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Midtown East: idk tonight’s Top 10 Date Night Picks

By: Sophia Marina

Midtown. That word alone can cause seasoned New Yorkers to flinch at the thought of ramshackle crowds, exorbitant prices and the NYC cliches tourists cling to. Despite this, every slice of the city has its gems, and should you ever find yourself on the eastern side of the city’s skyscraper-embossed chest, we’ve got you covered on keeping the romance cool, calm, sexy and just the way you want it. Using our guide to Midtown East, you and your love can dip into some otherworldly hummus, gnaw on 2-inch tall pizzas, kick back with cocktails inspired by the four elements, and find pleasure in a part of town you thought you never could.

idk tonight's Top Ten Date Night Picks—Midtown East

55 East 54th Street, Manhattan

The Greek restaurant to blow away all other Greek restaurants, Nerai is top of the line when it comes to impeccable hospitality (filoxenia in Greek) and sophisticated, modern cuisine.  Outfitted in white walls, tables, and chairs with a fine wicker and wood accent, the pristine place will give you and your love the serene space to enjoy their delectable take on Hellenic cuisine, peppered with fine Mediterranean accents and fresh ingredients pulled from around the world. Choose from an incredible variety of spreads and apps to start—like Revithada Me hummus, puffed pastry Spanakopitas packed with spinach and artichokes, and spicy feta—then move onto either a 4-course or 6-course prix fixe. A whole lot of starters, seafood, pasta, meats, and sides will send you both to the depths of temptation.

nerai nyc
Credit: Nerai
152 East 53rd Street, Manhattan

Hillstone is an upscale American spot with sparkling service and a dark, sleek ambiance perfect for stealing away and feeling like you’re the only ones left in the world. It’s the place to treat yourselves, with decadent takes on favorites like sushi and burgers, as well as prime New American dishes like double cut pork chops and jumbo lump crab cakes. Nightly live jazz, mood lighting and its impressive island bar make it ritzy enough for a New York night out you and your love will want to get dressed up for—not that you have a choice. Dress code here applies, ‘cause they want your dining experience to be just right.

hillstone nyc
Credit: Hillstone, Facebook
Lost Hours
Hotel 3232, 32 East 32nd Street, Manhattan

We love our sexy, sultry speakeasies, and when they’re from the guys behind Death & Co., there’s absolutely no hesitating about dressing up to down a couple of exquisite cocktails with your number one. Enter Lost Hours, a dark and deliciously hidden enclave within Hotel 3232, offering 16 top notch cocktails that take their inspiration from the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. To give you an idea of the creative ingenuity behind it all, Memory Palace (aquavit, honeydew melon, douglas fir eau de vie, lime juice, blanc vermouth) falls under water, and At Its Peak (Seedlip garden, carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, sherry vinegar, avocado, savory spices) falls under Earth. This is definitely your spot for some wholesome, unique and modern cocktails in the kind of setting that’s altogether seductive, secluded and perfect for an intimate date.

lost hours nyc
Credit: Hotel 3232
Crave Fishbar
945 2nd Avene, Manhattan

Crave Fishbar is an all around, seafood-focused restaurant that basically ticks all the boxes: casual yet refined, with an excellent oyster happy hour, succulent seafood dishes, cocktails galore and a dessert that won’t disappoint. The playful nautical decor is light enough to retain its elegance while transporting you and your love to a rustic seaside town where the food is fresh, and the good times are inevitable and indulgent. Aside from a wide range of East Coast and West Coast oysters ($1 if you make it between 5-7pm), their starters are to die for, including Rice Dusted Point Judith Calamari (Thai miso sauce, mung bean sprouts, aleppo chile), with mains like lobster curry (chu chee curry, charred red onion, japanese eggplant thai apple eggplant, fresh bamboo shoots) that give seafood a whole new level of wow. Definitely drop in, tie a napkin ‘round your neck and get ready to dig into something special.

crave fishbar nyc
Credit: Yelp, Photo by: Surachart R.
Da Raffaele
883 1st Avenue, Manhattan

An Italian eatery you can truly trust, Da Raffaele brings northern and southern Italy together for a provocative, inventive and decadent spread of all your favorite flavors and a warm, inviting ambiance to savor them in. We’re talking Capesante (scallops stuffed with smoked mozzarella and celery leaves), Anatra (duck breast with pureed fava beans and pistachio), Pappardelle (pureed zucchini, ricotta, and walnuts) and Paccheri (double rigatoni stuffed with ricotta cheese, ham, smoked mozzarella & parmesan cheese lightly fried) to nosh on. Factor in the clean white linen draped over the round tables, tasteful modern art decorating the walls and service that’ll leave you speechless, and you know it’s perfect for a sparkling Midtown date night.

da raffaele nyc
Credit: OpenTable

See More Of Our Curated Dates This Week

Raines Law Room
The William, 24 East 39th Street, Manhattan

You’ve probably been mentally seduced by the thought of visiting Raines Law Room at some point, and we definitely recommend making it a priority if you’re taking a rendezvous through Midtown East. Their second location at The William boasts ancient elegance, classy decor and the kind of speakeasy ambiance that actually defines speakeasy, with jazz at just the right volume, and the rise and fall of voices keeping it cool in an intimate setting. Lounge about on velvet couches, slip in between dense black curtains and try their impressive, alluring array of drinks—whether the Garden Paloma (tequila, jalapeño agave, Perrier, grapefruit, and a pinch of salt), or the Martinez (old tom gin, vermouth di Torino, maraschino & orange bitters, stirred and served up), you can’t go wrong with any one glass.

raines law room nyc
Credit: Raines Law Room
306 East 46th Street, Manhattan

For a fresh, riveting sushi fix in this part of town, head to Kaoru, a cool and quick Japanese spot by the UN that specializes in heaping bowls of Chirashi. Literally meaning “scattered” in Japanese,” these bowls include a variety of fresh fish, vegetables and other toppings like soft boiled eggs and crated yam potato placed gently atop a sticky portion of white rice—and here, they don’t skimp. Choose from whatever exciting combination of ocean creatures best suits your tastes, from the Kaisen Scallion Don (tuna, hamachi, madai, scallion), to the Unagi Don (grilled eel), to the titillating Three Amigos Don (tuna, salmon, hamachi, spicy tuna, yaki salmon). Swish it down with a couple sips of their Japanese beer selection, enjoy the live jazz and walk away with your sushi cravings satisfied.

kaoru nyc
Credit: Yelp, Photo by: Lyrics R.
Sofia's Pizza Shoppe
989 1st Avenue, Manhattan

Absolutely do not settle for just any slice of pizza if you’re in the area and it’s what you’re craving, ‘cause Sofia Pizza Shoppe is nearby, and it’s one of the best, most well-executed slices in the city. A testament to the divinity of the thin, crispy New York slice, the pizza here won’t get soggy despite its decadent amount of toppings, and the ingredients are all quality, from the fresh spinach that comes on their spinach dip (Sofia’s famous spinach and artichoke dip blend on Sofia’s signature crust) to the luscious cheese on their white slice (fresh mozzarella, ricotta, freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, basil). Even more impressive is their exclusive, soufflé-like DoughDici, which you’ll need an advance ticket to try. Taking three days to make, the two-inch tall, puffy-crust pizza carpeted in thick red sauce, fresh mozzarella and four other fine cheeses is well-worth the $38 it costs, and it’s certainly special enough to merit its spot as one of the city’s best slices.

sofia pizza shoppe nyc
Credit: Sofia Pizza Shoppe
Smith and Wollensky
797 3rd Avenue, Manhattan

What is now a chain of high-end steakhouses in America’s most prominent cities began right here on 49th St, in a quaint, striking, green and white building that’s been featured in quintessential New York City movies like American Psycho and The Devil Wears Prada. The steak at Smith & Wollensky is, of course, grass-fed and dry-aged on site, for the most tender and superior flavor experience in a class A, old steakhouse setting. Reserve a table for you and your love whenever you’re feeling a little luxe, and indulge in their exquisite menu of superb steaks, market fresh seafood, poultry and lamb, with a host of sides that are so flavor-packed, you could make a meal out of those too.

smith & wollensky nyc
Credit: Smith & Wollensky, Facebook; Photo by: @henry_hargreaves_photo
Somm Time Wine Bar
959 2nd Avenue, Manhattan

What has become a little Mecca for serious wine drinkers and sommeliers doubles as the perfect place for a casual, but absolutely top-notch drink. The lively and intimate Somm Time Wine Bar boasts a lovely, cultivated array of wines from around the world, with the goal of educating its patrons unpretentiously on the origin stories of what they’re drinking. You and your love can toast to each other, enjoy each fragrant sip, and count on having a friendly, informative dialogue with a sommelier who’s certain to cater perfectly to your ideal tastes. So when it’s a glass of wine you need to get loose with each other and relish the time spent together, this should be your go-to spot in Midtown East for a drink.

somm time wine bar nyc
Credit: Somm Time Wine Bar

See Our Curated Date Ideas This Week