cafes, but it’s useful for a lot more than a flat white. The Kips Bay space (which has more seating than the constantly packed Nolita location) is kind of perfect for a variety of date scenarios—a casual weekend breakfast (we love the crispy rice bowl with an egg or banana pancakes) ormaybee a post-workout lunch with the Bronte burger or healthier salmon grain bowl, and even dinner and wine before a movie with a full pasta menu. The space is light and bright as to be expected from Aussie cafes, and the service is just as bright.

Credit: Ruby's
450 East 29th Street, Manhattan

Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark restaurant is somewhat of a hidden gem right over on the East River, an area reserved only for driving up or down the FDR usually. The Jazz Brunch, offered weekly on Sundays,  includes a seasonal 2-course brunch menu and a live performance by jazz specialist Chloe Perrier. How divine? The menu highlights seasonal ingredients from their very own Riverpark Farm – located just a few feet away from the kitchen—and other local farms and green-markets. For something a little more casual, the Beer Garden is also open during the Summer season, offering unobstructed waterfront views, communal seating and drinks.

Credit: Riverpark, Facebook
The Bluebell Cafe
293 Third Avenue, Manhattan

The Bluebell Cafe is a charming little neighborhood spot offering American homestyle cooking—the perfect cuisine for a weekend brunch, or cheeky lunch. One of the more comfort style brunch items is also one of the best, The Bluebell breakfast—two eggs, Cumberland sausage, applewood smoked bacon, buttermilk biscuit, and potatoes. There’s also brunch cocktails, and other things on the “A Little More Like Lunch” menu like tuna Nicoise and a chipotle orange pulled pork sandwich. They also offer a pretty great prix fixe on Monday & Tuesday for $34, including a starter, entree & dessert plus discounted house wines by the glass. A built-in date night.

Credit: The Bluebell Cafe
2nd Ave Deli
162 East 33rd Street, Manhattan

It’s likely you’ve heard of the 2nd Ave Deli, but it’s something that just has to go in the guide, right? It has it’s own Wikipedia page! A truly authentic Jewish sandwich experience, the Deli is often compared to the what we consider over-hyped Katz’ Deli in the Lower East Side. This original location, opened in 1954, and as Wikipedia tells us “the sidewalk outside the old Second Avenue location is the home to what is known as the Yiddish Walk of Fame, where the names of about fifty stars of the old Yiddish-theatre era are embedded in plaques on the sidewalk.” It’s hard to get past the ever-popular pastrami and even better corned beef, but some other picks from us are the smoked salmon (anything) or the matzo ball soup, which is one of the best you’ll probably have.

Credit: 2nd Ave Deli, Facebook

See Our Curated Date Ideas This Week